Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

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How do you move the cursor in Vim?

I use the arrow keys.
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I use HJKL.
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43%
I don't use Vim, but I like answering polls.
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Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Phasma Felis » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:11 pm UTC

I'm currently forcing myself to learn Vim in the hopes that it will make me a better, stronger person.

Are there people who actually use the HJKL keys for cursor movement in Vim? If so, why? Has there been a keyboard without arrow keys manufactured in the last 25 years?

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby EvanED » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:18 pm UTC

I answered the third option, but supposedly it's so that your hands don't have to move off the home row to navigate around.

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby korona » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:20 pm UTC

You cannot use HJKL in insert mode, so I use arrows. I also don't see a reason to use hjkl in other modes.

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Yakk » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:29 pm UTC

HJKL leaves you on the resting spot for your fingers.

I find qwjix^[hq to be easier on my brain than qwDOWNix^[LEFTq. (creates a downward-left moving x in the macro w, which can be run with @w).

When I'm in vi, I sometimes twiddle jkjkjkjkjkjkjkjkjkjk while I'm thinking. It also highlights where the cursor is with movement.

And more than once I've been on a screwed up terminal or connection where the arrow escape sequence is unreliable.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby ahammel » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:50 pm UTC

It has honestly never occurred to me not to use HJKL in vim. Navigating one character at a time is probably second most common action in text editing aside from typing. There's no way I'm going to lose half a second or so each time I want to do that.

In fact, I do my web browsing with Pentadactyl, so I basically never use the arrow keys.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Jplus » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:51 pm UTC

I answered HJKL, because that's what I used back when I still used vim on a regular base. It's basically because the tutorial taught me to use HJKL as the first way to move the cursor, and I got used to it enough that I didn't feel the need to switch back to arrows once I found out I could use those as well. Also, I guess the fact you don't need to move your hand for them does make them a little more ergonomic.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby hotaru » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:27 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:And more than once I've been on a screwed up terminal or connection where the arrow escape sequence is unreliable.

i strongly prefer vi over vim, but sometimes i get stuck with a terminal that's too broken for vi to work, but not too broken for vim. in those rare cases, the arrow keys are usually completely broken (giving things like "[A", "[B", "[C", and "[D", without the escape character), so i'm forced to use HJKL.

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Sizik » Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:55 pm UTC

I do when I play NetHack.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Aug 04, 2012 12:41 am UTC

My dad's friend used to own a nethack server. Not any more.

Also, Here's why Vim uses the hjkl keys.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Phasma Felis » Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:11 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:My dad's friend used to own a nethack server. Not any more.

Also, Here's why Vim uses the hjkl keys.

Very interesting!

So, um..."UNIX: Preserving obsolete standards for 20 years and counting"?

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Phasma Felis » Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:12 am UTC

hotaru wrote:
Yakk wrote:And more than once I've been on a screwed up terminal or connection where the arrow escape sequence is unreliable.

i strongly prefer vi over vim, but sometimes i get stuck with a terminal that's too broken for vi to work, but not too broken for vim.

Huh. I wouldn't have thought that was possible. More the opposite, really.

What does vi offer over Vim?

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Phasma Felis » Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:14 am UTC

I still remember my very first college CS class. The TA said, "Let's talk about <writes on the chalkboard> 'vi'. The man page will tell you that this stands for <writes> 'VIsual editor', but in fact it stands for <writes> 'Visceral Infection'."

I liked that guy.

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Magnanimous » Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:33 am UTC

I don't use vi that much, but I do play a ton of roguelikes...

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby jobriath » Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:17 am UTC

Phasma Felis wrote:I still remember my very first college CS class. The TA said, "Let's talk about <writes on the chalkboard> 'vi'. The man page will tell you that this stands for <writes> 'VIsual editor', but in fact it stands for <writes> 'Visceral Infection'."

I read "the man will tell you that this stands for ..."

Also, hjkl, since, you know, I hang out in normal mode and the keys are right there.

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Derek » Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:12 pm UTC

HJKL is just a retarded setup, WASD is much better.

It has honestly never occurred to me not to use HJKL in vim. Navigating one character at a time is probably second most common action in text editing aside from typing. There's no way I'm going to lose half a second or so each time I want to do that.

But you lose half a second anyways switching between insert and edit mode.

I do when I play NetHack.

The thing that makes this even worse in Nethack is that the diagonals are YUNM, which aren't even centered over HJKL. It makes no damn sense at all. But whatever, I use the numpad. (Before I had a laptop with a numpad, I had actually learned how to use the number row to move in all directions, not intuitive or even comfortable, but it worked).

