Thursday, February 5, 2015

Is it VimL or Vimscript?

This one’s easy:

It’s VimL, because it’s neither!

Allow me, if you will, to explain.

On The Pragmatic Bookshelf’s page for The VimL Primer (click the “Details” tab to see it), there’s a Q&A I did regarding the book’s topic (the language we’re discussing). Here’s one part of it:

2. There’s no such thing as VimL! What is this book about?

This book is about Vim’s built-in scripting language, VimL. This language is also known as Vimscript. Depending on how you look at it, either VimL is an alternate name for Vimscript or Vimscript is an alternate name for VimL.

Actually, there’s no real official name for the language; the closest seems to be the two-word “Vim script.”…

What madness is this? It’s quite true! the official name is “Vim script”. See the manual at :help exception-handling for proof:

The Vim script language comprises an exception handling feature.…

Does that not convince you? Wikipedia—WIKIPEDIA!introduces the language thusly:

Vim script… is the scripting language built into Vim.

(Wikipedia does list “Vimscript” and “VimL” as alternate names.)

So how does that, as I say, mean that the name is VimL? See farther down in the Wikipedia article:

Vim script files are stored in plain text format and the file name extension is .vim.

What files? Script files, in Vim. No, maybe files in Vim’s scripting language. No, what about script files in general, but when Vim’s editing them…

I expect you can see that at which I am getting: this is a confusing name until you join the words or uppercase the “s” in “script.” And at the point at which we’re doing that, we’re already changing the official name. We can change it to whatever we want!

Thus the end of my answer:

The relatively new name “VimL” (“Vim Language”) has been gaining in popularity in rough correlation with the growth of the code-sharing site GitHub. Its use is a matter of preference, but I do find it more easily distinguishable from mentions of Vim scripts or of writing generic scripts using Vim (in search results, for instance). It’s a short, tolerably memorable name, a bit catchy, and what I use throughout this book.

The reality, of course, is that I can’t change the Vim manual (although I could change the Wikipedia page…). I am content with accepting that this is a scripting language, and I suppose it technically works to call it the obvious (“Vimscript”). But as long as we have a cool distinguishable alternate name, my vote (with the vote of the masses) is for VimL.

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