Learning the vi and Vim Editors, 7th Edition
Text processing at maximum speed and power
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: July 2008
Pages: 494

There's nothing that hard-core Unix and Linux users are more fanatical about than their text editor. Editors are the subject of adoration and worship, or of scorn and ridicule, depending upon whether the topic of discussion is your editor or someone else's.

vi has been the standard editor for close to 30 years. Popular on Unix and Linux, it has a growing following on Windows systems, too. Most experienced system administrators cite vi as their tool of choice. And since 1986, this book has been the guide for vi.

However, Unix systems are not what they were 30 years ago, and neither is this book. While retaining all the valuable features of previous editions, the 7th edition of Learning the vi and vim Editors has been expanded to include detailed information on vim, the leading vi clone. vim is the default version of vi on most Linux systems and on Mac OS X, and is available for many other operating systems too.

With this guide, you learn text editing basics and advanced tools for both editors, such as multi-window editing, how to write both interactive macros and scripts to extend the editor, and power tools for programmers -- all in the easy-to-follow style that has made this book a classic.

Learning the vi and vim Editors includes:

A complete introduction to text editing with vi:

  • How to move around vi in a hurry
  • Beyond the basics, such as using buffers
  • vi's global search and replacement
  • Advanced editing, including customizing vi and executing Unix commands


  • How to make full use of vim:
  • Extended text objects and more powerful regular expressions
  • Multi-window editing and powerful vim scripts
  • How to make full use of the GUI version of vim, called gvim
  • vim's enhancements for programmers, such as syntax highlighting, folding and extended tags


  • Coverage of three other popular vi clones -- nvi, elvis, and vile -- is also included. You'll find several valuable appendixes, including an alphabetical quick reference to both vi and ex mode commands for regular vi and for vim, plus an updated appendix on vi and the Internet.

    Learning either vi or vim is required knowledge if you use Linux or Unix, and in either case, reading this book is essential. After reading this book, the choice of editor will be obvious for you too.
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    oreillyLearning the vi and Vim Editors, 7th Edition
     
    4.5

    (based on 8 reviews)

    Ratings Distribution

    • 5 Stars

       

      (4)

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      (4)

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    100%

    of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

    Pros

    • Well-written (6)
    • Concise (5)
    • Easy to understand (5)
    • Helpful examples (5)
    • Accurate (4)

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Intermediate (6)
      • Novice (5)
      • Expert (4)
      • Student (4)
        • Reviewer Profile:
        • Developer (5), Sys admin (3)

      Reviewed by 8 customers

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      4.0

      Good Stuff

      By zeptrandir

      from Austria

      About Me Sys Admin

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Good Structure
      • Very Structured
      • Well-written

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Intermediate
        • Novice

        Comments about oreilly Learning the vi and Vim Editors, 7th Edition:

        I use VIM for a few years now but I never knew so much of VIM is actually functionality from VI. It's a real good overview of the the magic.
        The only downside is the short chapter about vimscript, but I think this could fill a book of it's own.

        (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Make Yourself a Text Editing Machine

        By Cody Rioux

        from Canada

        About Me Developer

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Accurate
        • Concise
        • Easy to understand
        • Helpful examples
        • Well-written

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Expert
          • Intermediate
          • Novice
          • Student

          Comments about oreilly Learning the vi and Vim Editors, 7th Edition:

          If you want a great text editor then this book is all you need to buy. You'll be very proficient with a highly configurable cross platform editor that enables you to edit text as fast as possible.

          It starts out with a simple introduction to vi, so even if you've never touched vim before this book will get you started. The book follows a logical order of topics that let you start incorporating things you learn into your text editing right away if you're already using vim.The topics then build on each other, covering simple edits, movements (which can be combined with edits), and then more advanced editing, buffers, etc...

          The second section then focuses on vim and the enhancements it has brought to the table. It covers topics like multiple windows, vim scripts, enhancements for programmers, etc...

          There are a ton of practical examples in the book with great explanations, I found myself with a much greater understanding of everything vim when I was done this book. Basically every chapter of this book will add value to your text editing skills. I highly recommend this to anyone using vim, and I highly recommend vim to anyone editing text. I've still got a lot to learn but I'm very happy with the way I edit text after reading this book, and I reread it from time to time!

          (3 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          A Must Read Book for Any Vimer

          By Roger

          from North Pole, AK

          About Me Developer, Educator, Sys Admin

          Pros

          • Accurate
          • Concise
          • Easy to understand
          • Helpful examples
          • Well-written

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Expert
            • Intermediate
            • Novice
            • Student

            Comments about oreilly Learning the vi and Vim Editors, 7th Edition:

            If you've used VIM for 10+ years like me, it's likely a good time to sit down and read this book.

