Dev world mourns loss of Vim creator Bram Moolenaar

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Developers across the world are mourning the loss of Bram Moolenaar, renowned Dutch software engineer and creator of the Vim text editor.

Moolenaar passed away on August 3, 2023, after suffering from a medical condition that “rapidly progressed over the last few weeks,” according to a statement shared by his family on the Vim-announce Google Group.

Vim, short for “Vi IMproved,” is a free and open-source, screen-based text editor that has been at the forefront of many software developments since its release in 1991.

RIP Bram Moolenaar – 1961-2023

— Guillermo Rauch (@rauchg) August 5, 2023

Vim is a modal editor, boasting both command-line and graphical user interface forms, and has been a lifesaver for countless developers over the years, offering an efficient and sophisticated platform for coding. 

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Besides Linux, where Vim is the default editor in many distros, the programme is also available for Unix, macOS, OS/2, DOS, and Windows.

“I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the speed and fluidity of Vim has given me a major edge in my career. I will always have a deep appreciation for what Bram did for the world. RIP,” said one Reddit user.

“Vim is a legendary bit of kit, its name known to everyone even outside the ‘nix and open source worlds,” said another.  

Beyond creating an industry standard for text editing software, Moolenaar also pioneered an open-source and community-driven approach to its development. 

He was the first to coin the term “charityware.”  Although users may use and copy Vim for free, they are encouraged to donate to the International Child Care Fund Holland to help children in Uganda. 

“I have never wanted to make money from Vim,” said Moolenaar in an interview last year. “It started as a hobby and most of the time I had a job that paid well enough.” 

Rest in peace Bram Moolenaar, creator of Vim and one of the best free and open source developers of our times. Your legacy will survive for ages, but your modesty and kind attitude in sharing will be hardly matched by anyone.

— Jaromil (@jaromil) August 5, 2023

Donations amount to around €30,000 per year — enough to help about 50 children finish their education, from primary school to university. 

Moolenaar, who was based in the Netherlands, spent much of his life dedicated to Vim — creating, maintaining, and consistently improving the software. 

The last full version of Vim is 9.0, which appeared more than a year ago. However, until a month ago, Moolenaar was still making updates to the tool.  

During his career, Moolenaar also worked on a variety of projects that included a system for distributed software development called A-A-P, a programming language called Zimbu, and his latest stint was at Google working on modernising the Merchant Center.

While he might have logged off from this world for good, Moolenaar’s legacy and Vim — a text editor that continues to empower developers across the globe — lives on.