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*vim-addon-manager-getting-started.txt* Declarative package manager for Vim
CONTENTS *VAM-contents-getting-started*
1. Intro |VAM-intro|
2. Installation & installing plugins |VAM-installation|
2.2. Names of addons and addon sources |VAM-addon-names|
2.3. Example: configurable setup |VAM-complex-setup-sample|
2.4. Unattended installation |VAM-unattended-installation|
2.5. Searching the plugins |VAM-plugins-search|
In |vim-addon-manager-additional-documentation.txt|:
3. Functionality provided |VAM-functionality|
3.1. Commands |VAM-commands|
3.2. Functions |VAM-functions|
4. Options |VAM-options|
6. Uninstalling plugins |VAM-uninstall-plugins|
7. Addon-info file |VAM-addon-info|
8. Author, credits, some notes |VAM-related|
9. Testing this plugin |VAM-testing|
10. Some notes for windows users |VAM-windows|
11. Some notes for Gentoo users |VAM-gentoo|
12. Troubleshooting and known bugs |VAM-trouble-shooting|
12.1. Common error messages |VAM-common-errors|
13. TODO notes |VAM-TODO|
14. VAM vs ... |VAM-comparison|
15. Tracking down errors |VAM-tracking-down-erros|
16. Making plugins work with VAM |VAM-adjusting-plugins|
16.1. The perfect plugin |VAM-plugin-guide|
17. VAM tricks and hacks |VAM-tricks|
0. GETTING STARTED & LOOKING FOR HELP - something doesn't work
Getting started fast: ~
Read: |VAM-installation| and |VAM-addon-names|
Join, /join #vim. Ask there. VAM has many users MarcWeber is
hanging around often so ping him or create a github ticket [1] and people will
try to help you. You should skim the docs before asking for help though. Also
see |VAM-author|.
- two maintainers (ZyX and Marc Weber)
- friendly to users (install addons by name)
- propagates collaborative coding by providing simple dependency managament
improving code sharing
- supports many sources (git, hg, bzr, svn, darcs,
- provides a way to deprecate plugins which are superseded by others
- most plugins can also be loaded at runtime (some problems may [BUG 10])
- some Windows support
- is not too shy telling you that alternatives exist (and which one)
- copes with "subdirectories contain vim runtimepath" cases
- addon bisecting support: Find out which plugin is causing kind of pain to
you (|AddonsBisect|)
1. Intro *VAM-intro*
VAM is a shortcut for vim-addon-manager. Its vision is: Make it easiest to
install plugin somewhat following the “20% of efforts yields 80% of value”
:h plugin
tells you about the old manual way of installing plugins. VAM helps keeping
~/.vim clean by separating plugins from each other.
- Separate directories for each plugins
- Dependency resolution
- Popular VCS support: plugin supports fetching from Git, Mercurial,
Subversion, Bazaar and Darcs repositories
- maintained pool of addons (vim-pi)
which warns you if you try to install an outdated plugin
(have a look at it online :
- replicate your Vim setup by copying your .vimrc (See SetupVAM)
- load plugins lazily when Vim is already running. Some plugins require
additional tweaks for this to work
- Curl, wget or other program that can output URL contents to stdout (in
order to get http protocol support)
- Git, Mercurial, Subversion, Bazaar and Darcs (if you want to install
plugins from appropriate repositories)
- Either tar, gzip and zip or 7-zip (required for unpacking some addons)
What does "Declarative package manager" mean? The final behaviour of Vim
should be declared once. Your ~/.vimrc and |:UpdateAddons| should be enough
to cause same Vim behaviour everywhere.
Note: “Addon” here is a synonym for “plugin”: “a related collection of files
enhancing vim functionality”. “Plugin” may also mean “a .vim file inside
a plugin directory” hence using “addon”.
2. Installation *VAM-installation*
Windows users: skim |VAM-windows|.
Gentoo users : skim |VAM-gentoo| which explains how to install VAM system-wide
from the layman overlay.
Rest (linux and everything able to run POSIX shell) users should keep reading
Minimal setup ~
This is the minimal setup which makes VAM work.
