notepad.exe vs vi: Which Is More Difficult To Learn? The Answer Isn’t Quite What You Expect.

Migrating from Windows to Linux is no simple task. One of the things that some people complain about is the difficulty of text editing in console mode.

You may or may not know that Notepad.exe is actually pretty damn complicated. Just take a look at all the documented keyboard shortcuts:

New Ctrl+N
Open Ctrl+O
Save Ctrl+Save
Save As Alt, F, A
Page Setup Alt, F, U
Print Ctrl + P
Exit Alt+F4

Undo Ctrl+Z
Cut Ctrl+X
Copy Ctrl+C
Paste Ctrl+P
Delete Del
Find Ctrl+F
Find Next F3
Replace Ctrl+H
Goto Ctrl+G
Select All Ctrl+A
Time/Date F5

Word Wrap Alt, O, W
Font Alt, O, F

Status Bar Alt, V, S

Help Topics F1
About Notepad Alt, H, A

Here are some some undocumented keyboard shortcuts:

Goto Beginning of Next Word: Ctrl+Right Arrow
Goto Beginning Previous Word: Ctrl+Left Arrow

Select From Current Position To Next Word: Ctrl+Shift+Left Arrow
Select From Current Position To Previous Word: Ctrl+Shift+Left Arrow

Select From Current Position to Beginning of Line: Shift+Home
Select From Current Position to End of Line: Shift+End

This list of undocumented keyboard shortcuts for notepad are pretty long, that’s just a start from memory. If you count all the extra undocumented keyboard shortcuts, notepad has tons of functionality that is under utilized.

Did we ever notice or care that notepad had that many shortcuts? Most power users simply knew these shortcut commands by heart and never even had a second thought that notepad was difficult to learn, or poorly documented.

Using the vi editor is not complicated. I think most people just assume at first glance at a huge list of commands that it’s really hard to remember everything. It’s not that hard! Remember how ‘easy to use’ notepad seemed at first? Apply that attitude to learning vi!

The hard part about learning vi is that it doesn’t have a graphical interface for training wheels. You get right dropped right into a window that doesn’t necessarily want to help you get up and running quickly. So here are a few keyboard shortcuts for vi starting from the equivalents for notepad that are listed above:

New vi newfile
Open vi filename
Save :w[Enter]
Save As :w filename[Enter]
Exit :q
Undo u
Cut y
Paste P
Delete d
Find /text
Find Next n
Replace :%s/search/replace/g
Goto :linenumber
Help F1

Here’s where you, my readers come in. I’ve been looking all over, but I just can’t seem to find replacements for the following commands that have similar function without making things difficult:

Copy ?
Select All ?
Time/Date ?
Word Wrap ?
Font ?
Page Setup ?
Print ?

I assume since these were something I couldn’t find really easily that they are probably configuration settings, somewhere, but I’ve been looking for awhile and no luck.

Also, here is a pretty fantastic cheat sheet for vi (or vim) that I’ve found pretty handy:

vi-vim cheat sheet


Few more announcements: Friday is my birthday, and I’ll be out of town. The the next several days will be pretty quiet. I’ll probably do the 6th edition of Linux Nation tomorrow morning, but that should be all you see from me until Monday, and I’ll be back with a vengeance.

Good news if anyone is keeping up with the times here, girlfriend has been quoted as asking, “can’t we just take off Windows?” Needless to day, that experiment is also going much better than I expected.

Also check out the right sidebar, Atlas carrying the Firefox icon was an idea I came up with, it was all done using Inkscape and GIMP. Let me know what you think of it. If you’re too lazy to scroll up, here it is:

atlas with firefox

See ya next week,