back to article Oh, the things Vim could teach Silicon Valley's code slingers

Vim text editor turned 25 late last year – the first public iteration was launched on November 2, 1991, a couple of weeks after Linus Torvalds announced Linux. To celebrate Vim's anniversary, creator Bram Moolenaar recently dropped version 8.0. Ordinarily the update of a text editor wouldn't be worth mentioning, but this is …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Vim's biggest rival, GNU Emacs,"

    No. Vim's real rival is the original vi. Many years ago I took my first look at vim. I often used vi to quickly doctor files from the MS world for use in Unix systems by removing the trailing CRs from line ends. One day I found myself using vim & discovered it had been configured to hide the CRs. If it could be configured to do that maybe it could be configured to hide other stuff? I felt it wasn't trustworthy. Since then I've avoided vim if vi (or nvi) is available.

    In the light of the what the article says it's worth recalling a flame comment I once read in favour of vim based on how rarely vi was updated.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Trollface

      > I felt it wasn't trustworthy.

      So you edited away.

      And then Intel Management Engine just opened a port to all comers.

    2. jake Silver badge

      @Doctor Syntax

      Did you know that Bill Joy's codebase variations of vi (I can think of at least six off the top of my head) can be configured to similarly hide CRs from line ends? So can traditional vi, and elvis, and nvi, and ...

      SO ... which version of vi do you find "trustworthy"? Inquiring minds & all that.

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: @Doctor Syntax

        But you said it yourself:

        "CAN be configured to" as opposed to vim's IS configured to.

        Vi out of the box isn't configured to do that, and the user has the choice to do so. Whereas vim is the opposite, it is configured out of the box to hide them. And, unless you know that that is a feature of vim, and in fact if you even know you ARE using vim (most Linux's these days symlink vi to vim, so you could be using vim without realising it - initially at least) then you might not even realise it's not showing things you'd expect it to. That can cause all sorts of trouble.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      set list

      set list

      Toggles display of hidden characters in vi and vim

  2. gv

    Frameworks

    The problem with "frameworks" is that, like buses, there will be another one along in a little while.

    1. keithpeter
      Pint

      Re: Frameworks

      "The problem with "frameworks" is that, like buses, there will be another one along in a little while."

      And quite possibly three along at once (97, Birmingham, only recourse is a beer)

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

    Get off my lawn you young whippersnapper, etc... etc...

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

      I much prefered EDT and TPU, personally.

      1. Roo

        Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

        "I much prefered EDT and TPU, personally."

        I did enjoy using TPU, but the joy was derived from the sense of achievement I got from mastering something awkward. Once I got stuck into Emacs/vi/sed/awk I never looked back. :)

        1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

          Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

          @Roo

          EMACS is the marmite of the software world: you love it or you hate it.

        2. Smooth Newt
          Coat

          Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

          I much prefered EDT and TPU, personally.

          You are probably thinking of EVE. TPU wasn't an editor, rather it was a text programming language intended for writing editors, but it came with EVE, the Extensible VAX Editor. This was written in TPU and intended to be an extensible emulation of EDT although it never quite succeeded in getting the basic emulation right.

          1. Wensleydale Cheese
            Happy

            Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

            "EVE ... was written in TPU and intended to be an extensible emulation of EDT although it never quite succeeded in getting the basic emulation right.

            EVE's first stab at EDT emulation gave you the worst of both worlds (no command line mode for either editor IIRC), but it improved an awful lot after that.

            Once EVE's EDT keypad matured I would use that most of the time, but drop into EDT where that was more suitable for the task at hand. Best of both worlds.

            Vim's clear advantage over either is its ability to get stuff done when function keys or alternate keypad mode (or even cursor arrow keys) aren't available.

      2. Long John Brass Silver badge

        Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

        Heathen!

        TECO forever!!!!!

        1. keith_w

          Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

          I knew that was coming! Best text editor ever.

          1. asdf Silver badge

            Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

            >I knew that was coming! Best text editor ever.

            Pretty much find vi (or vim) and Geany if I need a GUI text editor to be all I need on any platform even for an IDE. My only complaint really about Geany is it being dependent on GTK which is heading to being Linux only before too long. Hopefully someone ports it to Qt eventually.

        2. roytrubshaw
          Headmaster

          Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

          "TECO forever!!!!!"

          Don't use new-fangled stuff like that, all you need is ED!

          (Starts searching through DECUS tape directory listings...)

        3. Truckle The Uncivil

          Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

          Nobody who actually used TECO was sad to see it go. Well, no one I ever heard of (or can possibly imagine).

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

            Except EMACS users, of course ... From my fortune file:

            ''Initially, if I remember correctly, EMACS was Eugene Ciccarelli's init file which made use of MIT TECO's ^R mode ("Realtime") that repainted the screen. RMS started hacking on it around '76 I think and it kind of, um, grew."

