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Finger Bindings

Originally published at earth-shattering kaboom.. You can comment here or there.

(No, this is not about some S&M practice you never knew I was into. Sorry. That’s a whole ‘nother blog. (KIDDING!) This is about typing. More specifically, this is about typing in text editors.) (Also, if you’re not a UNIX / vi geek, this whole post will probably mean nothing to you. You have been warned.)

I’m trying very hard to learn how to function in a new text editor. A couple of people I trust to be awesome geeks have pointed me to Sublime Text, and since I know them to be awesome geeks, and since they are quite enthusiastic in their praise, I figure it worth a shot.

Now, I spent a fair amount of time in a text editor (vi) or a word processor (Word). (Arguments about the merits of each and general religion about either (or about emacs or WordPerfect or pico will be ignored. Actually, no. Arguments for the use of pico will be mocked.) I have mostly trained my fingers to not use vi commands in Word. I do find myself sometimes hitting “escape :w” after typing a particularly long bit of text, but for the most part, my eyes transmit the general Wordiness of the situation to my brain, which then tells my fingers that they should behave a certain way.

So, having (mostly) mastered the art of not using h/j/k/l to navigate, and to use command-f instead of / to search, I figure I can try out this spiffy new editor without much in the way of trouble.

You may now all join me in a round of boisterous laughter. Because, really, that’s what it merits.

Apparently, while my brain recognizes the Wordiness of Word, it refuses to believe that any other text editor (as opposed to Word processor, right?) must be vi, and reacts accordingly. Navigation, search, replace, remapping keys, all of it. The hindbrain complete took over, and I could barely manage to quit the program (which is achieved in the same way as 99% of other Mac apps out there).

Luckily, this spiffy new text editor has a vi-compatible mode. (Or, as they call it, “Vintage Mode.”) But, it makes me wonder: if I’m doing everything I can to convince Sublime that it’s actually vi, then what is the advantage of using a new editor instead of just using vi? Am I missing out of something inherent to the Sublime experience (heh) by demanding it behave like vi?

And why am I spending so much time caring about this?