20.5. Running Editing Scripts Within vi
Because vi is built on top of the ex line editor, you get all the power of a line editor as well. Any experienced vi user issues ex commands all the time -- but usually one by one, at the colon (:) prompt.
The one exception is the .exrc file (Section 17.5), which is, at bottom, a list of commands for ex to run on startup -- in short, an editor script.
What many beginners don't know is that you can save a sequence of ex commands in any file and execute it with the :so command (Section 20.4). For example, Bruce Barnett uses this trick to set himself up specially for editing FORTRAN programs (Section 18.10).
In general, sed (Section 34.1) is better for general-purpose batch editing -- such as making a set of global substitutions over and over again on multiple files -- therefore, :so is most often used for reading in setup commands. Keep in mind, though, any time you find yourself issuing the same commands over and over again, think script!
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