Sunday, January 04, 2009

Vim: jVi

jVi is a plugin for NetBeans that provides Vim-like key bindings. The good news is that it's close enough to be comfortable instead of frustrating. It's better than most Vi emulation modes (including the one in Komodo Edit) and it's way better than the key bindings provided by NetBeans (of course, that's a matter of opinion). The bad news is that certain key features like rectangular select (Cntl-v) and rewrapping block comments (gq}) don't work. So far, those are my two biggest complaints.

First of all, installing the plugin was painless. I downloaded it using my browser, unzipped it, and installed it via the Tools :: Plugins menu item in NetBeans. Easy peasy.

Next, I went down the list of complaints I had about the Vim key bindings in Komodo Edit and tried each of them in jVi. Many things were fixed. Some still didn't work. Here is a list of my discoveries:

Using ":e filename" to open a file doesn't work.

Using Cntl-o to go back to where you were previously works, but using Cntl-i to go forward doesn't work because NetBeans intercepts it.

By default, NetBeans knows that Python indents things by 4 spaces. However, jVi doesn't know this, so by default, it wants to indent things by a tab. I'm surprised that it doesn't make use of the NetBeans settings.

"cw tab tab tab" inserts three things into the undo list instead of one. Of course, this is just pedantic.

Strangely, using % to jump between ( and ) inside comments doesn't work, but it does work if you're not in a comment. No biggie.

To fix the indention settings, I instinctively typed "set sts=4 sw=4 et ai", which means "set the soft tab stops to 4, shift width to 4, emulate tabs, and auto indent." jVi said that "sts" and "ai" are not implemented. It doesn't matter because it does the right thing anyway.

The line in column 80 still works, which puts it ahead of Vim ;)

Things like code autocomplete and tips still work.

You can rewrap paragraphs using "gq". However, this doesn't work for block comments because the "#" at the beginning of each line gets messed up. Thankfully, I tend to have more docstrings than block comments.

Cntl-n (autocomplete the symbol being typed) works, which was a bit of a surprise.

Anyway, as I said earlier, it's not perfect, but it's close enough to make me happier than the default key bindings in NetBeans.


Anonymous said...

If you go to Tools > Options > Advanced, you can find the jVi options. Here you can configure which CTRL commands NetBeans intercepts. You can get CTRL+V to give you block editing.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Brandon L. Golm said...

Okay JJ, enough about editors already! Back to programming and humor!

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> Okay JJ, enough about editors already! Back to programming and humor!

Oh, I didn't tell you? I'm going to become a Java programmer. All I have to do is find a really good IDE. Apparently, the rest is easy. From what I've seen, a sense of humor is not required

/me giggles

Brandon L. Golm said...

> I'm going to become a Java programmer. All I have to do is find a really good IDE.

I recommend Microsoft Word, just type "public class MyServer" and it will bring up a talking paperclip. He will say "It looks like you're trying to write a web server application in Java, let me help you."

Then you just follow some simple menus, and he will do all the work for you.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

There's no silver bullet--just really smart paperclips ;)