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby ahammel » Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:15 pm UTC

Derek wrote:
It has honestly never occurred to me not to use HJKL in vim. Navigating one character at a time is probably second most common action in text editing aside from typing. There's no way I'm going to lose half a second or so each time I want to do that.

But you lose half a second anyways switching between insert and edit mode.

No I don't? You don't have to take your fingers off the home row to type 'i' or 'ctrl-['. And even if I did, I do one-character navigation far more frequently than I change modes.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Aug 05, 2012 6:11 pm UTC

Out of curiosity, why is this still a thing, given that HJKL are no longer the default arrow keys, and most keyboards have arrow keys?
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Phasma Felis » Sun Aug 05, 2012 7:40 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Out of curiosity, why is this still a thing, given that HJKL are no longer the default arrow keys, and most keyboards have arrow keys?

Because Unix never, ever deprecates command-line interfaces. Even after something else has been the universal standard for 30 years.

Granted, there are definite advantages in backwards-compatibility, but the amount of hassle it creates for every single new learner is a pain in the neck.

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby ahammel » Sun Aug 05, 2012 7:50 pm UTC

Phasma Felis wrote:Because Unix never, ever deprecates command-line interfaces. Even after something else has been the universal standard for 30 years.

Granted, there are definite advantages in backwards-compatibility, but the amount of hassle it creates for every single new learner is a pain in the neck.

I feel like I'm not understanding you. Having the HJKL cursor keys available in vi(m) is inconvenient for you? Why?
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby zombie_monkey » Sun Aug 05, 2012 7:56 pm UTC

I use vimperator, so I am annoyed when I have to use a browser that doesn't have hjkl for scrolling. The arrow keys are a sort of a last resort. They're inconvenietly placed in the corner of the keyboard, why would you actually want to use them?

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Phasma Felis » Sun Aug 05, 2012 8:03 pm UTC

ahammel wrote:
Phasma Felis wrote:Because Unix never, ever deprecates command-line interfaces. Even after something else has been the universal standard for 30 years.

Granted, there are definite advantages in backwards-compatibility, but the amount of hassle it creates for every single new learner is a pain in the neck.

I feel like I'm not understanding you. Having the HJKL cursor keys available in vi(m) is inconvenient for you? Why?

HJKL isn't a problem, since the cursor keys are also (usually) available. (Though on the system where I learned Unix, vi didn't support arrow keys, which resulted in me using Pico for years.)

It's more that it represents a greater problem. Ctrl-C has meant "copy" in every GUI in the world for at least 20 years, but to use a terminal you'll have to unlearn that and learn something different, with consequences every time you forget and use the familiar way. It's a symptom of the command line's general obtuseness and immunity to interface standardization. (Why does find take a path first and then a search expression, while grep does the reverse?)

It would perhaps be less problematic if more CS programs actually taught Unix command line, but most of them seem to just assume you'll figure it out somehow. They assume that about a lot of things, actually. See various complaints about recent college grads who can tell you all about compiler design but can't actually write a program.

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Derek » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:18 am UTC

ahammel wrote:
Derek wrote:
It has honestly never occurred to me not to use HJKL in vim. Navigating one character at a time is probably second most common action in text editing aside from typing. There's no way I'm going to lose half a second or so each time I want to do that.

But you lose half a second anyways switching between insert and edit mode.

No I don't? You don't have to take your fingers off the home row to type 'i' or 'ctrl-['. And even if I did, I do one-character navigation far more frequently than I change modes.

A keystroke versus a hand movement, I suspect they both take similar time with practice. And in both cases, you only need to do it during transitions (which I think it what you meant by that last sentence). If I really wanted to move around without leaving the homerow, I would much rather use a ctrl sequence anyways (ctrl + WASD could work pretty well).

I use vimperator, so I am annoyed when I have to use a browser that doesn't have hjkl for scrolling. The arrow keys are a sort of a last resort. They're inconvenietly placed in the corner of the keyboard, why would you actually want to use them

Why are you using a web browser without a mouse?

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:38 am UTC

Switching to the mouse is even more inconvenient than switching to arrow keys.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby ycc1988 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:00 am UTC

Other than posting comments like these, all of my browser shortcuts like C-tab and C-TAB can be typed with one hand. There's no switching to the mouse to be had because my hand is pretty much ALWAYS on the mouse.

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby ahammel » Wed Aug 08, 2012 2:22 pm UTC

Derek wrote:A keystroke versus a hand movement, I suspect they both take similar time with practice.

