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Run Python code cells in IPython directly from Vim
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hanschen Rename variables to clarify that they are rows, not indices
cell_start -> start_row
cell_end -> end_row
next_cell_start -> next_cell_row
prev_cell_start -> prev_cell_row
Latest commit a609695 Jun 8, 2019


Seamlessly run Python code from Vim in IPython, including executing individual code cells similar to Jupyter notebooks and MATLAB.

ipython-cell is especially suited for data exploration and visualization using Python. You can for example define a code cell that loads your input data, and another code cell to visualize the data. This plugin allows you to change and re-run the visualization part of your code without having to reload the data each time.


Demo animation


ipython-cell requires Vim or Neovim to be compiled with Python 2 or Python 3 support (+python or +python3 when running vim --version). If both Python versions are found, the plugin will prefer Python 3.

Additionally, the cell execution feature requires xclip or xsel to be installed (preferring the former).

ipython-cell depends on vim-slime to send the code to IPython, see Installation instructions below.


It is easiest to install ipython-cell using a plugin manager. I personally recommend vim-plug. See respective plugin manager's documentation for more information about how to install plugins.


Plug 'jpalardy/vim-slime', { 'for': 'python' }
Plug 'hanschen/vim-ipython-cell', { 'for': 'python' }


Plugin 'jpalardy/vim-slime'
Plugin 'hanschen/vim-ipython-cell'


NeoBundle 'jpalardy/vim-slime', { 'on_ft': 'python' }
NeoBundle 'hanschen/vim-ipython-cell', { 'on_ft': 'python' }


call dein#add('jpalardy/vim-slime', { 'on_ft': 'python' })
call dein#add('hanschen/vim-ipython-cell', { 'on_ft': 'python' })


cd ~/.vim/bundle
git clone


ipython-cell sends code from Vim to IPython using vim-slime. For this to work, IPython must be running in a terminal multiplexer like GNU Screen or tmux, or in a Vim or Neovim terminal. I personally use tmux, but you will find screen installed on most *nix systems.

It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with vim-slime first before using ipython-cell. Once you understand vim-slime, using ipython-cell will be a breeze.

ipython-cell does not define any key mappings by default, but comes with the commands listed below, which I recommend that you bind to key combinations of your likings. The Example Vim Configuration shows some examples of how this can be done.

Note that the cell execution feature copies your code to the system clipboard. You may want to avoid using this feature if your code contains sensitive data.



Execute the current code cell in IPython.


Execute the current code cell in IPython and jump to the next cell.


Run the whole script in IPython.


Run the whole script in IPython and time the execution.


Clear IPython screen.


Close all figure windows.


Jump to the previous cell header.


Jump to the next cell header.

Defining code cells

Code cells are defined by either Vim marks or special text in the code, depending on if g:ipython_cell_delimit_cells_by is set to 'marks' or 'tags', respectively. The default is to use Vim marks (see :help mark in Vim).

The examples below show how code cell boundaries work.

Code cells defined using marks

Marks are depicted as letters in the left-most column.

  | import numpy as np              | cell 1
  |                                _| 
a | numbers = np.arange(10)         | cell 2
  |                                 |
  |                                _|
b | for n in numbers:               | cell 3
  |     print(n)                   _|
c |     if n % 2 == 0:              | cell 4
  |         print("Even")           |
  |     else:                       |
  |         print("Odd")            |
  |                                _|
d | total = numbers.sum()           | cell 5
  | print("Sum: {}".format(total)) _|

Note that code cells can be defined inside statements such as for loops. IPython's %paste will automatically dedent the code before execution. However, if the code cell is defined inside e.g. a for loop, the code cell will not iterate over the loop.

In the example above, executing cell 4 after cell 3 will only print Odd once because IPython will execute the following code:

for n in numbers:

for cell 3, followed by

if n % 2 == 0:

for cell 4. The for statement is no longer included for cell 4.

You must therefore be careful when defining code cells inside statements.

Code cells defined using tags

Using ## to define cell boundaries.

import numpy as np                  | cell 1
## Setup                            | cell 2
numbers = np.arange(10)             |
## Print numbers                    | cell 3
for n in numbers:                   |
    print(n)                        |
    ## Odd or even                  | cell 4
    if n % 2 == 0:                  |
        print("Even")               |
    else:                           |
        print("Odd")                |
## Print sum                        | cell 5
total = numbers.sum()               |
print("Sum: {}".format(total))      |
print("Done.")                     _|

See note in the previous section about defining code cells inside statements (such as cell 4 inside the for loop in the example above).



Specify if cells should be delimited by 'marks' or 'tags'. Default: 'marks'


If cells are delimited by tags, specify the format of the tags. Default: '##'


If cells are delimited by marks, specify which marks to use. Default: 'abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvqxyzABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ'

Example Vim configuration

Here's an example of how to configure your .vimrc to use this plugin. Adapt it to suit your needs.

if has('autocmd')
    filetype plugin indent on

" Load plugins using vim-plug
call plug#begin('~/.vim/plugged')
Plug 'jpalardy/vim-slime' { 'for': 'python' }
Plug 'hanschen/vim-ipython-cell' { 'for': 'python' }
call plug#end()

" slime configuration 
" always use tmux
let g:slime_target = 'tmux'

" fix paste issues in ipython
let g:slime_python_ipython = 1

" always send text to the top-right pane in the current tmux tab without asking
let g:slime_default_config = {
            \ 'socket_name': get(split($TMUX, ','), 0),
            \ 'target_pane': '{top-right}' }
let g:slime_dont_ask_default = 1

