vi is healthier for you

Joe Grossberg wrote in his blog about emacs, the famous GNU editor, and I commented on the syndicated copy at LiveJournal. Here’s my comment:

Eventually, newbies get a clue and stop using emacs (you know, the editor they learned in college because either that’s what they were shown by some other newbie, or that’s what the default was).

Yes, vi (or, vim, if you’re so inclined) is the One True Editor. I’m not starting a holy war, here — I’m ending it.


Use Emacs in Vi Mode

I have long recommended Emacs in Vi mode (called VIP) to those who were moving from Vi to Emacs. Now I advocate this mode for everyone. Why? The control and meta sequences that Emacs provide for cursor motion and text manipulation will destroy your wrists. As the O’Reilly book “Learning GNU Emacs” (p. 10) says about the Emacs menu: “People who have or are at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome can avoid reaching for the CTRL key, an action known to aggravate that condition.” Is it a coincidence that James Gosling, the originator of Emacs, and Richard Stallman, the major developer, both have severe wrist problems? Emacs sequences use your pinkies constantly in a strained position. Vi sequences balance the load between fingers, with the fewest possible strokes. (I don’t know how Bill Joy’s wrists are doing.)

Needless to say, in over 16 years of typing on average 8-12 hours a day and I type 90-120 WPM, I’ve never once complained of CTS or RSI. Of course, I’ve been a vi user since day one.

Keep insisting emacs is better than vi, but one thing’s for sure: vi’s healthier for you.

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