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A Narrow Region Plugin for vim (like Emacs Narrow Region)
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*NrrwRgn.txt*   A Narrow Region Plugin (similar to Emacs)

Author:  Christian Brabandt <>
Version: 0.31 Sat, 16 Feb 2013 22:28:31 +0100
Copyright: (c) 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Christian Brabandt         
           The VIM LICENSE applies to NrrwRgnPlugin.vim and NrrwRgnPlugin.txt
           (see |copyright|) except use NrrwRgnPlugin instead of "Vim".

1. Contents                                    *NarrowRegion*  *NrrwRgnPlugin*

        1.  Contents.....................................: |NrrwRgnPlugin|
        2.  NrrwRgn Manual...............................: |NrrwRgn-manual|
        2.1   NrrwRgn Howto..............................: |NR-HowTo|
        2.2   NrrwRgn Multi..............................: |NR-multi-example|
        2.3   NrrwRgn Configuration......................: |NrrwRgn-config|
        3.  NrrwRgn Feedback.............................: |NrrwRgn-feedback|
        4.  NrrwRgn History..............................: |NrrwRgn-history|

2. NrrwRgn Manual                                       *NrrwRgn-manual*


This plugin is based on a discussion in comp.editors (see the thread at

Narrowing means focussing on a region and making the rest inaccessible. You
simply select the region, call |:NarrowRegion| and the selected part will open
in a new scratch buffer. The rest of the file will be protected, so you won't
accidentally modify that buffer. In the new buffer, you can do a global
replace, search or anything else to modify that part. When you are finished,
simply write that buffer (e.g. by |:w|) and your modifications will be put in
the original buffer making it accessible again.

NrrwRgn allows you to either select a line based selection using an Ex-command
or you can simply use any visual selected region and press your preferred key
combination to open that selection in a new buffer.

This plugin defines the following commands:

                                                        *:NarrowRegion* *:NR*
:[range]NarrowRegion[!]     When [range] is omitted, select only the current
                            line, else use the lines in the range given and 
                            open it in a new Scratch Window.
                            If the current line is selected and is on a folded
                            region, select the whole folded text.
                            Whenever you are finished modifying that region
                            simply write the buffer.
                            If ! is given, open the narrowed buffer not in a
                            split buffer but in the current window.

                                                        *:NarrowWindow* *:NW*
:NarrowWindow[!]            Select only the range that is visible the current
                            window and open it in a new Scratch Window. 
                            Whenever you are finished modifying that region
                            simply write the buffer.
                            If ! is given, open the narrowed buffer not in a
                            split buffer but in the current window (works best
                            with 'hidden' set).

:WidenRegion[!]             This command is only available in the narrowed 
                            scratch window. If the buffer has been modified,
                            the contents will be put back on the original
                            buffer. If ! is specified, the window will be
                            closed, otherwise it will remain open.

:NRV[!]                     Opened the narrowed window for the region that was
                            last selected in visual mode
                            If ! is given, open the narrowed buffer not in a
                            split buffer but in the current window (works best
                            with 'hidden' set).


:NUD                        When viewing unified diffs, this command opens
                            the current chunk in 2 Narrowed Windows in
                            |diff-mode| The current chunk is determined as the
                            one, that the cursor is at. This command does not
                            make sense if editing a different file format (or
                            even different diff format)

:[range]NRP[!]              You can use this command, to mark several lines
                            that will later be put into a Narrowed Window
                            using |:NRM|.
                            If the ! is used, all earlier selected lines will
                            be cleared first.

:NRM[!]                     This command takes all lines, that have been
                            marked by |:NRP| and puts them together in a new
                            narrowed buffer.
                            When you write your changes back, all separate
                            lines will be put back at their origin.
                            This command also clears the list of marked lines,
                            that was created with |NRP|.
                            See also |NR-multi-example|.
                            If ! is given, open the narrowed buffer not in a
                            split buffer but in the current window (works best
                            with 'hidden' set).

                                                    *:NRSyncOnWrite* *:NRS*
:NRS                        Enable synching the buffer content back to the
                            original buffer when writing.
                            (this is the default).

                                                    *:NRNoSyncOnWrite* *:NRN*
:NRN                        Disable synching the buffer content back to the
                            original buffer when writing. When set, the
                            narrowed buffer behaves like an ordinary buffer
                            that you can write in the filesystem.
                            (this is the default).

:NRL[!]                     Reselect the last selected region again and open
                            in a narrowed window. 
                            If ! is given, open the narrowed buffer not in a
                            split buffer but in the current window (works best
                            with 'hidden' set).