            Unfortunately, the quote is un-attributed, sorry ...

        4. Wensleydale Cheese

          Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

          Heathen!

          TECO forever!!!!!

          The nostalgia of editor wars, eh?

          EX$$

      3. wayne 8 Bronze badge

        Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

        EDT was my DEC editor of choice. Lighter weight than EDiT. I used ini files for EDiT to make it act like EDT, until conversion to HPUX in 2011 and I had to say goodbye to OpenVMS. I then used VI to relive my days with...

        TECO on RT11. That was the cat's meow. Coded an entire financial report system in FORTRAN using a VT52.

      4. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

        Next thing you know, you'll be praising TECO, and I shall have to call the police.

        (This is where we need a "Get off my lawn, young whippersnappers" icon)

        1. mstreet
          Happy

          Re: This is where we need a "Get off my lawn, young whippersnappers" icon

          Google "Hey, you kids get the F off my lawn". There's a scene from a Canadian TV series (Corner Gas). They used the scene in a commercial for the show itself, and first time I heard it (wasn't actually watching), I couldn't believe what I was hearing, was allowed on prime time TV.

          Got a chuckle next time it ran, and I saw the video to go along with the audio. Been using the picture of the kids, and what they are holding in every internet rant since.

      5. Marco Fontani

        Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

        meh, ed is so much better!

        1. swm Bronze badge

          Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

          I would use ed on a random system (because it was always available) and it worked well. 2005? I was coding in 1960 on an LGP-30 so get off MY lawn!

    2. FlossyThePig
      Coat

      Re: As a long-time Vim user (since 2005 or so)

      Get off my lawn you young whippersnapper, etc... etc...

      Ah, but what about those who use Vim scouring powder.

      1. PNGuinn
        Coat

        Ah, but what about those who use Vim scouring powder.

        Ajax.

        Thanks - it's the one with the bleaching powder stains ....

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Ah, but what about those who use Vim scouring powder.

          gVim

        2. AJ MacLeod

          Re: Ah, but what about those who use Vim scouring powder.

          Always preferred Flash myself. Now there's a sentence I didn't think I'd ever write on the Register!

  4. Alan Sharkey

    Ah - the good old days

    Back in 1990, I wrote a DOS text editor called EasyEdit. By 1004 it was up to version 3 - and there it stuck.

    I recently pulled it out, loaded up a DOS emulator and ran it. It still works - it still creates nice (if a text file can be called nice) files and it still doesn't crash.

    Like you I do get fed up with "advances". Sure, fix bugs (but why were they not found in the first place), but for 99% of the world, what we have now is plenty good enough.

    Alan

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Ah - the good old days

      >By 1004 it was up to version 3 - and there it stuck.

      You and yer new fangled paper! When I were a lad we 'ad t' chisel letters out o' granite, w' our teeth!

      And we were glad of it!

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Ah - the good old days

        Granite? We used to dream about chiseling letters in granite!

        We had to scratch them into hot lava with our bare hands!

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: Ah - the good old days

          Yes, von Däniken wrote about that.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ah - the good old days

          Carving hot lava w t'bare hands? Bah, that's f' softies. In ma day we 'ad t'tinker w' t' goings on in pre-nova star t' get t' sparkly bit o' the stellar explosion t' spell out words against t' cosmic background. And you had t' travel at light-speed so as t' keep up with the expanding shell o' radiations if you wanted t' be able t' read it at leisure.

      2. PNGuinn
        Headmaster

        By 1004 it was up to version 3 - and there it stuck.

        You need to fix that y2k calendar bug there .... Version 4 ahoy.

    2. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Ah - the good old days

      >Like you I do get fed up with "advances". Sure, fix bugs (but why were they not found in the first place), but for 99% of the world, what we have now is plenty good enough.

      Hum, no, I like advances ... Problem is, since 2001 in the Windows world and roughly 2007 in the Linux world, the younger, inexperienced, have taken over development and their definition of "advance" is not really mine.

      The Linux world is more and more littered with monolithic enthusiasts, who think "the more this binary can do the better and it is so powerful that it is normal that it be dependent on all this other stuff ... ". Obviously, with bloat come bugs ... we are shifting from screwdriver, wrench, knife, spoon, and fork to Swiss army knives for everything, certainly not something I call advance.

      The windows world is littered with Ux nutters who "somehow" thought toddler colours is better (XP), then the more clicks the merrier (Vista/7), and finally came to the conclusion that a 3" screen is the same as a 30" screen (h8/10). They are only starting to revert back to something that seems to make more sense, however, as much as the jump to tablet ui was sudden, it somehow takes them years to revert back, for no apparent technical reason.

      Containers are cool, for example, a good progress ... I do not have to write the examples of bad progress, we all know them ....