However you may want to use the longer commented version below because it
also fetches VAM so that copying your .vimrc is enough to replicate your
Add to your .vimrc >
set runtimepath+=PATH-TO-VAM
call vam#ActivateAddons([.. list of plugin names ..], {'auto_install' : 0})
recommended setup ~
1) Paste the following to your .vimrc.
2) Read the comments carefully. They help you getting started. Then you can
remove them.
3) Add addon names to the ActivateAddons call, start Vim. That’s all.
commented version ~
" put this line first in ~/.vimrc
set nocompatible | filetype indent plugin on | syn on
fun! EnsureVamIsOnDisk(plugin_root_dir)
" windows users may want to use
" to fetch VAM, VAM-known-repositories and the listed plugins
" without having to install curl, 7-zip and git tools first
" -> BUG [4] (git-less installation)
let vam_autoload_dir = a:plugin_root_dir.'/vim-addon-manager/autoload'
if isdirectory(vam_autoload_dir)
return 1
if 1 == confirm("Clone VAM into ".a:plugin_root_dir."?","&Y\n&N")
" I'm sorry having to add this reminder. Eventually it'll pay off.
call confirm("Remind yourself that most plugins ship with ".
\"documentation (README*, doc/*.txt). It is your ".
\"first source of knowledge. If you can't find ".
\"the info you're looking for in reasonable ".
\"time ask maintainers to improve documentation")
call mkdir(a:plugin_root_dir, 'p')
execute '!git clone --depth=1 git:// '.
\ shellescape(a:plugin_root_dir, 1).'/vim-addon-manager'
" VAM runs helptags automatically when you install or update
" plugins
exec 'helptags '.fnameescape(a:plugin_root_dir.'/vim-addon-manager/doc')
return isdirectory(vam_autoload_dir)
fun! SetupVAM()
" Set advanced options like this:
" let g:vim_addon_manager = {}
" let g:vim_addon_manager.key = value
" Pipe all output into a buffer which gets written to disk
" let g:vim_addon_manager.log_to_buf =1
" Example: drop git sources unless git is in PATH. Same plugins can
" be installed from Lookup MergeSources to get more control
" let g:vim_addon_manager.drop_git_sources = !executable('git')
" let g:vim_addon_manager.debug_activation = 1
" VAM install location:
let c = get(g:, 'vim_addon_manager', {})
let g:vim_addon_manager = c
let c.plugin_root_dir = expand('$HOME/.vim/vim-addons', 1)
if !EnsureVamIsOnDisk(c.plugin_root_dir)
echohl ErrorMsg | echomsg "No VAM found!" | echohl NONE
let &rtp.=(empty(&rtp)?'':',').c.plugin_root_dir.'/vim-addon-manager'
" Tell VAM which plugins to fetch & load:
call vam#ActivateAddons([], {'auto_install' : 0})
" sample: call vam#ActivateAddons(['pluginA','pluginB', ...], {'auto_install' : 0})
" Also See "plugins-per-line" below
" Addons are put into plugin_root_dir/plugin-name directory
" unless those directories exist. Then they are activated.
" Activating means adding addon dirs to rtp and do some additional
" magic
" How to find addon names?
