:w gnu_bram_moolenaar.md

Just learned this morning that Bram Moolenaar, creator and maintainer of Vim, passed away recently at 62. I’ve been a user of Vim since my 20s, so even though I’ve never met Bram his work has been an important part of my life.

I’ve already written about how I got started with Vim a while back, so I won’t rehash that here. Suffice to say that I’ve spent a lot of time in Vim since 1999 when I got started with it.

At a conservative estimate, I’ve written more than 2.5 million words in Vim in my career. (Some of them about Vim, too.) That’s a conservative estimate, as Vim was my primary editor throughout my freelance writing and editing career. It’s also been my go-to for first drafts long after I switched to Google Docs for most of my collaborative work.

In those years I’ve spent a lot of time in the Vim help.txt and reading release notes and announcements and so forth, perusing his website, and even checking out some of his photo album. Might sound silly to say, but it did feel like I knew him a bit through his work – and certainly, I felt a great deal of affection for someone who touched so many people with work on a vital open source tool and used that to try to put a spotlight on people who need help.

Earlier this year I gave a talk about Vim at Open Source Summit North America. I was pleasantly surprised how many people came to the talk on a Friday, on a beautiful day in Vancouver. Clearly Vim still has some drawing power. A few of the folks who attended asked me after the talk why I didn’t switch to one of the newer variants like Neovim. I didn’t really have a good answer other than a strong fondness for the original. Part of that, illogically, is that I felt like I’d be letting Bram down by switching.

I’ve donated a few times to ICCF Holland, and will do so again today. What I hadn’t done, and really wish I had, was to send a thank you note to Bram for all those years of work on Vim. GNU, Bram Moolenaar. Your work has helped millions of people and you asked very little in return. I hope other folks will join me in making donations to ICCF in Bram’s memory.


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