      Beastie icon, the closest I could find

      1. boltar Silver badge

        Re: Ah - the good old days

        "Containers are cool, for example, a good progress ... I do not have to write the examples of bad progress, we all know them ...."

        To be fair, on a properly configured unix system with decent security settings and appropriately set up

        LD_LIBRARY_PATH you wouldn't even need containers. Users and applications could happily operate alongside each other with little issue. In fact back in the day I remember one of my old university HP-UX boxes happily managing to support literally hundreds of users simultaniously just using normal user-group-world permissions and quotas. Containers and VMs in general are really for OS's , ok Windows , whose chinese walls leave something to be desired or where you really need different OS's running but only have 1 box to do it on.

      2. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Ah - the good old days

        "The Linux world is more and more littered with monolithic enthusiasts, who think "the more this binary can do the better and it is so powerful that it is normal that it be dependent on all this other stuff ... ". Obviously, with bloat come bugs ... we are shifting from screwdriver, wrench, knife, spoon, and fork to Swiss army knives for everything, certainly not something I call advance."

        Perfect example, that piece of shit, bat-shit crazy systemd. That should have never have been conceived let alone gotten far enough along to need an abortion. It still baffles me why that's got the legs it has.

        1. boltar Silver badge

          Re: Ah - the good old days

          "That should have never have been conceived let alone gotten far enough along to need an abortion. It still baffles me why that's got the legs it has."

          Red Hat. Poettering works for them. If he'd been a lone developer he'd have been laughed out of town but because dead rat are a Big Deal in the linux world people tend to follow them like sheep.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah - the good old days

      "Back in 1990, I wrote a DOS text editor..."

      Didn't everyone back then? Seem to recall writing one as part of my HNC.

      Text editors, Word Processing programs etc have become way too complicated. Most people don't want or need all the functionality that Word provides. All the added complexity makes their life harder not simpler.

      George R.R Martin apparently uses WordStar 4.0 to write GoT - keep it simple, dude!

      1. itzman

        Re: Ah - the good old days

        George R.R Martin apparently uses WordStar 4.0 to write GoT

        Is that an endorsement, or a criticism, though...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vi and Vim are the spawn of Satan

    That is all.

    1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

      ^^^^

      Emac user - enough said.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Vi and Vim are the spawn of Satan

      Uhm... I guess you haven't had to work on things like wylbur. That was Satan's work!

      When I was in high school, I borrowed my brother's copy of Stallman's paper on Emacs that he had on micro cards. (Not film but cards. Had to go to the public library in order to read it. Our school only had the film readers) [Again, I'm aging myself...]

      Emacs is a bit interesting, and if not installed correctly could cause a security hole. (I guess you need to be a Unix admin from way back when to understand that. So we insisted on everyone using vi.

      Vi isn't the spawn of satan. It was free and consistent across the universe. Emacs may or may not exist. So you ended up sticking vi.

      And yes, I'm that old that I always type in vi and not vim. The devil face because I remember when BSD first came out. :-P

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Vi and Vim are the spawn of Satan

        I use whichever vi clone is on the computer I'm using.

        At home, I've been using elvis on Slackware since Slack 0.99 (:version reports "elvis 1.7 by Steve Kirkendall 30 December 1992") ... although I'll admit that I've been using gVim more than elvis-in-an-Xterm on my GUI of choice for over a decade and a half.

      2. itzman

        Re: Vi and Vim are the spawn of Satan

        If you were a nerd, sitting at your own computer, writing to alt.flame, you used emacs.

        If you were a highly paid software contractor visiting many *nix equipped sites, you bloody well learned vi, because it was the only editor you could guarantee was on every *nix system.

    3. Chas E. Erath

      Re: Vi and Vim are the spawn of Satan

      Not so. SATAN was released in '95, many years after vi, and a couple after vim.

    4. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Vi and Vim are the spawn of Satan

      Yes, and the devil has all the best tunes ;)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Comparing a text editor to a web browser is a nonsense

    Web browser became mini-OS onto which whole applications are run. And they have to cope with new needs - some sensible, others truly marketing driven.

    Text files didn't change much in the last twenty years. Sure, you may have to cope with Unicode now, but not much else.

    It would make more sense to compare Vim to IDEs, because a lot of users use it for programming tasks.

    But I started to use an IDE thirty years ago and never looked back...

    1. breakfast

      Re: Comparing a text editor to a web browser is a nonsense

      "Web browser became mini-OS onto which whole applications are run. "

      If that is your differentiation between text editors and browsers, you are clearly not an Emacs user.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Comparing a text editor to a web browser is a nonsense

      "But I started to use an IDE thirty years ago and never looked back."

      For a lot of development tasks I'd agree with you. But if you need to hack text data files there's no IDE, a good text editor is what you need and vi is a good text editor.

