helix Pros and Cons

Helix editor:

An editor written in Rust that is command-line based and vim-like (there is a simple demo video above, so no screenshots). I came across it on YouTube a few days ago and have been trying it out. It has its pros and cons.

It claims to be "post-modern" but it's more like a satire of those editors that claim to be "modern".

Being vim-like, the keybindings are inherited from Vim and Kakoune, so if you are familiar with Vim, you can jump right in (most of the familiar commands work, like ). However, the logic of operations is different, which can be both enjoyable and frustrating:

For example, when you want to delete a line (dd) or select multiple lines (V), it can be a bit uncomfortable: in Helix, the key for selecting a line is x, and d replaces the functionality of x. In Helix, w, b, etc. will automatically select text, so dw becomes wd.

As for multiple selections, I haven't used any other editors before, so I can't comment on the experience. (Is it similar to the option dropdown in IntelliJ IDEA? If so, it's actually quite useful.)

As for the pros:

For vscode, you can launch it directly from the command line without needing to open a window with code .

For vim/nvim, you don't need to consider XXX-complete, XXX-line, fzf, or leaderf. Helix provides a comprehensive solution.

The built-in file-picker and buffer-picker have a design that aligns with my aesthetic preferences. They are simple and functional without being flashy.

It has good support for lsp and tree-sitter. Configuring lsp for editing json or toml is simple. I tried writing Rust with rust-analyzer, and surprisingly, it works well. (But I still prefer using an IDE🙃️)

The basic functionality is sufficient and easy to use, but on the other hand, it lacks extensibility. I didn't see any mention of extensions/plugins in the documentation.

For me, I used to use vscode for editing simple text, but in the future, Helix should be my preferred choice. However, the cons can be quite frustrating, especially when there are some differences in keybindings compared to vim:

dd uu xd

So I went back to nvim to try configuring the file-picker and buffer-picker styles for Helix (and then gave up because editing a text shouldn't be this complicated).

By the way, does anyone know of any similar editors?

  • Vim-support, not LIKE
  • Built-in language server support.
  • Syntax highlighting and code editing using Tree-sitter.
  • Built with XXX. No Electron. No VimScript. No JavaScript.
  • Runs in a terminal.
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