A Quick Guide to viby Wei-Meng Lee
Jaguar includes a few text editors for your editing work. Of these applications, many experienced Unix users will prefer
vi (Visual Editor). While users of GUI systems are more familiar with "user friendly" word processors and text editors,
vi is a powerful and feature-rich text editor that is lean and efficient.
vi requires patience and a little practice; hence, the learning curve is steeper than that of a text editor such as BBEdit. But programmers who regularly use
vi swear by it. For some, using
vi is a symbol of strength, differentiating the men from the boys.
But what if you need to edit a file quickly in Terminal and don't have the time to learn and practice
vi? In this article, I will present a quick guide to getting you started using
vi. Do remember though, topics on
vi are enough to fill an entire book, and hence this article is just a tip of the iceberg. Hopefully, it will shed some light on this powerful editor and tempt you to learn more.
vi, you need to launch Terminal and at the prompt. Type:
vi is launched, you should see a window such as the following:
The first important thing you should know is that
vi operates in two modes--Command mode and Insert mode. Use Command mode to issue commands, such as to delete a line or character. To start typing, you need to use Insert mode. When you first run
vi, you will be in Command mode.
Navigating the Cursor
While most terminals support the use of the cursor arrow keys to move the on-screen cursor around, you might want to know that you can also use the normal keys to move the cursor. As shown in Figure 2, you can use the h, j, k and l keys to navigate the cursor:
At first, this key assignment might feel odd. But with some practice, you'll get more comfortable. And best of all, you can navigate the cursor without lifting your hand!
Interestingly, to move the cursor five spaces to the right, you can type
5l. To move down three lines, you type
3j, and so on.
To jump to the beginning of a line, press
0 (numeric zero). To jump to the end of a line, press
Let's try to type some text into our file.
To start typing, we need to go into Insert mode. Press
i (to insert a character) and type in the following:
vi is an editor in Unix
What happens if you make a mistake and want to change it? Chances are, you'll want to position your cursor at the character to be edited, and by doing so, you use your cursor keys and some strange characters appear. If so, do not panic. Simply press the Esc key to return to Command mode. Pressing the Esc key will switch from Insert mode to Command mode.
Now that you have typed in your first sentence, let's edit this sentence. I want to sentence to read: "vi is a powerful editor in Unix". So, position your cursor at "a" (the underline indicates the position of your cursor):
vi is an editor in Unix
a (for append) and type " powerful". You should now have:
vi is a powerfuln editor in Unix
So what is the difference between
i? If you pressed
i at "a" and type " powerful" you will get:
vi is powerfulan editor in Unix
See the difference?
To insert a new line, simple press the enter key or use
o to insert a new line between two lines.
To delete a character, position the cursor over the character and press
To delete an entire word, say, "powerful", position the cursor over the start of the word and press
dw, such as:
vi is a powerful editor in Unix
To delete an entire line, position the cursor on the line that you want to delete and press
dd. To delete multiple lines, press
n is the number of lines to delete. For example,
d2d will delete two lines.
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