      1. kshipley

        Re: Comparing a text editor to a web browser is a nonsense

        Any time you have to take your hands off the keyboard, i.e. to use the mouse, your productivity slows down. This is where vi/vim/elvis really shines. That assumes of course that you have taken the time to learn to use it efficiently. I've seen many sysadmins of 10-20 years who use 30 keystrokes to do what they could accomplish with roughly two -- or much pointing and clicking.

      2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Comparing a text editor to a web browser is a nonsense

        The whole of Unix is an IDE. Why do you need another layer ?

  7. Buzzword

    Default != popular

    Isn't vim only popular because it's installed by default? That's like saying Notepad is the most popular text editor on Windows (which it probably is, even if everyone hates it).

    As far as I can tell, the current version of Notepad.exe dates back to Windows Vista (2006), when they fixed a Unicode bug.

    1. Aaiieeee

      Re: Default != popular

      OUTRAGE!

      I love notepad for the simple fact it removes text formatting, especially when copying from a web page.

      Thinking about it, I like notepad for the same reasons in the article. Its simple, doesnt change, and I know what I can/can't use it for.

      Much like Paint. I do almost all my image manipulation in it because it does most of what I need and has done for 10 years. Once in a blue moon I will try to remember how to use GIMP.

      1. wayne 8 Bronze badge

        Re: Default != popular

        I used Notepad.exe. Now I use Mousepad and especially for copying formatted text from a web page into plain text, before inserting same into a web browser email.

        Paint was easy to use. I have looked for something like Paint to easily and simply do very basic image copy and paste with minimal edits. Gimp should be called Ginp, "Gimp Is Not Paint".

        1. desht

          Re: Default != popular

          Of course GIMP isn't Paint. Who told you that? GIMP is a Photoshop work-a-like.

          You're looking for something like Pinta: https://pinta-project.com/pintaproject/pinta/ - installed by default on most Linux distros. Of course, googling "linux paint apps" would have told you that as the top search result.

      2. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Default != popular

        >Much like Paint. I do almost all my image manipulation in it because it does most of what I need and has done for 10 years. Once in a blue moon I will try to remember how to use GIMP.

        How do you handle Aero screen captures in paint, they have transparency ? Paint, the most useless piece of garbage on the planet, alongside notepad ... it is 2017 (it's 30 years old or so) and notepad cannot even understand LF EOL style, hello ??? Mspaint got PNG support in, what, Vista ?

        All tasks that you can perform in [ms]pain[t], select cut/copy/paste, draw a line/circle/rectangle, fill the polygone are done in pretty much the same steps as in gimp ... what are you mumbling ? Oh, yes, gimp 2.8+ is trash, you need 2.6, the last sane version, if you're on Windows, get the 32-Bit version.

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Default != popular

      Isn't vim only popular because it's installed by default?

      No for me ! Some Linux distros install other things, such as nano and make them the default. It's irritating each time I come across one of these and then have to dredge out of the dusty cobwebs of my memory the incantation to fix it back to using vim by default.

      But historically, you may have had a point - if fixing many unix or unix-alike systems when booted from a floppy pair, vi was the only text editor you could reasonably assume would be available to you. Ah those days of making a new boot/root disk pair whenever we upgraded the old SCO box at my last place - and spending ages deciding what to leave out of the root disk to make enough room for cpio so we'd be able to restore the backup tapes.

      1. stephanh

        Re: Default != popular

        Bram Molenaar himself has said that he had to learn "vi" to be able to do UNIX computer classes. There wasn't an alternative, so he had to learn it.

        Of course, then he got hooked, and the rest is history...

        Nowadays, I think this is not true anymore. Ubuntu and Debian even ship with this abomination called "nano" as a default editor.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: Default != popular

      Buzzword, there is a huge difference between "shipped with" and "actual usage". vi is required by both the Single Unix Specification and POSIX, making it more than just the defacto *nix editor; it's the editor sysadmins turn to hourly.

  8. djack

    Of course releases are slow..

    They are feature complete, do the job well and aren't chasing constantly changing standards or dealing with complex data in a changing security landscape.

    That said, I agree that there's a lot to be said for stability, there should be different streams for browsers, one with feature updates and another concentrating with just bug and security fixes. I think that Mozilla have tried this with their esr(?) releases.

    How can you say that the likes of vim and emacs are so much better than modern software that "feels like reinventing the wheel for the sake of it" when just in the previous paragraph you lauded Emacs' ability to render HTML.

    Finally, yes if you have something written in a language or environment that can only be learned about by trawling through archive.org it should be re-written. The application is pretty much un-maintainable and the underlying infrastructure is obsolete and will therefore be crumbling. What happens if the execution environment has security issues or does not function in the next version of $OS?

    1. no-one in particular

      Re: Of course releases are slow..

