I just saw a similar question about Emacs/AUCTeX so this one was coming. I use nvi for all my editing including TeX and it would not change it for anything. However, even after almost 20 years of use I never stop to be amazed by clever trick people show me of and on.
This is my favorite list of nvi tricks (to be edited and improved over next couple of days):
1) Do not forget to use key mappings! Don't forget also that the whole power of Unix is on your fingertips as there is nothing easier than to invoke shell commands in nvi. Combination of this two ideas is very potent.
a) Even though nvi has no built in spell checker it doesn't mean that we can't do a spell checking. Actually it is even easier than in most "user friendly editors". This is the most useful line in my .exrc for TeX editing.
map v :w^M:!ispell %^M:e!^M^M
The spell checking is done by pressing ESC+v. Note that people who prefer aspell over ispell can put something like
map v :w^M:!aspell check %^M:e!^M^M
b) Another useful keyboard mapping specifically for TeX users.
map ^X :w^M:!make pdf clean %^M^M
What is does it enables you to tex your most recent edit by pressing Ctrl+X which pending on your pdf-viewer is automatically updated. Almost WYSIWYG for nvi users. Ok for people who want to add this into their .exrc files note that tex-ing is actually done with make utility. So I do have my own home cooked Makefile in my working directory. Targets pdf and clean are described in the Makefile.
2) nvi comes with pretty sensible sets of default values. However a carefully crafted .exrc can dramatically increase productivity of editing. This is my complete .exrc.
set autoindent set autoprint set cedit=^[ set extended set file=^[ set number set ruler set shiftwidth=4 set showmatch set showmode set tabstop=8 set verbose set wrapmargin=8 map V !}fmt -w 72 ^M map v :w^M:!ispell %^M:e!^M^M map ^X :w^M:!make pdf clean-ps %^M^M
Probably two of the most underappreciated options which were not present in the original vi editor are
extended option which allows you to use extended regular expressions (think
^[ which is ESC in the verbose mode) allows you to use command history in ex mode.
There are two other options which I do not have in my .exrc file but I find it very useful. By default nvi search is case sensitive. We can override this behavior by setting option
ic). Since I tend to use extended regular expressions this is not essential feature for me. Second non default option which is very useful is incremental search. Just set
and you will see what nvi matches words as you type in each letter of your search string.
3) Using abbreviations coming soon.
4) Buffers, markers and similar coming soon
5) Batch editing for beginners coming soon.
This edit is inspired by Stefan Kottwitz comment. My favorite thread on vi/vim from stackexchange is "What is your most productive shortcut with VIM?". I almost fall of the chair after reading the first answer "Your problem with Vim is that you don't grok vi".