Vi vs Vim [Choose the Best One]

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Text editors play an important role in writing, editing, deleting, pasting, and handling text. In Linux, Vi and Vim are the two popular text editors among the existing ones. This article will give you an overview of the differences between the two text editors Vi and Vim based on the key features, performance, and community support. Let’s dive into the article.

What is Vi?

Vi is a terminal-based text editor used in a Unix and Unix-like operating system. It helps you write, edit, and manipulate text from the command line. Its multiple modes facilitate modal editing and provide extensive shortcuts for keyboard commands.

Interface of Vi

To learn the keyboard shortcuts of the Vi text editor, check the Vi cheat sheet.

What is Vim?

Vim, the short form of Vi improved, is a flexible and strong screen-based text editor. It is an open-source and free text editor. Vim is not only designed for the command line interface but also for the graphical user interface. It provides keyboard efficiency by customizing it according to the user’s preference.

Interface of Vim

To learn the keyboard shortcuts of the Vim text editor, check the Vim cheat sheet.

Vi Vs Vim: Comparison of Features

The differences in the features of the two text editors mainly make to choose between them. Check the following section which shows the feature differences between the text editors Vi and Vim:

Features Vi Vim
Interface Terminal-based. Terminal-based with GUI options.
Modes Insert mode and Command mode. Visual mode, Command-line, Insert mode, Ex mode, select mode.
Multilevel Undo/Redo No Yes
Integrate Need external plugins to integrate with Cscope. Built-in support with Cscope.
Code Folding No Yes
Unicode and multilanguage Support No Yes
Preserve current session No Yes
Syntax highlighting No Yes
Plugin supports Limited Extensive
Design Minimalistic. Advanced version of Vi with additional features.
Customization Limited Extensive

Differences in Performance Between Vi and Vim

The performance of a text editor depends on the available resources, size of files, functionality, and startup time. As Vi and Vim both are lightweight, they show compatibility with older hardware with available low resources. Vim is a superset of the vi text editor with additional features. So, Vim facilitates more functionality compared to Vi.

Moreover, Vim handles large files more efficiently than Vi. But it takes much more time than Vi to start up sometimes based on the file size. On the other hand, the minimalist design of the Vi text editor helps it for quick performance.

Vi Vs Vim: Differences in Applications

The applications of the text editor make it versatile and useful. Let’s take a look at the following table to understand the difference between applications of the text editors Vi and Vim:

Applications Vi Vim
Editing Files Support normal editing. Can not edit files inside compressed archive. Edit files inside the compressed archive.
Fixing Errors Ideal for quick fixes in system files. Ideal for debugging scripts, and configuration files.
Control over Files Provide basic control over files. Fine control over the configuration and start-up files.
Comparing Files As it does not have a built-in diff function, it can not able to compare files. Available diff function used for comparing files.
Editing in Terminal Preferred for editing files directly in a terminal environment Preferred for coding and editing tasks with added functionalities like split views and syntax highlighting.

Differences in Community Support: Vi vs Vim

Community support indicates the developers’ group that helps to develop and solve problems using specific platforms. They also play an important role in learning the text editors. Both Vi and Vim have strong community support.

Vim has a strong and large community because of its extensive features and this community helps in progress and solve problems. This community support enables the sharing of configurations and helps troubleshoot issues. On the other hand, Vi has also dedicated community support which helps in improving the performance and maintenance of the text editor.

But nowadays, Vim has a larger and more active community support than Vi.

Factors for Choosing Between Vi and Vim

While choosing a text editor, one must consider some factors to ensure whether it fulfills your needs or not. Here are some considerations:

  • Efficient Workflow: Vim provides more powerful text manipulation compared to Vi. It makes the flow of work efficient.
  • Minimalism: Vi has a minimalistic design compared to Vim. Once the user is used to Vi then it will be easier to switch to Vim.
  • Older Systems: When you choose a text editor you need to consider whether the text editor is compatible with the old and new systems. Vim is compatible with old and new systems.
  • Learning Curve: The learning curve of Vim is steeper than Vi as it supports additional features.

After considering the above factors, it can be said that Vim is a feature-riched text editor, users transfer to it for a more powerful experience.


To sum up, the article has discussed the differences between features, performance, community, and applications between the two text editors-Vi and Vim. Vim is the best option for users who want a powerful text editing experience. But for beginners, it is better to use Vi as its learning curve is easier than Vim. Ultimately, the best one depends on the users’ preferences.

People Also Ask

What are the main differences between Vi and Vim?

The main differences between Vi and Vim lie in their features, power of customization, and functionality.  As Vim is an improved form of the Vi text editor, it has all the features of Vi and also shows additional features and improvements of the existing ones. Vim is a highly customizable text editor. It has extended functionality due to its plugin support. Vim has also a GUI option which is not available on Vi.

Are Vi and Vim the same thing?

No, Vi and Vim are not the same. Vi is a simple and original text editor for Unix-like operating systems. On the other hand, Vim is the short form of Vi Improved which has more extensive and improved features than Vim.

Is Vim better than vi?

Vim is better than Vi to some extent, but it completely depends on the user’s preferences. As Vim is an improved form of Vi text editor, it provides additional features and extends the functionality using plugin supports. So, Vim may be a better option for you to use. But if you prefer a minimalistic and lightweight structure then you can choose the vi text editor.

Why do developers like Vim?

Developers like Vim more than Vi because of its efficiency, high customizability, extensive features, and stability. Despite its steeper learning curve, developers are fascinated with the productivity benefits and efficiency once the user becomes proficient with the editor.

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Afia Zahin Oishi

Assalamualaikum, I am Afia Zahin, completed my graduation in Biomedical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, currently working as a Linux Content Developer Executive at SOFTEKO. A high achieving professional with a strong work ethic and able to work in a team in order to consistently achieve my goal and build my skillset. Able to handle difficult problems with patience and swift decision-making. Read Full Bio

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