Defending the Python lanuage...

Alex Martelli aleax at
Fri Feb 1 17:18:10 EST 2002

Quinn Dunkan wrote:
> Of course, vi itself requires loads of memorization, and I'm not convinced
> it's really worth it.  For example, to move a word two words back to the
> end of the line, is it really quicker to type '^[2Bhdt $pa ', or is it
> quicker to select the word with the mouse, cut, click, and paste?

If you have to *think* about it, as "memorization" would suggest, then
you'll probably be happier going with the rodent.  The power of vi, for
me (and most other vi-enthusiasts I've known) is that the *fingers*
learn the patterns -- sort of like in needlepoint; your conscious brain
can focus on higher-abstraction stuff.  Which is no doubt why, while
I've been actually using vim/gvim since almost forever, most of the
basic stuff I still do vi-like... 'cause that's what my fingers learned back
in true-vi times.  Now, if you type and edit fast, having your fingers
stay close to the keyboard's home row has indisputable advantages
wrt having them fly all over the place, to cursor keys or function keys
or even worse separate devices like mice -- total travel distance and
times for the fingers are greatly reduced.  After comparable long fast
sessions with vi (or vim/gvim) versus typical visual editors, my *hands*
can tell the difference... they ache in the latter case, but not in the
former (not an issue of age -- I noticed the same effect back when
I first learned vi, and I _was_ reasonably young then:-).  To be honest
I haven't been able to measure productivity differences either way (not
that I've tried all that seriously!), but having un-aching hands is nice
in itself, and I suspect it reduces distraction and thus should benefit
speed and accuracy of whatever's being written and edited.

People who are unable to let go and let their fingers "drive" seem to me to
keep fighting vi's low-level mechanisms forever -- I've always advised
such people to give vi up in favour of other editors.  Few type and edit
so fast as to make the difference noticeable, after all.


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