No, it's a keystroke versus a hand movement and a keystroke. That's always going to take more time, particularly as the cursor keys aren't in the same place on every keyboard I use.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Роберт » Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:41 pm UTC

Does anyone who actually likes Vim *NOT* use the hjkl cursor keys?

Seriously.

My one sad about dvorak is that [ is too far away for Ctrl+[ to be convenient so I have to use esc to get out of insert mode (unless of course I use Ctrl+2 instead). But I use dvorak so the keys aren't even on the home row as intended but their still much less obnoxious than having to move my hand out of position.
Honestly I don't see the big deal. You're going to do a LOT of text editing. You should learn to use a text editor. In QWERTY, it's intuitive and convenient. In dvorak it's still loads better than the freakin' arrow keys.
Comparing using the arrow keys to using esc is silly. I don't actually have to move my wrist and get my hand out of position to use esc. I just reach up and *BAM*. Done. Although TBH I hardly ever need l or h. J and K are much more common. But who would seriously want to have to type the letter d and then go all the way over do the down arrow to cut the line the cursor is on and the one below it? Not me.
I say if you don't like the hjkl cursor keys, you don't understand Vim at all.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby troyp » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:16 pm UTC

Anyone who says using the cursor keys is just as fast as hjkl is simply wrong. hjkl is *much* faster. Having to use the ludicrously positioned escape on modern keyboards narrows the gap, but there's no need to do that - use Ctrl-[ and/or remap your Escape key to a sane position (I'm assuming Ctrl is mapped to CapsLock, but even if not, it's still fast to use Ctrl-[).

I'm confident vi's modal editing is actually faster than using modifier keys, and I say this as an Emacs user. Still, using Emacs bindings or Ctrl-WASD are still perfectly good ways to navigate. But arrow keys? On a modern keyboard where you have to move your hand over 6 inches, right off the main keyboard? That's crazy. I *hate* having to use those fucking keys.

The thing you have to remember about keyboard layouts from decades ago is that they actually made sense.

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby sourmìlk » Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:35 am UTC

troyp wrote:The thing you have to remember about keyboard layouts from decades ago is that they actually made sense.


Ctrl-h for backspace? Maybe it's because I've only been using keyboards for a bit over a decade now, but that doesn't seem 'sensible'.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Ended » Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:44 am UTC

I use hjkl, but only for small movements. For movements of more than a few characters it is almost always faster to use a larger movement (t,f,w,e,b,},),/, etc). Of course, arrow keys are less efficient that hjkl. But in my opinion if you find that using the arrow keys slows you down *significantly* compared to using hjkl, then you are using hjkl too much.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Dason » Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:20 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
troyp wrote:The thing you have to remember about keyboard layouts from decades ago is that they actually made sense.


Ctrl-h for backspace? Maybe it's because I've only been using keyboards for a bit over a decade now, but that doesn't seem 'sensible'.

http://www.catonmat.net/blog/why-vim-us ... rrow-keys/

If you take a look at that keyboard it makes a lot more sense in context.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby ahammel » Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:47 pm UTC

Ended wrote:I use hjkl, but only for small movements. For movements of more than a few characters it is almost always faster to use a larger movement (t,f,w,e,b,},),/, etc). Of course, arrow keys are less efficient that hjkl. But in my opinion if you find that using the arrow keys slows you down *significantly* compared to using hjkl, then you are using hjkl too much.
Yakk pointed out earlier that it's easier on one's brain to do all you navigation from the keyboard, rather than have to move off of it for single-char navigation.

I'd rather do "/banana<CR>w3lxp" than "/banana<CR>w3[where the hell is the RIGHT key?]RIGHTxp" (swaps the fourth and fifth letters of the word after the next instance of 'banana' after the cursor).
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Роберт » Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:50 pm UTC

Of course I have switched left control and caps lock. Why any sane person would want caps lock so easily accessible when you really never use it, especially not in combination with other keys, is beyond me. Control needs to be used a lot in combination with other keys.

And for qwerty it is better to use control + [ but honesty esc isn't out of the way for me, I don't actually have to move my hand to hit it.

Anyway, it seems like a consensus. The people who actually use Vim and like it all use hjkl.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby troyp » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:34 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
troyp wrote:The thing you have to remember about keyboard layouts from decades ago is that they actually made sense.

Ctrl-h for backspace? Maybe it's because I've only been using keyboards for a bit over a decade now, but that doesn't seem 'sensible'.

Maybe it's because you *have* been using keyboards for over a decade. Insane keyboards and insane software that forces you to send your hands flying around your (oversized) keyboard like a goddamned pianist- and then all the way off it to the mouse - just to accomplish routine tasks. Once something becomes normal, people tend to regard it as sensible, even if it is clearly batshit insane.

