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Re: OT: The so called "steep learning curve" of vim...

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  • Boyko Bantchev
    In my personal opinion, saying that Vim s learning curve is steep is nothing but a gross exaggeration. Why should it be? Are Vim s potential users computer
    Message 1 of 25 , Oct 1, 2012
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      In my personal opinion, saying that "Vim's learning curve is steep"
      is nothing but a gross exaggeration. Why should it be? Are Vim's
      potential users computer illiterates, incapable of adapting to simple
      albeit new concepts? Highly improbable. Are they not learning to
      use many other and much more complex computer programs and their
      ever changing new versions?
      I remember I moved to Vim after using for years a very different
      family of text editors (Kedit and THE) with which I was greatly
      efficient. Yet, it only took a very short period of time and no
      serious effort to change my view of text editing and my work habits.
      Steep learning curve? Oh, please ...

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    • Tim Chase
      ... I m pretty sure it stems on how productive one can be when confronted with the editor without any previous experience. A newbie user can approach Nano and
      Message 2 of 25 , Oct 1, 2012
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        On 10/01/12 14:17, Boyko Bantchev wrote:
        > In my personal opinion, saying that "Vim's learning curve is steep"
        > is nothing but a gross exaggeration. Why should it be? Are Vim's
        > potential users computer illiterates, incapable of adapting to simple
        > albeit new concepts?

        I'm pretty sure it stems on how productive one can be when
        confronted with the editor without any previous experience.

        A newbie user can approach Nano and see the "these are the things
        you can do" at the bottom, as well as how to obtain help; or Notepad
        and see that it offers the standard File/Edit/Help menu options to
        click on. In both, typing does exactly what is expected: it enters
        text.

        In Vim, yes, the opening screen of a new editing session does point
        to how to obtain help. But (1) if you invoke it on a filename (or
        have $EDITOR or $VISUAL unset and another application uses vi(m) as
        the default), you don't see the "here's how you get help", and (2)
        while arrow keys in most cases, typing as one is accustomed to doing
        in other text-editing programs (whether Notepad, Word, an email
        client, or even just a text-entry box in a browser) doesn't have the
        expected behavior.

        So the "curve is steep" indicates that you have to read *some*
        instructions before you can likely even do _anything_. Yes, vim
        offers good tutorials like vimtutor and there are plenty of other
        good tutorials and cheat-sheets a mere google away, but it does
        require _some_ up-front learning.

        -tim


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      • Charlie Kester
        ... But the thing is, for the kind of users vim is aimed at, a text editor isn t the kind of tool that is used so infrequently that the user is always stuck at
        Message 3 of 25 , Oct 1, 2012
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          On 10/01/2012 12:48 PM, Tim Chase wrote:
          > On 10/01/12 14:17, Boyko Bantchev wrote:
          >> In my personal opinion, saying that "Vim's learning curve is steep"
          >> is nothing but a gross exaggeration. Why should it be? Are Vim's
          >> potential users computer illiterates, incapable of adapting to simple
          >> albeit new concepts?
          >
          > I'm pretty sure it stems on how productive one can be when
          > confronted with the editor without any previous experience.
          >
          > A newbie user can approach Nano and see the "these are the things
          > you can do" at the bottom, as well as how to obtain help; or Notepad
          > and see that it offers the standard File/Edit/Help menu options to
          > click on. In both, typing does exactly what is expected: it enters
          > text.
          >

          But the thing is, for the kind of users vim is aimed at, a text editor
          isn't the kind of tool that is used so infrequently that the user is
          always stuck at the newbie stage.

          I think there's a place for "user-friendly" or "intuitively obvious"
          applications, but it's for things that you don't use every day and
          therefore don't have a chance to develop any "muscle memory" or other
          expertise. A disk recovery app, for example, needs that kind of
          interface because it's aimed at a problem that hopefully doesn't come up
          very often. But when it does we're already frustrated and don't want to
          have to learn how to use an arcane piece of software.

