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Little changes in Vim

One letter at a time

Vim has commands to delete or change a single letter.

Delete a single letter with x. (Just x without the period!)

Change a single letter with r. (Just r without the period!)

Let's try the single letter commands out!

Small changes

Open vim.

Type i to go into insert mode.

Type Didd you Fill out teh from?

Hit the Esc key or type jj to go to normal mode.

There are four errors in the sentence. Didd should be did, Fill should be fill, teh should be the, and from should be form. Let's fix them the vim way.

Type ?r<Enter>xp?e<Enter>xp3brf?d<Enter>x


Did you see how it worked?

Start from scratch.

Watch what happens as you type in the commands.

Figure out how the commands are grouped.

Figure out why they work.

Did it seem like a lot of work?

Time yourself. It's faster than using a mouse!

Write out what you would do to make these changes with a mouse. Spell out every click, picking up the mouse, hitting backspace, and so on. It's a lot to do! If you practice making these changes the vim way, I guarantee you'll be faster! You might be thinking, "I can't remember all this." But if you learned to touch type, you can learn these commands. It is no more difficult than that. 


There are four groups in the main command:


Let's look at the first part of the first group. 

?r<Enter> is a navigation command: "Search backwards for r."

The second part of the first group, xp is one of my favorite vim idioms. 

xp means "delete and put," which exchanges the order of two letters.

I won't explain the second group, which is virtually identical to the first!

The third group has two parts. The first is 3b which is "Back three words."

The second is rf which is, "Replace the character under the cursor with f."

The fourth group, ?d<Enter>x is "Search backwards for d and delete it."

I have to admit this looks tough on paper. But in practice vim is easier to use than a word processor and mouse. After a while you won't have to think about these commands any more than you think about how to type x when you need it to spell xylophone. You just do it. You don't think about it.


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