More Vim-as-IDE pointers

A while back I came upon this article on using Vim as a PHP IDE.  It's got some very good pointers, although the author may have gone a little over the top on trying to mimic the behavior of PHPStorm.  I haven't tried all of those plugins, but quite a few of them are in my Vim config.

If nothing else, the article gives you a good sense for just how powerful Vim is when it comes to extending its behavior.  It's actually pretty impressive.

Cover art for The Pragmatic ProgrammerEarlier this year,  finally read through The Pragmatic Programmer.  It's been sitting on my bookshelf for...at least 15 years now.  I'd read parts of it before, but never went through the whole thing.  Anyway, it contains a section on choosing an editor, and one of the things they stress is extension.  You need to be able to customize your editor to extend its functionality to suit your workflow.  The idea is that the editor is one of your primary tools of code-craft and you need to make it truly yours.  You need to learn to use it well and completely, to make it an extension of your hand.

So far I'm finding Vim to be a pretty good choice in that regard.  Partly this is due to its raw power, but to a large extent it's also due to its age and the ecosystem around it.  Vim is a very old tool and it's very mature and stable.  This is a very good thing, because it means that there are lots of examples and documentation for how to use and customize it.  If you want do do something new with Vim, there's a good change that someone already wrote a plugin to do it.  And if not, there are plenty of plugins out there that you can use as examples. 

Being mature and stable also means that things are unlikely to change out from underneath you.  Sure, new features are still being added, but the basic functionality has been largely unchanged for a while.  This is what you want from a good tool.  If you're going to invest a lot of time and effort to get good at using a tool, you want that investment to retain its value.  You don't want to spend three months every couple of years re-learning because the tool vendor decided to re-architect their product or switch to the latest trendy programming language.

So while Vim may be old and boring, there's something to be said for being old and boring.  When was the last time you saw an old, boring person on The Jerry Springer Show?  Doesn't happen.  New and interesting may be exciting, but there's a reason why telling someone "may you live in interesting times" is supposed to be a curse.

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