      >The application is pretty much un-maintainable

      Although Scott Gilbertson seemed to be up to the task

      > underlying infrastructure is obsolete and will therefore be crumbling

      Crumbling? An odd idea even when applied to old hardware, but software? "This 'if' statement was written 20 years ago, the bits must be starting to flake apart by now".

      > What happens if the execution environment has security issues or does not function in the next version of $OS?

      You do just what everyone would expect: test on the next OS version asap - if it *does* have trouble then you start the deliberate process of replacing the application (by re-coding it or getting an equivalent product in or...) - or decide that the cost doesn't warrant the work and look for a different approach to fulfill the business needs. All done before you roll the new OS out to production systems.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Of course releases are slow..

        "This 'if' statement was written 20 years ago, the bits must be starting to flake apart by now"

        It's all the iterations round loops. The bearings wear out.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Coat

          Re: Of course releases are slow..

          Didn't you know when you write a loop the disk head re-reads the code over and over again until the loop completes. That part of the program (and disk) gets rather worn out...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Of course releases are slow..

            Didn't you know when you write a loop the disk head re-reads the code over and over again until the loop completes.

            Disk? We had that with a paper tape library. Curse you Ferranti and may your F100-L be sunk in the Mariana Trench.

        2. PNGuinn
          Boffin

          The bearings wear out

          Rubbish. Bearings will last a lifetime as long as you remember to oil the os.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Boffin

            Re: The bearings wear out

            Rubbish. Bearings will last a lifetime as long as you remember to oil the os.

            And replace the filter cartridge in the firewall at recommended intervals, otherwise the spam pressure buildup opens the relief valve.

  9. /dev/null

    "If anything the future looks to be full of more abstractions, more pointless UI rewrites, more frameworks that break backwards compatibility, and more cancer-like growth."

    THIS.

  10. yoganmahew

    XEDIT

    QQ

    1. Munchausen's proxy

      Re: XEDIT

      XEDIT

      QQ

      TECO

      *ex$$

  11. coconuthead

    And yet I'm looking at my .emacs and the 10 lines of elisp in it I added to defeat an incompatible and pointless UI change made in version 23. They certainly had other things to be getting on with, like performant Unicode support. (So did I, but I didn't get a choice.)

    I regularly have to edit certain files in Apple's TextEdit instead of the emacs they ship, because emacs goes laggy if you include certain characters. My guess: it's using pairs of surrogates internally for those. The answer of course is that with the very old code base, in very old programming languages, that kind of architectural change isn't undertaken lightly, whereas UI bling is less risky.

    I think the real difference here is that *one* person looks after vim, so no bikeshedding happens.

  12. Valerion

    The article is right for the most part

    But not about deployment tool chains.

    These are not just an over-complication because you're too lazy to copy some files over with SCP. They give you the ability to run unit and integration tests to see if a change will break something else or not work as intended. They let you manage the versions available in different environments, letting you see what versions are currently running in Staging, and which in Live. They let you release a version to multiple servers with ease - including any other steps such as removing servers from availability pools and warmups to re-load cached data. And, crucially, let you roll back just as easily. All with a click or two. Managing an orchestrated release to multiple web and application servers, split across multiple data centres is pretty much impossible without them.

    For anything above the smallest scale they are a lifeline.

  13. cschneid

    Don't mistake stability for stagnation, activity for progress, or change for innovation.

    1. ma1010 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      So Very Right!

      Truer words have never been said. Wish I could upvote that more than once.

    2. Steve Aubrey
      Thumb Up

      cschneid: "Don't mistake stability for stagnation, activity for progress, or change for innovation."

      Stolen, for my tagline file. Thank you.

  14. breakfast
    Mushroom

    On the upside there is a lot I agree with in this article.

    Unfortunately as an Emacs user I am forbidden from agreeing with it by ancient contract.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Admit that you have sold your soul to the Smug Gnu!

  15. bobajob12
    Coat

    Ed is the standard text editor

    That is all.

  16. Nolveys Silver badge
    Devil

    Emacs would be great, if it had a decent text editor...

    ...that's why those in the know run Vim...through Emacs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Emacs would be great, if it had a decent text editor...

      HAHA! I love old Ed. I once worked in the 1800-USA-4SUN call center (1994) and had to talk a non-technical user through editing the /etc/vfstab file on their new SPARCstation using only ed. That took so long that we had to institute a new procedure; if the customer was not a real admin, and the call went over a certain time limit, they had to engage professional services and pay for us to come and edit the /etc/vfstab file. :)

      I also got to go a meeting hosted by Bill Joy. So, yes, I've always been a true VI fan! VI was written in 1976, which makes it super old. Like a payphone. Yet, I use VIM everyday still. Our Windows site manager says his worst admins are the ones that can't do anything on the command line. I just assumed all Windows Admins could speak fluent DOS/PowerShell. Who knew?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Emacs would be great, if it had a decent text editor...

        If you were a vi fan, you'd know it was vi not VI ...

