easy-to-use, powerful (and maybe fun?) vim setup [mirror-ish of jtratner's dotfiles]
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jtratner's dotvim

These are my dotvim files. I separated them out from my dotfiles because I wanted to be able to offer them individually (and, more specifically, to share them with my Machine Learning class on Coursera :) ). Octave is baked right in. It defaults to using Matlab for syntax highlighting, but you can look below for instructions on how to set the default to Octave. If you need help or want to get in touch with me, you can email me.

Using these vim files

Super-quick Install

Get a working set of files by entering the following on a command line.

git clone https://github.com/jtratner/dotfiles.git dotvim
cd dotvim

(note: install.sh will back up your files and update submodules automatically)

Installing on Windows

If you are using Windows, you can use the vim files by copying into your home folder (where $HOME is your directory, where you have folders for My Documents, etc). You can get my either via git clone or by downloading them as a zip file on github.

  • vimrc.symlink should be copied to $HOME/_vimrc (note the '_' !)
  • vim.symlink should be copied to $HOME/vimfiles

Getting fonts for Powerline

You can get patched fonts to use with Powerline online, for example, you can get them in the fonts folder of my dotfiles

Installing vim itself


You can download a binary from the vim website. (Grab the self-installing executable and make things easy).


Install MacVim, works (and integrates) very well.


vim-gnome is pretty good:

``sudo apt-get install vim-gnome``


You could install a Debian gui-version; however, it might mean installing a whole bunch of other dependencies, I'd compile it from source (not super hard)! Email me and I can send you an install script.

Check out my dotfiles for more.

Learning vim

The most important commands

The basics: you open your file, type i to start editing, and then <Esc> to type commands, followed by i again to go back to editing. Vim does take some time to learn, but once you do, you will be way more productive.

Command What it does
i lets you edit the file (starts "insert mode") -- Use <Esc> to exit insert mode and be able to type the other commands
<Esc> exits insert mode
u undos the last change
: puts you in command line mode (so you can do commands
:w[rite] save your file
:q[uit] quit vim
:wq save current buffer and quit
y[ank] with a motion (:help motion), copies the text under cursor
p[aste] pastes yanked text
dd deletes and yanks current line
x deletes a single character
h,j,k,l move around the page (see main :help for more)
v lets you select text (use <Esc> or : to get out of selection mode)

For more on Vim, I suggest you check out this Vim cheat sheet and/or run vimtutor (:help vimtutor for more).

Using vim with Octave

There are a few things you might like to do with Octave files.

Use Octave highlighting

Vim defaults to matlab filetype for .m files, which is fine, but doesn't highlight everything correctly. Instead, you can set Octave syntax highlighting for the current file with:

:set ft=octave

If you want to set this permanently, add this to your vimrc:

autocmd BufNewFile, BufRead *.m setlocal ft=octave

Add ; to a bunch of lines

To add a ; to the end of every line that doesn't have one, you can highlight the lines you want with v, type : and then use this substitution:

" the '<'>' part will already be there

Comment and uncomment lines

To comment out a set of lines, again highlight them with v, type : and use this simple subsituttion:


And to uncomment:


Search for a term

You can find any particular line of text by typing / in "command mode" (that's the default mode, press <Esc> while typing to get to it). For example:

/apple <Return>

Will highlight all instances of apple in the document. (you can type ,<space> to turn off the highlighting (the actual comma

My dotvim

The vimrc.symlink file is pretty well documented. I've laid out a few things below. (again, my dotfiles have quite a bit more)

Included plugins

Check out my dotfiles for some highlights on the included plugins. But a few that might be helpful.

  • Gundo - lets you scroll through your undo history with ,g
  • Powerline - sets the fancy status bar at the bottom of the screen. Try installing a patched font and using the fancy encoding for additional awesomeness.
  • Ctrl-P - type <Ctrl-P> to pop up a list of files in the current directory (and be able to open them). You can also use <Ctrl-Up> and <Ctrl-Down> to view recently used files and currently opened buffers.

Vim shortcuts


Mapping Mnemonic Settings
<leader> en 'edit normal' tw=78; fo+=t, colorcolumn+=0
<leader> ec 'edit comment' tw=72; fo+=t, colorcolumn+=0
<leader> ed 'edit done' restore defaults (or tw=80,fo-=t, colorcolumn=0)
<leader> p 'paste' paste from clipboard
<leader> y 'yank' yank to clipboard
Q 'quick form'? format the current paragraph (e.g. wrap lines)


Command Settings
<F3> toggle VoOM
:DiffSaved Show diffs between current file and saved file

reStructuredText/autounderline Functions

  • :Underline <arg> and :Title <arg> where <arg> is a character or number. (title creates an under and overline)
some vim text

":Un -

some vim text

Some (optional) plugins have dependencies

I've tried to document dependencies below, but a quick list here for reference. NONE of these are necessary to use my dotfiles, they just enable additional features.

Plugin Dependencies
Syntastic Requires 'compilers' for whatever files you want to check (for example, to check .rst files you need docutils)
Hammer Requires github/markup, coderay, and tilt
Ack Requires an installation of ack (well worth it!)
Vim-IPython Requires ipython to be installed (see IPython section for more)

Compiling Vim/Installing extra dependencies/IPython/etc

Go look at my dotfiles for a detailed guide. I wanted to leave this README quick and simple.

Latest version

I tweak this version a bit and I update it less frequently -- you can find the bleeding edge version at my dotfiles.