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Hacking VIM: A Cookbook to Get the Most Out of the Latest VIM Editor [Paperback]

Kim Schulz
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 43.67 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

May 1 2007
This cookbook contains ready-to-use hacks to solve problems Vim users encounter daily, from personalizing Vim to optimizations that boost productivity. It does not cover basic use of the editor but focuses on making life easier for experienced Vim users. Vim is a highly configurable, open-source, multi-platform text editor that is included as standard in most Linux distributions. It can edit code in any language, has a scripting language that allows extensions to its functionality, and is editor of choice for many programmers. This book is up to date with the new features in Vim 7.0. Chapters cover: changing the appearance of the Vim editor; improved file and buffer navigation; using templates, auto-completion, folding, sessions, and registers; formatting text and code and using external formatting scripts; Vim scripts and scripting. Each recipe has a self-contained description of the task it covers, how to use it, the benefits of using it, and compatibility with earlier versions of Vim.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hack Hacking Vim Oct. 21 2008
Format:Paperback
I'm very disappointed with this book, it was a very big let down from the title. More or less this book simply covers what the author did to setup his version of Vim, and offers only brief explanations of the code he used. I've been using Vim for a few months now, and by far this isn't a beginners book, but it also has little value for someone who has used vim for a brief time.

The book starts off by diving right into editing your vimrc file & customizing the way vim will work for you. Only you are just more or less told what to do, with some brief explanations, nothing really to help you make alternative decisions. For instance, Kim provides code such as:
:set status line=%F%m%r%h%w\ [FORMAT=%{&ff}]\ [TYPE=%Y]\ [ASCII=\%03.3b]\
[HEX=\%02.2B]\ [POS=%04l,%04v][%p%%]\ [LEN=%L]
and explains that it gives you specific information in your status line, of course its pretty much unadaptive other than removing the parts that you wouldn't want.

There is no explanation of what something like the [%p%%] accomplishes, or what the purpose of the curly braces are in this situation. While trial and error may help you identify the parts of this code you can't really add anything. (Not to mention my version of vim, 7.2, doesn't recognize the code :set status line, and it took a bit of net searching to find that it should have been :set statusline, where "status line" is all one word with no space.

This type of thing is pretty much what happens throughout the book and is really pretty unhelpful unless you are a clone of Kim and want to setup your Vim to behave exactly like his. In reality, if you are using Vim and ask, "how would I do this?", you are much better off just looking for the answer online.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good book on Vim Aug. 6 2007
By Noah Spurrier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I like this book. It is concise. It assumes that you are probably comfortable with Vim, but want to get more out of Vim. You can easily skip around and browse difference recipes. I also like the fact that it packs in a lot of info in a slim volume. So many authors tend to give too much detail. I like a book like this because
it gives you enough to get you started and no more.

The only downside of this book is that it's $40 for 210 pages. I think that pretty pricey even in the over-priced world of technical books. If this book were $10 I would buy copies for my friends. If this book were $20 I would buy it without reservations. If this book were $30 then I would not be complaining about the price.
But at $40 I'm tempted to say that someone who is moderately motivated could probably save their money and use :h and the vimtips.
44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor reference. Maybe good for beginners+. Aug. 15 2007
By Ted Pavlic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book sells itself as a cookbook for Vim experts. However, it reads like it is written for a juvenile audience that has only recently opened Vim a few times. At points where the book starts to get interesting, it refers the reader to Vim help docs.

Its table of contents is longer (4 pages, two front and two back) than its index (3 pages, two front and one back). I expected to be able to pick this book up and use it as a Vim7 reference. This really isn't possible with this book.

This book has merit, but it's overpriced, and it isn't what it claims to be. Someone needs to write a complete and updated Vim reference. For now, this book mind remind you of a few cool features of Vim, but it will not change your world.

Personally, I get more out of the Vim quick reference cards I have taped around my desk.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but needs more practica information Oct. 28 2007
By Craig Maloney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Throughout the years, there have been many clones and re-implementations of the venerable vi editor. One variant of vi that emerged and stayed with us is VIM. Since it's introduction, VIM has proven itself a worthy successor to the traditional vi editor. VIM has rightfully taken the place of standard vi implementations as the spiritual successor to vi, completely replacing the vi editor on many, if not all of the current Linux distributions. Many improvements have been made to VIM such as tabs, spell checking, folding, and many, many more. However many of these new enhancements may still remain hidden to anyone who isn't keeping up on the cutting edge of VIM development. Hacking VIM is a good resource for becoming more familiar with the new features of VIM and how to make them work best for you.

