After using it as my primary editor for several weeks, I feel as though I can finally graduate from nvi. It was more challenging than I thought it would be when I first decided to learn it, but it was a fantastic learning experience.
While I've been using a vi clone in the form of Vim for years, I admit I've always cheated by adding the
nocompatible option in my vimrc file. This has the effect of making Vim behave more like a contemporary editor which lowered the barrier to entry, but it meant when I started using nvi I was lost and frustrated in a sea of escape keys!
Everyone likes a silly car analogy, so here goes. I like to think I learned how to drive vi editors by using an automatic (Vim with nocompatible), so when I had to use a manual (nvi) I understood most of it but there was a whole new set of interfaces I had to learn. The upshot of putting in this effort though is now I can drive both, and perhaps I can even drive Vim more effectively.
I can now confidently say if I'm ever thrown in front of a FreeBSD machine I myself don't maintain, I'll be able to use nvi in place of Vim with a minimum of muss and fuss. Well technically I could use ee, but where would the fun be in that? :)