As I’ve written previously, people often avoid learning vim because they’re afraid of the effort involved.
For those who have been afraid, I come bearing good news: vim’s learning curve has been greatly exaggerated. You are fully capable of acquiring the basics in just 30 minutes, and you’ll be fairly proficient after only a week. After just three weeks, most people are significantly faster than they were in their old editor. Don’t put off learning this awesome tool any longer.
Here are a few tips that will ensure that your attempt is successful:
Begin with vimtutor.
Open up a shell and type vimtutor. This will launch vim with a tutorial loaded that will teach you vim from the absolute ground up. The tutorial takes about 30 minutes, and when you’re done, you’ll be familiar with the rudiments of the editor: creating and opening files, making changes, saving those changes, etc. You’ll also have been exposed to powerful concept that is vim’s modal editing, and the powerful composability of its commands.
I’ve taught vim to a lot of people, and have had great success with this as first step.
Now stay in the gosh-darn editor.
Experienced vim users try to do all their text editing in vim. And for this first week, you’re going to pretend you’re one of them. If you’re writing text of any kind, do it in vim.
The first hundred vim commands you execute will be your most painful, so get through them as quickly as possible. Don’t leave vim except in major emergencies.
Find an easily-accessible friend who can answer questions.
The second-hardest part of your first week in vim will be the dozens of questions that will pop into your head as you use the editor. The ideal way to handle this is a quickly-accessible guru who can answer your queries. Ideally this person sits next to you. Next best is if they’re available through a low-latency protocol like Slack or IRC. If you don’t have a suitable friend, you can fall back to Stack Overflow or check out #vim on freenode. If all that fails, give me a shout on twitter and I’ll help you out.
Use a cheat sheet.
You’ll want two of these, actually. The first should be a comprehensive list of what all the keys do, this one is fantastic. For your second sheet, write down the 5 plus-or-minus 2 commands you’re specifically trying to memorize right now. Print these out and have them within grabbing distance.
Don’t give up.
This is not beyond you. Things like weaning an arrow key addiction is brutally hard at first, but becomes completely automatic very quickly. Thousands of people have gotten blazing fast with this editor, and you can join them if you like. It’s worth it; I promise.