Vim (text editor)

Vim is a clone, with additions, of Bill Joy's vi text editor program for Unix. Vim's author, Bram Moolenaar, based it on the source code for a port of the Stevie editor to the Amiga and released a version to the public in 1991. 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. The license is compatible with the GNU General Public License through a special clause allowing distribution of modified copies "under the GNU GPL version 2 or any later version".
Since its release for the Amiga, cross-platform development has made it available on [|many other systems]. In 2006, it was voted the most popular editor amongst Linux Journal readers; in 2015 the Stack Overflow developer survey found it to be the third most popular text editor, and the fifth most popular development environment in 2019.


Vim's forerunner, Stevie, was created by Tim Thompson for the Atari ST in 1987 and further developed by Tony Andrews and G.R. Walter.
Basing his work on Stevie, Bram Moolenaar began working on Vim for the Amiga computer in 1988, with the first public release in 1991.
At the time of its first release, the name "Vim" was an acronym for "Vi IMitation", but this changed to "'Vi IMproved" late in 1993.
DateVersionChanges and additions
June, 1987N/ATim Thompson releases Stevie, a limited vi clone for the Atari ST, posting the source on Usenet.
June, 1988N/ATony Andrews improves Stevie, and ports it to Unix and OS/2, releasing version 3.10 on Usenet.
19881.0Bram Moolenaar creates Vi IMitation for the Amiga, based on Stevie, never publicly released
November 2, 19911.14First public release for the Amiga on Fred Fish disk #591
19921.22Port to Unix, never publicly released. Vim now competes with vi.
December 14, 19932.0This is the first release using the name Vi IMproved.
August 12, 19943.0Support for multiple windows
May 29, 19964.0Graphical user interface
February 19, 19985.0Syntax highlighting, basic scripting
April 6, 19985.1Bug fixes, various improvements
April 27, 19985.2Long line support, file browser, dialogs, popup menu, select mode, session files, user defined functions and commands, Tcl interface, etc.
August 31, 19985.3Bug fixes, etc.
July 25, 19995.4Basic file encryption, various improvements
September 19, 19995.5Bug fixes, various improvements
January 16, 20005.6New syntax files, bug fixes, etc.
June 24, 20005.7New syntax files, bug fixes, etc.
May 31, 20015.8New syntax files, bug fixes, etc.
September 26, 20016.0Folding, plugins, multi-language, etc.
March 24, 20026.1Bug fixes
June 1, 20036.2GTK2 and libgnome2 support, Arabic language support, :try command, minor features, bug fixes
June 7, 20046.3Bug fixes, translation updates, mark improvements
October 15, 20056.4Bug fixes, updates to Perl, Python, and Ruby support
May 7, 20067.0Spell checking, code completion, tab pages, current line and column highlighting, undo branches, and more
May 12, 20077.1Bug fixes, new syntax and runtime files, etc.
August 9, 20087.2Floating point support in scripts, refactored screen drawing code, bug fixes, new syntax files, etc.
August 15, 20107.3Lua support, Python3 support, Blowfish encryption, persistent undo/redo
August 10, 20137.4A new, faster regular expression engine.
September 12, 20168.0Asynchronous I/O support, jobs, lambdas, etc.
May 18, 20188.1Terminal window support and terminal gdb plugin.
December 13, 20198.2Popup windows.


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 tends to allow a typist to keep their fingers on the home row, which can be an advantage for a touch typist.
Vim has a built-in tutorial for beginners called vimtutor. It's usually installed along with Vim, but it exists as a separate executable and can be run with a shell command. There is also the Vim Users' Manual that details Vim's features and a . This manual can be read from within Vim, or found online.
Vim also has a built-in help facility that allows users to query and navigate through commands and features.


Vim has 12 different editing modes, 6 of which are variants of the 6 basic modes. The basic modes are:


Vim is highly customizable and extensible, making it an attractive tool for users who demand a large amount of control and flexibility over their text editing environment. Text input is facilitated by a variety of features designed to increase keyboard efficiency. Users can execute complex commands with "key mappings," which can be customized and extended. The "recording" feature allows for the creation of macros to automate sequences of keystrokes and call internal or user-defined functions and mappings. Abbreviations, similar to macros and key mappings, facilitate the expansion of short strings of text into longer ones and can also be used to correct mistakes. Vim also features an "easy" mode for users looking for a simpler text editing solution.
There are many plugins available that extend or add new functionality to Vim, such as , , . These complex scripts are usually written in Vim's internal scripting language, vimscript, but can be written in other languages as well.
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 that mode isn't used, Vim has many enhancements over vi. However, even in compatibility mode, Vim is not entirely compatible with vi as defined in the Single Unix Specification and POSIX. Vim has nevertheless been described as "very much compatible with Vi".
Some of Vim's enhancements include completion, comparison and merging of files, a comprehensive integrated help system, extended regular expressions, scripting languages including support for plugins, a graphical user interface, limited integrated development environment-like features, mouse interaction, 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 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.

Vim script

Vim script is the scripting language built into Vim. Based on the ex editor language of the original vi editor, early versions of Vim added commands for control flow and function definitions. Since version 7, Vim script also supports more advanced data types such as lists and dictionaries and object-oriented programming. Built-in functions such as map and filter allow a basic form of functional programming, and Vim script has lambda since version 8.0. Vim script is mostly written in an imperative programming style.
Vim macros can contain a sequence of normal-mode commands, but can also invoke ex commands or functions written in Vim script for more complex tasks. Almost all extensions of the core Vim functionality are written in Vim script, but plugins can also utilize other languages like Perl, Python, Lua, Ruby, Tcl, or Racket. These plugins can be installed manually, or through a plugin manager such as Vundle, Pathogen, or Vim-Plug.
Vim script files are stored as plain text, similarly to other code, and the filename extension is usually .vim. One notable exception to that is Vim's config file, .vimrc.


" This is the Hello World program in Vim script.
echo "Hello, world!"
" This is a simple while loop in Vim script.
let i = 1
while i < 5
echo "count is" i
let i += 1
unlet i


Whereas vi was originally available only on Unix operating systems, Vim has been ported to many operating systems including AmigaOS, Atari MiNT, BeOS, DOS, Windows starting from Windows NT 3.1, OS/2, OS/390, MorphOS, OpenVMS, QNX, RISC OS, Linux, BSD, and Classic Mac OS. Also, Vim is shipped with every copy of Apple macOS.
Independent ports of Vim are available both for Android and iOS.


Neovim is a forkwith additionsof Vim that strives to improve the extensibility and maintainability of Vim. Neovim shares the same configuration syntax with Vim; as a result, the same configuration file can be used with both editors, although there are minor differences between the exact options used between the two. If the added features of Neovim are not used, Neovim is compatible with almost all of Vim's features.
The Neovim project was started in 2014, with some Vim community members offering early support of the high-level refactoring effort to provide better scripting, plugins, and integration with modern GUIs. The project is free software and its source code is available on GitHub.
Neovim had a successful fundraiser on 23 March 2014, supporting at least one full-time developer. Several frontends are under development, making use of Neovim's capabilities.
The Neovim editor is available in Ubuntu's PPAs, and several other package managers, making it possible to install on a variety of operating systems.