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no more vi binds

I've decided to stop using vi keybindings. I don't want to convince you to do the same because vi binds are great, but I want to articulate what my opinions, because obviously what I think is very important.

I had a very short stint using vi/m. Very quickly I moved onto other things before eventually settling on Emacs. For a while though I've been using Evil in Emacs, and maybe because I haven't come from The Real Thing (TM) I found that it was a pretty good experience.

Modal editing is cool. It has two main advantages: the lesser is that your hands are strained less and it really does kind of feel like you're having a conversation with the text (man I sound dumb), and the more important reason is that along with your tiling window manager, esoteric editor, alternative keyboard layout and ortholinear hand-soldered mechanical masterpiece it adds another level of nerdiness for unwitting peers who see you working.

When doesn't modal editing work so well? (In my opinion, of course.) That'd be when you don't have a screen. I haven't managed to use Evil and Emacspeak together in a way that feels helpful. Honestly, that's the main reason I'm leaving.

Oh, side note: I guess modal editing does work in some ways for this kind of stuff because I'd argue ed is modal - obviously not in the powerful way that vi is - but it's modal, and the best experience I've had with a screen reader.

Back to the main point though - I'm going back to the original Emacs bindings. An unexpected advantage of this is that GTK Emacs bindings are a thing! (The other side of the coin is that I don't actually use any GTK apps.) I can go back to using Emacs binds for readline, which are way better than the vi versions (as in, vi mode for readline doesn't have in implemented. What exactly is the point?).

One thing that I expected to improve and did improve was not having to have a bunch of bandage packages stuck to my Emacs to "fix" bindings in different modes to fill like they were designed for vi. I've been irritated by vi's insistence on hjkl in particular for ages now, and also on the vi community's insistence on vi binds being mnemonic, while still blatantly using hjkl as "left down up right" (muh muh something j looks like a down arrow muh). What? I find bnpf much more mnemonic, if a bit less efficient on my hands - although that brings me to my next point: I don't use a QWERTY keyboard so hjkl seems entirely messed up. People have told me that muscle memory will happen and I totally agree with them. The issue with that is that sometimes I have to use a different computer and I have a hard enough time as it is adjusting to whatever layout the hipster who lent it to me is using without having to also remember what j does. I guarantee that it'd take most vimmers a moment to recall which letter does what; "Hey Emacser, how do I go to the next line?" "n for next".

Obviously this move has disadvantages: Software like Qutebrowser and Zathura (both of which I love) use vi-style bindings and now I've got context switching to deal with. I'm going to explore the options going forward but for now I'm going through with it.

Thanks for having me :)

November 17, 2019