Hacking VIM is a short book, weighing in at a scant 210 pages. The book contains six chapters, and two appendices. The first chapter covers the history of VIM, and the lineage of vi clones that preceded it. Chapter 2 covers personalizing VIM. This chapter covers how to really take VIM and customize it for your own needs, from changing the fonts and colors for GVIM to personalizing the status bar, and using tabs. Chapter 3 deals with navigating better in VIM, whether it's in a singular file, or a group of files (which is especially important for several programming environments). Chapter 4 discusses the many productivity enhancements of VIM, such as templates, auto-completion, code folding, sessions, and the built in diff mode. Advanced formatting is covered in chapter 5, which has a few interesting tips on making code look better. Rounding out the book (and weighing in as the largest chapter of the book) is scripting VIM. VIM has excellent scripting capabilities, and this chapter covers them in great detail, from finding scripts to writing your own. Lastly, the Appendix covers some of the neat scripts available for VIM, such as a minesweeper game, and the obligatory Towers of Hanoi puzzle and mail client (because no software is considered done until it reads mail and news. :) )

Hacking VIM prefaces each tip with which version of VIM will work with each function. There were only a few instances where I noticed that a particular function was mis-marked as requiring a later version of VIM that actually worked with earlier versions. The book also contains good images which help demonstrate some of the more visual components of VIM, like tabs, folding, and the spell checker.

Hacking VIM is chock-full of useful tips for getting the most out of VIM. The book is aimed at those who have already gained some familiarity with the VIM editor, and is by no means a tutorial for the novice user. There is clearly a bias in this book to the intermediate and advanced VIM users. Unfortunately, this is at odds with the first chapter, which starts with a history of the VIM editor. This wastes some of the space of the book, and would have been best used with more unique and different tips. Also, having some experience with VIM, I found certain tips weren't worth the trouble, and others quite confusing. The section on signs was a bit confusing, and I'm still unclear on why they're worth the trouble. There were several instances where I wondered what the productive benefit of a tip would be. On the other hand, I did find several tips invaluable. It's easy to overlook new functions in the CHANGELOGs, so I missed that newer versions of VIM had integrated spell-checking. Overall, Hacking VIM had enough good tips in it that I hadn't discovered on my own to make it worth the read.

Like most editors, VIM can induce editor fiddling sessions that result in little work being done, and Hacking VIM contains lots of fodder to make even the most ardent tweaker happy. Unless you carefully follow the mailing lists for VIM, and try every new feature as it is released, you might miss some really helpful productivity enhancers. My only wish for this book would be more focus on really productive tips, and less history about the other versions of vi that didn't survive. Hacking VIM may have lots of "of course" items for the truly seasoned VIM user, but for those of us who don't keep up-to-date with the latest features, Hacking VIM is an excellent way to get more familiar with some of the truly great features that have been introduced in later VIM versions.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The better book on vim Aug. 28 2007
By Nicolas Weber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There are only two books on vim: This one and "Vi iMproved" (VIM) by Steve Oualline. In my eyes, "Hacking Vim" is the better of the two books for a couple of reasons:
* It covers features of vim 7.
* It assumes you know the basic stuff and mainly teaches interesting and useful things ;-)
* It has many examples of vim script.
* The typesetting is much nicer, this makes the book easier to read.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars overpriced, but a pretty good survey April 6 2008
By Brian E. Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's not entirely clear who the target market for this book is. Clearly, someone new to vim is not the audience, because it provides no help for those who are unfamiliar with vi style editors. What it seems best at is covering the features unique to vim, and some (very) basic tutorial like guidance. This is not a book for vim experts, none of the material is anything not found in the documentation to vim, and it's all pretty well known.

That said, putting all this information in one easily digested place is pretty useful, and there's a bit about the scripting engine which I thought was a fairly good introduction to the topic, and there's some vim addon suggestions for programming, writing text, and even some games/unusual addons.
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