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Vem Text Editor – An Alternative Command Layout for Vim

Vem Text Editor
Written by Martins Okoi

Vem is a free and open-source command-line text editor with an alternative command layout designed to provide full keyboard support over the Vim text editor and to make it as intuitive as possible.

At its root, it is a set of configuration files that changes how Vim acts by reducing/simplifying the set of commands that are bonded to single keypresses and maps them across the keyboard to optimize their position according to their frequency.

Vem features two main modes: command and insert. Just like Vim, each keypress in Vem performs an action when it is in command mode and inserts text when in insert mode. Enter command mode by pressing Ctrl + O and insert mode by simply pressing i.

Vem maps its commands to the QWERTY keyboard layout by default and you can change this configuration to QERTZ or AZERTY in its settings file. You will find a complete list of basic and advanced actions for different keyboard layouts on its website.

Features in Vem

  • Free and open-source.
  • Source code available on GitHub under the MIT license.
  • Fast and reliable.
  • Two main modes: command & insert.
  • Multiple windows.
  • Syntax highlighting.
  • Supports plugins and colour themes.
  • Regex support.
  • Fuzzy file search in Git source code.
  • Comprehensive documentation and tutorials online.
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As you may already know, Vim is an enhanced version of vi with support for syntax highlighting, multi-level undo and auto-completion but it still has a steep learning curve. Its purpose is to optimize user experience by removing the command grammar that scares potential users away.

In my opinion, Vem wasn’t particularly created to compete with Vim but to make it more approachable to more users as it is powered by some of its features, e.g. NERD Commenter, vim-sayonara, vim-surround, and vim-pathogen, to mention a few.

To install Vem, just clone the source from GitHub and execute the Makefile inside:

$ git clone
$ cd vem
$ sudo make install

What do you think about? Does the new layout make using Vim’s features easier to use? And how does it compare to other command-line text editors? Pen down your thoughts in the comments section below.


About the author

Martins Okoi

Martins Divine Okoi is a graduate student who loves the Open Source community. With 700+ articles under his belt, he continues to recommend the best software that the app market has to offer while tackling several discussion topics in IT.