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Vim (text editor)

Vim logo
Vim running in a terminal emulator
Original author(s) Bram Moolenaar
Initial release 2 November 1991 (1991-11-02)[1]
Stable release 7.4 (2013-08-10)
Preview release 7.4b.000 (2013-07-28)
Written in C and Vimscript
Operating system Cross-platform: Unix, Linux, Microsoft Windows, OS X, iOS, Android
Available in English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Persian, Polish, Russian, Spanish[2]
Type Text editor
License Free software (Vim License), charityware
Website .org.vimwww

Vim (;[3] a contraction of Vi IMproved) is a text editor written by Bram Moolenaar and first released publicly in 1991. Based on the ideas of the vi editor common to Unix-like systems, Vim is designed for use both from a command-line interface and as a standalone application in a graphical user interface. Vim is free and open source software and is released under a license that includes some charityware clauses, encouraging users who enjoy the software to consider donating to children in Uganda.[4] The license is compatible with the GNU General Public License.

Although Vim was originally released for the Amiga, Vim has since been developed to be cross-platform, supporting many other platforms. In 2006, it was voted the most popular editor amongst Linux Journal readers.[5]


  • History 1
  • Interface 2
  • Customization 3
  • Features and improvements over vi 4
  • Availability 5
  • Release history 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Bram Moolenaar began working on Vim for the Amiga computer in 1988. Moolenaar first publicly released Vim (v1.14) in 1991.[6] Vim was based on an earlier editor, Stevie, for the Atari ST,[1] created by Tim Thompson, Tony Andrews and G.R. (Fred) Walter.

The name "Vim" is an acronym for "Vi IMproved"[7] because Vim is an extended version of the vi editor, with many additional features designed to be helpful in editing program source code. Originally, the acronym stood for "Vi IMitation", but that was changed with the release of Vim 2.0 in December 1993.[8] A later comment states that the reason for changing the name was that Vim's feature set surpassed that of vi.[9]


Graphical Vim under GTK+ 2.

Like vi, Vim's interface is not based on menus or icons but on commands given in a text user interface; its GUI mode, gVim, adds menus and toolbars for commonly used commands but the full functionality is still expressed through its command line mode. Vi (and by extension Vim) tends to allow a typist to keep their fingers on the home row, which can be an advantage for a touch typist.[10]

Vim has a built-in tutorial for beginners (accessible through the "vimtutor" command). There is also the Vim Users' Manual that details Vim's features. This manual can be read from within Vim, or found online.[11][12]

Vim also has a built-in help facility (using the :help command) that allows users to query and navigate through commands and features.


Part of Vim's power is that it can be extensively customized. The basic interface can be controlled by the many options available, and the user can define personalized key mappings—often called macros—or abbreviations to automate sequences of keystrokes, or even call internal or user defined functions.

There are many plugins available that will extend or add new functionality to Vim. These complex scripts are usually written in Vim's internal scripting language vimscript.[13] Vim also supports scripting using Lua (as of Vim 7.3), Perl, Python, Racket[14] (formerly PLT Scheme), Ruby, and Tcl.

There are projects bundling together complex scripts and customizations and aimed at turning Vim into a tool for a specific task or adding a major flavour to its behaviour. Examples include Cream, which makes Vim behave like a click-and-type editor, or VimOutliner, which provides a comfortable outliner for users of Unix-like systems.

Features and improvements over vi

Vim has a vi compatibility mode but when not in this mode Vim has many enhancements over vi.[15] However, even in compatibility mode, Vim is not 100% compatible with vi as defined in the Single Unix Specification[16] and POSIX (e.g., Vim does not support vi's open mode, only visual mode). Vim has nevertheless been described as “very much compatible with Vi”.[17]

Some of Vim's enhancements include completion, comparison and merging of files (known as vimdiff), a comprehensive integrated help system, extended regular expressions, scripting languages (both native and through alternative scripting interpreters such as Perl, Python, Ruby, Tcl, etc.) including support for plugins, a graphical user interface (known as gvim), limited integrated development environment-like features, mouse interaction (both with and without the GUI), folding, editing of compressed or archived files in gzip, bzip2, zip, and tar format and files over network protocols such as SSH, FTP, and HTTP, session state preservation, spell checking, split (horizontal and vertical) and tabbed windows, unicode and other multi-language support, syntax highlighting, trans-session command, search and cursor position histories, multiple level and branching undo/redo history which can persist across editing sessions, and visual mode.


Whereas vi was originally available only on Unix operating systems, Vim has been ported to many operating systems including AmigaOS (the initial target platform), Atari MiNT, BeOS, DOS, Windows starting from Windows 95, OS/2, OS/390, MorphOS, OpenVMS, QNX, RISC OS, GNU/Linux, BSD, and Classic Mac OS.[18] Also, Vim is shipped with every copy of Apple OS X.[19]

Independent ports of Vim are available both for Android[20] and iOS.[21]

