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Navigate files at the speed of Vim.
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Portkey Build Status Dependency Status

Navigate files at the speed of Vim.

Portkey allows you move to around files in your project quickly. It is a port of the rails-projections feature of vim-rails written in Riml. It works especially well if your project is well organized with common patterns of moving between files.

How it works

At the root of your project you create a file called portkey.json. In this file you describe the file structure of your project and the relations between files. Portkey uses this file to provide mappings and Ex commands to allow you jump to and between these files.

The format of this file is similar to that used by vim-rails's projections.json, with minor enhancements. A sample portkey.json looks like below,

  "app/models/*.rb": {
    "type": "model",
    "alternate": "tests/models/%s_test.rb"

The above portkey declares a model and it's alternate. This allows you to navigate to any model that matches this pattern with the Ex command, :Emodel.

There are a few different ways to switch to a different file, depending on whether you need to open a file related to the current file or to search for a specific project file.

Navigation with Alternate :A

Alternates are provided with the Ex command, :A.

To jump to an alternate file you first need to specify an alternate in the portkey.json.

  "app/models/*.js": {
    "type": "model",
    "alternate": ["app/fixtures/%s.js"]

Now in any model hitting :A will switch to the fixture for . that model From the post model this command will take you to . app/fixtures/post_fixture.js .

The default alternate for a file is it's test if specified. To jump to a test file you specify a test in the portkey.json

  "app/models/*.js": {
    "type": "model",
    "alternate": "app/fixtures/%s_fixture.js",
    "test": "test/models/%s_test.js"

Here the files app/models/author.js would have 2 alternates, author_fixture.js and author_test.js

You can specify more than one file as an alternate or test. The file with the best match will be switched to by default. You can use <count> to jump to a specific alternate.

For instance, :2A will jump to the second alternative, and so on.

Navigation with Related :R

Similar to alternate files you can use the Ex command :R to jump to a. file related to the current file For instance to jump to helpers from . controllers, You specify a related for a projection pattern like . below .

  "app/controllers/*_controller.js": {
    "type": "controller",
    "related": "app/helpers/%s_helper.js"

Multiple related files can be specified using an array instead of a string. And <count>(Eg:- :2R) can be used to jump to a specific related file.

Navigation with Resource commands :Eresource

By declaring a projection in the portkey.json with a type, you create a resource command of that name. These commands are of the form :(E|S|V|T|D){resource_name}. They provide support for auto-completion to filter the exact file to open.

Eg:- a model gets the resource commands, Emodel, Smodel, etc.

The variants available and their operations are listed below.

Variant Operation
:E open in current buffer
:V open in vertical split
:S open in horizontal split
:T open in new tab
:D read contents of file into current buffer

Creating New Files with Bang!

The alternate, related, and resource commands can all be used to create new files with an additional bang character ! at the end of the Ex command. The new files are created in the directory as specified by your resource.

:Emodel category! creates a new file app/models/category.js as per your projection pattern.

The alternate and related Ex commands also support file creation with bang.

If your model has a related of fixture, then :R! from post.rb will create a new file post_fixture.rb.

Similarly given a model with an alternate test, :A! from author.rb will create a new file author_test.rb.

Note: The directory of the resource will be created automatically if it doesn't exist. This feature relies on mkdir, and may not work if your Vim does not support mkdir.

New File Boilerplate

Projections can include a template key to specify initial boilerplate for that resource type. This template language is identical to that used to specify alternate and other relations. It supports the same modifiers and placeholders.

In addition \n converts to newlines. And \t to tabs or spaces based on the current tab settings.

  "app/models/*.js": {
    "type": "model",
    "template": "%S = DS.Model.extend({\n\t\n});"

Here the template will provide boilerplate for a new ember-data model.

Navigation with the CtrlP and Adaptive Mappings

Note: This feature requires CtrlP to be installed. A <LocalLeader> key must also be set. You can set a <LocalLeader> like below,

let g:maplocalleader = ';'

In addition to the resource Ex commands Portkey provides an even faster way to search and open a specific file. It adds a custom CtrlP menu to allow opening files with CtrlP's fuzzy matching feature. A short custom mapping(Eg:- ;m for models) opens this menu.

