Book Review: Hacking Vim

Some time ago, Packt Publishing sent me a copy of Hacking Vim: A Cookbook to get the Most out of the Latest Vim Editor by Kim Shulz to review. I read through it pretty quickly and I must say I thought it was a good book for the most part. The book is definitely focused at a very niche audience as there aren’t a lot of us Vimmers around. Furthermore, I can’t say I’d recommend the book for the casual Vimmer or those that use only ViEmu in Visual Studio. If, however, you are a moderate to hardcore Vim user or are interested in becoming one I would definitely recommend grabbing a copy.

There is a lot of information in this book. It wastes no time or space describing the many ways to make your Vim experience even more efficient than it already is. Because of its very cut and dry style it reads more like a reference book than anything else, but I think that’s perfectly fine for this style of book. It is essentially a slightly more readable, more detailed and better written version of a lot of the Vim help. It’s also nice because in many of the chapters, especially the first few ("Better Navigation" and "Production Boosters") you can pick up a lot of interesting tips. I even learned a few handy commands I had no idea about.

There’s plenty of good information on writing Vim plugins and customizing Vim that I wish I would have had six years back when I wrote Vim plugins. Ah, looking at that code brings back fond memories, mostly involving learning Regular Expressions through trial and error and I actually used /// comments in C# code, but I digress.

I also liked the stuff on firing Ruby from Vim–it reminded me I need to get a Ruby environment set up in Vim. Oh, and just for fun it seems, Kim even included an appendix showcasing some of the ridiculous things that have been written for Vim like Nibbles and Rubik’s Cube. Heck, I just found a Twitter client for Vim (yea, I twitter now in case you care).

There are a few things wrong with it though. Some things are too close to the Vim built-in help and you’re probably better off just looking there. Also, the index isn’t very useful and it’d be nice to have a searchable version of the book as well, so maybe the eBook version is a good idea. I wish all book companies would bundle eBooks with paper books, but, I digress again. Like I said, there is a lot of information in this book. It’s not for everyone, but I think most Vim users will find plenty of useful stuff in its pages.

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  • Chris Ortman

    I really like the rails vim plugin. After I started using that was the first time I realized you could script vim using ruby, although I haven’t had much reason to do it yet.

    I’ve been playing around with textmate for rails and even with all those scripts I keep finding myself wanting to go back to vim.

    I think the only thing that really bothers me about vim is the lack of a good file browser. I use minibufexpl but it isn’t near textmates drawer (i think that’s what it’s called)