2.1 NrrwRgn HowTo                                                *NR-HowTo*

Use the commands provided above to select a certain region to narrow. You can
also start visual mode and have the selected region being narrowed. In this
mode, NarrowRegion allows you to block select |CTRL-V| , character select |v|
or linewise select |V| a region. Then press <Leader>nr where <Leader> by
default is set to '\', unless you have set it to something different (see
|<Leader>| for information how to change this) and the selected range will
open in a new scratch buffer. This key combination only works in |Visual-mode|

When finished, simply write that Narrowed Region window, from which you want
to take the modifications in your original file.

It is possible, to recursively open a Narrowed Window on top of an already
narrowed window. This sounds a little bit silly, but this makes it possible,
to have several narrowed windows, which you can use for several different
things, e.g. If you have 2 different buffers opened and you want to diff a
certain region of each of those 2 buffers, simply open a Narrowed Window for
each buffer, and execute |:diffthis| in each narrowed window.

You can then interactively merge those 2 windows. And when you are finished,
simply write the narrowed window and the changes will be taken back into the
original buffer.

When viewing unified diffs, you can use the provided |:NUD| command to open 2
Narrowed Windows side by side viewing the current chunk in |diff-mode|. Those
2 Narrowed windows will be marked 'modified', since there was some post
processing involved when opening the narrowed windows. Be careful, when
quitting the windows, not to write unwanted changes into your patch file! In
the window that contains the unified buffer, you can move to a different
chunk, run |:NUD| and the 2 Narrowed Windows in diff mode will update.

2.2 NrrwRgn Multi                                    *NR-multi-example*

Using the commands |:NRP| and |:NRM| allows to select a range of lines, that
will be put into a narrowed buffer together. This might sound confusing, but
this allows to apply a filter before making changes. For example before
editing your config file, you decide to strip all comments for making big
changes but when you write your changes back, these comments will stay in your
file. You would do it like this: >
Now a Narrowed Window will open, that contains only the configuration lines.
Each block of independent region will be separated by a string like

# Start NarrowRegion1
# End NarrowRegion1

This is needed, so the plugin later knows, which region belongs where in the
original place. Blocks you don't want to change, you can safely delete, they
won't be written back into your original file. But other than that, you
shouldn't change those separating lines.

When you are finished, simply write your changes back.


2.3 NrrwRgn Configuration                                    *NrrwRgn-config*

NarrowRegion can be customized by setting some global variables. If you'd
like to open the narrowed window as a vertical split buffer, simply set the
variable g:nrrw_rgn_vert to 1 in your |.vimrc| >

    let g:nrrw_rgn_vert = 1

If you'd like to specify a certain width/height for you scratch buffer, then
set the variable g:nrrw_rgn_wdth in your |.vimrc| . This variable defines the
width or the nr of columns, if you have also set g:nrrw_rgn_vert. >

    let g:nrrw_rgn_wdth = 30

By default, NarrowRegion highlights the region that has been selected
using the WildMenu highlighting (see |hl-WildMenu|). If you'd like to use a
different highlighting, set the variable g:nrrw_rgn_hl to your preferred
highlighting Group. For example to have the region highlighted like a search
result, you could put that in your |.vimrc| >

    let g:nrrw_rgn_hl = 'Search'
If you want to turn off the highlighting (because this can be distracting), you
can set the global variable g:nrrw_rgn_nohl to 1 in your |.vimrc| >

    let g:nrrw_rgn_nohl = 1

If you'd like to change the key combination that starts the Narrowed Window
for your selected range, you could put this in your |.vimrc| >

   xmap <F3> <Plug>NrrwrgnDo
This will let <F3> open the Narrow-Window, but only if you have pressed it in
Visual Mode. It doesn't really make sense to map this combination to any other
mode, unless you want it to Narrow your last visually selected range.


If you'd like to specify the options that you want to have set for the
narrowed window, you can set the g:nrrw_custom_options setting, in your
|.vimrc| e.g. >

   let g:nrrw_custom_options={}
   let g:nrrw_custom_options['filetype'] = 'python'
This will only apply those options to the narrowed buffer. You need to take
care that all options you need will apply.


If you don't like that your narrowed window opens above the current window,
define the g:nrrw_topbot_leftright variable to your taste, e.g. >

  let g:nrrw_topbot_leftright = 'botright'
Now, all narrowed windows will appear below the original window. If not
specified, the narrowed window will appear above/left of the original window.


If you want to use several independent narrowed regions of the same buffer
that you want to write at the same time, protecting the original buffer is not
really useful. Therefore, set the g:nrrw_rgn_protect variable, e.g. in your
|.vimrc| >
   let g:nrrw_rgn_protect = 'n'
This can be useful if you diff different regions of the same file, and want
to be able to put back the changes at different positions. Please note that
you should take care not to change any part that will later be influenced
when writing the narrowed region back.

