Jake Worth

Vim Cheat Sheet

August 22, 2014

The Vim adventures continue. Today I started reading through the ‘help’ section, which is vast and full of surprising ideas. Starting to see why people like this editor so much. It’s a blank slate that you can make into whatever you want.

Vim starts from the assumption that users want no features that they haven’t chosen to enable.

One thing I did yesterday was acquire a ‘Vim Cheat Sheet’. There are many of these on the internet; here is a good one. I like this one because it’s visual, rather than a text list of commands. I feel like I’m more apt to use it and memorize it.

Yesterday I printed out this image, took it to the Fedex store near my office, and had it trimmed to size and laminated. It’s next to my keyboard as I type.

The simple act of printing something out and having it laminated, for some reason, is a trigger for me that it’s important. I’ve already invested thirty minutes in this, so it must be worth something. I’m using the ‘sunk cost fallacy’ to my advantage.

I did a Lean course a few years ago, and one concept that stuck with me was the visual workplace. Exemplified by a Toyota Production System tool called ‘Kanban’, the visual workplace is the idea that visual cues are more compelling than slides, charts, graphs, or the many other tools we use to represent data.

An example would be a shelf filled with important parts. If you work at a PC repair shop, the shelf might be filled with boxes of RAM upgrade kits. You don’t want to run out of these, ever. But you also can’t afford to have too many (inventory), because you have limited shelf space and they become obsolete as technology advances. How do you know when to order more to stay in that ideal zone?

A rudimentary answer would be to calculate your average rate of consumption, figure out when you must order to never run out, and then place an order when you’ve dropped below that threshold.

The ‘Kanban’ solution would be to clear the shelf and stack your ten or fifteen or twenty boxes (or whatever that threshold is) on it, lined up. You then mark where the boxes sit on the shelf, remove them, and paint that area a bright color. Red would make sense to represent ‘shortage’.

You then put the boxes back on the shelf and resume operations. When anybody sees the red paint, it’s time to place a repeatable order for a set quantity of kits.

The idea is to make the ordering process automatic and thoughtless. You never run out and you never have surplus inventory.

That’s what I hope this Vim Cheat Sheet will represent for me. It should be a way to answer my novice Vim questions that is simple and visual. No getting lost in the ‘help’ area or the vast black hole of the internet.

There is such a thing as too much information, and I think too much information was part of what sunk my first attempt at learning Vim.


Jake Worth

I'm Jake Worth, a developer at Hashrocket based in Chicago. Blog About Now