These mappings begin with a <LocalLeader> like <LocalLeader>m for models. Given a <LocalLeader> semicolon, this would give you the normal mode mapping, ;m. Typing in a few keys to match on the model's name filters the list and gives you the file to open.

Hitting enter opens the file in the current buffer. Additionally you have access to CtrlP's mappings like Ctrl-s or Ctrl-v to open in a horizontal or vertical split respectively.

This feature is best explained with an example. Given a project with Model-View-Controllers stored in app/models, app/controllers, app/views. You can describe this in a portkey.json as,

  "app/models/*.js": {
    "type": "model"
  "app/controllers/*.js": {
    "type": "controller"
  "app/views/*.js": {
    "type": "view"

This will give you the mappings,

Mapping Resource
<LocalLeader>m model
<LocalLeader>c controller
<LocalLeader>v view

Hitting any of these mappings will open up a CtrlP finder which can be used to fuzzy match on that resource type.

With a number of overlapping resource names these mappings can get long. Eg: component and controller, would become comp and cont respectively.

Portkey tries to shorten the mappings to 2 characters when possible. Above, component and controller would be shortened as cm and cn respectively.

You can override the default mapping for a resource by using the mapping key.

  "app/controllers/*.js": {
    "type": "controller",
    "mapping": "c"
  "app/components/*.js": {
    "type": "component",
    "mapping": "n"

Note: Conflict handling is left to the user when custom mappings are used.

To view the available mappings for a project use,


or the Ex command


Navigation with gf

Portkey adds a custom includeexpr to provide custom gf searching. The default Get File finder tries different variants of the word under the cursor with patterns inside your portkey.json.

The default finder can find filenames directly mapping on to resources. Eg:- Hitting gf on the word Container will take you to the resource matching container.

This feature is meant to be augmented by Portkey extensions. Eg:- gf on a line with an import statement would go to the imported file.

The exact behaviour that matches such an import statement varies and hence is left to extensions to implement.

Extract with <range>

Portkey provides basic re-factoring similar to vim-rails's :Rextract. The difference is Portkey's extraction is done by providing a range to it's resource commands.

Every Resource command can take an optional <range> prefix. Visual mode ranges are also supported.

:5,10Emodel comment

Here, Portkey grabs the lines 5-10 and creates a new model comment and puts these lines into it and deletes the lines in the original file. If the target file already exists, the contents are appended to the file.

The base implementation doesn't write anything back into the source of the extraction, like an include statement. Nor does it wrap the contents inside say a class body.

Extensions may augment this feature to do this wrapping. The base implementation is equivalent to a cut-and-paste operation across files.

Running Current Test with :Run

You can run tests for the currently open file using :PortkeyRunner. This commands expects you to declare a compiler attribute equal to the Vim compiler plugin to use to run the test.

  "app/models/*.js": {
    "type": "model",
    "compiler": "jasmine"

Then using,


or it's alias,


will run the current file or it's corresponding test against Jasmine's Vim compiler plugin. If the test has errors they are opened in a quickfix window.

Note: Resource type names ending in test or spec are considered tests.

Projection Patterns

A Projection is a json object describing a file pattern and it's corresponding relations. At the very least it must have a pattern and a type.

  "app/controllers/*_controller.rb": {
    "type": "controller"

Note: type must be a valid Ex command name. Avoid underscores and other characters that are invalid as Ex command names.

Patterns should contain a * which acts as a placeholder for the filename. This placeholder name can be used as %s or %{source} in the relation templates to describe the file to switch to.

Pattern Match Type Example Pattern Filename %s
* non-recursive match app/models/*.js app/models/post.js post
** recursive match app/models/**.js app/models/admin/post.js admin/post.

Note: Recursive matches can be slow depending on how deep the search needs to be. Avoid recursive matching of unrelated resources unless you are certain that the directory structure isn't very deep. Instead create additional projections for each pattern inside the folder, whenever possible.

The relations of a file are described with the keys, alternate, related and test. These keys can be a single string or any array of strings. The contents of this string determine how the original file is transformed into the related file.

For the pattern app/models/*.rb, with a file, app/models/post.rb, the matched source variable would be post.

