5 Reasons why Vim is my new IDE

Vim, the best text editor in the entire universe.Of course, referring to Vim as an IDE isn’t specifically correct.  It’s a text editor, but man, it can do so much more.  I think most programmers are always on the lookout for the text editor/IDE that really fits them.  It’s not that we’re looking for a magic bullet that will write the code for us.  For me, at least, I want my IDE to get out of my way.  I don’t want to have to wrestle with it just to get some code written.  I’ve tried them all, and there are a lot of really good IDE’s and text editors out there.  Gedit, kate, IntelliJ Ideas, KDevelop, SublimeText, Komodo Edit…  I’m sure the list goes on forever.  I thought I had reached the top of the mountain with either SublimeText or KomodoEdit.  For my money, they’re the best GUI based IDE’s out there right now.  But I still wanted something more.  A colleague talked to me seriously about Vim.  Of course I had tried it in the past.  You can’t do anything on the command line without running into it at some point, and banging your head against the wall trying to figure out how to get the hell out of it!  But until you start seriously trying to learn the Vim way, you’ll never understand how amazing it is.  Of course, there’s a huge learning curve to using Vim effectively.  But once you get even a little way down that curve, you’ll be able to do things that just blow you away.

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Forcing Tmux to use 256 colors

I’ve been messing around with my terminal display, trying to church it up a little.  I tried Powerline, but didn’t have great luck with it.  So, I’m going old school and just adjusting conf files for the applications that I use all the time, mainly tmux and vim.  I’ve been banging my head against tmux all day.  I added some flashy stuff to the tmux statusline, but I just could NOT get the colors right.  I know that there are lots of settings and tweaks for getting 256 color support right, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t get tmux to display properly.

I finally ran across a random forum post from a couple of years ago.  Basically, my terminal (XFCE terminal) is set up for 256 colors, but tmux always starts with the default of 80 colors.  The answer?  Instead of starting tmux with


I just start it with

tmux -2

which forces tmux to run with 256 color support.  Problem solved, and my badass statusline is working perfectly.

Tmux without 256 color support.

Tmux started normally, displaying a limited color pallette.


Tmux started with 256 color support.

Tmux started with the “-2” parameter, forcing 256 color support.

Setting up Powerline for Vim and Tmux

UPDATE: As promised, I’ve added a post about how I configured my tmux to emulate some of the features of powerline.  You can read it here.

I spend almost all of my time on the command line and I use Tmux and Vim obsessively.  Like a lot of people, I want my environment to be pleasing, so I was excited when I found out about Powerline, a status line / prompt utility that works with bash prompts, Vim, Tmux and a whole slew of other tools.pl-mode-insert

My first impression is that Powerline is just really cool looking.  It’s nice to have something that lets you simply customize your tools in a simple way without having to dig deep into each individual tool.  Unfortunately, it has some big shoes to fill and it doesn’t quite make it all the way.

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