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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Vim 9.0 Drops Linux Editing Bombshell With New Scripting Language – MUO – MakeUseOf

Vim’s creator says the new scripting language performs up to 100 times better, but will Linux developers and sysadmins bite?
The popular Linux text editor Vim has a new version available, version 9.0. The new version debuts a revamped scripting language, dubbed Vim9 Script.
Vim creator Bram Moolenaar announced the new version in a post on Vim's official website. "After many years of gradual improvement Vim now takes a big step with a major release," Moolenaar wrote.
While Vim already had a scripting language, Vim9 Script makes some changes to how comments, functions, and variable assignments work. While most users will want to wait until their distribution's package manager updates Vim, Unix/Linux users eager to try the new version can download the source code from the download pageand compile it.
Moolenaar said that these changes were done to bring Vim9 Script in line with other programming languages and to improve performance:
A new script language, what is that needed for? Vim script has been growing over time, while preserving backwards compatibility. That means bad choices from the past often can't be changed and compatibility with Vi restricts possible solutions. Execution is quite slow, each line is parsed every time it is executed.
Moolenaar said that Vim9 Script programs had their execution speeds boosted up to 100 times over the older scripting language. This is achieved by compiling commands for efficient execution.
The new version of Vim marks a major change in its functionality with Vim9 Script, even at the cost of compatibility with the Vi editor, which is widely used in the Linux and Unix world. The latter editor has existed since 1977 when it was written by Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy at the University of California, Berkeley. Vi subsequently became a major component of the BSD Unix variant and spread to the broader Unix world.
Vim has historically aimed for maximum compatibility with Vi while adding new features, to the point that many systems actually start up with Vim when Vi is called from the command line. It's included with many Linux distributions as well as macOS. This means that Vim 9.0 is a major change to a ubiquitous piece of software that developers and system administrators rely on. Still, there is a "legacy" mode for running older scripts. This appears to be an attempt to assuage any user concern about backward compatibility.
Moolenaar promises that even more changes will come in future versions. Whatever happens, many first-time users may find themselves trying to figure out how to exit Vim.
Vim is a widely-used tool in the Linux world, and Vim 9.0's changes represent a major shake-up. Vim's unusual keyboard commands already make it seem daunting to prospective users, but many of them find that learning the commands pays off in terms of efficiency.
David is a freelance writer based in the Pacific Northwest, but originally hailing from the Bay Area. He has been a technology enthusiast since childhood. David’s interests include reading, watching quality TV shows and movies, retro gaming, and record collecting.
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