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til / my code editor journey

Starting out #

I started coding at 11 years old (around 1996). I don’t think we had internet at home, but if we did, it was probably very slow. But, my mom worked at one of Sweden’s largest banks and whenever I was there for a day, I would spin up Microsoft Frontpage. I thought <frame> designs were super cool, but I remember having a hard time understanding how to create them. My first website was deployed to Geocities. I don’t remember what it looked like, but I guess it was a lot of neon colors, “under construction” GIFs, and, of couse, the mandatory user counter.

In 1998, there was a reform in Sweden that subsidized renting PCs from your employer (Hem-PC-reformen). This allowed us to get a new computer with a dial-up modem. That same year, the video game Delta Force was released. I played it a lot (even when I wasn’t allowed to, since dial-up was expensive). I started creating websites for the teams I was playing with using Macromedia Dreamweaver. It had a magic feature where you could create linked sections on images by simply drawing the clickable areas.

Finding what I liked #

The next transition was to Coda in 2008 when I started managing the website of my chapter at KTH. I later dropped out and started a formal education to become a web developer instead. What I remember most from Coda was the great FTP integration that made it easy to update the site on the server.

I then switched to Sublime Text and later GitHub’s Atom. I liked that they felt lean, but could be extended.

Next came VS Code and I still think it’s a great tool. Beautiful themes, great extensions, and plenty of other features. I customized my setup a lot and even tried creating some extensions.

Making it my own #

I stuck with VS Code for about three years until I felt like testing something else and Neovim had caught my attention. It was a short-lived attempt which failed after a couple of days. Due to the steep learning curve, I kept jumping back and forth between Neovim and VS Code to get any work done. Ultimately, it felt too hard and I went back to VS Code. At least for a while…

I don’t like giving up, so after a couple of months I decided to give Neovim another shot. What made it stick was to be content with being slower in the beginning. It also helped to be curious, trying out every command I could find, and watching several YouTube tutorials. Once I got over the initial bumps, I slowly started gaining speed again. I made my first dotfiles commit on November 4, 2018.

Why Neovim? #

These are parts of why I’m still using Neovim after almost 5 years. I can honestly say that this is the happiest I’ve ever been with an editor.

  • I want to have a setup that is tailored just for me. Without all the extra features of a proper IDE that I never use.

  • I’ve always been awed by people using Vim and wondered if I could benefit from learning it. I’ve been called fast at programming, but could I become even faster? Blazingly fast even?

  • I wanted to have a tighter connection between code and terminal. I always ran test and other tasks in a terminal next to VS Code, but it felt awkward navigating back and forth. Using Neovim together with tmux has been *chef’s kiss*.

Most editors are like a pre-built box of LEGO. Neovim on the other hand is like a box of loose LEGO. You can build whatever you want with it. – Ben Frain

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