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gopher.vim is a Vim plugin for the Go programming language.

The idea is to to provide a "light-weight" experience by off-loading functionality to native Vim features or generic plugins when they offer a good user experience. It's not "hard-core minimalist", but does try to avoid re-implementing things that are always handled well by other features or plugins rather than duplicating them (which is what vim-go does, an approach which does come with some advantages by the way).

It currently implements almost everything from vim-go. See CHANGES.markdown for a more detailed list of changes.


Installation can be done using the usual methods. You will need Go 1.11 and Vim 8.1.1803 or Neovim 0.4.4. Older versions will not work due to missing features.

Installation of external tools is done automatically on first usage, but can be done manually with :GoSetup.


All gopher.vim mappings start with ; in normal mode, or <C-k> in insert mode. The second letter is identical, so ;t is <C-k>t in insert.

You can change this with the g:gopher_map setting; see :help g:gopher_map for details.

Compiling code

Compiling code is done with the go compiler (that is, the Vim :compiler feature); you can then use :maketo run the command inmakeprg` and populate the quickfix with any errors.

gopher.vim tries to be a bit smart about what to set makeprg to: if a ./cmd/<module-name> package exists then it will compile that instead of the current package, and build tags from the current file are automatically added. There's a bunch of options to tweak the behaviour: see :help gopher-compilers for detailed documentation.

The ;; mapping will write all files and run :make; specifically it runs:

:silent! :wa<CR>:compiler go<CR>:echo &l:makeprg<CR>:silent make!<CR>:redraw!<CR>

:make is a synchronous process, usually Go compile times are fast enough, but there are plugins to make it run in the background if you want (see "Companion plugins" below).

Running tests

Testing is done with the gotest compiler; you can run them with ;t which will run the current test function if you're inside a test, or tests for the current package if you're not.

You can pass additional to :make; e.g. :make -failfast.

Running lint tools

The golint compiler can run lint tools; the error format is compatible with golangci-lint, staticcheck, and go vet (other tools may also work, but are not tested):

:compiler golint
:set makeprg=staticcheck


Map ;t to run all tests, instead of current.

" let g:gopher_map = {'_nmap_prefix': '', '_imap_prefix': '' }

    " Quicker way to make, lint, and test code.
    " au FileType go nnoremap MM :wa<CR>:compiler go<CR>:silent make!<CR>:redraw!<CR>
    " au FileType go nnoremap LL :wa<CR>:compiler golint<CR>:silent make!<CR>:redraw!<CR>
    " au FileType go nnoremap TT :wa<CR>:compiler gotest<CR>:silent make!<CR>:redraw!<CR>

    " au FileType go nmap MM <Plug>(gopher-install)
    " au FileType go nmap TT <Plug>(gopher-test)
    " au FileType go nmap LL <Plug>(gopher-lint)

See :help gopher_mappings

Other commands

All motions and text objects that work in vim-go also work in gopher.vim: [[, ]], af, ac, etc.

Overview of other commands:

:GoCoverage – Highlight code coverage.
:GoFrob     – Frob with (modify) code.
:GoGuru     – Get various information using the guru command.
:GoImport   – Add, modify, or remove imports.
:GoRename   – Rename identifier under cursor.
:GoTags     – Add or remove struct tags

Note that many details are different from vim-go; gopher.vim is not intended as a "drop-in" replacement.

See :help gopher for the full reference manual.

Companion plugins

A list of useful companion plugins; this is not an exhaustive list, but rather a "most useful" list. For many alternatives exist as well; I didn't test all options.

See PLUGINS.markdown for some configuration hints for various plugins.

Other resources


Some things you can stick in your vimrc:

augroup my_gopher

    " Basic lint on write.
    " autocmd BufWritePost *.go compiler golint | silent make! | redraw!

    " Format buffer on write; need to make a motion for the entire buffer to
    " make this work.
    " Use e.g. ALE or Syntastic for a more advanced experience.
    " autocmd BufWritePre *.go
    "             \  let s:save = winsaveview()
    "             \| exe 'keepjumps %!goimports 2>/dev/null || cat /dev/stdin'
    "             \| call winrestview(s:save)

    " Compile without cgo unless explicitly enabled.
    " autocmd BufReadPre *.go if $CGO_ENABLED is# '' | let $CGO_ENABLED=0 | endif
augroup end


I'm missing X from vim-go

That's probably intentional. An important reason for this plugin's existence is to remove features better handled with native Vim features or generic external plugins. See the feature table in CHANGES.markdown.

If you think there's a good reason for something from vim-go to exist in gopher.vim then feel free to open an issue with an explanation why existing Vim features or generic plugins aren't enough.

Some things that were async in vim-go are no longer, what gives?

Async can be nice but it's also hard. For example the code for :GoCoverage is now 120 lines shorter while also fixing a few bugs and adding features.

There is also a user interface aspect: if I ask Vim to do something then I want that done now. When it's run in the background feedback is often poor. Is it still running? Did I miss a message? Who knows, messages are often lost. How do you cancel a background job from the UI? Often you can't. What if I switch buffers or modify a file? Weird Stuff™ happens.

This doesn't mean I'm against async, just not for every last thing. Some things in gopher.vim are still async; it's a trade-off. If you have a good case for something to be async then feel free to open an issue.

The syntax has fewer colours, it's so boring!

I removed a whole bunch of the extra options as it's hard to maintain and not all that useful. It doesn't even work all that well because enabling all options would slow everything down to a crawl and testing all the combinations is tricky.

So the syntax file in gopher.vim has fewer features, but is also much faster and easier to maintain. Maybe I'll add some features back once I figure out a better way to maintain this stuff.

You can still copy vim-go's syntax/go.vim file to your ~/.vim/syntax directory if you want your Christmas tree back 🎄

Why do some commands conflict with vim-go? Why not prefix commands with :Gopher?

This is what I originally did, and found it annoying as it's so much work to type, man! Being compatible probably isn't too useful anyway, so I changed it.

Functions, mappings, settings, etc. are all prefixed with gopher.

History and rationale

I started this repository as a test case for internally vendoring of tools; in vim-go confusion due to using the wrong version of an external tool (too old or new) is common; people have to manually run :GoUpdateBinaries, and if an external tool changes the developers have to scramble to update vim-go to work.

I wanted to experiment with a different approach: vendor external tools in the plugin directory and run those so the correct version is always used. Since this directory is prepended to $PATH other plugins (such as ALE) will also use these vendored tools.

Overall, this seems to work quite well. Starting with a clean slate made it a lot easier to develop this as a proof-of-concept.

A second reason was to see how well a Go plugin would work without adding a lot of "generic" functionality. A lot of effort in vim-go is spent on stuff like completion, linting, and other features that are not specific to Go. I've never used vim-go's linting or gofmt support, as I found that ALE always worked better and gives a more consistent experience across filetypes. Also see my comments here.

When vim-go was started in 2014 (based on older work before that) a lot of the generic tools were non-existent or in their infancy. In the meanwhile these tools have matured significantly; what were the best choices in 2014 are not necessarily the best choices today.

gopher.vim is my idea of "vim-go 2.0". It retains vim-go's commit history. While there have been large changes, it also retains some concepts and ideas. vim-go is the giant's shoulders on which gopher.vim stands.

govim is another attempt at a modern Go plugin, and seems to have the same conceptual approach as vim-go: reinvent all the things. To be honest I didn't look too closely at it (gopher.vim was already fully functional and correct by the time govim was announced).


A Vim plugin for the Go programming language





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