on 7 January 2013
TL;DR buy the book, you won't regret it.
Practical Vim is not just the best Vim book I've read, it is also one of the best tech books I've read to date. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but let me explain. Like Tim Pope says in the foreword, I was initially skeptical about the recipe format. I wanted to have a book that took me step-by-step from vim noob to vim master. I wanted it to ramp me up rather than have me dotting about from pro-tip to pro-tip. The thing is that Practical Vim _does_ ramp you up, but it also has the added benefit that it's really easy to go back and find something later on. Puzzled as to why the dot command isn't doing what you expect? Jump back to the recipes for that. Not reached the chapter on search yet but want to know how to do a global replace? Jump forward to that section. Want to build up a solid understanding of how vim works? Follow the book chapter by chapter.
The other great thing about the book is that it doesn't just teach you how to do things in vim; rather it teaches you how vim does things. Instead of being a phrasebook that gives you common snippets to remember, it teaches you how the sentence structure works, the idioms and colloquialisms. In other words it gives you deep knowledge that helps you think like an experienced vim user. It gives you the tools to extrapolate from the given recipes to things not covered by the book.
It has left me wishing that more tech books were written in this format.
on 21 October 2015
A fantastic resource for diving into the world of Vim. This book has helped me get comfortable moving around in Vim and adopting the Vim way. The main block for me going into Vim was I knew it's power but felt a disconnect when trying to 'think like Vim'.
The book isn't a front to back read, although the more complex uses of Vim occur to the back of the book. It largely reads as a reference, with different uses of Vim in different situations being clearly explained and demonstrated.
Drew uses a notation that is explained in the introductory sections that means you are able to focus on leaning to think like Vim in the approach to a problem without getting stumped by the features you're using.
Once you have ran through Vimtutor (Which you should have) you can dip in and out of the book or read a bit each day. Doing that I managed to keep a steady stream of 'eureka!' moments and avoiding common pit falls. Common pitfalls being learning to do what you need and then never seek to improve and using common navigation commands without thinking if there would be a more efficient gesture to use. I fell that abandoning the basic movement keys in my first month with Vim will have only served me well in the future. Learning a habit of routinely asking myself "Is this the best way to do this?"
My only other advice would be to use Vim as much as you can whilst learning. The things you will learn from the book stick a lot better when you have solved a problem in your day to day use with Vim.
I've skimmed the more complex subjects and although too much for me at this point they appear as clearly laid out as the material I have been putting into practice.
on 12 October 2012
Really, I can't fault the book. As a self-proclaimed pragmatic programmer, I picked up using vim as a way to take me beyond learning multiple editors and more into a 'meta-programming'-like state; i.e. globally applying changes to source, macros and all sorts. It makes me smile thinking, "Was that it?!" on some clever way of editing a document. Everyone can and should have this level of power over their editor.
So along comes Practical Vim. I was looking for a cookbook-like reference and this book achieves that goal but is so much more. It is easy to read and while vim is often considered to have a steep learning curve, the book breaks down those barriers and really shows how to adapt to a Zen-like way of thinking about editing. There's plenty to learn like, for me, the shift from hitting Escape to ^[ instead; minor things that economise movement around the keyboard and really shift things up a gear. My hands were already there, why was I moving over to hit Escape!? The book also contains links to vim's own help and other sources of information and even some profile tweaks to up your editing game.
Grab the book and level up your editing skills.
on 7 December 2012
I've been getting to grips with vi and vim for something over 20 years now and Drew Neil's excellent Vimcast series of free podcasts made me want to buy the book. Drew's enthusiasm and expertise are clear in the podcasts and it's made the transfer to the book too. This book works well as a reference and if you are only going to buy one book on vim then this is a good one to have and will serve you very well, the tips work well as things to learn when you have a few minutes to spare and if you have more time to spend it's a great reference that explains the how and why of vim also.
on 14 March 2013
Disclaimer: I'm happy to call Drew one of my friends.
I've been holding off reviewing this book until I'd felt like I'd finished it. The subject matter is dry and isn't the sort of book that I can read cover to cover. After a few months I realised that no matter how many times I read from it, I'd never feel like I've given it it's final read.
