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Working title: Practical Vim

I am very pleased to announce that the Pragmatic Bookshelf will be publishing my book on Vim. The working title is Practical Vim, and I hope to complete it by the spring of 2011. Here is a synopsis:

For an open source project Vim’s documentation is impressive in scope, but there is still a considerable barrier between the novice and the productive Vim user. Whereas it is possible to improve as a programmer or writer by reading other people’s code, poetry or prose, there are fewer opportunities to learn how to use an editor effectively. Vim’s documentation reads like a dictionary; I propose to write a phrasebook.

I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out the Vim user survey. I collected over 500 responses, which gave a strong representation of my target audience. The number of people who said they would consider buying my book was encouraging:

Most of you consider yourselves to be intermediate users of Vim, and are interested in reading a guide to mastering the editor. Some of you pleaded that I don’t write an introduction to Vim, and others asked that I assume no prior knowledge. It won’t be possible to please everyone.

Practical Vim will not cover Vimscript (the language used to extend Vim’s functionality), which is a subject deserving a book of its own. It will not cover any of the freely available plugins, which are developed at their own pace and would cause the book to require more frequent revision. Practical Vim will focus on the core functionality of Vim.

I believe that mastering Vim is about becoming thoroughly acquainted with the basics. It’s all too easy to memorise the commands from a cheat sheet and think you know Vim. You don’t know a command until you can recognise the situations where it is the best tool for the job. Mastering Vim is about knowing these situations.

Many of you showed an interest in reading a book about Vimscript. So would I! Which is to say, I am not ready to write such a book (yet). As for Vim plugins – I think the book format is not well suited to this subject. The plugin ecosystem is always changing, and that makes the web a more suitable medium for this material. I plan to cover more plugins here on over the coming months.

If you have not yet filled out the Vim user survey, then it’s not too late. I will continue to review any responses that are submitted while I am writing the book.