Vi Improved

Vim is best modern terminal editor due to its compatibility with Vi and extensibility allowing it to rival Emacs. Be careful to avoid becoming too dependent on vimisms which can destroy the ubiquity of your Vi muscle memory, which is the single greatest advantage of becoming proficient with Vi in the first place.

What About NeoVim?

Vim is the standard editor included on all Linux systems by default. That should be reason enough. But there is actually no compelling reason to use NeoVim anyway.

  • Use TMUX instead of panes.
  • No one cares about the codebase and developer team drama.
  • Vim is more modern than NeoVim these days.

Hell, Vim even has floating panels now that NeoVim does not if you are into that sort of thing. NeoVim simply fails to provide a significant alternative value proposition.

What About Graphical Vim?

Sure it’s nice, but the main reason to learn a terminal editor is to take advantage of the powerful possibilities of full shell integration, which is simply not possible from the graphical version — especially when running from Windows.

What About Emacs?

Even if your workflow and projects would benefit from learning Emacs learn Vi anyway.


The vi command is already on your Unix/Linux machine. That’s the beauty of it. However, you might want to get the full version of vim if this is your workstation or you want to use vimtutor for learning.

sudo apt update
  sudo apt install vim


Configuring Vi/m is critically important to be effective. It is usually good to start with a configuration from someone you trust and alter that to your needs. Keep your ~/.vimrc configuration light-weight and portable and add it to your dotfiles configuration project repo. When done right you won’t even have to install any additional plugins because they’ll be installed automatically. The linked configuration does just that and keeps it under 184 lines that can be easily and quickly be copied to any system.


Vim plugins are a great source of power when used judiciously. The leading plugin manager is currently Plug, which can be automatically downloaded and called on to install plugins when it is first launched in a way that does not interfere with other dotfiles that you might have saved in a Git repo.


The best way to learn Vim is to use Vim. (Now there’s a surprise.) This is why vimtutor is currently the best learning tool. It isn’t complete and has flaws but is better than anything else because it actually is Vim. After that maybe try some of the others.

Make absolutely sure that you properly learn to use shell integration with the magic wands before you conclude your beginner Vi training. You simply do not know Vi without them and every single tutorial on the planet leaves them out. You seriously cannot say you know Vi without understanding the single most powerful feature of the world’s most ubiquitous editor. There is little need for additional Vim plugins when shell integration is properly understood.