Vim - It's Friends

Vim is clone of original Vi editor. In this chapter, we will discuss about other Vi clones. Main purpose of this chapter to know other clones and its compatibility with original Vi editor.

In this chapter, we will discuss following items −

  • Vi
  • Stevie
  • Elvis
  • nvi
  • vile
  • Compatibility with original Vi


Vi is acronym for Visual. It is screen-oriented text editor originally created for UNIX. The original code for Vi was written by Bill Joy in 1976 and first released on BSD platform. Vi was extension of ed editor which was most common at that time.

Vim was the first editor to introduce multiple modes. There is a separate mode for editing text, selecting text and executing command. Vim editor supports all these modes. Later sections of this tutorial describe these modes.


Stevie editor was developed for Atari ST platform. It was released in 1987 it is an abbreviation for ST Editor for VI enthusiastic.

It was very simple and provided only very small subset of the original Vi editor. However, it provided familiar environment to user moving on Atari ST platform.


Elvis’s main intention was to remove Stevie editor limitation. Stevie used to load entire file in RAM, Elvis removed this limitation by introducing buffers. Also it added some functionality into it like syntax highlighting, multiple window support, networking support and simple GUI.


nvi stands for new Vi. It was a result of license dispute between AT & T lab and Computer Science Research Group(CSRC) at university of California, Berkeley. Vi was based on ed editor and was under license of AT & T which restricted them to distribute Vi with BDS. Hence they rewrote Vi and released it under BSD license.


Vim is improved version of Vi and it added many features where Vi was lagging. It added many useful features like −

  • Multiple windows/tabs/buffers
  • Introduction of Vim scripting language
  • Syntax highlighting for more than 200 languages
  • Integration with compilers, interpreters and debuggers


Vile is an abbreviation which stands for Vi like Emacs and it was an attempt to bring popular features from both editor and combine it into one. Few popular features of Vile are −

  • One editing mode for each file type
  • Introduction of Vile procedural language
  • Named functions to bound keys according to user choice

Compatibility with Vioriginal Vi

Though above discussed editors are considered as Vi clones they are not 100% compatible with original Vi. Below table shows more details about their compatibility −

Clone Vi compatibility Notes
STEVIE 10% Limited features were common
Vile 10% Limited features and Vi modes were common
Elvis 80% Larger features were common
nvi 95% Larger features were common
Vim 99% Almost identical to Vi with some additional features