          A software developer, on the other hand, spends a large portion of his
          time in his text editor. It's his "home base." What Alan Cooper once
          called a "sovereign app." With apps like that, what's wanted is an
          interface that doesn't insist on calling attention to itself, but
          instead recedes into the background so the user can focus all of his
          attention on the task. Otherwise it's like trying to play the piano
          while looking at your hands instead of the sheetmusic (or hearing the
          song in your head.)

          People who don't work with text all that much or very often can be quite
          content with Nano, Notepad, or even simpler interfaces. You don't need
          vim to send text messages or tweets!

          But other people find those "user-friendly" apps too confining, and
          almost as awkward to use as an on-screen keyboard to be pecked at with a
          stylus.

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        • Steve Litt
          ... This is true, but it doesn t mean that saying Vim s learning curve is steep is a gross exaggeration. The fact is, that for X amount of time, the Vim newbie
          Message 4 of 25 , Oct 1, 2012
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            On Mon, 01 Oct 2012 15:04:15 -0700, Charlie Kester said:
            > On 10/01/2012 12:48 PM, Tim Chase wrote:
            > > On 10/01/12 14:17, Boyko Bantchev wrote:
            > >> In my personal opinion, saying that "Vim's learning curve is steep"
            > >> is nothing but a gross exaggeration. Why should it be? Are Vim's
            > >> potential users computer illiterates, incapable of adapting to
            > >> simple albeit new concepts?
            > >
            > > I'm pretty sure it stems on how productive one can be when
            > > confronted with the editor without any previous experience.
            > >
            > > A newbie user can approach Nano and see the "these are the things
            > > you can do" at the bottom, as well as how to obtain help; or Notepad
            > > and see that it offers the standard File/Edit/Help menu options to
            > > click on. In both, typing does exactly what is expected: it enters
            > > text.
            > >
            >
            > But the thing is, for the kind of users vim is aimed at, a text
            > editor isn't the kind of tool that is used so infrequently that the
            > user is always stuck at the newbie stage.

            This is true, but it doesn't mean that saying Vim's learning curve is
            steep is a gross exaggeration. The fact is, that for X amount of time,
            the Vim newbie will be helpless with Vim. That's not true of Notepad or
            GEdit.

            >
            > I think there's a place for "user-friendly" or "intuitively obvious"
            > applications, but it's for things that you don't use every day and
            > therefore don't have a chance to develop any "muscle memory" or other
            > expertise. A disk recovery app, for example, needs that kind of
            > interface because it's aimed at a problem that hopefully doesn't come
            > up very often. But when it does we're already frustrated and don't
            > want to have to learn how to use an arcane piece of software.

            This is absolutely true, but doesn't refute Vim's steep learning curve.

            >
            > A software developer, on the other hand, spends a large portion of
            > his time in his text editor. It's his "home base." What Alan Cooper
            > once called a "sovereign app." With apps like that, what's wanted is
            > an interface that doesn't insist on calling attention to itself, but
            > instead recedes into the background so the user can focus all of his
            > attention on the task. Otherwise it's like trying to play the piano
            > while looking at your hands instead of the sheetmusic (or hearing the
            > song in your head.)

            :-) This is certainly true, but ...

            >
            > People who don't work with text all that much or very often can be
            > quite content with Nano, Notepad, or even simpler interfaces. You
            > don't need vim to send text messages or tweets!

            True...

            >
            > But other people find those "user-friendly" apps too confining, and
            > almost as awkward to use as an on-screen keyboard to be pecked at
            > with a stylus.

            True. That's exactly why we're all using Vim. Once you learn it, it's
            *much* easier (and faster) than "user-friendly" apps.

            Everything you write in this email is absolutely true, but none of it
            supports the poster who claimed that talk of Vim's steep learning curve
            is a gross exaggeration. There's going to be a certain amount of time
            during which a brand new Vim user is completely nonproductive in Vim,
            because all he's doing is learning, not using. The length of that
            nonproductive time depends on a lot of details, including how well and
            quickly one links specific keystrokes to specific tasks. Correct me if
            I'm wrong, but when I use Vim, my fingers do the thinking -- my head
            has no clue.

            The other thing I'd point out is that I have a feeling those who
            perceive Vim's learning curve the steepest might be those like me, who
            learned on vi, and only came to Vim after gaining proficiency on vi. In
            my opinion, vi has a steeper learning curve than Vim -- no blocking, no
            mouse, no menu, no cursor or pageup keys, no helpful tools to do
            something you have no idea how to do. My memories of learning vi might
            play a role in my opinion that Vim's learning curve is extremely steep.

            SteveT

            Steve Litt * http://www.troubleshooters.com/
            * http://twitter.com/stevelitt
            Troubleshooting Training * Human Performance

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          • Boyko Bantchev
            ... How is that a fact? If one only does in Vim the kind of editing that they do in Notepad (e.g. when using Vim in easy mode), would they even notice a
            Message 5 of 25 , Oct 2, 2012
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              On 2 October 2012 03:25, Steve Litt <slitt@...> wrote:
              > The fact is, that for X amount of time,
              > the Vim newbie will be helpless with Vim. That's not true of Notepad or
              > GEdit.

              How is that a fact? If one only does in Vim the kind of "editing"
              that they do in Notepad (e.g. when using Vim in easy mode), would
              they even notice a difference?

              > There's going to be a certain amount of time
              > during which a brand new Vim user is completely nonproductive in Vim,
              > because all he's doing is learning, not using.

              To say that Vim, as a particular text editor, has a steep learning
              curve, would mean that there are other editors that let their users
              do similar things but require no or little learning. What are those
              editors?

              I strongly suspect that what is being perceived as "Vim's steepness"
              is in fact the difficulty of learning to edit text efficaciously and
              efficiently. That difficulty is not somehow specific to Vim alone,
              but is essential to the task it solves. I'll agree that Vim has a
              steep learning curve when I'm shown a text editor with similar
              capabilities and a 'gradual' learning curve. Until then, I consider
              it a myth, and one that is harmful to Vim's popularity.

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            • Marc Weber
              vim & emacs: Well - the whole discussion is pointless because we re not talking about what should be learned . Even notepad can do things Vim can t: Open
              Message 6 of 25 , Oct 2, 2012
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                vim & emacs: Well - the whole discussion is pointless because we're not
                talking about "what should be learned".

                Even notepad can do things Vim can't: Open registry dump files!

                So use the right tool for a job. And if you want to learn about Vim -
                and you're helpless - then ask somebody knowing how to find the tool, or
                use the website. Its not a Vim problem. Yes - at the beginning I didn't
                knew how to quit Vim - yet I learned it. I even was too dump to
                understand the press :q because ":" is often used as separator - and I
                only experienced the Windows world before.

                You all say productivity of Vim is great - well - yes after writing tons
                of plugins (depending on what you do) - and even then you feel limited.
                Or why do people start writing eclim like bridges (talking about
                programming).

                Now is Eclipse more productive than Vim?
                Eclipse can highlight used and unused #ifdef regions, Vim cannot
                (AFAIK).
                Thus given infinite amount of time - which tool will be more productive
                if your task is to understand fast which lines are actually used?

                So don't forget that there are also other tools - and use what it fits
                your needs.

                And if you're worried that new users fail to get started with Vim - then
                teach them how to use google instead of telling them where to find help.

                Linux users will soon learn that there is "man", Windows users are used
                to F1 and a Help menu - and everything exists and works.

                However

                :helpgrep mailinglist does not show anything - WHY?
                :helpgrep irc shows nothing (but my own documentation of my plugins! [1])
                :helpgrep chat (same)
                :h community (does not exist)
                :helpgrep community (one hit: on the netbeans page)

                But its us helping new users and giving them those hints

                Should we fix that?

                So what about adding a help file about the community containing pointers
                to the internet relay chat, and the mailinglist?

                If "productivity" was the thing you want to measure - and if you're a
                writer - and think "Vim is the tool I always tried to learn" - then also
                have a look at plover: http://plover.stenoknight.com/
                It may allow you to write with 200WPMs and more after some training.
                Maybe that's providing a bigger "productivity boost" - than all Vim
                knowledge.

                So how do you feel about the community? Should we be mentioned in the
                help files?

                How much of you (readers of this mailinglist) would have benefited
                knowing about this mailinglist or the #vim irc chat room earlier?

                Marc Weber

                [1]
                vim-addon-haskell.txt|40 col 3| irc.freenode.net: MarcWeber
                vim-addon-manager-additional-documentation.txt|1147 col 21| Of course #git on irc.freenode.net is willing to help if you have trouble
                vim-addon-manager-getting-started.txt|38 col 6| Join irc.freenode.net, /join #vim. Ask there. VAM has many users
                tovl.txt|145 col 16| MarcWeber on irc.freenode.org or mail: marco-oweber@...
                lang_haskell.txt|133 col 16| MarcWeber on irc.freenode.org or mail: marco-oweber@...

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              • David H. Lynch Jr.
                Vi is present on nearly every *nix system in existance, from big servers to whatever is in your refridgerator. It is also on OSX. Vi is essentially a subset of
                Message 7 of 25 , Oct 2, 2012
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                  Vi is present on nearly every *nix system in existance, from big
                  servers to whatever is in your refridgerator. It is also on OSX.
                  Vi is essentially a subset of vim. If you know vim you know vi. If you
                  constantly need to work on random systems anywhere - you are stuck
                  knowing the basics of Vi.
                  I think Vi without Vim is pretty bad as an editor - but I can still use
                  it. My fingers know what to do.
                  There is nothing else this is true of.
                  Vim is Vi on steroids.It is the default Vi in many places, but where it
                  isn't or windows where there is no decent text editor, Vim can easily be
                  installed when you are going to be working for more than a few
                  minutes.

                  I personally do not use but a fraction of the power of Vim, I have been
                  using it for almost a decade and I am a novice. some things are hard to
                  learn. but the power of even my limited knowledge is enormous. Sure
                  there are other editors that are really good. I have used and loved many
                  others, and some were friendlier. But none were everywhere.
                  So fine it takes a long time to get to the point where you can change
                  the 3rd to last word in each line to uppercase, prepend the first word
                  in the line, and append the line number in octal. But I am sure someone
                  here can tell you how to do that.

                  If you are going to live in eclipse and no where else - then you
                  probably should learn eclipses built in editor.
                  There are other editors that will be the best choice for other specific
                  scenarios.
                  My work dictates that I must know Vi fairly well. And Vim is available
                  - usually the default Vi in most of the places I work.
                  I don't care about the learning curve. I care more about the fact that
                  there are so many other tools like email, or ... that have their own
                  limited editing capability built in that do not work like Vim. Anyone
                  have a vim plugin for eclipse ? ThunderBird ?













