What Does Vim Mean?

Vim, which stands for Vi Improved, is a popular open source text editor. It is a clone of the Unix text editor Vi. Originally written for the Amiga in 1988, it is available for almost every operating system. Vim is particularly popular with Linux users.


Techopedia Explains Vim

Vim is a text editor originally written by Bram Moolenar. The editor is a clone of Vi, a Unix text editor written by Sun Microsystems cofounder Bill Joy while he was a graduate student at UC Berkeley in the late 1970s. Vi originally appeared as part of the Berkeley Software Distribution of Unix, or BSD.

Moolenar originally wrote Vim for the Commodore Amiga in 1988, but the editor has become widely available for almost every operating system in current use. It is available for Mac OS X, Windows and almost every Linux distribution has Vim in its package management repositories. Vim is open source and while it is distributed free of charge, users are encouraged to make a donation to children in Uganda.

Unlike a word processor, Vim edits files in plain text. It is mostly used for writing programs.

Like its predecessor, Vi, Vim is characterized by its modal user interface. Users move around and select text in the “command mode,” while editing is done in “insert mode.” Vim proponents say that this method is very efficient because the commands are mostly on the home row of the keyboard.

Vim allows for a high degree of customization. Users can define macros to personalize their key mappings as well as automate editing tasks. It also supports syntax highlighting for most programming languages, including C, Python and HTML.

Vim users also have a rivalry with users of another editor popular on Unix/Linux systems, Emacs. This is known as the “editor wars.” A survey by Linux Journal in 2006 showed that Vim was the most popular Linux text editor. A 2016 Stack Overflow survey of developers found that it was the fourth most popular development environment overall, behind Notepad++, Visual Studio and Sublime Text.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.