        1. junglesnot

          Re: Emacs would be great, if it had a decent text editor...

          VI was a major release for guitarists.

      2. wayne 8 Bronze badge

        Re: Emacs would be great, if it had a decent text editor...

        Knowing how to use a CLI means you actually know the steps involved.

        GUIs hide the important stuff and the deeper understanding that comes with hands on experience.

  17. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Pint

    Why isn't this article illustrated by an Evil Clown?

    Like the clown in "IT" (not the ICT, IT. The one by Stephen King)...

  18. JLV Silver badge
    Trollface

    Stability is for losers...*

    All that whining about browser versions? Look at js instead and behold the might of the anti-"back in the day"**

    https://hackernoon.com/how-it-feels-to-learn-javascript-in-2016-d3a717dd577f

    There's a similar write-up about Docker-izing something simple. That one is the first one I read, some months back.

    * Notice the Troll or Joke icon. sarcasm.

    ** Verity Stob posted a link to it in her last article, but I feel it deserves even more recognition. Esp when one is struggling through merging &*%+ 8-/ ^ Webpack config files :( :( :(

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Stability is for losers...*

      That's not sarcasm, that's the truth.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Stability is for losers...*

        Also, the feel when JavaScript: "Madness

        Elm sounds cool though, but how do I connect it to anything.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Stability is for losers...*

          "Elm sounds cool though, but how do I connect it to anything."

          It's so long ago....IIRC we simply used it to read mail already deposited in the user's mailbox (~user/.mail ?, /usr/spool/mail/user ? can't remember). That could be either external mail coming in via ?sendmail (shudder) or generated internally through scripts piping to mail(1). There was a lot of the latter from the overnight batch. Outbound mail from it, IIRC, just worked but the whole set-up was configured before I came onboard and as it wasn't broken....

          http://www.skrenta.com/rt/man/elm.1.html indicates that there is plenty documentation to help you.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Stability is for losers...*

          I dunno, DAM ... you could try `man elm` ;-)

  19. Pomgolian
    Linux

    The trouble with Emacs

    ...is that it's an overly complicated operating system

    1. Gordon 11

      Re: The trouble with Emacs

      The trouble with Emacs...is that it's an overly complicated operating system
      Which is why I use microemacs. A version which has been following me around since the late 1980s. With only a few bug fixes for buffer sizes (screens can now be wider than 132 characters...). It ran on Windows (DOS window), Atari and anything that looked like Unix (so including MacOS). And I still run it on my arm, mips and x86 Linux systems - every one I have that has command line access.

      All it does it edit files - quickly and simply.

      1. Bandikoto

        Re: The trouble with Emacs

        I drag around a copy of JOVE (Jonathan's Own Version of Emacs) from the early eighties, Jonathan Payne's high school project. It worked on a PDP-11 then, it would probably still run on one. It doesn't speak Unicode, but it will accept Unicode input and allows one to edit files containing extended characters - after all, it has no problem editing binaries.

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. Captain DaFt

    Ahem!

    "Contrast this with your favourite web browser, which pushes out updates every six weeks. I don't even need to know what your favourite browser is to make this generalisation because they all do it."

    Mine doesn't. SeaMonkey's at version 2.46, kept fully up to date, and hasn't had a major UI change in ages.

    It just works, and works well.

    (ACK! Screwed up the URL and didn't notice before the 10 minutes was up, withdrawn and corrected.)

  22. PNGuinn
    Mushroom

    Heretic.

    Heretic. You do know that the world will end without all this web95.876.35orrea stuff don't you?

    Wish I could give you a thousand upvotes.

    Get it right. Make it simple. Make it work. Don't bother if it's ugly, that's in the eye of the beholder and the fashonistas, may they be publicly ...

    If it's any good people will use it. Now, DON'T try to make it do the washing up and then wash the kitchen sink. If you have to update it, do so respectfully, Don't try to grind the tits off your loyal users.

  23. Sean Kennedy

    On pink UIX elephants

    What I'm talking about are the needless UI rewrites that don't actually do anything for users (web browsers seem to be the most egregious example of this)

    Can I just call attention to the elephant in the room, and say the web browser isn't quite the most egregious example the author could have thought of?

    Microsoft and their products...Office, Windows. Who the hell thought putting a phone interface on a server was a good idea? Anyone? Word/excel/ect...all seem to have significant UI changes every version, but I've yet to hear a clear reason why.

    By comparison, browser changes are relatively benign. There's tabs, address/search bar and bookmarks. Everything else just gets in the way of the actual webpage you're trying to view. Sure, icons might change a bit...menus might shift...but as most of us aren't poking around in there too much anyway, there isn't any muscle memory to trip over while trying to do common tasks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On pink UIX elephants

      .all seem to have significant UI changes every version, but I've yet to hear a clear reason why.

