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E.2 Amaze Your Friends!

In the long term, perhaps the most useful items are in the collection of vi related information in the alf.uib.no ftp archives. The original archives are at ftp://afl.uib.no/pub/vi . We had little success with this site, however the archives are mirrored at ftp://ftp.uu.net/pub/text-processing/vi . The file INDEX in that directory describes what's in the archives, and lists additional mirrors that may be geographically closer to you.

Unfortunately, these files were last updated in May of 1995. Fortunately, vi 's basic functionality has not changed, and the information and macros in the archive are still useful. The archive has four subdirectories:


Documentation on vi , also some comp.editors postings.


vi macros.


Various materials posted to comp.editors .


Source code for vi clones for various platforms (and other programs). Take things from here with caution, as much of it is out of date.

The docs and macros are the most interesting. The docs directory has a large number of articles and references, ranging from beginner's guides, explanations of bugs, quick references, and many short "how to" kinds of articles (e.g., how to capitalize just the first letter of a sentence in vi ). There's even a song about vi !

The macros directory has over 50 files in it that do different things. We mention just three of them. (Files whose names end in .Z are compressed with the UNIX compress program. They can be uncompressed with either uncompress or gunzip .)


An emacs "emulator." The idea behind it is to turn vi into a modeless editor (one that is always in input mode, with commands done with control keys). It is actually done with a shell script that replaces the EXINIT environment variable.


This is perhaps the most famous of the unusual uses of vi ; a set of macros that solve the Towers of Hanoi programming problem. This program simply displays the moves, it does not actually draw the disks. For fun, we have reprinted it in the sidebar.


This program uses vi to implement an actual Turing machine! It's rather amazing to watch it execute the programs.

There are many, many more interesting macros, including Perl and RCS modes and even a Word Star emulator.

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