On Editing


Despite the profusion of linkblog entries these past few weeks, I’ve decided to start putting out there as much material as possible in an attempt to clear my writing backlog, regardless of how happy I am with it and with the (admittedly rather lame) excuse that there’s no such thing as perfection.

Now, I’ve had a good, long go at trying to use MacVim over the past few months, and again I’m putting it away in favor of TextMate. The reasons for this are manifold, but they can be summed up in two points:

  • When I’m on my laptop and in the zone, it’s much easier to use TextMate than vim - despite decades of UNIX usage, I have strongly hard-wired “twitch” instincts that make a Cocoa environment a lot faster for me in terms of refactoring text than having to deal with the way MacVim almost blends in. The niggling differences make for accumulating attrition, and attrition is something I can do without in any circumstance.
  • I now do a lot of editing in remote machines, for which tmux and iTerm have been proving invaluable - In fact, it’s my default work environment when I’m out and about with my iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard doing sysadmin stuff. But on a regular machine switching between vim in a terminal window and MacVim forces me to come head to head with the aforemetioned attrition. I can deal perfectly fine with two different (and sometimes contradictory) sets of reflexes, even including keyboard variants (I, too, have a penchant for using the US keyboard layout for “deep” coding), but when I switch contexts between a terminal window and the GUI, I want to make it clear on myself which set I should be using (although I seem to have opted for 11pt Consolas everywhere, for those of you with a typography fetish).

That’s not to say that I won’t be using tmux and vim locally as well when I’m doing quick hacks and only firing up TextMate for a “tiny IDE” when it’s necessary1, but I’m somewhat fed up with my current tendency to type Esc-:wq everywhere, and even though Macromates has given us no sign of a “proper” TextMate 2.02, I’d rather stick to what works for me.

For the moment, at least. There are rumors that a great vim warrior may pay our little fishing village a visit some day…


  1. TextWrangler, which I’ve been trying to use as my “tiny IDE”, simply isn’t good enough for what I need, and Xcode is, well… Xcode. It’s faster and meaner than before, but when your codebase has less than a couple dozen files it’s just plain overkill. ↩︎

  2. And it’s sorely needed, especially if you want to use MultiMarkDown properly. ↩︎


See Also: