I wont compare vi with any other editors, there are religious issues once I say that vi is better than emacs or vice versa.
But I would certainly like to say that vi is much much better than any editor i know of(sparring emacs). Okay, initially when u start learning vi, its terse and its quite unlike any other simpler editor, one might have came across. Even to edit one need to change the mode. But once you cross that level, where u can easily switch between modes and understand its fundamentals well. It is the most powerful tool a developer can think of. I cannot comment how many of them actually use vi, but its quite popular among kernel developers.
I mean with vi in hands, u feel like a elitist , u feel the power of creation. Vi stays so much close to the philosophies of unices, it is one of the most simple ones, it just do one thing with one command, and it does not bug u with questions. vi is so much compatible with so many other utilities in unix. Its clean design has made programmers life easy and lovable for last few decades. The powerful regex parser and its capability to gel well with other processing languages like sed etc. is so sublime that one will feel as if sed is a part of vi.
Vi cannot be instant love, but once it starts growing its an addiction. When first time I used sp: and vs: capability on my console, I gasped and gawked with awe.
vi is indispensable tool, a real friend and moreover one of the finest piece of code ever written. I consider it to be the best editor till date.
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