But understand, the book has not left my desk since it arrived. It has sat faithfully waiting for my next adventure into the next new feature of Vim that I wanted to learn. I use it nearly every day.
And that is where the strength of this book lies - you have an itch, you search the contents/index and boom, you have a clearly written and accessible guide to functionality that will add to your knowledge. To speed uptake, the book is littered with mnemonics and regularly redefines terms used in Vim's own extensive help, where appropriate.
There is nothing in this book that you couldn't find online or in Vim's provided help, but Drew has done the hard work and distilled all of the sources into one consistent voice. This, for me, makes the book incredible easy to pick up and learn from.
If you're wanting to improve your Vim skills, this book comes highly recommended.
p.s. I found myself dipping into the book far more often when I had the paper version sitting on my desk, versus the eBook.
on 1 May 2013
I have been using Vim for 10 years and still learnt a lot from this book. It's not an introductory book. If you're new to Vim, type vimtutor at the command line and follow the tutorial. After a few months of using Vim, reading this book should be very useful.
The book intentionally stays focused on out-of-the-box Vim features. There are a few side notes about third-party plugins, just so you know they exist, but what you learn in this book you'll be able to apply on any instance of Vim. It doesn't say a lot about Vim Script either, instead it focuses on interactive usage. This book does one thing and it does it well.
This book doesn't just introduce Vim features, which would be pretty useless since Vim documentation is already good at that. Instead it shows you how to use those features efficiently with a good mix of theory and practice. It explains the logic and the intention behind each feature and it presents quite realistic examples based on editing code or prose. One thing that surprised me is that even off-line reading (for example on the train) proved quite fruitful. Of course just reading off-line didn't make me memorize the details of the commands but it was enough to remember the intention and usage patterns. Then, back at work, I was usually able to just use Vim doc to find out the execution details of the patterns that I was introduced to by the book.
The author's tone is very casual, without being silly. I remember laughing at loud at a couple of his jokes. It's a very pleasant and relaxing read.
If I had one tiny complain it would be that sometimes there are references to other sections of the book using page numbers when those sections actually happen to be on the next page or even on the same page. So I found myself going like "let's see what on that page 42 he's talking about... oh, I'm on page 42 already!", which is a bit odd. I suppose that's not the author's fault though, but rather an editor constraint.
on 8 August 2014
I cannot say anything bad about this book. I had absolutely no idea how to use Vim and bought this on a... whim.
Today, any editor that isn't vim is ticking me off. Vim is a tremendously useful editor and this book took me from complete novice to 'the guy who does weird things in vim'.
Some books promise to take you from the beginning of a subject and gently guide you through, but after the first chapter the difficulty ramps up uncontrollably. Not this book, it's even increments all the way through.
Some books promise that each chapter can stand on its own, but once you start reading you realize they were lying to sell more books. Not this book. This book delivers to an extent I've not come across in any textbook for the last 7 years.
1) It's clearly written.
2) It Delivers all the info you need to use vim and then tweak vim to your own preferences. Replace <Esc> with kj anyone?
3) It cross references in a very neat manner so you can always find the hacks you're looking for.
4) It has pictures of vim ninjas doing flying kicks to curly braces!
5) It progresses logically through its topics.
7) Buy it!
on 9 August 2013
I think the other reviews have said everything. This is THE book to learn how to use vim correctly. Instead of going through every feature one by one it takes an approach of dissecting different situations. Really, this is the right way to do it! Amazing.
on 10 December 2012
Drew's no-nosnese and straightforward approach which have made his vimcasts video tutorials an internet phenomenon has made this simply the best Vim recipe book ever written.
Being able to dip in and out, with cross-references where required was very useful, literally just a case of "I wonder if I can do X" and flipping to the tutorial in the book.
It's a must for any engineer who use Vim as their editor of choice, or anyone wanting to learn.
on 24 May 2013
I like this book very much. It gives so much more value compared to older o'reilly vim books. I can only recommended it.