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Windows, Vim, and Python: An Unholy Trinity of Pain

Last summer I figured I’d learn Vim. That did not go well.

I started by stealing somebody’s .vimrc, as is natural. In this case the person from whomst I lifted my .vimrc was a Python dev, and I was working in Python at the time, so that was a reasonable choice. But once I opened an actual Python file I got an error message that Vim couldn’t find Python.

I did some research and it turned out that even though I’d grabbed the latest version of Vim, it was looking for Python 3.5 and I had Python 3.6, which had been out for a while by then. So I uninstalled Python 3.6 and installed Python 3.5 and started getting a different error message.

A bit more research revealed that my Python was 64-bit but my Vim was 32-bit. Apparently Vim didn’t provide official 64-bit Windows builds at that time, so for 64-bit Vim on Windows they just linked to a handful of third party distributions. I went ahead and uninstalled my 32-bit Vim so I could install 64-bit Vim, and then everything worked fine. (Except for all the minor Vim papercuts that eventually led me to write my own Nano clone instead.)

To get Vim and Python to play nice with each other, I had to reinstall both of them.

And that’s basically what developing on Windows is like in a nutshell.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. If more people treated Windows as a first class platform, the tools to develop on Windows wouldn’t be so frustrating to use, and then more people would treat Windows as a first class platform.