            This book has taught me how to use all of the features I've heard about with a little more ease. This book has also taught me a few more things such as windows that resize on mouse focus.

            I had a few problems getting window-auto-resize working on mouse focus due to all of the needed settings not being mentioned in one spot to enable this feature. But once it was working, I then realized it'd be best to just use tabbed windows.

            Another issue I found, more so with VIM itself instead of the book, there's no standardized vimrc file or standardized sections per feature out there. Similar with color schemes. It'd really be nice to have a .vimrc file with common settings. Also, it'd be nice to have a color scheme with a black background within the main VIM package! Instead, the desert color scheme is packaged separately within a mangle of other color schemes. However, it's nice to have all the settings we do have in VIM. We're just stuck trying to compose our own working vimrc.

            Back to the book, this book does do a good job of describing the features you'll use when using VIM, and then maybe a few more!

            It also describes a brief history of VIM, along with several of it's clones. This helps you understand why, which in turn makes learning easier.

            A very informative book, even if you've used VIM for a long time!

            Oh, and one more thing, it would have been nice to see a Cheat Sheet for the keyboard with this book. There is already an Appendix with an abbreviated setting definition, spanning several pages though. I don't know if this is even doable, or how useful this would be as we tend to just memorize the required feature keys. For customized keys, I just used a labeler and labeled my customized function keys and two or three other keys I customized for leader and insert mode.

            (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            How To Really Learn Vim

            By Dave

            from Seattle

            About Me Developer

            Verified Reviewer

            Pros

            • Accurate
            • Concise
            • Easy to understand
            • Helpful examples
            • Well-written

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Expert
              • Intermediate
              • Novice
              • Student

              Comments about oreilly Learning the vi and Vim Editors, 7th Edition:

              I use TextMate for writing code and for most text editing while I'm on the Mac (although I'm editing this review with MacVim version 7.3, otherwise I'd feel dirty). Everywhere else I use vi and Vim (Windows/Linux/OpenBSD/etc.) I spent years using Emacs and gradually made the shift to Vim a few years ago. I found Vim to be lighter weight and easier to configure than Emacs. Anyway, if you're tackling an uber-editor like Vim, you need a really great book. For Vim, that book is "Learning the vi and Vim Editors".The book initially introduces you to vi and ex, giving you the most basic commands. Pay attention to these first few chapters as it lays the foundation for the rest of the book. You'll move on to learn about global replacement and the power of regular expressions in the context of text replace commands. A short chapter is devoted to advanced editing features and takes you through basic vi customizations, how to execute Unix commands, how to filter text within vi through Unix commands, abbreviations to simplify repetitious typing, mapping keys to simplify repetitious keystrokes, and some basic ex scripting.A very brief chapter introduces you to the major vi clones. Then, a really beefy section spanning chapters 9 through 15, covering 159 pages, takes you through Vim in great detail. All the major differences between vi and Vim are discussed. You'll learn about multi-window editing, the specifics of Vim scripting, GVim (the GUI version of Vim), and Vim enhancements related to software developers.Following the Vim section of the book, there are small chapters that describe each of the other major vi clones, including nvi, elvis and vile. Near the end of the book, you'll find the appendixes crammed full of vi and ex commands. Additionally, there is a brief section on setttings for vi, nvi, elvis, Vim and vile. As if that's not enough, the final appendix throws in some comic strips for a little vi humor [@].I was actually surprised to find a lack on information on both registers and macros. Vim has support for these two extremely useful features, yet the book does not go into detail. Of course, the book does cover the help system, and if there is anything you want to know about Vim, you'll find it well documented in the help system. Learning to use the help system is a key to learning the editor and becoming more proficient by being able to take advantage of its features.If you've never worked with a truly powerful text editor, prepare to be enlightened. Spend the time necessary to really learn your editor (whatever it may be) and it will pay a huge dividend in return. If you choose to take on the power of vi or Vim (or any other vi-like editor), equip yourself with this book to help guide you through the learning curve.

              (5 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

               
              4.0

              Great book, but only available as a pdf!

              By PhatRick

              from Sid er knee Australia

              About Me Developer, Sys Admin

              Verified Reviewer

              Pros

              • Accurate
              • Concise
              • Easy to understand
              • Helpful examples
              • Well-written

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Expert
                • Intermediate
                • Novice

                Comments about oreilly Learning the vi and Vim Editors, 7th Edition:

                Typical high quality O'Reilly book, excellent Vim reference to add to your technical library.

                But it is only available in pdf format!

                My technical library now almost exclusively resides on a very popular model ebook, and even though it supports pdf, the mobi rendering is infinitely superior.

                Almost all of the other 25-30 ebooks I purchased from O'Reilly are available in the standard range of formats, including mobi and epub, but this one and a few others are only available in pdf?

