I like to write tutorials and articles for a programming forum I frequent. This forum has a character limit per post. I've used Notepad++ in the past to write posts and it keeps a live character count in the status bar. I'm starting to use gVim more and I really don't want to go back to Notepad++ at this point, but it is very useful to have this character count. If I go over the count, I usually end up pasting the post into Notepad++ so I can see when I've trimmed enough to get by the limit.
I've seen suggestions that
:set ruler would help, but this only gives the character count via the current column index on the current line. This would be great if I didn't use paragraph breaks, but I'm sure you'd agree that reading several thousand characters in one paragraph is not comfortable.
I read the help and thought that
rulerformat would work, but after looking over the
statusline format it uses I didn't see anything that gives a character count for the current buffer.
I've seen that there are plugins that add this, but I'm still dipping my toes into gVim and I'm not sure I want to load random plugins before I understand what they do. I'd prefer to use something built in to vim, but if it doesn't exist it doesn't exist.
What should I do to accomplish my goal? If it involves a plugin, do you use it and how well does it work?