Open letter to Gostev

Availability for the Always-On Enterprise

Re: Open letter to Gostev

Veeam Logoby rnelson0 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:34 pm

I, too, sometimes feel like Gostev's mailers sometimes include thoughts I don't agree with and occasionally, something that might actually be incorrect, or presented more as fact than opinion - like calling it Google 2FA in the latest mailer, when it's actually 2 *Step* Authentication (, a distinction more people should understand - but it's also important that responses pointing it out are helpful and informed and don't do more harm themselves. I think that while your concern may have some justification (I'm an active OSS developer, too), specifically around the tone being used, your call-out itself is ill-advised for a few reasons. I'm sticking to 3 items that I think are actually harmful, because results matter as much as intentions, so please consider that it's meant as constructive criticism.

1) A lot of the issue seems to be with Gostev repeating what Stack Overflow found. You're essentially discarding the experience of thousands of developers when you say "pffft it's easy to quit, and if you can't figure that out then maybe you don't understand vim." Doing so advances the theory that the OSS community isn't as friendly as it purports to be; it's quite exclusionary and derogatory to imply that everyone lookup up how to quit is dumb or doesn't care to get it. According to the article, 1 in 20,000 visits to SO is about exiting vim. That is a lot of people who may actually be trying to understand vim but who, if they read this, would feel they're no longer welcome in tech because they couldn't figure out how to quit vim without looking for assistance. Please, rethink this mentality, it's costing this industry people every single day. Empathy is a crucial skillset - especially for those trying to improve the user experience.

2) You point to this screen here as evidence that vim is easy to quit:
rawtaz wrote:As promised, the VIM entry screen:

Code: Select all
~                                                     VIM - Vi IMproved
~                                                      version 7.4.752
~                                                 by Bram Moolenaar et al.
~                                        Vim is open source and freely distributable
~                                               Help poor children in Uganda!
~                                      type  :help iccf<Enter>       for information
~                                      type  :q<Enter>               to exit
~                                      type  :help<Enter>  or  <F1>  for on-line help
~                                      type  :help version7<Enter>   for version info

Without fail, every tutorial I have looked at says "type vi <filename>" which will never present you with that screen. You will only see it if you type "vi" by itself, or open a new buffer without a file in it (certainly something a first-time user is extremely unlikely to do, at least not on purpose). I myself used vi and then vim for about a decade before I ever saw this splash screen, because I always provided a filename as an argument. Just like quitting itself (I so prefer ZZ), there's more than one way to launch vim, and most do not show this very helpful banner, but instead assume the user knows what they are doing and does not provide any assistance - an assumption that falls on its face for new users, especially first time users.

3) When we talk about OSS and user experience, we must be inclusive, make people feel welcome. This does not:
rawtaz wrote:If you were to understand what VIM is about, and learn the basics of it enough to see the light, then you'd probably feel very differently about it. But at this point in time, it seems your expectations are not in line with the design and intentions of VIM.

This makes people feel very not-welcome, like they weren't accepted into the club but their friends went in anyway, leaving them embarrassed on the sidewalk outside. Probably the most anti-user experience any of us can experience is being told that we're "holding it wrong", to paraphrase someone constantly held up as the epitome of good user experience. Why should anyone need to "understand what VIM is about," whatever that might be, to use it to edit a file and quit? Understanding almost always comes after usage. Did any of us understand the mathematics of parabolic arcs before we figured out how to throw a ball or rock and hit what we aimed for? Or the bio-mechanics of the throwing motion involved? No, we experimented over and over and understanding came later, if ever.

If we want to read Gostev's mailer and have it say, "OSS cares about the user experience," then we need to show that. I think that's the best response we could have to his digest.
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Re: Open letter to Gostev

Veeam Logoby rawtaz » Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:54 pm 1 person likes this post

I'm almost at a loss of words due to not knowing in which end to start addressing the things you wrote, Rob. I think you are completely missing my point(s) and instead nitpicking on things that we can discuss endlessly (like the quitting VIM thing). Quite disappointing. Nonetheless, I will try to formulate an actual answer to your concerns later on. It might actually be in a couple of weeks as I don't have time for this right now, but I guess it has to be done.
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Re: Open letter to Gostev

Veeam Logoby daniel.farrelly » Tue Aug 08, 2017 3:16 pm

AI prefers VI
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Re: Open letter to Gostev

Veeam Logoby pauliem » Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:00 pm 1 person likes this post

Wow! I've been using vi for 20+ years and never seen that screen!

Interesting debate going on here (which could go on and on). Personally speaking the sequence to quite vi (and many other operations) were burned into my soul many years ago, but it's not something that you would guess intuitively. But when you know your way around, it is an incredible editor.
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Re: Open letter to Gostev

Veeam Logoby rnelson0 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:37 pm

For those either new to vim, or looking for shortcuts they missed because they only learned the things they needed to do their job, check out the game VIM Adventures. It's a little in-browser game/tutorial, a lot more fun than reading a manual!
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Re: Open letter to Gostev

Veeam Logoby sg_sc » Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:15 pm

I always read to save and quit use :wq but i just use :x it's one letter less to type!

Maybe the help screen should be shown for a 2 second period (or until first keystroke) when opening a file?
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