Note: Don't use overlapping regions! Your changes will probably not be put
back correctly and there is no guard against losing data accidentally. NrrwRgn
tries hard to adjust the highlighting and regions as you write your changes
back into the original buffer, but it can't guarantee that this will work and
might fail silently. Therefore, this feature is experimental!


NarrowRegion can execute certain commands, when creating the narrowed window
and when closing the narrowed window. For this, you can set 2 buffer-local
variables that specify what commands to execute, which will hook into the
execution of the Narrow Region plugin.

For example, suppose you have a file, containing columns separated data (CSV
format) which you want to modify and you also have the CSV filetype plugin
( installed and you want
to modify the CSV data which should be visually arranged like a table in the
narrowed window. 

Therefore you want the command |:ArrangeColumn| to be executed in the new
narrowed window upon entering it, and when writing the changes back, you want
the command |:UnArrangeColumn| to be executed just before putting the
changes back. So you set those two variables in your original buffer: >

    let b:nrrw_aucmd_create = "set ft=csv|%ArrangeCol"
    let b:nrrw_aucmd_close  = "%UnArrangeColumn"
This will execute the commands in the narrowed window: >

    :set ft=csv

and before writing the changes back, it'll execute: >

3. NrrwRgn Feedback                                         *NrrwRgn-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.

If you like the plugin, write me an email (look in the third line for my mail
address). And if you are really happy, vote for the plugin and consider
looking at my Amazon whishlist:

4. NrrwRgn History                                          *NrrwRgn-history*

0.31: Feb 16, 2013
- NRM threw some errors (reported by pydave in, thanks!)
- don't create swapfiles (reported by ping, thanks!)

0.30: Jan 25, 2013 {{{1
- |NRL| throws erros, when used without having first narrowed a region
- |NRV!| not allowed (reported by ping, thanks!)
- when using single window narrowing, :w would jump back to the original
  window. Only do this, when 'hidden' is not set (reported by ping, thanks!)
- when narrowing a region, the last visual selected region wasn't correctly
  restored (reported by ping, thanks!)
- some code cleanup
- recursive narrowing was broken, fix it (reported by ping, thanks!)

0.29: Aug 20, 2012 {{{1
- Use ! to have the narrowed buffer not opened in a new window (suggested by
  Greg Sexton thanks!, issue #8
- Fix mappings for visual mode (,
  reported by Sung Pae, thanks!)
- Fix problem with setting the filetype
  (, reported by Hong Xu,
- Fix some minor problems, when using ! mode
0.28: Jun 03, 2012 {{{1
- Plugin did not store last narrowed region when narrowed window was moved to
  another tabpage (reported by Ben Fritz, thanks!)

0.27: May 17, 2012 {{{1
- When using |:NR| on a line that is folded, include the whole folded region
  in the Narrowed window.
- Better filetype detection for comments
- Error handling, when doing |:NRM| without doing |:NRP| first
- Use |:NRP!| to clear the old selection
- Don't load the autoload script when sourcing the plugin script
  (reported by Sergey Khorev, thanks!)
- Vim 7.3.449 introduced E855, prevent this error.
- |:NRL|
- |NRM| did not correctly parse the list of lines provided by |:NRP|
- highlighted pattern for blockwise visual narrowed regions was wrong
- Saving blockwise visual selected regions back, could corrupt the contents

0.26: Jan 02, 2012 {{{1

- Fix issue
  (reported by Alessio B., thanks!)

0.25: Nov 08, 2011 {{{1

- updated documentation (patch by Jean, thanks!)
- make it possible, to not sync the narrowed buffer back by disabling
  it using |:NRSyncOnWrite| |:NRNoSyncOnWrite|

0.24: Oct 24, 2011 {{{1

- error on page, reuploaded version 0.22 as 0.24

0.23: Oct 24, 2011 {{{1

- (wrongly uploaded to
0.22: Oct 24, 2011 {{{1

- Allow customization via the use of hooks (|NR-hooks|)

0.21: July 26, 2011 {{{1

- Fix undefined variable adjust_line_numbers (reported by jmcantrell,

0.20: July 25, 2011 {{{1
- allow customization via the g:nrrw_topbot_leftright variable (Thanks Herbert
- allow what options will be applied using the g:nrrw_custom_options dict
  (suggested by Herbert Sitz. Thanks!)
- NRV didn't hightlight the region that was selected (reported by Herbert
  Sitz, thanks!)
- use the g:nrrw_rgn_protect variable, to prevent that the original buffer
  will be protected. This is useful, if you narrow several regions of the same
  buffer and want to write those changes indepentently (reported by kolyuchiy
  in, Thanks!)
- fix an error with not correctly deleting the highlighted region, that was
  discovered when reporting issue 3 (see above). (Reported by kolyuchiy,
- Catch errors, when setting window local options. (Patch by Sung Pae,

0.19: May 22, 2011 {{{1
- fix issue 2 from github
  (Widening does not work, if the narrowed windows have been moved to a new
  tabspace). Reported by vanschelven, thanks!