                  On Tue, 2012-10-02 at 16:04 +0200, Marc Weber wrote:
                  > vim & emacs: Well - the whole discussion is pointless because we're not
                  > talking about "what should be learned".
                  >
                  > Even notepad can do things Vim can't: Open registry dump files!
                  >
                  > So use the right tool for a job. And if you want to learn about Vim -
                  > and you're helpless - then ask somebody knowing how to find the tool, or
                  > use the website. Its not a Vim problem. Yes - at the beginning I didn't
                  > knew how to quit Vim - yet I learned it. I even was too dump to
                  > understand the press :q because ":" is often used as separator - and I
                  > only experienced the Windows world before.
                  >
                  > You all say productivity of Vim is great - well - yes after writing tons
                  > of plugins (depending on what you do) - and even then you feel limited.
                  > Or why do people start writing eclim like bridges (talking about
                  > programming).
                  >
                  > Now is Eclipse more productive than Vim?
                  > Eclipse can highlight used and unused #ifdef regions, Vim cannot
                  > (AFAIK).
                  > Thus given infinite amount of time - which tool will be more productive
                  > if your task is to understand fast which lines are actually used?
                  >
                  > So don't forget that there are also other tools - and use what it fits
                  > your needs.
                  >
                  > And if you're worried that new users fail to get started with Vim - then
                  > teach them how to use google instead of telling them where to find help.
                  >
                  > Linux users will soon learn that there is "man", Windows users are used
                  > to F1 and a Help menu - and everything exists and works.
                  >
                  > However
                  >
                  > :helpgrep mailinglist does not show anything - WHY?
                  > :helpgrep irc shows nothing (but my own documentation of my plugins! [1])
                  > :helpgrep chat (same)
                  > :h community (does not exist)
                  > :helpgrep community (one hit: on the netbeans page)
                  >
                  > But its us helping new users and giving them those hints
                  >
                  > Should we fix that?
                  >
                  > So what about adding a help file about the community containing pointers
                  > to the internet relay chat, and the mailinglist?
                  >
                  > If "productivity" was the thing you want to measure - and if you're a
                  > writer - and think "Vim is the tool I always tried to learn" - then also
                  > have a look at plover: http://plover.stenoknight.com/
                  > It may allow you to write with 200WPMs and more after some training.
                  > Maybe that's providing a bigger "productivity boost" - than all Vim
                  > knowledge.
                  >
                  > So how do you feel about the community? Should we be mentioned in the
                  > help files?
                  >
                  > How much of you (readers of this mailinglist) would have benefited
                  > knowing about this mailinglist or the #vim irc chat room earlier?
                  >
                  > Marc Weber
                  >
                  > [1]
                  > vim-addon-haskell.txt|40 col 3| irc.freenode.net: MarcWeber
                  > vim-addon-manager-additional-documentation.txt|1147 col 21| Of course #git on irc.freenode.net is willing to help if you have trouble
                  > vim-addon-manager-getting-started.txt|38 col 6| Join irc.freenode.net, /join #vim. Ask there. VAM has many users
                  > tovl.txt|145 col 16| MarcWeber on irc.freenode.org or mail: marco-oweber@...
                  > lang_haskell.txt|133 col 16| MarcWeber on irc.freenode.org or mail: marco-oweber@...
                  >


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                • Charles Campbell
                  ... Try Michael Gedde s ifdef.vim plugin -- http://www.vim.org/scripts/script.php?script_id=7 . Regards, C Campbell -- You received this message from
                  Message 8 of 25 , Oct 2, 2012
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                    Marc Weber wrote:
                    > <snip>
                    > Eclipse can highlight used and unused #ifdef regions, Vim cannot
                    > (AFAIK).
                    >
                    <snip>

                    Try Michael Gedde's "ifdef.vim" plugin --
                    http://www.vim.org/scripts/script.php?script_id=7 .

                    Regards,
                    C Campbell

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                  • Christian Brabandt
                    Hi Marc! ... Why can t Vim? regards, Christian -- Wenn der kluge Mann mit dem Kopf durch die Wand will, so benutzt er dazu einen anderen. -- You received this
                    Message 9 of 25 , Oct 2, 2012
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                      Hi Marc!

                      On Di, 02 Okt 2012, Marc Weber wrote:

                      > vim & emacs: Well - the whole discussion is pointless because we're not
                      > talking about "what should be learned".
                      >
                      > Even notepad can do things Vim can't: Open registry dump files!

                      Why can't Vim?

                      regards,
                      Christian
                      --
                      Wenn der kluge Mann mit dem Kopf durch die Wand will, so benutzt er dazu
                      einen anderen.

