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Yet another Plugin Manager for Vim


apt-vim aims to serve as a fully-automated, cross-platform plugin management tool for Vim including dependency installation, using Pathogen at its core to load plugins. Plugins and their dependencies can be installed, removed, and updated using this one tool.

Plugin installation recipes can be saved and shared, allowing users to create portable configuration files (here's one), and allowing plugin developers to create an automated installation process for their users. Installation recipes can be made cross-platform by setting recipes for linux, darwin (Mac), or windows (cygwin). Recipes you create will be saved under your current platform automatically.

For an example plugin recipe, see tern_for_vim. If you'd like to have a recipe created for your plugin, please open an issue :-)

Note: apt-vim is under active development. Please report any issues, questions, or suggestions, however minor you feel they may be, by opening an issue. Please also open a new issue to create a feature request. Adding tags and thorough descriptions will be of great help!


Don't worry:

  • Before starting setup, a backup of the bundle directory is created at ~/.vim/bundle.bak.
  • Any plugins you already have in ~/.vim/bundle will persist. If an existing plugin was cloned with git, the plugin will automatically be tracked with apt-vim.
  • Your .vim directory will not be altered aside from bundle (which is backed up automatically before installation), which will be soft-linked to ~/.vimpkg/bundle.

Option 1 - Automatic

curl -sL | sh

Note: you may need to close and reopen your terminal

Option 2 - Manual

  1. Install Vim
  2. Install Git
  3. Install python 2.7.x or python 3
  4. Clone this repo: git clone
  5. Change to the cloned directory
  • cd apt-vim
  1. Run ./apt-vim init
  • You may be prompted for sudo password during installation if you are missing dependencies such as git or vim
  • See vim_config:9
  1. Add ~/.vimpkg/bin to your PATH
  • This can be done by adding export PATH=$PATH:~/.vimpkg/bin to ~/.bashrc or ~/.bash_profile or equivalent shell configuration file
  • ~/.vimpkg/bin is where all Vim plugin dependencies will be installed
  1. Add execute pathogen#infect() and then call pathogen#helptags() to ~/.vimrc
  • If ~/.vimrc doesn't exist, create a new ~/.vimrc file containing at least the above 2 commands
  1. source your shell profile.
  • This will update the PATH variable in the current shell
  • Future shells/logins will contain the updated PATH automatically
  1. Run apt-vim install
  • You will be walked through a series of prompts to see how apt-vim works
  • This will clone and install Pathogen and, as an example, Tagbar and its dependency, ctags
  • You must install Pathogen for apt-vim to work.
  • Tagbar is an optional example which you can deny if desired


In general: apt-vim <mode> [options] [URLs] where mode is one of : init, install, list, add, remove, delete, update

The file ~/.vimpkg/vim_config.json is used to store configurations for plugins that you use. For a simple example, take a look at vim_config.json in this repo. For an advanced example, look here.


apt-vim init

This command sets up vital files and settings to allow apt-vim to do its thing. This command should only be run as part of the manual installation process, and only needs to be run once.


apt-vim install [options] [URLs]

URLs: URLs of Git repositories separated by whitespace

Allows you to add a plugin and its configuration to your vim_config.json file, with installation. This will install any declared dependencies, clone the specified URL, and run any post-install commands.

Most plugins--those without dependencies--can simply be installed with apt-vim install -y <git-url>. Other plugins, such as tern_for_vim and this fork of YouCompleteMe have apt-vim recipes built-in. These plugins, along with their dependencies, can be installed with a simple apt-vim install -y <git-url>.

For other plugins with dependencies:

There are a number of cases to consider when installing a plugin, as an installation recipe can come from many places:

  1. If a configuration already exists in vim_config.json for a specified URL, that configuration will be used.
  2. If a configuraion file was provided with the cloned plugin repo, it will be used. Configuration files are in the form of a json with @vimpkg on the first line. See tern_for_vim
  3. If no pre-defined configuration is found, you will be prompted to enter dependencies (if any) and their installation recipes, as well as a recipe for the plugin itself (if any)
  • A recipe for a plugin refers to commands to run after cloning a plugin's repo
  • A recipe for a plugin is executed from the context of the cloned directory
  • Ex. YouCompleteMe requires that you run ./ after cloning

To edit the configuration for a given plugin after installation, directly edit the file ~/.vimpkg/vim_config.json or remove and then install that specific URL.

If no URLs are provided, you will be walked through installing any plugins in vim_config.json that are not already installed. You will be prompted with a choice of whether or not to install each package. Use --assume-yes to select all packages in vim_config.json.

Using the --json option allows you to install a plugin and specify its configuration. This is useful for installing a new plugin to your Vim setup that someone has created a configuration for. See above for an example.


apt-vim list

Displays a list of packages you have actually installed, and a list of packages that are in your ~/.vimpkg/vim_config.json file but not yet installed.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of all of the plugins that can be installed using apt-vim. Any plugin on GitHub (or other Git repository that you have access to) can be installed using apt-vim by supplying the corresponding URL.


apt-vim add [options] URLs

URLs (required): URLs of Git repositories separated by whitespace. At least one URL must be specified to add a plugin.

Allows you to add a plugin and its configuration to your vim_config.json file, without installing. This command mode is useful when creating a portable vim_config.json while not wanting to change your own system's settings.


apt-vim remove [options] URLs

URLs (required): URLs of Git repositories separated by whitespace

Removes a plugin and all of its dependencies, but KEEPS the installation recipe. A dependency (Ex. ctags) is ONLY removed if no other plugins in your configuration have the same dependency. This feature can be helpful if trying a few similar plugins to compare features. A plugin's installation recipe can be later deleted if desired.


apt-vim delete [options] URLs

URLs (required): URLs of Git repositories separated by whitespace

The same as remove, but also DELETES the installation recipe from your vim_config.json.


apt-vim update [options] [URLs]

URLs: URLs of Git repositories separated by whitespace

Update first removes a plugin's files (but not its configuration), then re-clones and re-executes the configuration for that plugin.


  • -y, --assume-yes
  • -j, --json

Use --assume-yes to tell apt-vim that you want all default options to be used. Any choice that you would typically be presented with (Ex. 'Confirm remove package pathogen') will not be presented and it will be assumed that you selected yes. Good for automation, but potentially dangerous.

Using the --json option allows you to add/install an entire configuration for a plugin. This is useful for installing a new plugin to your Vim setup that someone has created a configuration for. For example, you could add Tagbar and its dependency, ctags like so:

apt-vim install -jy
    "depends-on": [
            "name": "ctags",
            "recipe": {
                "darwin": [
                    "curl -LSso ctags-5.8.tar.gz ''",
                    "tar xzf ctags-5.8.tar.gz",
                    "cd ctags-5.8",
                    "sudo ./configure",
                    "sudo make",
                    "sudo make install"
                "linux": [
                    "curl -LSso ctags-5.8.tar.gz ''",
                    "tar xzf ctags-5.8.tar.gz",
                    "cd ctags-5.8",
                    "sudo ./configure",
                    "sudo make",
                    "sudo make install"
    "name": "tagbar",
    "pkg-url": "",
    "recipe": {}

Next Steps

  • pip installer
  • brew installer
  • Improved cross-platform support via increased number of install targets
    • Ex. 'fedora' and 'ubuntu' rather than simply 'linux'


Fully-automated, Cross-platform Plugin Manager for Vim







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