" - look up source from pool
" - (<c-x><c-p> complete plugin names):
" You can use name rewritings to point to sources:
" ..ActivateAddons(["github:foo", .. => github://foo/vim-addon-foo
" ..ActivateAddons(["github:user/repo", .. => github://user/repo
" Also see section "2.2. names of addons and addon sources" in VAM's documentation
call SetupVAM()
" experimental [E1]: load plugins lazily depending on filetype, See
" experimental [E2]: run after gui has been started (gvim) [3]
" option1: au VimEnter * call SetupVAM()
" option2: au GUIEnter * call SetupVAM()
" See BUGS sections below [*]
" Vim 7.0 users see BUGS section [3]
minimal version ~
" put this line first in ~/.vimrc
set nocompatible | filetype indent plugin on | syn on
fun! SetupVAM()
let c = get(g:, 'vim_addon_manager', {})
let g:vim_addon_manager = c
let c.plugin_root_dir = expand('$HOME', 1) . '/.vim/vim-addons'
let &rtp.=(empty(&rtp)?'':',').c.plugin_root_dir.'/vim-addon-manager'
" let g:vim_addon_manager = { your config here see "commented version" example and help
if !isdirectory(c.plugin_root_dir.'/vim-addon-manager/autoload')
execute '!git clone --depth=1 git:// '
\ shellescape(c.plugin_root_dir.'/vim-addon-manager', 1)
call vam#ActivateAddons([the plugin names], {'auto_install' : 0})
" Also See "plugins-per-line" below
call SetupVAM()
experimental: load plugins lazily depending on filetype [E1]~
" on_ft: If Vim knows the filetype
" on_name: If Vim does not know about the filetype (eg if the plugin you
" want to load contains the ftdetect/* support code
let ft_addons = [
\ {'on_ft': '^\%(c\|cpp\)$', 'activate': [ 'plugin-for-c-development' ]},
\ {'on_ft': 'javascript', 'activate': [ 'plugin-for-javascript' ]}
\ {'on_name': '\.scad$', 'activate': [ 'plugin-for-javascript' ]}
\ ]
au FileType * for l in filter(copy(ft_addons), 'has_key(v:val, "on_ft") && '.string(expand('<amatch>')).' =~ v:val.on_ft') | call vam#ActivateAddons(l.activate, {'force_loading_plugins_now':1}) | endfor
au BufNewFile,BufRead * for l in filter(copy(ft_addons), 'has_key(v:val, "on_name") && '.string(expand('<amatch>')).' =~ v:val.on_name') | call vam#ActivateAddons(l.activate, {'force_loading_plugins_now':1}) | endfor
" Vim does not autodetect scad files, thus no filetype event gets
" triggered. BufNewFile and BufRead solve this, but they would not work
" for files without extension such as ".bashrc" which have filetype "sh"
" usually.
< Provide feedback about this. If it works we may add it as builtin
Also see this text which was sent to the mailinglist (TODO tidy up)
@skeept There are at least two projects that add extended autoloading support:
[tplugin]( and
[AsNeeded]( They lack support from VAM though (to limit th
number of plugins to be autoloaded), but the former has limited (and currently outdated) support for
`addon-info` files. Neither will work for my own plugins though (they all use frawor API to define mappings and
commands and, sometimes, autocommands), and (at least in tplugin) I see a bunch of other problems (like not
supported short format for mapping commands, no support for mappings/commands defined in `:execute` and so on):
it is really not possible to construct such autoloading by statically analyzing plugins without executing them.
plugins-per-line ~
call vam#ActivateAddons([])
ActivateAddons pluginA pluginB
ActivateAddons pluginC
bundle emulation ~
" after SetupVAM() add:
call vam#bundle_emulation#ProvideVundlesBundleCommand({'info': 1})
experimental: setup VAM when GUI has started [E2] ~
Depending on the option you choose to run ActivateAddons Vim may not be
able to show the questions correctly asking you to install a plugin.
If that's the case (for whatever reason) I recommend installing the plugin
using |:InstallAddons| or |:ActivateAddons| before adding it to the list in
If you're annoyed by the message: >
"Press enter to continue"
< There are at least two solutions you can try:
- press q once and Vim should stop asking
- set |VAM-auto_install| to 1 (to make VAM stop asking you questions before
installing anything)
, set |VAM-shell_commands_run_method| to "system" (to make VAM use
|system()| for running installation commands and thus avoid |hit-enter|
and set 'nomore' before ActivateAddons call (to avoid |more-prompt|).