" ipython-cell configuration
" Use '##' to define cells instead of using marks
let g:ipython_cell_delimit_cells_by = 'tags'

" Keyboard mappings. <Leader> is \ (backslash) by default

" map <Leader>r to run script
autocmd FileType python nnoremap <buffer> <Leader>r :IPythonCellRun<CR>

" map <Leader>R to run script and time the execution
autocmd FileType python nnoremap <buffer> <Leader>R :IPythonCellRunTime<CR>

" map <Leader>c to execute the current cell
autocmd FileType python nnoremap <buffer> <Leader>c :IPythonCellExecuteCell<CR>

" map <Leader>C to execute the current cell and jump to the next cell
autocmd FileType python nnoremap <buffer> <Leader>C :IPythonCellExecuteCellJump<CR>

" map <Leader>l to clear IPython screen
autocmd FileType python nnoremap <buffer> <Leader>l :IPythonCellClear<CR>

" map <Leader>x to close all Matplotlib figure windows
autocmd FileType python nnoremap <buffer> <Leader>x :IPythonCellClose<CR>

" map [c and ]c to jump to the previous and next cell header
autocmd FileType python nnoremap <buffer> [c :IPythonCellPrevCell<CR>
autocmd FileType python nnoremap <buffer> ]c :IPythonCellNextCell<CR>

" map <Leader>h to send the current line or current selection to IPython
autocmd FileType python nnoremap <buffer> <Leader>h <Plug>SlimeLineSend
autocmd FileType python xnoremap <buffer> <Leader>h <Plug>SlimeRegionSend

Note that the mappings as defined here work only in normal mode (see :help mapping in Vim for more information). The extra autocmd FileType python and <buffer> parts are there just to ensure that the mapping are defined only for Python files. You can also move these mappings to ~/.vim/ftplugin/python.vim and drop autocmd FileType python.

If you come from the MATLAB world, you may want e.g. F5 to save and run the script regardless if you are in insert or normal mode, F6 to execute the current cell, and F7 to execute the current cell and jump to the next cell:

" map <F5> to save and run script
autocmd FileType python nnoremap <buffer> <F5> :w<CR>:IPythonCellRun<CR>
autocmd FileType python inoremap <buffer> <F5> <C-o>:w<CR><C-o>:IPythonCellRun<CR>

" map <F6> to evaluate current cell without saving
autocmd FileType python nnoremap <buffer> <F6> :IPythonCellExecuteCell<CR>
autocmd FileType python inoremap <buffer> <F6> <C-o>:IPythonCellExecuteCell<CR>

" map <F7> to evaluate current cell and jump to next cell without saving
autocmd FileType python nnoremap <buffer> <F7> :IPythonCellExecuteCellJump<CR>
autocmd FileType python inoremap <buffer> <F7> <C-o>:IPythonCellExecuteCellJump<CR>


Should I use 'marks' or 'tags' to define cells?

This depends on personal preference. I used to use 'tags' because they are similar to MATLAB's %% code sections. 'tags' are nice if you want the cells to be saved together with your files, and may be easier to start with. I switched to 'marks' after discovering that I can show the marks in the left-most column. I find 'marks' to be more flexible because you can add and change cells without changing the code, which is nice when your code is under version control.

How do I show the marks in the left-most column?

Use the vim-signature plugin:

How to send only the current line or selected lines to IPython?

Use the features provided by vim-slime, see the Example Vim Configuration for an example. The default mapping C-c C-c (hold down Ctrl and tap the C key twice) will send the current paragraph or the selected lines to IPython. See :help slime for more information, in particular the documentation about <Plug>SlimeRegionSend and <Plug>SlimeLineSend.

Why do I get "name 'plt' is not defined" when I try to close figures?

ipython-cell assumes that you have imported matplotlib.pyplot as plt in IPython. If you prefer to import matplotlib.pyplot differently, you can achieve the same thing using vim-slime, for example by adding the following to your .vimrc:

autocmd FileType python nnoremap <buffer> <Leader>x :SlimeSend1 matplotlib.pyplot.close('all')<CR>

How can I send other commands to IPython, e.g. '%who'?

You can easily send arbitary commands to IPython using the :SlimeSend1 command provided by vim-slime, e.g. :SlimeSend1 %who, and map these commands to key combinations.

Why isn't this plugin specific to Python by default? In other words, why do I have to add all this extra stuff to make this plugin Python-specific?

This plugin was created with Python and IPython in mind, but I don't want to restrict the plugin to Python by design. Instead, I have included examples of how to use plugin managers to specify that the plugin should be loaded only for Python files and how to create Python-specific mappings. If someone wants to use this plugin for other filetypes, they can easily do so.

Why is this plugin written in Python instead of pure Vimscript?

Because I feel more comfortable with Python and don't have the motivation to learn Vimscript for this plugin. If someone implements a pure Vimscript version, I would be happy to consider to merge it.

Related plugins

  • tslime_ipython - Similar to ipython-cell but with some small differences. For example, tslime_ipython pastes the whole code that's sent to IPython to the input line, while ipython-cell uses IPython's %paste -q command to make the execution less verbose.
  • vim-ipython - Advanced two-way integration between Vim and IPython. I never got it to work as I want, i.e., don't show the code that's executed but show the output from the code, which is why I created this simpler plugin.
  • vim-tmux-navigator - Seamless navigation between Vim splits and tmux panes.
  • vim-signature - Display marks in the left-hand column.


ipython-cell was heavily inspired by tslime_ipython. The code logic to determine which Python version to use was taken from YouCompleteMe.

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