Vim setup explained

September 14, 2008

Since my site is named after a Vim command. I figured that I should eventually write something talking about my favorite text editor, and how I like it configured. What follows is the explanation of my .vimrc, as well as a description of the plugins that I use. A lot of the credit for this configuration goes to Bart Trojanowski, who has an excellent Vim configuration. At the bottom I’ll have a link to download any of the files themselves if you so desire. I hope you find it useful (everything in fixed-width font is the actual text, everything else is comments about it):

My ~/.vimrc:

Modelines have been abused in the past, and while I haven’t heard of anything lately that would abuse them, it’s always better safe than sorry. This requires the securemodelines vim script

" ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
" first the disabled features due to security concerns
set modelines=0               " no modelines []
let g:secure_modelines_verbose=0 " securemodelines vimscript
let g:secure_modelines_modelines = 15 " 15 available modelines

Since these are all simple features, I won’t bother to explain them besides the inline comments:

" ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
" operational settings
syntax on
set ruler                     " show the line number on the bar
set more                      " use more prompt
set autoread                  " watch for file changes
set number                    " line numbers
set hidden
set noautowrite               " don't automagically write on :next
set lazyredraw                " don't redraw when don't have to
set showmode
set showcmd
set nocompatible              " vim, not vi
set autoindent smartindent    " auto/smart indent
set expandtab                 " expand tabs to spaces
set smarttab                  " tab and backspace are smart
set tabstop=6                 " 6 spaces
set shiftwidth=6
set scrolloff=5               " keep at least 5 lines above/below
set sidescrolloff=5           " keep at least 5 lines left/right
set backspace=indent,eol,start
set showfulltag               " show full completion tags
set noerrorbells              " no error bells please
set linebreak
set cmdheight=2               " command line two lines high
set undolevels=1000           " 1000 undos
set updatecount=100           " switch every 100 chars
set complete=.,w,b,u,U,t,i,d  " do lots of scanning on tab completion
set ttyfast                   " we have a fast terminal
filetype on                   " Enable filetype detection
filetype indent on            " Enable filetype-specific indenting
filetype plugin on            " Enable filetype-specific plugins
compiler ruby                 " Enable compiler support for ruby
set wildmode=longest:full
set wildignore+=*.o,*~,.lo    " ignore object files
set wildmenu                  " menu has tab completion
let maplocalleader=','        " all my macros start with ,
set foldmethod=syntax         " fold on syntax automagically, always
set foldcolumn=2              " 2 lines of column for fold showing, always

set dictionary=/usr/share/dict/words " more words!

I do like candycode for my terminals (which tend to be black) and I like macvim for my GUI, so I change schemes depending on which I’m using.

if !has("gui_running")
      colorscheme candycode   " yum candy
if has("gui_running")
      colorscheme macvim      " macvim == win
      set guioptions-=T       " no toolbar
      set cursorline          " show the cursor line

For the taglist plugin, I want it to appear on the right and to quick vim as soon as I close the last file I’m working on.

" Settings for taglist.vim
let Tlist_Use_Right_Window=1
let Tlist_Auto_Open=0
let Tlist_Enable_Fold_Column=0
let Tlist_Compact_Format=0
let Tlist_WinWidth=28
let Tlist_Exit_OnlyWindow=1
let Tlist_File_Fold_Auto_Close = 1

Misc TOhtml settings

" Settings for :TOhtml
let html_number_lines=1
let html_use_css=1
let use_xhtml=1

My status line is basically <filename> [<filetype>] [+] #<buffernum> <linenum>/<totallines>,<columnnum>

" ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
" status line
set laststatus=2
if has('statusline')
        function! SetStatusLineStyle()
                let &stl="%f %y "                       .
                        \"%([%R%M]%)"                   .
                        \"%#StatusLineNC#%{&ff=='unix'?'':&ff.'\ format'}%*" .
                        \"%{'$'[!&list]}"               .
                        \"%{'~'[&pm=='']}"              .
                        \"%="                           .
                        \"#%n %l/%L,%c%V "              .
        call SetStatusLineStyle()

        if has('title')
                set titlestring=%t%(\ [%R%M]%)


More simple search options, see inline comments

" ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
"  searching
set incsearch                 " incremental search
set ignorecase                " search ignoring case
set hlsearch                  " highlight the search
set showmatch                 " show matching bracket
set diffopt=filler,iwhite       " ignore all whitespace and sync

I *occasionally* use the mouse. If I have to.

" ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
"  mouse stuffs
set mouse=a                   " mouse support in all modes
set mousehide                 " hide the mouse when typing
" this makes the mouse paste a block of text without formatting it
" (good for code)
map <MouseMiddle> <esc>"*p

I prefer not to litter my current directory with backup files, so I put them all in ~/.backup. I also save a lot of line positions in the viminfo file.

" ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
"  backup options
set backup
set backupdir=~/.backup
set viminfo=%100,'100,/100,h,\"500,:100,n~/.viminfo
set history=200
"set viminfo='100,f1

I use ,ss to toggle between spellcheck on and spellcheck off.

" ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
" spelling...
if v:version >= 700

  setlocal spell spelllang=en
  nmap <LocalLeader>ss :set spell!<CR>


Here are all the keyboard shortcuts I use most often:

" ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
" some useful mappings
" Y yanks from cursor to $
map Y y$
" for yankring to work with previous mapping:
function! YRRunAfterMaps()
    nnoremap Y   :<C-U>YRYankCount 'y$'<CR>
" toggle list mode
nmap <LocalLeader>tl :set list!<cr>
" toggle paste mode
nmap <LocalLeader>pp :set paste!<cr>
" change directory to that of current file
nmap <LocalLeader>cd :cd%:p:h<cr>
" change local directory to that of current file
nmap <LocalLeader>lcd :lcd%:p:h<cr>
" correct type-o's on exit
nmap q: :q
" save and build
nmap <LocalLeader>wm  :w<cr>:make<cr>
" open all folds
nmap <LocalLeader>fo  :%foldopen!<cr>
" close all folds
nmap <LocalLeader>fc  :%foldclose!<cr>
" ,tt will toggle taglist on and off
nmap <LocalLeader>tt :Tlist<cr>
" ,nn will toggle NERDTree on and off
nmap <LocalLeader>nn :NERDTreeToggle<cr>
" When I'm pretty sure that the first suggestion is correct
map <LocalLeader>r 1z=

I use this one quite often, as I often forget to do “sudo vim file” in the first case, now I don’t have to exit vim to write the file with sudo.

" If I forgot to sudo vim a file, do that with :w!!
cmap w!! %!sudo tee > /dev/null %
" ruby helpers
iab rbang #!/usr/bin/env ruby
iab idef def initialize

I think candycode looks good in all the color modes, but it’s still nice to set it up for different terms.

" ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
" setup for the visual environment
if $TERM =~ '^xterm'
        set t_Co=256
elseif $TERM =~ '^screen-bce'
        set t_Co=256            " just guessing
elseif $TERM =~ '^rxvt'
        set t_Co=88
elseif $TERM =~ '^linux'
        set t_Co=8
        set t_Co=16

Switch between tabs with ,tn and ,tp

" ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
" tabs
" (LocalLeader is ",")
map <LocalLeader>tc :tabnew %<cr>    " create a new tab
map <LocalLeader>td :tabclose<cr>    " close a tab
map <LocalLeader>tn :tabnext<cr>     " next tab
map <LocalLeader>tp :tabprev<cr>     " previous tab
map <LocalLeader>tm :tabmove         " move a tab to a new location

Load extensions we need and change some format options for markdown files.

" ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
" auto load extensions for different file types
if has('autocmd')
        filetype plugin indent on
        syntax on

        autocmd BufReadPost *
                \ if line("'\"") > 0|
                \       if line("'\"") <= line("$")|
                \               exe("norm '\"")|
                \       else|
                \               exe "norm $"|
                \       endif|
                \ endif

        " improve legibility
        au BufRead quickfix setlocal nobuflisted wrap number

        " improved formatting for markdown
        autocmd BufRead *.mkd  set ai formatoptions=tcroqn2 comments=n:>
        autocmd BufRead ~/.blog/entries/*  set ai formatoptions=tcroqn2 comments=n:>
And that’s the .vimrc
Here are some of the plugins that I used:
  • NERD Commenter – auto comment sections of code
  • NERD Tree – display file tree for directories, like a project view
  • Alternate – Alternate between implementation and header files
  • Compview – Search for a word and display a window with results
  • GetLatestVimScript – Get the latest version of scripts
  • Matchit – Extended % matching
  • Rails – Tons of RoR stuff
  • Securemodelines – Secure modeline support
  • Taglist – display a list of tags from the file
  • VCScommand – help with files under revision control
  • Vimball – install vimball plugins
  • Yankring – have a ring of copy/paste buffers for history pasting
  • C – A collection of helpful things for C (Although mine is heavily customized)
Enough with text, here’s a couple of screenshots of how it looks:

I maintain a pretty-up-to-date copy of most of my configuration files in my github dotfile repository, that’s the best way to get this configuration as well as all the plugins that I use, you can download a tarball of all the files from the github (direct link: here) page as well.

Well, hope someone out there finds these configuration files useful. I welcome any feedback :)

Soon to come: an explanation of the project that I’ve been working on that has taken me away from blogging for so long, an Intrusion Detection System based on Locality events.

Update 10/23/08: After some theme changes, updated screenshot (no NERDtree or taglist shown in the image):

Update 12/9/09: Been over a year, just for a teaser of what it looks like now:


8 Comments to "Vim setup explained"

  1. bartman wrote:

    That’s nice, man. I’ll have to borrow some of your stuff back :)

  2. cypal wrote:

    Only loosely related to this post’s topic, but if you are on the command line you can enter Vim by pressing ctrl+x+e (Bash). Quite useful as well at times.

    And thanks for sharing your pro tips as well!

  3. bumblehead wrote:

    I was googling and looking for a vim+actionscript work-flow when I found this. No actionscripting, but the vim info is great!

    In case anyone else was looking, here’s extra .vimrc actionscript stuff I found

    “Preview in similarly-named swf in ‘browser
    “command Preview :!firefox %
    command Preview :!firefox “%:t:r”.swf

    “:DebugF to launch flashplayer debug
    command DebugF :! /home/duck/Software/flex_sdk_3/bin/fdb

    “:Flash compile the SWF with mxmlc
    “/first/path/to/compiler /second/path/to/project/directory
    command -nargs=1 Flash :! /home/duck/Software/flex_sdk_3/bin/mxmlc /home/duck/

  4. nXqd wrote:

    I really enjoy your setup as a new Vim user :)

  5. Juan Colacelli wrote:

    What configuration or plugin are you using at this image to toggle the definitions/comments?

  6. Lee wrote:

    I believe that is the SimpleFold plugin:

  7. Juan Colacelli wrote:

    Thank’s for the answer!

    I have read this 5 months later :P

  8. Dave wrote:

    Hi Lee,
    Thanks for sharing your vimrc, it’s a nice quick start for this part of vim.
    autocmd wasn’t working (for me). It was reset by nocompatible. The helpfiles recomment to put nocompatible at the start of vimrc. That made it work.

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