Ctrl-H *is* a sensible keystroke for backspace. You can type it in a fraction of a second without moving your hands from the home position. Hell, it's even mnemonic. You move the leftmost finger on each hand one key to left. What could be more backspacey? (I have no idea whether the makers of the ADM-whatever terminal had that in mind, but who cares?)

Ended wrote:Of course, arrow keys are less efficient that hjkl. But in my opinion if you find that using the arrow keys slows you down *significantly* compared to using hjkl, then you are using hjkl too much.

What's "significant"? I guess the arrows don't take *that* long in absolute terms, but no matter how good you are with them, they're always going to take *many times* longer than hjkl (even for a nonvimmer like me). I think you'd have to call that "significant" in context. Also, I suspect having to move your arm back and forth like that with your fingers poised is going to contribute to muscle fatigue.

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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Iranon » Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:31 am UTC

HJKL is neither here nor there: a slightly more efficient way of using an utterly inefficient keyboard layout.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Ended » Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:40 am UTC

ahammel wrote:
Ended wrote:I use hjkl, but only for small movements. For movements of more than a few characters it is almost always faster to use a larger movement (t,f,w,e,b,},),/, etc). Of course, arrow keys are less efficient that hjkl. But in my opinion if you find that using the arrow keys slows you down *significantly* compared to using hjkl, then you are using hjkl too much.
Yakk pointed out earlier that it's easier on one's brain to do all you navigation from the keyboard, rather than have to move off of it for single-char navigation.

I'd rather do "/banana<CR>w3lxp" than "/banana<CR>w3[where the hell is the RIGHT key?]RIGHTxp" (swaps the fourth and fifth letters of the word after the next instance of 'banana' after the cursor).

troyp wrote:
Ended wrote:Of course, arrow keys are less efficient that hjkl. But in my opinion if you find that using the arrow keys slows you down *significantly* compared to using hjkl, then you are using hjkl too much.

What's "significant"? I guess the arrows don't take *that* long in absolute terms, but no matter how good you are with them, they're always going to take *many times* longer than hjkl (even for a nonvimmer like me). I think you'd have to call that "significant" in context. Also, I suspect having to move your arm back and forth like that with your fingers poised is going to contribute to muscle fatigue.

Oh, I definitely agree hjkl is more efficient than the arrow keys. I just think that its importance tends to be overstated compared to vim's other motion commands. Like, the editing speed you will lose by not using w/e/t/f or whatever is as much, and probably more, than you will lose by not using hjkl.

However, you are both right, moving your fingers off the keyboard can lead to some unique costs (loss of flow and fatigue). Those are compelling reasons for using hjkl.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Роберт » Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:30 pm UTC

Iranon wrote:HJKL is neither here nor there: a slightly more efficient way of using an utterly inefficient keyboard layout.

Elaborate, please.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Iranon » Fri Aug 10, 2012 4:20 pm UTC

QUERTY keyboards are arranged to prevent jamming of early mechanical typewriters, which was easily caused by neighbouring arms being depressed in rapid succession. It has as a lot of hand-alternating sequences in English by design which is at odds with comfort and accuracy at speed.
Alternative layouts also try to put the most-used keys on the home row in order to require less movement.

The original design constraints no longer apply. If you care enough about efficiency to do something nerdy about it, picking a sensible keyboard layout would be a better start.
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby ahammel » Fri Aug 10, 2012 4:28 pm UTC

Well, now that we're on the topic of keyboard design, I've been wondering if Randal was correct about this. Is there any solid evidence that Dvorak (or some other layout) is that much better than QWERTY?
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Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Роберт » Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:26 pm UTC

Iranon wrote:QUERTY keyboards are arranged to prevent jamming of early mechanical typewriters, which was easily caused by neighbouring arms being depressed in rapid succession. It has as a lot of hand-alternating sequences in English by design which is at odds with comfort and accuracy at speed.
Alternative layouts also try to put the most-used keys on the home row in order to require less movement.

The original design constraints no longer apply. If you care enough about efficiency to do something nerdy about it, picking a sensible keyboard layout would be a better start.

That has nothing to do with hjkl verses the arrow keys. I've already stated several times in this thread that I don't use qwerty.

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Iranon
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:30 am UTC

Re: Does anyone use the Vim HJKL cursor keys?

Postby Iranon » Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:18 pm UTC

Strangely, the world doesn't revolve around you. I was making a general point.
HJKL on Dvorak is using a crutch you no longer need as a dinner fork.
LEGO won't be ready for the average user until it comes pre-assembled, in a single unified theme, and glued together so it doesn't come apart.


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