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I'm Ditching VS Code

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My journey has been one where I find a text editor I like and I settle with that. I learnt programming around 2015 but nothing too serious, heck, I used Notepad on Windows. By 2016, I got more into it, discovered Atom and immediately fell in love with it.

It was marketed towards the kind of person who would tinker with things to suite their needs. Superficially though, I also liked the default colour scheme - One Dark.

Atom was my ride-or-die even though VS Code had gained some traction by now but that was until I joined uni in 2018. I noticed students who were more experienced than I was using VS Code, the least I could do was give it a try. I adopted it and it has been my preferred text editor. So what’s changed?

Why I Still Like VS Code

Yes, I still like VS Code. I have it configured as best as I can to how I like, it’s easy to tweak so we could make a case for why I shouldn’t leave it.

It has an integrated terminal, an entire marketplace for extensions, easily syncs my settings and has lots of themes. Also, any new technology or programming language will most likely have a guide on how to setup VS Code for it. It can act like an IDE or a simple text editor.

I still prefer using it for larger projects such as mobile development with Flutter because it gets the job done.

These and many more are the reasons why year on year, VS Code leads in various surveys.

Why Vim?

My previous encounter with Vim was the classic, enter and get stuck trying to exit. That was until I enrolled for a Software Engineering course with ALx Africa and we had to use Vim full time.

I watched a lot of tutorials on YouTube and one channel that kept popping up was ThePrimeagen. Using VS Code after watching him felt inefficient. I mean the dude was flying through, I couldn’t keep up but it inspired me.

Vim is minimal with great freedom on how maximal you want to make it. I mean minimalism is not the current trend but I still practice some of the learnings from it.

Coupled with the fact that as a Linux user, I often use the terminal, Vim was essentially shouting my name.

The Switch

My course forced me to dive headfirst into Vim since we had to SSH into remote servers and the terminal was our only option.

We had a two-week period to get the gist of things so my plan was to quickly learn the basics before slowly swimming to the deep end.

Vimtutor came to the rescue in learning Vim movements and other basic commands, it’s literally a program that runs you through a tutorial of vim.

I later realised we didn’t need to SSH into ALx Africa’s servers, that was just an easier way to facilitate those who don’t use Linux or don’t have easy access to computers. At this point, I could use VS Code on my PC and forget about Vim but I had the itch from my Atom days to stick and tinker around.

It felt amazing to use Vim, maybe I’m better than everyone else 😂.

How’s the going?

It’s been about 4 months now, and I’m not ThePrimeagen level but I feel comfortable with Vim.

I mentioned Vim comes with great freedom on how maximal you want to make it, I started with the simple basics of adding line numbers, configuring indentation, syntax processing etc.

Thereafter, I discovered TJ Devries and opted to go with Neovim due to some good defaults it packs and the community behind it. I slowly added more to my config, setup plugins, language support and even migrated from Vimscript to Lua.

Currently I use it for most of my projects.


So why I’m I ditching VS Code? I like the minimal nature of Vim, the fact it’s terminal-based, the endless configuration options and it’s just fun. Perhaps ditching is overexaggerating but I will use VS Code way less than I used to. Who knows, I might switch back to it in the far future.

Vim is a great tool but can be very overwhelming with its steep learning curve. The trick is to add things bit by bit as well as understanding what you add to you config rather than blindly copying someone’s setup. That being said, here’s my dotfiles for inspiration.

It is also an interesting and fun rabbit hole to go down from vanilla Vim to the variety of flavours. There’s always something to learn.

Till next time, cheers.


What is Vim?