Example how to patch vcs checkout functions (eg if you're behind a proxy
and need to checkout github urls by http://): >
let g:vim_addon_manager = {'scms': {'git': {}}}
fun! MyGitCheckout(repository, targetDir)
let a:repository.url = substitute(a:repository.url, '^git://github', 'http://github', '')
return vam#utils#RunShell('git clone --depth=1 $.url $p', a:repository, a:targetDir)
let g:vim_addon_manager.scms.git.clone=['MyGitCheckout']
Another example: replace git_update and show changelog >
let g:vim_addon_manager = {'scms': {'git': {}}}
fun! MyGitUpdate(targetDir)
let cd = shellescape
let oldHash = vam#utils#System('git --git-dir=$p/.git rev-list HEAD -1', a:targetDir)
call vam#utils#RunShell('cd $p && git pull', a:targetDir)
let newHash = vam#utils#System('git --git-dir=$p/.git rev-list HEAD -1', a:targetDir)
if oldHash isnot# newHash
silent enew
setlocal buftype=nofile bufhidden=wipe
call setline(1, a:targetDir)
call append(1, split(system(vam#utils#ShellDSL('cd $; git log $[]..$[]', a:targetDir, oldHash, newHash)), "\n"))
return 0
let g:vim_addon_manager.scms.git.update=['MyGitUpdate']
Startup benchmarking ~
Some non-precise benchmarking can be done by >
vim --startuptime startup.log -c q
< . Timings will be printed to startup.log file. You can do it more precisely
by using >
vim --cmd 'profile start profile.log' \
--cmd 'profile func *' \
--cmd 'profile file *' \
-c 'profile pause' \
-c 'qa!'
< Then it will output full profile information where time consumed by each
line is shown, with a summary of function call times at the end. You can
also get a summary of script file times if you open profile.log and do >
let timings=[]
g/^SCRIPT/call add(timings, [getline('.')[len('SCRIPT '):], matchstr(getline(line('.')+1), '^Sourced \zs\d\+')]+map(getline(line('.')+2, line('.')+3), 'matchstr(v:val, ''\d\+\.\d\+$'')'))
call setline('.', ['count total (s) self (s) script']+map(copy(timings), 'printf("%5u %9s %8s %s", v:val[1], v:val[2], v:val[3], v:val[0])'))
< . You can also get times of scripts activation if you run >
tlib#cmd#Time('call vam#ActivateAddons(["A"])')
< for plugins which were not already activated after vim has started.
Requires tlib. Adds time which takes VAM to do activation to actual
activation. For filetype, indent, syntax, compiler, colorscheme and
autoload plugins time spend in VAM is likely to exceed time used to load
plugin (because actual loading will take place later if required), so it is
better to read |profiling| instead.
2.2. Names of addons and addon sources *VAM-addon-names*
Because we are human VAM uses readable names as unique identifier for plugins.
Those identifieres (= plugin names) are passed to |vam#ActivateAddons()|,
|:InstallAddons|, |:ActivateAddons| . The name is automatically derived from
plugin titles at In case two titles resolve to identical names
“%{scriptID}” string is appended (e.g. “gam%2559”).
types of names:
1) Plugin name looked up in pool.
Determining addon names ~
- by using |:AddonsInfo| SCRIPT_ID/name/any-texet, pick the word right
after string "Plugin: ".
- Use |:InstallAddons|' name completion by typing some chars then pressing
<C-d> then <Tab>. |c_CTRL-D|
- Use <C-x><C-p> completion while editing your vimrc.
See |VAM-addon-completion_lhs| if you don’t like the lhs or the whole
2) Name which gets rewritten internally (see |VAM-name_rewriting|) >
github:{Name} => {"type": "git", "url": "git://{Name}/vim-addon-{Name}}
github:{N}/{Repo} => {"type": "git", "url": "git://{N}/{Repo}"}
git:{GIT_URL} => {"type": "git", "url": "GIT_URL"}
< Don't use if you expect others to create plugins depending on yours. Add
your plugin to |vim-pi| instead.
Instead of telling us to add your plugin to |vim-pi| you can also patch
the pool easily: vim-pi-patching| - however if you contribute to vim-pi
the community will benefit much more.
*vim-pi* is the default pool. VAM checks it out by default. Its long name is
“vim plugin index”.
vim-pi merges both sources (scm and ones), see |VAM-MergeSources|.
The result is provided by vam_known_repositories#Pool() which is the only pool
used by default. See example and default implementation of vam#install#Pool().
If you want to add your own sources consider submitting them to
vim-pi as patch. If you don't there are two ways:
WAY 1: (still supported) add to your .vimrc before activating VAM (BUG/TODO [5]): >
let g:vim_addon_manager = {}
let g:vim_addon_manager.plugin_sources = {}
let g:vim_addon_manager.plugin_sources.your_plugin_name = { plugin dictionary }
WAY 2: define your own Pool function: >
let g:vim_addon_manager = {}
let g:vim_addon_manager.pool_fun = function('MyPoolFun')
fun MyPoolFun()
let d = vam#install#Pool()
let d.my_plugin = { 'type' : 'git', 'url' : ' ... ' }
return d
Plugin dictionaries are described in |addon-info-repository|.
