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vim-flavor, a tool to manage your favorite Vim plugins

Set up the tool for a new-style plugin management


  • Git 1.7.9 or later
  • Ruby 1.9.2 or later
    • Recommendation: Use RVM or other tools for ease of installation across different envinronments.
  • Vim 7.3 or later
    • Note that Vim should be compiled as normal, big or huge version to use most of plugins.

Supported platforms

  • Unix-like environments such as Linux, Mac OS X, etc.
  • Though Microsoft Windows is not directly supported, it is possible to manage Vim plugins via Cygwin or other environments.

Installation steps

gem install vim-flavor

Installable plugins

Not all Vim plugins can be installed with vim-flavor. vim-flavor can install plugins which meet the following conditions:

  • Plugins must have dedicated Git repositories. vim-flavor does not support other version control systems. This is an intentional design. Because:
  • Plugins must follow the versioning pocilies of RubyGems and have "version" tags in their repositories. For example, if there is the version 1.2.3 of a plugin, its repository must have the tag 1.2.3, and the files of the version 1.2.3 can be checked out via the tag 1.2.3. In other words, plugins which do not have proper tags are not installabe. This is an intentional design. Because:
    • It's not possible to determine whether two versions are compatible or not without "version" tags. Compatibility is a big problem to resolve dependencies of plugins. For example, if plugin A requires plugin X 1.2.3 or later while plugin B requires plugin X 2.0 or later, it's not possible to use A and B at the same time. Such problems should be detected before installing plugins.
    • Git mirrors by are tagged with version numbers.
    • Some Git repositories might not have "version" tags. Such plugins are not ready to use for everyone. So that it should not be installable.
  • Plugins must have proper directory structures. For example, directories such as autoload, syntax etc should exist in the roots of plugins. This is an intentional design. Because:
    • Git mirrors by have proper directory structures even if the original plugins are uploaded to without proper directory structures. (A good example is a.vim and its mirror.)
    • Other Git repositoris might not have proper directory structures. Such plugins are not ready to use for everyone. So that it should not be installable.

Typical usage

Start using vim-flavor


cat >VimFlavor <<'END'
  # * Declare using git://
  # * vim-flavor fetches git://$USER/$REPO.git
  #   if the argument is written in '$USER/$REPO' format.
  # * kana/vim-textobj-indent requires kana/vim-textobj-user.
  #   Such dependencies are automatically installed
  #   if the flavored plugin declares its dependencies with VimFlavor file.
  #   (FIXME: Resolving dependencies will be implemented later.)
  flavor 'kana/vim-textobj-indent'

  # * Declare using git://
  # * vim-flavor fetches git://$REPO.git
  #   if the argument is written in '$REPO' format.
  flavor 'fakeclip'

  # * Declare using git://
  # * vim-flavor fetches the URI
  #   if the argument seems to be a URI.
  flavor 'git://'

  # * Declare using kana/vim-smartchr 0.1.0 or later and older than 0.2.0.
  flavor 'kana/vim-smartchr', '~> 0.1.0'

  # * Declare using kana/vim-smartword 0.1 or later and older than 1.0.
  flavor 'kana/vim-smartword', '~> 0.1'

  # * Declare using kana/vim-smarttill 0.1.0 or later.
  flavor 'kana/vim-smarttill', '>= 0.1.0'

# Fetch the plugins declared in the VimFlavor,
# create VimFlavor.lock for a snapshot of all plugins and versions,
# then install the plugins and a bootstrap script into ~/.vim etc.
vim-flavor install

# Add the following line into the first line of your vimrc:
#   runtime flavors/bootstrap.vim
vim vimrc

git add VimFlavor VimFlavor.lock vimrc
git commit -m 'Use vim-flavor to manage my favorite Vim plugins'

Upgrade all plugins to the latest version

vim-flavor upgrade

git add VimFlavor.lock
git commit -m 'Upgrade my favorite Vim plugins'

Add more plugins into your dotfile repository

cat >>VimFlavor <<'END'

  flavor 'kana/vim-operator-replace'


# Fetch newly added plugins,
# update VimFlavor.lock for the plugins,
# then install the plugins into ~/.vim etc.
vim-flavor install

git add VimFlavor VimFlavor.lock
git commit -m 'Use kana/vim-operator-replace'

Remove plugins from your dotfile repository

# Remove declarations of unused plugins from VimFlavor.
sed -i~ -e '/vim-smartchr/d' VimFlavor

# Update VimFlavor.lock for the removed plugins,
# then clean up the plugins from ~/.vim etc.
vim-flavor install

git add VimFlavor VimFlavor.lock
git commit -m 'Farewell kana/vim-smartchr'

Install plugins into a non-standard directory

vim-flavor install --vimfiles-path=/cygdrive/c/Users/kana/vimfiles

Farewell to vim-flavor

rm -r ~/.vim-flavor
rm -r ~/.vim/flavors  # or ~/vimfiles/flavors etc.

rm VimFlavor VimFlavor.lock
git commit -am 'Farewell to vim-flavor'


I know that there are several implementations for the same purpose and many users love them, but all of them do not meet my taste. That's why I wrote vim-flavor. The philosofy on vim-flavor is as follows:

Whole configuration including versions of plugins should be under a version control system. All of existing implementations do not manage versions of plugins. This means that it's not possible to use the same configuration across multiple environments (the only one exception is using pathogen with Git submodules, but you'll find it's painful to manually manage many plugins).

There should be a standard way to describe proper dependencies of plugins to install dependencies without explicit declarations. Most of existing implementations do not resolve dependencies automatically (the only one exception is vim-addon-manager, but it doesn't take care about required versions). The configuration file formats of vim-flavor are also used to describe dependencies of plugins with required versions. This means that vim-flavor installs plugins and their dependencies automatically (unfortunately this feature is not implemented yet, but it'll be available soon).

Any software should have enough and reproducable test cases. But existing implementations such as vundle and neobundle are not developed so. It's horrible for me.

Installation steps should be small, be reproducable, and not affect existing envinronment as less as possible. Most of existing implementations require to manually tweak ~/.vim etc. It's painful to set up such stuffs manually because a vimfiles path is varied on each platform.

Finally, a tool and files deployed by the tool should be uninstalled easily. Vimana does not meet this because it directly puts files into ~/.vim/colors etc and it doesn't provide uninstall command.


vim-flavor is released under the terms of so-called MIT/X license. See the LICENSE file for the details.


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