Framework for context dependent execution of commands in Vim
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Execrus is your universal "run this!"-mapping. It's a framework for running external commands under different conditions. You control multiple "priority lanes" which can change their behavior depending on for instance which file you're in, location within the file and file type. Mappings are created to execute from a priority lane. Lanes are controlled by customizing Execrus.

For instance, if you're in a Ruby file and hit C-E, Execrus could run the current file with ruby. If the file has a test associated with it, it could run that instead. If it happens to be a Gemfile, it'll run bundle install in lieu of ruby. So here running the file with ruby has the lowest priority. Running the test associated with it, has a much higher priority, or running bundle install if it's a Gemfile.

Execrus supports multiple priority lanes. You could have a documentation lane that you map to another key. This could be responsible for documentation lookups, e.g. looking up the word under the cursor in Dash, or if a ctag exists, jump to that. Execrus is all about making smart choices depending on context.

Besides the default lane there's an alternative lane in the default configuration. For example, in Ruby it runs the test under the cursor.


Install with vanilla Vim, Pathogen or Vundle.

Add a mapping to your .vimrc:

map <C-E> :call g:Execrus()<CR>

Read usage and create some plugins. Send a pull request with the best ones.

If you want to bind another lane, e.g. the alternative lane, that could do things like run the test under the cursor, do the following:

map <C-\> :call g:Execrus('alternative')<CR>


There's a sane set of default behavior for the default and alternative lane. See the ftplugin/ directory for these. The behavior for Ruby would be in ftplugin/ruby.vim. This is also where you customize the behavior for Execrus. Send your best changes upstream.

There's also a repl lane, which opens a fresh REPL in different programming languages.



These are the defaults, change them by overriding this value in your .vimrc:

let g:execrus_clear = 1 " Clears screen when running execrus


Execrus is a framework for running external commands in Vim, thus you should learn to customize it to take full advantage of it. To customize Execrus, you create and modify the file type in the plugin source you're interested in adding Execrus functionality to.

For instance, a Ruby plugin could be in ftplugin/ruby.vim (see Structure section below) and might look something like this:

call g:InitializeExecrusEnvironment()

call g:AddExecrusPlugin({
  \'name': 'Default Ruby',
  \'exec': '!ruby %'

It will just execute ruby {filename}. Note that the backlashes are required for the newlines added for readability purposes (:help line-continuation). If you are unsure what the file's name should be, run :echo &filetype when you're in a file of the type you want to create an Execrus plugin for. Your plugin should be ftplugin/{whatever that outputs}.vim.


Priorities are the heart of Execrus. Since Execrus is all about executing the right thing in the right context, it has a dependency system. It works by specifying whatever has immediately lower priority. Sort of like a linked list. The first entry in the chain (i.e. the plugin with the lowest priority) has no reference to a previous item. Execrus resolves whatever it should execute by starting from the end of this linked list, when it finds something whose condition it satisfies, it executes it and stops.

If we were to create another Ruby plugin to execute Gemfiles, it is still a file of the Ruby filetype. However, it has a higher priority than just executing a Ruby file with the interpreter. Therefore, we'd add the following to ftplugin/ruby.vim:

call g:AddExecrusPlugin({
  \'name': 'Ruby Gemfile',
  \'exec': '!bundle install --gemfile=%',
  \'cond': 'Gemfile',
  \'prev': "Default Ruby"

Another new option here is cond. This is a condition. The current file name must match this string, otherwise this plugin is simply ignored. You can use Vim regex here.

The best way to learn more about customizing is to look at some of the existing plugins in ftplugin, and read the rest of this README.


All plugins are stored in ftplugin/, ordered by filetypes. When you open a file in Vim, all files matching ftplugin/<filetype>* are loaded. Thus subdirectories can be used to structure the project further. However, is a filetype only has few plugins they're all stored in ftplugin/<filetype>.vim.

The documentation for each filetype is found at ftplugin/<filetype>/ If the number of plugins for the filetype is small, it's along with the code in ftplugin/<filetype>.vim.


Execrus shall not limit you. Therefore the execution command (exec) and condition (condition) can be functions. If we're in a file that ends with _test.rb, we want to execute the current test. If we find a Gemfile, we want to prepend bundle exec to the command. This is easily resolved by writing a function:

function! g:RubyTestExecute()
  let cmd = "!"

  if filereadable("./Gemfile")
    let cmd .= "bundle exec "

  let cmd .= "ruby -Itest %"

  exec cmd

call g:AddExecrusPlugin({
  \'name': 'Ruby Test',
  \'exec': function('g:RubyTestExecute'),
  \'cond': '_test.rb$',
  \'prev': 'Ruby Gemfile'

Note your function is required to have the global scope (g: prefix, see :help internval-variables) since it will be called from a variety of different scopes. Also note that prev here is set to Ruby Gemfile. Strictly, it doesn't have a higher priority since the two would never be able trigger at once because of the file match conditions, but a dependency chain is required anyway.

A condition (cond) function is done the same way. It should return 1 for true and 0 for false. Because your conditions will be traversed a lot when Execrus figures out what to execute, make sure your condition is fast.

Priority lanes

Execrus supports an arbitrary amount of lanes. When you add a plugin with g:AddExecrusPlugin by default it is added to the default lane. Likewise, when you call g:Execrus with no arguments, it defaults to execute from the default lane. However, you can create and bind more lanes, e.g. say we wanna look up whatever is under the cursor with ri in a Ruby file. We want to add this to another lane, since we might have running the current file in the default lane. We add it to the walrus lane:

call g:AddExecrusPlugin({
  \'name': 'RI lookup',
  \'exec': '!ri <cword>',
\}, 'walrus')

Then we can bind the walrus lane, just like the default one:

map <C-\> :call g:Execrus('walrus')<CR>


  • Simon Hørup Eskildsen
  • Teo Ljungberg