Example: overwriting the MergeSources function (vim-pi pool implementation): >
Yes, you can do this in MyPoolFun shown above as well >
fun! MyMergeSources(plugin_sources, www_vim_org, scm_plugin_sources, patch_function, snr_to_name)
" run default:
call vam_known_repositories#MergeSources(a:plugin_sources, a:www_vim_org, a:scm_plugin_sources, a:patch_function, a:snr_to_name)
" patch sources the way you like. This example adds username and password
" for SVN repositories. As alternative you could overwrite git urls etc ..
for your_plugin in ['svn-driven-key1', ...]
let a:plugin_sources[your_plugin]['username'] = 'svn user'
let a:plugin_sources[your_plugin]['password'] = 'svn user'
let a:plugin_sources.your_plugin_name = { plugin dictionary }
" tell VAM to use your MergeSources function:
let g:vim_addon_manager = {}
let g:vim_addon_manager.MergeSources = function('MyMergeSources')
2.3. Example: configurable setup *VAM-complex-setup-sample*
call vam#ActivateAddons(["github:YOURNAME"],{'auto_install' : 0})
" this initializes Vim the way *you* want also loading more plugins:
call vim_addon_YOURNAME#Activate(['c-dev','ruby-dev'])
My implementation looks like this:
You can then load plugins depending on env vars:
Example: >
call vim_addon_YOURNAME#Activate(['always']+split($V,','))
< Then you can run vim like this from shell >
V=c-dev,ruby-dev vim
This section was written to inspire you only.
2.4. Unattended installation *VAM-unattended-installation*
Note: You should always review foreign code before running it. That said this
is how you can update or install unattended (without confirmations ..):
redir! > /tmp/log-vim.txt
silent! ACTION
where ACTION is either UpdateActivatedAddons or vam#InstallAddons()
This works for
There is also the undocumented g:vim_addon_manager.dont_source option which
should be used if you want to checkout eventually untrusted code! If you're
going to use the plugins anyway its of no use.
You may also want to set auto_install.
Also see
let g:vim_addon_manager = {
\'shell_commands_run_method': 'system',
\'auto_install': 1,
and possibly log_to_buf which will prevent you from having to deal with most
of those "hit enter to continue" prompts while VAM downloads plugins
Also see
let g:vim_addon_manager = {
\'shell_commands_run_method': 'system',
\'auto_install': 1,
\'log_to_buf': 1,
and if you wish, you may customize the default buffer name for the VAM log,
just use the log_buffer_name option which defaults to a value of
|VAM-plugin_root_dir|/VAM_LOG.txt e.g.
let g:vim_addon_manager = {
\'shell_commands_run_method': 'system',
\'auto_install': 1,
\'log_to_buf': 1,
\'log_buffer_name': '/tmp/vam_install.log',
2.5. Searching the plugins *VAM-plugins-search*
VAM does not support searching plugins; you have to use one of the other
options. Common ones:
1. use because still most plugins are also on
2. Try google and github search (this time including "vim" as keyword) because
most plugins are hosted on github today.
3. There is Use its search.
4. Of course, there are google/bing/(any other web) search.
5. There are mailinglists.
VAM does not support a search …
- Because we still want you to visit vim's website (its a charity project
after all).
- Because we like the linux philosophy: One tool should do one task well and
be responsible for that only. VAM is only responsible for isntaling and
activating plugins thus for recreating your work environment form scratch.
Thus this should be a "plugin" providing such a feature, not VAM.
- It is not that easy. If you want to work on it get in touch, because there
are multiple sources today unfortunately. Of course we could just dump the
information from and allow you to grep it. I just think the
whole plugin system on should be rewritten allowing github urls.
I haven't had time to do it yet. I've been trying to do it for more than 12
month and failed due to lack of time. If you want to sponsor such an effort
get in touch.
vim: tw=78:ts=8:ft=help:norl
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