0.18: December 10, 2010 {{{1
- experimental feature: Allow to Narrow several different regions at once
  using :g/pattern/NRP and afterwards calling :NRM
  (This only works linewise. Should that be made possible for any reagion?)
- disable folds, before writing changes back, otherwise chances are, you'll
  lose more data then wanted
- code cleanup

0.17: November 23, 2010 {{{1
- cache the options, that will be set (instead of parsing
  $VIMRUNTIME/doc/options.txt every time) in the Narrowed Window
- getting the options didn't work, when using an autocommand like this:
  autocmd BufEnter * cd %:p:h
  (reported by Xu Hong, Thanks!)
- :q didn't clean up the Narrowed Buffer correctly. Fix this
- some code cleanup

0.16: November 16, 2010 {{{1
- Bugfix: copy all local options to the narrowed window (reported by Xu Hong,

0.15: August 26, 2010 {{{1
- Bugfix: minor documentation update (reported by Hong Xu, Thanks!)

0.14: August 26, 2010 {{{1
- Bugfix: :only in the original buffer resulted in errors (reported by Adam
  Monsen, Thanks!)

0.13: August 22, 2010 {{{1
- Unified Diff Handling (experimental feature)

0.12: July 29, 2010 {{{1

- Version 0.11, wasn't packaged correctly and the vimball file
  contained some garbage. (Thanks Dennis Hostetler!)

0.11: July 28, 2010 {{{1

- Don't set 'winfixwidth' and 'winfixheight' (suggested by Charles Campbell)

0.10: May 20, 2010 {{{1

- Restore cursor position using winrestview() and winsaveview()
- fix a bug, that prevented the use of visual narrowing
- Make sure when closing the narrowed buffer, the content will be written to
  the right original region
- use topleft for opening the Narrowed window
- check, that the original buffer is still available
- If you Narrow the complete buffer using :NRV and write the changes back, an
  additional trailing line is inserted. Remove that line.
- When writing the changes back, update the highlighting.

0.9: May 20, 2010 {{{1

- It is now possible to Narrow a window recursively. This allows to have
  several narrowed windows, and allows for example to only diff certain
  regions (as was suggested in a recent thread at the vim_use mailinglist: therefore, the
  use for the g:nrrw_rgn_sepwin variable isn't necessary anymore.
- Small documentation updates

0.8: May 18, 2010 {{{1

- the g:nrrw_rgn_sepwin variable can be used to force separate Narrowed
  Windows, so you could easily diff those windows.
- make the separating of several windows a little bit safer (look at the
  bufnr(), so it should work without problems for several buffers)
- switch from script local variables to buffer local variables, so narrowing
  for several buffers should work.
- set 'winfixheight' for narrowed window 
- Added command :NRV (suggested by Charles Campbell, thanks!)
- added error handling, in case :NRV is called, without a selected region
- take care of beeps, when calling :NRV
- output WarningMsg

0.7: May 17, 2010 {{{1

- really use the black hole register for deleting the old buffer contents in
  the narrowed buffer (suggestion by esquifit in
- make autocommand nesting, so the highlighting will be removed when writing
  the buffer contents.
- Use g:nrrw_rgn_nohl variable to disable highlighting (as this can be

0.6: May 04, 2010 {{{1

- the previous version had problems restoring the orig buffer, this version
  fixes it (highlighting and setl ma did not work correctly)

0.5: May 04, 2010 {{{1

- The mapping that allows for narrowing a visually selected range, did not
  work.  (Fixed!)
- Make :WidenRegion work as expected (close the widened window) (unreleased)

0.4: Apr 28, 2010 {{{1

- Highlight narrowed region in the original buffer
- Save and Restore search-register
- Provide shortcut commands |:NR| 
- Provide command |:NW| and |:NarrowWindow|
- Make plugin autoloadable
- Enable GLVS (see |:GLVS|)
- Provide Documenation (:h NarrowRegion)
- Distribute Plugin as vimball |pi_vimball.txt|

0.3: Apr 28, 2010 {{{1

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


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