Bryan English

Modern Vim

07 Sep 2012

A few days ago, Nathan Barry unleashed his ebook upon the Internet, netting him over $6000 inside a few hours. This got me thinking about a domain name I had bought several months ago, modernvim.com, and what I could do with it.

The Motivation

I had long thought about getting into writing and self-publishing a tome on the usage of Vim in the modern world. Too often, I read a Vim book, and it’s more of the same tutorial stuff, like how to move around, how to use tabs, bufers and windows and other things that form a basic usage manual.

I want to go beyond that and cover some of the many new arrivals in the Vim community, such as Vundle and Powerline. There are ways of tailoring Vim to your particular development environment and style that are a lot easier using some of the vast collection of Vimscripts available. I also want to cover the many forks of Vim that may be more suited to modern development stacks. I want my book to guide people toward getting the most out of their Vim.

This can also be viewed as a learning experience. I’ve been using Vim on and off for at least 5 years, and full-time for 2, but I still feel like I have a lot left to learn. Teaching others is a really awesome way to solidify one’s knowledge.

The Pre-Launch

I saw that Nathan had gotten a lot of good traffic to his sales page by building up a mailing list ahead of time. I figured that this approach might work for me as well, so I whipped up a quick Rails app to collect email addresses and published it at modernvim.com.

The next day, I submitted the link to Hacker News and and waited.

The Result

At 24 hours since the initial tweet and Hacker News post, I had collected 1904 emails! That’s a completely awesome response. Some of them are fake or spam-honeypots, but overall it seems like a lot of people are genuinely interested in hearing more. The Vim community is huge, and from what I can tell, has been rather supportive of new Vim documentation, so I’m pretty optimistic about the success of this book. Now I just have to write it. :)

2021 Update: Astute readers might notice that this post is from way back in 2012 and no such book exists. At least not written by me. As it turns out, motivation is hard. Another hard thing is natvigating the legalities of self-publishing while under a work visa that precludes income from sources other than the sponsoring employer. I gave up on the notion of writing Modern Vim rather quickly, and while I’m not not encumbered by such legal shenanigans, my interests have changed over time. I stil use Vim (actually NeoVim), but have no interest in writing at length about it. Sorry if you’re one of the folks who gave me their email. The email list has long since been deleted.