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March 17, 2015


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Vim is the bomb! If you get drew to come, make sure to make a webcast.

I am a vim user and the biggest problem is that these days we are not just editing text. Rstudio is a good example: vim-mode may be only a small subset of the original, but Rstudio offers too much comfort so I would never switch to pure vim. Another example: Texpad does not even have a vim-mode, still so much better, then vim + all of those half-broken latex plugins. It is a general problem with vim and emacs. Editor? Vim is the greatest. IDE? Vim is a very bad one.

Emacs clone: "you vi(m) nuts have to keep switching modes!"
vi(m) borg: "you emacs sheep all get carpal tunnel in a week!"

That graphic should actually be attributed to Ryan Bemrose.

I love vim. I use it for all my latex editing, all my c programming and a lot of my r programming. I switch to Rstudio mostly for interactive sessions.

"The ability to set and jump to marks in a document, or utilizing multiple registers for copy/paste are two good examples of essential but missing features in RStudio."

These features (and lots more, such as macro recording and visual block mode) have recently been added to the preview release of RStudio. Some more detail here:


Give it a try and let us know what you think!

I switched on Vim mode in RStudio preview. I did not know how to get started. That may be because I am not a real programmer and I only program in R. I would love to see a 60 - 90 second screencast of someone using Vim in RStudio while working on some simple code. Will you do it? Thanking you in anticipation.

These are easily the highest quality comments I have seen in a while on any sort of blog post - you guys are awesome. My replies:

***Stefan: Will do!

***Sergei: It's an good point - the importance of features will differ greatly by individual/application/task. I spend >90% of my professional time editing text, so Vim and its high degree of configurability is best for me. I can whip through a session in way less time and with less mouse-touching than any other approach so far. RStudio is great - I would never try to talk anyone out of it unless it's a poor match for their use-type profile. It doesn't sound like that's the case for you.

***Robert: Yeah - editor wars. Stick with what you like - we spend most of our life working so, be happy.

***Steve: Thank you - credit to ***RYAN BEMROSE***.

***Mark: It sounds like we're on the same page - I do the same thing, albeit less so as I use Vim and get familiar with some of the lesser-known R functions that I've been using the IDE to do

***Jonathan: AWESOME! THAT is a huge improvement. If you can get Visual, Visual Line, and Visual Block mode implemented I would say RStudio becomes a very strong contender to Vim-R-Plugin for the intermediate user. The primary weakness as I see it is configurability. Alt-Up/Down, for example, is a feature I loved in RStudio and then I discovered I could replicate it in Vim quite easily. Other things, such as fuzzy file-matching, custom highlighting, and in-app file browser would make it even stronger so that users don't need to touch the evil mouse. In RStudio, being limited to panes as opposed to windows is a big problem, too. Many of us work in a script screen and a console/output screen, but with a laptop and large monitor config...that's really not a tolerable option. Currently, Vim-R-Plugin with the correct .vimrc settings is better.

***Farrel: I know it's confusing at first, but you will learn very fast. Don't think in terms of being a "programmer." I strongly encourage you to persist.

As a general observation - not in response to the final comment: The poison of popular software design is thinking that it is possible to understand something complex quickly while probably making costly and difficult-to-discover errors. I have done a lot of that, btw. As you well know, investment in skills is a good idea, even if (especially if!) it hurts a bit at first.

An excellent and inspiring video:

Once again, props to RStudio for adding essential Vim features to their emulation mode. And, as R users, let's not forget what can happen in a short time from humble yet uncompromising efforts a-la Robert & Ross.You won't know what you're missing, however, unless you start with the real thing.



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