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Using Signs for displaying the Indent
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doc updated documentation


*DynamicSigns.txt* - Using Signs for different things

Author:  Christian Brabandt <>
Version: 0.2 Thu, 15 Mar 2012 23:37:37 +0100
Copyright: (c) 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Christian Brabandt
           The VIM LICENSE applies to improved_ft.vim and improved_ft.txt
           (see |copyright|) except use improved_ft instead of "Vim".

1. Contents                                                  *Signs-content*

        1.  Contents...................................: |Signs-content|
        2.  Manual.....................................: |Signs-manual|
        2.1   Display Indent Level.....................: |Signs-Indentation|
        2.2   Display Whitespace Warnings..............: |Signs-Whitespace|
        2.3   Display Marks............................: |Signs-Marks|
        2.4   SignExpressions..........................: |Signs-Hook|
        2.5   Display Signs for Quickfix items.........: |Signs-QF|
        2.6   Display Signs to display changes.........: |Signs-Diff|
        2.7   Alternating colors.......................: |Signs-Alternate|
        3.  Autocommands...............................: |Signs-Autocommands|
        4.  Commands...................................: |Signs-Commands|
        5.  Icons......................................: |Signs-Icons|
        6.  Feedback...................................: |Signs-feedback|
        7.  History....................................: |Signs-history|

2. Using the Signs Plugin                                       *Signs-manual*


This plugin enables you to use signs |sign-support| for different things. For
example you can use signs to display Indentation-Levels, display line
whitespace errors, display marks |mark-motion|, display the differences
between the current editing file and the file on disk or whenever an
expression evalutates true (similar to how fold-expressions work |fold-expr|)

All you need to do, is configure the plugin by setting some configuration
variables and run |:Signs|

2.1 Display Indentation Level                            *Signs-Indentation*

If you want the plugin to display the numeric indentation level, simply set
the g:Signs_IndentationLevel variable like this in your |.vimrc|, e.g. like
this: >

    let g:Signs_IndentationLevel = 1

By default, this displays the indentation level (e.g. the indentation divided
by the 'tabstop' setting) as numeric values (actually it only displays levels
1-9 or '>9' for a larger indent.

Run |:Signs| to display the signs for those lines.

2.2 Display Whitespace Warnings                           *Signs-Whitespace*

If you want the plugin to display the warnings for lines with whitespace
errors, simply set the variable g:Signs_MixedIndentation like this in your
|.vimrc|, e.g. >

    :let g:SignsMixedIndentation = 1

By default, this display warning signs for each line where either the
indentation consists of mixed whitespace (e.g. tabspace and blanks) or the
line ends with trailing whitespace.

Run |:Signs| to display the signs for those lines.

2.3 Display Marks                                             *Signs-Marks*
If you want the plugin to display your marks, set the variable
g:Signs_Bookmarks to 1 in your |.vimrc|, e.g. >

    :let g:Signs_Bookmarks = 1
This will display the marks a-z and A-Z, if they are in your current buffer. 

If this is enabled, |m| will be mapped to a function, that places the
bookmarks in your buffer and sets the mark. (|:k| does not update the signs,
Use |:Signs| or |:UpdateSigns| to manually update the view in case this is

2.4 Dynamicly display Signs                                      *Signs-Hook*

You can let Vim have an expression evaluated for each line in your current
buffer. On each line, where this expression is true, Vim will place a sign for
your. This enables you, to put e.g. a Sign on each line, that contains 'TODO'.
To do this, run the command |:IndentExpression| and give an expression as its
argument, which will be evaluated for each line. Use the variable |v:lnum| in
your expression for the current line.

Say, you want to place a sign on each line, that contains 'TODO'. You simply
enter >

    :SignExpression getline(v:lnum)=~'TODO'

This will place a sign on each line, that contains the word TODO

2.5 Display signs for quickfix items                            *Signs-QF*
If you want the plugin to display signs next to each match when using the
|quickfix| feature of vim, set the variable g:Signs_QFList, e.g. >

    :let g:Signs_QFList = 1
This will hook up an autocommand, that fires whenever the quickfix command
(|:helpgrep|, |:make|, |:vimgrep|, etc has been executed and places a small
sign next to each match.

2.6 Display Signs for viewing changes to the buffer              *Signs-Diff*
You can also set up the plugin to display small signs, that indicate, whether
the current line has been modified/deleted/added compared to the version
stored on disk. To enable this feature, set the g:Signs_Diff variable in your
|.vimrc| like this: >

    :let g:Signs_Diff = 1
This will run a diff of your buffer and the version stored on disk and place a
sign on each line that was modified.

Run |:UpdateSigns| or |:Signs| to update displaying the signs in your buffer.

2.7 Alternating colors                                       *Signs-Alternate*
You can also set up the plugin to color the lines in your buffer in
alternating colors.
To do so, set the g:Signs_Alternate variable in your |.vimrc| like this: >

    :let g:Signs_Alternate = 1
This will display each even line nummer in one color and each odd line number
in a different color.

Run |:UpdateSigns| or |:Signs| to update displaying the signs in your buffer.


3.0 Autocommands                                          *:Signs-Autocommands*
This plugin installs some autocommands to update the signs dynamically.
Basically it uses |BufWritePost| and |InsertLeave| autocommands to update
displaying the signs.

Theoretically, it could also use |CursorHold| and |CursorHoldI| autocommands,
but that seems to slow down Vim a lot, when working with long buffers and also
seems to interrupt the workflow too much. When switching to the |:gui|, Vim
will also updates the signs, so the gui version can use some nice lookings

Last, when the using the quickfix feature together with the Signs
(|Signs-QF|), this plugin also installs an |QuickFixCmdPost| autocommand, to
be able to put signs on each line, where a warning/error is.


4.0 Commands                                                   *:Signs-Commands*

The plugin introduces the following commands:


Update the signs in the current buffer. According to your configuration runs
through every line in your buffer and checks, if a sign has to be displayed.
For performance reasons, it caches the values.


Discard the cache and update the signs for each line.


Disable the Sign plugin.


Display a quickfix list that contains all your signs in the current buffer.

    :SignExpression expr

Display a sign on each line, where expr evaluates to true |Signs-Hook|


Run a diff of the buffer and the file on disk and display signs for the
changes |Signs-Diff|

5. Icons                                                          *Signs-Icons*

The GTK version of Vim (and possibly also the Windows version) can also
display graphical Signs. For this reason, this plugin includes some nice
looking icons, that have been provided by

"DesignKode is releasing this set of 40 free high quality icons for your web
site and application GUI designs. All icons in this set are 32 x 32 pixel PNG
image files. You may freely use these icons in your commercial or personal
projects without attribution."

The icons have been taken as is and only converted to a .bmp fileformat, so
that the gtk and Windows built of gVim can display those icons.

6. Feedback                                                  *Signs-Feedback*
Feedback is always welcome. If you like the plugin, please rate it at the

You can also follow the development of the plugin at github:

Please don't hesitate to report any bugs to the maintainer, mentioned in the
third line of this document.

4. History                                              *Signs-history*

0.1: (unreleased) {{{1

- Initial upload
- development versions are available at the github repository
- put plugin on a public repository (

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