Poll shows majority favor Vi as their editor of choice

August 03, 2007
Two weeks back, this blog had run a poll which asked which was your favourite editor. The poll was open for voting roughly for a period of two weeks or 14 days. And nearly 750 people participated in the poll.

Guess what ? Over 50% of the people that is well over 375 people said their favourite editor is Vi or its equivalent such as Vim, GVim and so on. And I find this a pleasant surprise because I am myself an avid Vi user.

Fig: Pie chart representation of usage of the editors

The second place goes to GEdit - the default text editor in Gnome followed closely by Kate and Emacs. One thing worth noting is that perhaps the people who participated in the poll might have a programming or system administration background which could be why Vi editor fared so well over the notepad equivalent editors such as Gedit.

Or it could be that most Linux and Unix users are predominantly hard core techies who do programming or system administration for a living and who have already mastered the fine art of editing using Vi to appreciate its true power.

While GEdit is a far second in the poll having garnered just 13% of the votes, I suspect that it is quite popular with non-techies who use Linux since it is the default editor in Gnome. Many times I myself have reverted to Gedit when I couldn't find GVim on a Linux machine.

Finally, while I listed some of the most widely known editors, I forgot to include an 'Other' option in the poll and so the poll fails to indicate the percentage of Linux/Unix users who favor an editor not in the list.


  • I did not vote in your poll. However, I use Kate exclusively. Why learn vi if there's no reason to? If I need to have a programmabile editor, I'll just use sed, or awk, or tr or some combination thereof, or just write a bash script.

  • Unknown

    of course, kwrite and katepart are essentially the same app (the text editor is actually the exact same component) with a different set of additional menu entries, etc. it's really the same sort of difference between, say, vim and gvim. combining kwrite and kate results in 14% preferring the katepart family...

  • Unknown

    3% use Ed? Ed?!? How large was the sample size that a few joking voters can make 3%?

  • Unknown

    Oops, sorry. I got it - 375. 11 chose Ed.

  • Adam

    It's not that vi is a programmable editor...

    It's a phenomenal text editor. Typing a paragraph doesn't need a special editor. Going back and changing one word or one character is what a programmer/sysadmin editor specializes in (and comes in amazingly handy for anyone that handles text for a living).

    vi EDITs text better than anything.

    btw- if you voted vi and you are one of those that "like vi" but haven't leveled in it yet? Spend the time to really learn it. Learn the word jumps forwards backwards, edit start of word/end of word, change line to the end, columnar edit, buffers etc.

    It's some of the best time you can spend professionally, taking yourself to the next level in vi always pays off.

  • I guess I will be the token emacs user. :) Once you get to know emacs, you can do all the fancy stuff that you can do in vi. The only reason to know vi is 1) when doing system recovery and you need a small, versatile editor, or 2) working on one of the many linux appliances that only have vi installed.

  • Emacs was so far behind? Clearly something about vi users attracts them to your site. Right? I'm not the only person who uses Emacs, right? I thought everyone in my office was just weird...

  • Unknown

    The type of people who would use this type of blog will generally be linux diehards thus the reason for the high score for vi. Most if not all new user are very unlikely to use vi and they would probally swing to wards more gui editors. Anew poll based on new users may give a better generalisation on what users use. Personally I use midnight Commander.

  • Every year Linux Journal does survey of what the most popular app for every category. Every year 'vi' is #1 and 'emacs' is #2.

    Emacs is the better editor but 'vi' is smaller and typically installed by default. Which is probably why its #1 (like IE is most popular editor on Windoze because its installed by default).

    Should also add emacs and vi are used by embedded developers who often cannot run heavyweight GUI-based editors.

  • Unknown

    Well, had I seen this poll, I would have voted Emacs.

    I used 'vi' for *years*. And then one of my friends told me how they were checking out Emacs and that I should, too. My first impression of Emacs was that it was overkill for anything I would ever want to do. How wrong was I? Quite.

    Not only has *how* I approach text changed, but my practices have become better because Emacs allows me to do virtually no extra work in order to do things like check sources into a SVN/CVS tree or add support for a new language. It's also pretty nice to never leave the keyboard to copy/paste into a shell—and it's really easy to do things like refactor code or config files (think Asterisk configurations) with Emacs. These are all things that I could never dream of doing in vi... and precisely why I made the switch three or four years ago now.

  • Rox

    There is a command called vimtutor. It's just vim that opens up a tutorial file, so you can learn hands-on. Vimtutor is your friend :-)

  • for the system administration tasks
    i think nothing better than vi

    you can use it throw ssh and it is always there by default

    pico is another good choice for the same task put in most cases it is not there by default

    but if i am going to write some code i will use gedit.

    gedit coloring code will which makes navigation throw code very much easier.