Release history

Date Version Changes and additions
June, 1987 N/A Tim Thompson releases Stevie (ST editor for VI enthusiasts), a limited vi clone for the Atari ST, posting the source on Usenet.[22][23]
June, 1988 N/A Tony Andrews improves Stevie, and ports it to Unix and OS/2, releasing version 3.10 on Usenet.[22][24]
1988 1.0 Bram Moolenaar creates Vi IMitation for the Amiga, based on Stevie, never publicly released
November 2, 1991 1.14[9] First public release for the Amiga on Fred Fish disk #591[25]
1992 1.22[9] Port to Unix. Vim now competes with vi.
December 14, 1993 2.0[8] This is the first release using the name Vi IMproved.
August 12, 1994 3.0[9] Support for multiple windows
May 29, 1996 4.0[9][26] Graphical user interface
February 19, 1998 5.0[9][27] Syntax highlighting, basic scripting (user defined functions, commands, etc.)
April 6, 1998 5.1 Bug fixes, various improvements
April 27, 1998 5.2 Long line support, file browser, dialogs, popup menu, select mode, session files, user defined functions and commands, Tcl interface, etc.
August 31, 1998 5.3 Bug fixes, etc.
July 25, 1999 5.4 Basic file encryption, various improvements
September 19, 1999 5.5 Bug fixes, various improvements
January 16, 2000 5.6 New syntax files, bug fixes, etc.
June 24, 2000 5.7 New syntax files, bug fixes, etc.
May 31, 2001 5.8 New syntax files, bug fixes, etc.
September 26, 2001 6.0[9][28] Folding, plugins, multi-language, etc.
March 24, 2002 6.1 Bug fixes
June 1, 2003 6.2 GTK2, Arabic language support, :try command, minor features, bug fixes
June 7, 2004 6.3 Bug fixes, translation updates, mark improvements
October 15, 2005 6.4 Bug fixes, updates to Perl, Python, and Ruby support
May 7, 2006 7.0[29] Spell checking, code completion, tab pages (multiple viewports/window layouts), current line and column highlighting, undo branches, and more
May 12, 2007 7.1 Bug fixes, new syntax and runtime files, etc.
August 9, 2008 7.2[30] Floating point support in scripts, refactored screen drawing code, bug fixes, new syntax files, etc.
August 15, 2010 7.3 Lua support, Python3 support, Blowfish encryption, persistent undo/redo
August 10, 2013 7.4[31] A new, faster regular expression engine.

See also


  1. ^ a b Paul, Ryan (2011-11-02). "Two decades of productivity: Vim's 20th anniversary". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  2. ^ "Vim in non-English languages". Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  3. ^ Vim documentation: intro: "Vim is pronounced as one word, like Jim, not vi-ai-em. It's written with a capital, since it's a name, again like Jim."
  4. ^ Vim documentation: uganda
  5. ^ "Linux Journal: 2003 Readers' Choice Awards". 2003-11-01. Retrieved 2006-05-24. ; "Linux Journal: 2004 Readers' Choice Awards". 2004-11-01. Retrieved 2006-05-24. ; "Linux Journal: 2005 Readers' Choice Awards". 2005-09-28. Retrieved 2006-05-24. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "ICCF Holland — helping children in Uganda". ICCF Holland. Retrieved 2007-10-23. 
  8. ^ a b "Filewatcher". Retrieved February 26, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Moolenaar, Bram (2002-01-15). "Vim, an open-source text editor". Retrieved 2005-10-24. 
  10. ^ Lamb, Linda; Robbins, Arnold (1998). Learning the Vi Editor. O'Reilly Media, Inc. p. 305.  
  11. ^ Vim manual at
  12. ^ Oualline, Steve (April 2001). Vi IMproved (VIM). New Riders Publishers.  
  13. ^ help vim-script-intro
  14. ^ "Vim documentation: if_mzsch". 11 February 2010. 
  15. ^ Vim help system (type ":help" within Vim)
  16. ^ The Open Group (2008), "vi — screen-oriented (visual) display editor", Single Unix Specification, Version 4 (IEEE Std 1003.1-2008), retrieved 2010-12-27 
  17. ^ Peppe, Benji, Charles Campbell (2004-01-02). "Vim FAQ". Retrieved 2010-12-27.  (question 1.3)
  18. ^ ":help sys-file-list"
    "Vim Online: Downloads". Retrieved 2007-01-07. 
  19. ^ "Mac OS X Manual Page For vim(1)". Apple Inc. Retrieved 2010-01-12. 
  20. ^ "Vim Touch". Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  21. ^ "App Store - Vim". Apple Inc. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  22. ^ a b Thompson, Tim (2000-03-26). "Stevie". Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  23. ^ Tim Thompson (1987-06-28). "A mini-vi for the ST".  
  24. ^ Tony Andrews (1988-06-06). "v15i037: Stevie, an "aspiring" VI clone for Unix, OS/2, Amiga".  
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Official Vim Manual, Version 4 summary". 2004-03-12. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  27. ^ "Official Vim Manual, Version 5 summary". 2004-01-17. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  28. ^ "Official Vim Manual, Version 6 summary". 2004-03-12. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  29. ^ "Official Vim Manual, Version 7 summary". 2006-05-10. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ Google Discussiegroepen. Retrieved on 2013-12-09.

External links

  • Official website
  • Online Vim documentation
  • Online Vim help pages
  • Vi IMproved - Vim, by Steve Oualline and errata.
  • Books
  • Vim Introduction and Tutorial
  • Vim tips and tricks for advanced users on Benjamin Kuperman home page
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