Everyone else has excellent advice, I thought I'd fill in with some of the basics:
1. GVim for vim outside the console, and how to install it
You asked whether vim can only be run from the console. GVim (GUI-Vim) is the standalone version. From your screenshot, it looks like you're using Ubuntu, you can find gvim in the Software Centre and install it from there. Alternatively you can
sudo apt-get install gvim from a terminal.
2. Creating a .vimrc config file
It looks like, by default, vim/gvim doesn't create a
.vimrc for you, so you can create one yourself. Open vim, and type
:e ~/.vimrc to edit a new file called
.vimrc in your home folder (
We'll start by adding just one setting, so that we can see whether it worked. Add the following text:
" switch on line numbering
" is the comment character.
Then, quit vim and restart it - you should find that a line number 1 has appeared at the top left, and you should find that any file you edit from now on has line numbering switched on by default.
3. Installing a plugin
Plugins live in a folder called
~/.vim/, but, again, vim doesn't create this by default, so you have to make it:
Over time, the
.vim folder will grow several subfolders like:
plugin for plugins
color for color schemes
doc for documentation
syntax for syntax highlighting modes
But for now it's empty. Let's add one plugin, to try it out.
Start by opening vim with
vim . - that tells vim to open a folder in "explorer" mode. We'll install NERDtree which is a popular file browser plugin, which will replace the default explorer.
Go to http://www.vim.org/scripts/script.php?script_id=1658 and dowload the zip file from the table at the bottom of the page.
Open it up in archive manager, choose "extract", and then tell it to extract into you
~/.vim/ folder. You may need to hit
Ctrl+H inside archive manager's folder browser, to show hidden folders.
Once it's extracted, it will create several subfolders in
.vim for you. If you now restart vim with a
You should see the explorer view has changed! It's now using the NERDtree plugin.
4. More .vimrc settings
My full .vimrc is available here https://bitbucket.org/hjwp/vim/src, but here are a few settings I find really useful:
" syntax highlighting
" map cut & paste to what they bloody should be
vnoremap <C-c> "+y
vnoremap <C-x> "+x
map <C-v> "+gP
" sane text files
" sane editing
" convert all typed tabs to spaces
"autocompletion with ctrl+space
inoremap <c-space> <c-n>
inoremap <Nul> <c-n>
I wouldn't worry too much about plugins at first, just getting to know the power that vim offers you out of the box should be useful enough to your coding already. But one thing that really is useful to have working in vim is ctags. ctags lets you do things like "jump-to-definition", and autocomplete across all the keywords in your source tree. start with:
apt-get install exuberant-ctags
Then, in your .vimrc, add
map <f12> :!ctags -R .<cr>
Now, when you hit "F12" in a vim session, it will generate a
.tags file, which vim can use to scan for keywords.
Now, if you're on, eg a function call in your source code, you can use
ctrl+] to jump to its definition. More info here: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/563616/vim-and-ctags-tips-and-tricks
6. what's next
Other people have posted some really useful-looking guides, here's a couple of SO pages I've found useful tho:
It's a whole vim-world out there. But: warning: If you find yourself getting into vim golf, you've probably gone too far - http://vimgolf.com/ ;-)