Do You Love Vim and Native Apps, Too?

One thing that I used to hate was Vim. Back in the day, in undergraduate school, I was introduced to this on Unix. Yes, I said Unix, not Linux. I hated it, Vim that is. I won’t say that I switched to electrical engineering as a major to avoid having to use this editor as I WAS an EE major. Yes, my brain is pretty big. And, yes, I’m really good at math, too.

Well, for most programmers, that’s nothing new. But, oh did I pity the comsci majors. Suckers! Few girls AND they had to use Vim on a daily basis. See, in my program, we had to take C and Fortran. (There was even a girl in one of my EE classes once. I hope things have improved since then!)

That’s it. That’s right, Fortran. Don’t giggle. You’re now hurting my feelings, and I may have to block your IP. Anyway, academicians the world over still often use Fortran for their research codes, especially in scientific computation or high performance computing — number crunching! I would know as I spent some time in a PhD program in scientific computation.

So, in academia, they often refer to their software as codes. I know it’s a bit weird. Anyway, Fortran, like many languages, has evolved to be a rather nice language. You don’t have to align stuff like you did with Fortran 77. That was the version I learned. Yuck.

That is in part why some hate Fortran. The history of it with the fixed indentation requirement. Why do some languages do this you ask? Because you don’t need opening and closing braces like in C. Python uses something similar. This is in part why Python is so clean looking to read. Almost as clean as reading a book. BASIC does this too. No braces means a cleaner look and even fewer bytes, which used to matter.

So let me get back to the premise of this post. Oh, I didn’t tell you that yet did I? It must be rambling Monday — sorry it’s not an alliteration. The premise is that editing text or source code in the cloud still isn’t in prime time. (For the kids out there, prime time is when intact nuclear families would all sit around the television after having dinner together — usually from 7-9PM in the evening. Now kids are free range … oh, and it takes a village.)

OK maybe that’s an extreme. I haven’t used the big vendors’ IDEs like MS Visual Studio on the cloud as of yet. Well, actually I have no plans to either. I presume their code editor in the cloud is amazing! Bill is no fool.

Microsoft (M$) makes amazing dev tools. Visual Studio, the native program, is the best IDE ever made. Yet, play around with the free online editor on OneDrive, and you will see what I mean. Lots of stuff lacking. Like spell checking of markdown files. Gads. By the way, this is a common problem among many — if not most — cloud-based editors.

What to do? It’s all about marketing baby. What? Don’t say that word. Yep. If I told you I have this amazing editor that is native, super fast, and runs on every platform available, what would you say? Not possible, perhaps? Besides you would say the cloud is where it’s at. The cloud is almost as sexy as Kim K or Rita Ora — fill in the blank with your preferred goddess celeb!

My answer is Vim. Vim runs on everything. I still prefer Vim on Mac and Linux, but the Windows version is nice too. But you still want something cloud-based? Don’t you?

Why? The cloud still kind of sucks, so why do you salivate over this so much? Hum? I’m waiting. Native stuff just works. You do realize that, right? OK, you’re on a Chromebook? Toss it. Get a MacBook Air like the rest of civilization. If you’re short on cash, just ask your mom. That’s what they’re for — piggy banks for us devs.

Just don’t be so tight. Hand over your cash to Apple like the rest of us. I’ve had two Chromebooks. One wasn’t too bad. The last one I bought actually uses the Haswell processor. That’s cool. Iggy Azalea cool — reinsert tongue. (Please Google her name later, not now. Of course, if you are from Mars, you may prefer Googling sexy alien pics or if from Japan, sexy fembots.) Yeah, great battery life and pretty fast. But I simply don’t care. Give me a MacBook Air and get out of my way, asshat (French for I don’t like you).

My point is not to fight about computers though. We can save that for another day. Rather that the cloud just isn’t that great. Before “natives” were the norm, it was all about time-sharing. IBM, DEC, Control Data, etc., were the bad boys. Add Cray if you’re an academic.

(Short aside: I studied from the same math department that Seymour Cray earned his master’s in math.)

Anyway, now it’s all about cheap clusters and the cloud. Blah. I think the cloud bites. It’s over-hyped. I still prefer native apps. They just work and they’re so fast — and fewer bugs. No browser inconsistencies either. I tried many of the cloud markdown and source code text editors (aside from Visual Studio online). Most are buggy and slow. And if you want them to work with GitHub or Google Docs, you have to grant the app Google authentication. No thanks.

Besides, if the third-party app isn’t first-party, then why? I can tell you why? Often it’s because they aren’t ready for prime time. If GitHub thought a better web app existed for editing content on GitHub, wouldn’t you think they would’ve just integrated it into their core?

Just like plugins for WordPress. Plugins that are any good usually get adopted into the WordPress core. I’m referring to open source code or apps. Of course there will always be value in third-party apps, but if the app was open source — and most bleeding edge stuff is — why won’t the bigwigs at GitHub just make it part of the core?

Like I said, they probably don’t because they aren’t high quality — at least yet. On GitHub, Gist and GitHub pages are called apps. They are part of GitHub. Hence, they are first-class apps. All the rest are third party.

When I first got my MacBook Air, a few months ago, I loaded TextMate. It’s so pretty — and powerful, too. So Vim is great, but so are others like Notepad++, too. My point is just get out of the cloud and go native. The cloud isn’t ready for us devs yet. (Again MS probably has got it down, but the rest haven’t).

(Back to Vim…)

Am I cheating on Vim? Yes, but don’t tell. I can’t help it. Sometimes you just got to do it. I mean try a different editor that actually loves GUIs and doesn’t fight them. Never forget how to use Vim though.

You never know when you’ll be at a terminal in some space station in twenty years, in a Linux shell, and need to remote in to your server and edit your code remotely — using Vim. Don’t be lazy and use Nano. Anyway it might happen!

What about Atom, made by GitHub, you say. It’s basically a native app, too. I admit so far I don’t use Atom as it seems to load slow on Windows. Crap, I just admitted I use Windows. I must go in hiding now. I use all operating systems. My main desktop just happens to be Windows.

OK, Atom kind of reminds me of Eclipse or NetBeans. The Java bloatware systems. Sorry, but if you have to use them, I get it. But if you don’t need to do Java, why the heck would you use them? Same with MS Visual Studio. Why use it if you don’t need to do C#? Or VB.NET if you’re in the last decade. Just say no!

Next time you need to write some code, open up a native code-based text editor and then go commando with PowerShell or Bash. Fudge the cloud stuff.


Sent from my Windows PC!