                My Safari subscription tokens are similarly limited to the ebooks exclusively in pdf format?

                When are we likely to have this great Vim reference in those other very useful formats.

                (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                Straightforward and well-written

                By bijanbwb

                from Miami, FL

                About Me Designer, Developer

                Pros

                • Concise
                • Easy to understand
                • Helpful examples
                • Well-written

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Intermediate
                  • Student

                  Comments about oreilly Learning the vi and Vim Editors, 7th Edition:

                  As with any program, there are always too many ways to do the same thing. Learning vi is not an easy experience, and learning to use it well is an entirely different matter.

                  This book does a great job of outlining how to get things done in vi, and how to get things done in the most efficient way possible.

                  It's readable enough to work your way through it in a logical sequence, and also serves as a great reference.

                  (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  4.0

                  Glad to Finally Learn Vim

                  By Anita Kuno

                  from Undisclosed

                  Comments about oreilly Learning the vi and Vim Editors, 7th Edition:

                  I'm new. I'm new to vi and new to development. My first experience with vi was terrifying. I was configuring a server file with the assistance of a friend over IRC and was dropped into vi and have felt better in a car doing 360s on the highway in bad weather. After completing the server configuration, I resolved to learn Vim. I am grateful to Arnold Robbins, Elbert Hannah & Linda Lamb for producing such an accessible work. Since it is a reference book, "Learning the vi and Vim Editors, 7th Edition" has a broad spectrum of information. The portions for beginners are clear, straightforward and accessible.

                  I found the sheer volume of commands overwhelming for a straight readthrough of the book. I did try to take in as much as I could but then found that I was unable to retain what I had read. So I choose a different approach and decided to take my time. The book sits at my elbow and as I work I use the index or appendix to locate the section or command that I require. The simple ones are becoming easier and I take time to investigate new sections when I have the inclination.

                  My intent is not to do battle in the editor wars. There are much more worthy competitors than I. My goal was and is to understand the structure of the editor and work with the different modes that place vi in a category that is different from many editors such as gEdit. I don't know all the commands available in Vim, but I know that commands are possible. I haven't memorized all the different ways of inserting, substituting, and adding text, but I know there are options. Two of my early favourite commands are :e! (which takes you back to the last saved version of the file) and 'u', in command mode (which is the vi form of 'undo').

                  There is a spell check feature available with Vim version 7 and I look forward to reading more about this feature and its commands in the Eighth Edition of this book because unfortunately it is not covered in this volume. Also, I noticed at a friend's behest, there is no section discussing dvorak keyboards interfacing with vi. I am a querty myself but I am told that vi commands behave oddly when directed from dvorak and perhaps this is worthy of study in subsequent editions.

                  There are sections I haven't read yet and I might never read, the portions on nvi and Elvis haven't seemed applicable to me, so I may just pass on them. The book is valuable as a source for my level, which I would say is an experienced beginner. While there will be enhancements to new versions of vi and Vim, the basic commands will remain the same. Since vi is available with all versions of *nix, I am confident that what I am learning is universally useful and that is worth my effort.

                  (7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  This will make you a power user

                  By Tom

                  from Undisclosed

                  Comments about oreilly Learning the vi and Vim Editors, 7th Edition:

                  Learning the vi and Vim Editors, Seventh edition, July 2008, by Arnold Robbins, Elbert Hannah and Linda Lamb is both a tutorial for beginners and a reference for experienced users. vi and several of its clones are covered in this edition: nvi, elvis, Vim, and vile. Chapters 9 through 15 cover Vim. Chapters 16, 17 and 18 cover nvi, elvis and vile, respectively. Including the index and appendices the book is 470 pages.

                  The authors recommend that the reader know how to:

                  ' Enter Unix commands

                  ' Change directories

                  ' List files in a directory

                  ' Create, copy and remove files

                  ' Be familiar with grep and wildcard characters

                  The Safari online edition of the book is free for the first 45 days and a useful companion to the hard copy. I prefer the outline numbering style of separating paragraphs and subparagraphs in the online book to the non-numbered style used in the hard copy.

                  Explanations and examples are built upon a file called practice that is modified using the commands being explained. Most chapters end with a summary of the salient points including effective tabular presentations where applicable.

                  I would like to see more information about Vim interfaces for Python and Ruby as referenced in Chapter 12.

                  The writing style is pleasant and relaxed thus keeping the reader's interest while navigating examples of the many steps and options available in this powerful editor. The index is 24 pages, very good for a book of 446 pages and compares very favorably with other recently used texts. However the book binding and paper quality could be better. I have another recently purchased O'Reilly book that has not withstood frequent use as well as books from other publishers.

                  Regardless of the above criticisms this is an excellent guide for the person willing to put forth the effort to become a power user of vi and its clones.

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