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                    • Marc Weber
                      ... Hmm you re right. You could write a decode and use it (like showing hexdumps ..) - still I use bvi whenever I want to edit binary files. Try Win + R -
                      Message 10 of 25 , Oct 2, 2012
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                        Excerpts from Christian Brabandt's message of Tue Oct 02 21:29:28 +0200 2012:
                        > > Even notepad can do things Vim can't: Open registry dump files!
                        > Why can't Vim?
                        Hmm you're right. You could write a decode and use it (like showing
                        hexdumps ..) - still I use bvi whenever I want to edit binary files.

                        Try Win + R -> "regedit" click on any folder -> File export -> save as
                        .reg file. Then you have a binary format which you can open in Vim but
                        which is unreadable for humans. Notepad decodes it.

                        I hope nobody got me wrong - I love Vim - and almost all the time half
                        of my processes are running Vim instances .. Still there is a point when
                        you hit a "frontier" - when tools are missing.

                        Eg I like the WYSIWYG behaviour of lyx which Vim will never provide
                        (unless a lot of development takes place)
                        which is why I want to say: think about learning curves as much as you
                        want - but don't miss domain specific solutions beside Vim if
                        appropriate.

                        Marc Weber

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                      • John Beckett
                        ... On Windows (or most systems for that matter), your vimrc should probably start with the following two lines: set nocompatible set encoding=utf-8 And, there
                        Message 11 of 25 , Oct 2, 2012
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                          Marc Weber wrote:
                          > Try Win + R -> "regedit" click on any folder -> File export
                          > -> save as .reg file. Then you have a binary format which you
                          > can open in Vim but which is unreadable for humans. Notepad
                          > decodes it.

                          On Windows (or most systems for that matter), your vimrc should
                          probably start with the following two lines:

                          set nocompatible
                          set encoding=utf-8

                          And, there should be nothing which sets fenc or fencs
                          (the 'fileencoding' and 'fileencodings' options).

                          You might have something to set fencs, but the defaults have
                          been sufficient for my modest needs.

                          With the above, Vim can correctly read a .reg file. After the
                          file is open, the following command shows that the .reg file
                          has file encoding utf-16le:

                          :set fenc?

                          John

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                        • richard emberson
                          Both Vim and GVim have menubars with menus and submenus and, in addition, a popup menu that, at least for a very beginner, covers (maybe) 90% of what they may
                          Message 12 of 25 , Oct 2, 2012
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                            Both Vim and GVim have menubars with menus and submenus and, in
                            addition, a popup menu that, at least for a very beginner, covers
                            (maybe) 90% of what they may want to do (once they've got
                            basic modal editing down).
                            Though, it is also true that they will quickly out grow the
                            menus and rapidly want to do something that requires a little
                            deeper knowledge.

                            Richard

                            On 09/30/2012 06:37 AM, meino.cramer@... wrote:
                            > Hi,
                            >
                            > it is often said, taht certain software has a "steep learning curve".
                            > Vi/vim is such an example for the use of this phrase...
                            >
                            > I was thinking of this phrase and the graph I would draw if I had
                            > to show an example for such a "steep learning curve"...
                            >
                            > I would take the time as measure for the x-axis and the amount
                            > of stuff I have learned about -- for example -- vim as a measure
                            > for the y-axis..
                            > Then I would draw that "steep learning curve" as an graph
                            > which goes -- say -- from 0,0 to 5,30.
                            >
                            > And watching this graph I would read it as
                            > "Using vim give one a great amount of knowledge in a very short time."
                            >
                            > So....why so many take this as a point of critic???
                            >
                            > Using software which a needs a lot of time to learn
                            > much lesser ... that is the problem I think...!
                            >
                            > Or...what do I misinterpret here? ;)
                            >
                            > Best regards,
                            > mcc
                            >
                            >

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                          • Marc Weber
                            ... sorry - the binary output only happens if you export HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT this way. I m going to stop participating in this thread for now. Marc Weber -- You
                            Message 13 of 25 , Oct 3, 2012
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                              > > can open in Vim but which is unreadable for humans. Notepad
                              > > decodes it.
                              sorry - the binary output only happens if you export HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT
                              this way.

                              I'm going to stop participating in this thread for now.

                              Marc Weber

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