This string template can contain modifiers and placeholders to transform the source name.

Supported modifiers

Modifier Transformation
%s matched source name
%S camelcased source
%p pluralized source
%i singular source
%h humanized source

Placeholders allow additional customization of the source name.

The syntax for placeholders is, %{source|filter1|filter2}


Here, the source is first underscorized then camelized.


The affinity key can be used to perform a transformation from the source name to the target filename. For instance, given a controllers names in plural like posts_controller. If you wish to switch to singular models from such a controller, you can use affinity of model to change the source name posts into it's singular form, post, using the affinity of model.

  "app/controllers/%s_controller.rb": {
    "type": "controller",
    "affinity": "model",
    "alternate": "app/models/%s.rb"

Affinity can take the following values,

Affinity Transformation
model singularize
collection pluralize

When affinity is absent, no transformation is applied to the source name.

Editing and Reloading Portkey.json

To edit the portkey for a project. Use,


or it's alias,


The json loader used by Portkey cannot identify errors like missing commas. It is recommended that you install Syntastic with jsonlint to quickly identify such errors. Portkey will only report a basic failure message if it is unable to load or parse the portkey.json file.

When a portkey.json file is modified it's projections are reloaded automatically. You can also manually reload with,


Without bang it only clears the opened buffers. Reopening the buffer will rematch it against the loaded projections. With bang the entire project's context is reloaded, including it's portkey.json and any included extensions.

Example Portkeys

  1. Portkey!!!
  2. Speckle

Configuration Options

  • portkey_autostart

    Opening Vim inside a project with a portkey.json starts Portkey automatically. Without this you have to first open a buffer inside that project.

    Default: 1 (true)

  • portkey_adaptive_mappings

    Whether to use <LocalLeader> mappings. You will also need CtrlP installed and a maplocalleader assigned for this feature to work.

    Default: 1 (true)

  • portkey_warn_on_mapping_conflicts

    If you have custom <LocalLeader> mappings this option allows you to show warnings if portkey's <LocalLeader> mappings conflict with yours. Conflicting mappings must be resolved using the mapping key.

    Default: 1 (true)


Portkey can be augmented by extensions especially for frameworks that have a predictable folder layout. An extension can be loaded in a portkey.json by using the portkeys attribute.

  "portkeys": ["ember"]

This will load the emberjs extension and all it's projections.

Things extensions can do,

  • Add custom finders and rankers
  • Add custom template filters
  • Configure defaults for projections
  • Add custom extractors

System Requirements

Portkey requires at least Vim 7.3 patch97 or higher. For earlier versions of Vim the plugin will be disabled. The following Vim extensions are recommended but optional.

Recommended configuration:

  • Vim 7.4
  • CtrlP - Highly Recommended. Without CtrlP, adaptive mappings will be disabled.
  • Syntastic + jsonlint - For detecting errors when editing portkey.json
  • vim-json - Improved syntax highlighting and code folding of json


1. With Vundle

Bundle 'dsawardekar/portkey'

2. With Pathogen

git clone ~/.vim/bundle/portkey


Portkey is a work-in-progress. Following are some of the things to be done.

  1. Implement vim-rails's jumps feature
  2. Test on Windows
  3. Document the Extension API
  4. Document Affinity
  5. Document Placeholders


What's a Portkey?

Magical means of transportation. Takes you where you need to go, fast!



This project couldn't have been possible without the support of the following people. Many thanks for your kindness and generosity.

  1. Luke Gruber - for Riml! I don't think I would have attempted this plugin without it.
  2. Tim Pope - For vim-rails and for taking over my vimrc.
  3. Kien - For CtrlP, without it Portkey would probably be called Floo Powder!
  4. Abdul Qabiz - For opening my eyes to the world of Vim plugins.


Portkey is developed almost entirely in Riml. The files in plugin and autoload folders are compiled files. The source files live in the lib directory.

Pull Requests should be against source code not the compiled files. The compiled files are auto generated before a release. Further the project uses git-flow based branching model. Pull requests should go against the develop branch.

Portkey uses Speckle for testing. PR's with tests are preferred.


MIT License. Copyright © 2013 Darshan Sawardekar.

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