Nate Meyvis

How not to learn software

How not to learn software

I stand by this post on learning Vim. Now I want to double down on the third point I made there: If you're new to Vim, default to not installing plugins. And only make a .vimrc when you really need to. Here's why:

  1. What the plugin does is often doable in vanilla Vim.
  2. If it's not, there's probably a reason vanilla Vim doesn't include it.
  3. The time you spend worrying about the plugin is time you can't spend learning Vim itself.
  4. Plugins are buggy.
  5. Plugins can be hard to install and maintain.
  6. To the extent you rely on plugins, your Vim skills are less portable. When you fire up Vim on whatever server you need to be working in, some of your muscle memory won't apply.

Eventually, you'll need to install a plugin (e.g., for Copilot) or persist a preference (e.g., about indentation). But your .vimrc and plugins are like any other code in that you'll pay a maintenance cost as long as you have them.

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Published 2023-05-01.