      I can think of several reasons. The first one is that it keeps the training companies on board with Microsoft since it keeps them supplying new courses to established users, and the training companies are part of Microsoft marketing. The second is that new people want change for the sake of change, so they can feel they are in charge and making an impact. The third is the need for consumer perception of constant improvement when, let's face it, there isn't much improvement you can make to the actual guts of a word processor or a spreadsheet.

  24. Chas E. Erath

    Speaking of web browsers,

    How about a shoutout for Lynx, which will also be turning 25 soon... (and still great for covert slacking!)

    :wq

    1. wayne 8 Bronze badge

      Re: Speaking of web browsers,

      My first web "browser" was Lynx. Something to be said for unformatted text with placeholders "[image]" [IIRC] for images. No entrypoint for malware.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Speaking of web browsers,

        And don't forget links, a youngster at 18 YO.

  25. Christian Berger Silver badge

    It highlights one of the aspects of truely free software...

    ... and that it has a defined scope and therefore can be "done". This allows for completely new freedoms like the "freedom to re-implement".

  26. wayne 8 Bronze badge

    Rounded Tabs

    Reading the remark about rounded tabs, I looked at my FF and saw squared off tabs.

    Then I realized why the Classic Theme add on is no longer maintained by the FF crew.

    A Blue Peter badge to the FF crew.

  27. Bibbit

    ERM...

    I like nano.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: ERM...

      I use nano myself, but about the only feature I use is syntax highlighting, which is shared by vim and so on. It's just what I'm used to, and it's not like it does much more than that normally. It's more exotic features are easily ignored.

  28. WaveyDavey

    Yuk

    I've used some bloody awful editors over the years. Editing multi-thousand line COBOL files with Edlin was particularly unpleasant, but then so was the screen editor (hah!) on NCR centurion terminals. Editors in ITX and IMOS were also, erm, idiosyncratic. I learned vi in about 1986, and it's still with me, which is a very strong plus point - I can still just get stuff done with it. I recall how happy I was when I found a vi for DOS.

    But then, editing source with Wordstar 4 was also interesting.

  29. HmmmYes Silver badge

    Well, vim/vi will work over a 9600 baud serial link, which, in the days of a GSM mobile in every corner of the world, should be considered the worse case scenario for accessing something and changing config.

    I should point out Ive had to access stuff over a crappy mobile link.

  30. Wilco

    Stone age tools

    vi is a stone age tool, emacs is probably bronze age.

    I've been using emacs (and vi/vim, if necessary) since the 80's, but you I know for a fact that I can produce better code faster in Java or Scala with modern tools.

    You can carve what ever you want out of wood with a flint axe, but you can't build a 747 or a skyscraper with one. You can strap whatever you want to vim by way of plugins, but it's never going to be the sort of power tool that IntelliJ is.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Stone age tools

      its been an age since I used a 'text' editor for anything longer than about twenty lines of code. I think it was partly down to using reasonable IDEs but more importantly 'loosing' the one editor to rule them all approach. Most of the convenient and easy to use keystrokes have been upgraded to 'macros' that work outside the editor. I barely write much code these days - other than when playing at learning something new. Once I've learnt what I need to do I tend to build the code that builds the code for me - using simple stone age techniques generally. Nothing like a flint axe for cutting through the misswired cables someone has shoved into the wrong conduit in your 747 or skyscraper. IntelliJ is just a collection of stone age tools after all.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everything was so much better before.

    Nowadays the young can't do nothing right.

    Give me back my 8 Kb of RAM, my 80x25 monochrome screen and let me watch my ascii art entertainment of the day.

    1. fredesmite Bronze badge

      gets your hands off of my floppy

  32. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

    Vim, we consider not fixing our UI issues a feature! No seriously, a text editor that you need to learn how to use is not really excusable in this day and age, the only people using it are the same old-guard Linux users that constantly block changes that would make Linux accessible to the masses. It's the same mindset that keeps Linux niche. Now, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, but it exemplifies the way Linux and it's associated open-source applications (mostly) are designed.

    Now if vim used an interface similar to edit in DOS I wouldn't be complaining, that was simple but intuitive.

  33. Seanmon
  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AC 'cos I prefer to Nano.

  35. Paul Cooper

    I remember zed on the University of Cambridge' Phoenix system, in about 1980. That was fun!

  36. adam 40 Bronze badge

    What's wrong with "cp /dev/console filename"?

    i

    Or on DOS - copy con: filename

    Much better than ed!

    Ahh yes I still use vim/vi every day - it's hard-wired into my brain now. Never really grokked emacs which seems to use up far more memory.

    Apart from a brief (geddit!??) change of editor in the late 80's it's been vim all the way. Even then I used the brief vi macros.

    I still remember permies looking over my shoulder asking "How did you do that?" the reply would be "I'm not telling you my contractor secrets!" Control-space being a fave.

    <ESC>

    ZZ

    1. kshipley

      Re: What's wrong with "cp /dev/console filename"?

      IIRC Brief let you use REXX, so it was helpful if you lived with REXX all day long.

  37. Aremmes

    Emacs versions

    "GNU Emacs began life in the 1970s and is currently at version 25, which means it averages two releases to Vim's one, but still definitely on the slow side."

    Actually, GNU Emacs is technically still at version 1 -- the 25 is the minor version number. It is said that RMS will release version 2 when the first stable version of GNU Hurd comes out.

  38. eldakka Silver badge

    1) The dev cycle (developers, designers, Project Managers, Business Analysts, Release Managers, testers) all have to justify their jobs - what better way than releasing new versions?

    2) They have to keep getting "column inches" to stay in the public mind. Every time a new release comes along so does a lot of free column-inches - reviews, hands-ons, blogs on many different websites, online magazines, online blogs, tech sites, forums, software-release sites (app stores, and so on where often 'most recent' is either a sort option or used in automatic ratings/listings).

    3) Keeping up with the joneses. The only reason for Firfoxes Australis(I think it was called) UI update was explicitly to make it look more like chrome. Chrome was killing firefox, people were leaving firefox for chrome, so Mozilla decided to look like Chrome in the belief that that was why people were going to Chrome. Of course, once firefox looked like chrome, there was no reason to stay on firefox (for the average user who avoids plugins that can turn FF back into FF UI), as at the time chrome was technically superior from a stability point (separate processes to prevent one site/plugin crashing fromtaking down the whole browser), and the only thing that was keeping a lot of people on FF was the interface. So once that was gone there was no reason to stay on FF for the majority of users (yes plugins were much better on FF, but not that many people in the global scheme of things used the plugins that required FF). And of course, AGAIN Mozilla are breaking this, by making a lot of the plugins that u need FF for, and the reason for staying with FF, break and no longer work, therefore leaving no compelling reason to stay on FF.

  39. robin48gx

    If you first used vi and are annoyed that vim does not go back into command mode

    when you hit a cursor key put this in your .vimrc file.

    For poeple who started using vi in the 1980's this makes vim usable.

    "

    " go back to command mode

    " as soon as a curcor key is pressed

    "

    inoremap <left> <esc><left>

    inoremap <right> <esc><right>

    inoremap <up> <esc><up>

    inoremap <down> <esc><down>

  40. adam 40 Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    If it ain't broke....

    Exactly!

    That's why I run an old ff on an old ubuntu distro - and turn off updates.

    And use chrome when I need to.

    If people could stop dicking about with this stuff for 10 minutes, life would be a lot easier....

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slagging off Emacs?

    > GNU Emacs began life in the 1970s and is currently at version 25, which means it averages two

    > releases to Vim's one, but still definitely on the slow side.

    What, MIT and Lisp hater? And modern computers are fast enough that the "Eight Megabytes And Continuously Swapping" joke is Old, Old, Ancient!

  42. fredesmite Bronze badge

    if you can't use vi get the hell off of Linux

    nuff said

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: if you can't use vi get the hell off of Linux

      But then how do you remove the supposed taint of Windows all over the place?

  43. trashsilo

    Above and beyond truly universal in power.

    Bram Moolenaar surely deserves a %s/beckham\./beckham+knighted./g

    for this genius piece of code complete with :help iccf

    Come on Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. Pronunciation in Spanish ([ˈmaksima soreˈɣjeta ˈseruti]) and Dutch ([ˈmɑksimaː]) source:Wikipedia, if that helps with the name any, unsure on simple english type pronounciation...sorry.

    On that, why is Vi pronounced "vee-aye", not "veye";

    when Vim is pronounced "vim" as one word, like Jim and not "vee-aye-im" ???

    The keep it simple, stupid in me says "veye" and "vim".

    Please is there a 'greatest software ever written' list as good as this article and its comments.

    Thanks all;>

  44. trashsilo
    Coat

    Release v0.12

    Apologies, in today's quick software release life-cycle management frame of mind,

    have released code errors in previous comment need to re-release code.

    [CODE]

    %s/beckham\./knighthood\./g

    [/CODE]

    Roll on, 'greatest software ever written' list pls

  45. Herby Silver badge

    Advanced...

    Now that you young whippersnappers are off the lawn, I can go back and remember when "text editing" was an 029 keypunch and a deck of cards. You could even do a "cut and paste" if you wanted to.

    Than again I'm an old geezer in some regards.

    In those days lower case was for wimps. I also remember the commercials on TV about "working with your hands and not getting your fingernails dirty". That was someone who never replaced a keypunch ribbon.

    We've come a long way. I prefer something like 'EDT' (I used it on a pdp-11 running RSX), and one of these days EMACS will get a text editor, I'm told.

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