fast and accurate ctags generator on gem install
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RubyGems Automatic Ctags Generator

If you do like Vim and Ctags like I or Tim Pope do, you maybe appreciate automatic generation of ctags for each installed gem. This small project is based on Tim's gem-ctags, but the main difference is it does not use Exuberant Ctags.

Upstream site is at:


Install the thing (only Ruby 1.9+):

gem install gem-ripper-tags

Then generate tags for all already installed gems:

gem ripper_tags

Anytime you install a gem now, tags will be automatically created.

gem instal some_gem ...

If you're using RVM, I recommend extending your global gemset by adding gem-ripper-tags to ~/.rvm/gemsets/global.gems. Put it at the top so the gems below it will be indexed.

You can use the gem even with 1.8 gemsets, but since Ruby 1.8 is not supported, it will (silently) not register the gem hook.


Why would you care about not using ctags in the first place? Ctags is a great project and it does support many (like 50) languages. But Ruby support is very weak, the parser is not in good condition and it has not been changed 4 years now.

  • Ctags doesn't deal with: module A::B
  • Ctags doesn't tag (at least some of) the operator methods like ==
  • Ctags doesn't support qualified tags, -type=+
  • Ctags doesn't output tags for constants or attributes.

Unfortunately all the others (I found 2) Ruby ctags generators are either outdated (no Ruby 1.9+ support) or very slow. This project makes use of ripper-tags that leverages built-in Ruby parser API called Ripper. It is fast and it works as expected.


If you want to regenerate all tagfiles from scratch, use:

gem ripper_tags --reindex

Emacs support

To support Emacs, you need two steps. First, reindex everything with Emacs enabled:

gem ripper_tags --reindex --emacs

And make sure this environment variable is set to all shells where you use "gem install" command so new gems are generated with Emacs TAGS files.


Vim Tips

To easily edit a gem with your current working directory set to the gem's root, install gem-browse.

If you have rake.vim installed (which, by the way, is a misleading name), Vim will already know where to look for the tags file when editing a gem.

If you have bundler.vim installed, Vim will be aware of all tags files from all gems in your bundle.

If you want to get crazy, add this to your vimrc to get Vim to search all gems in your current RVM gemset (requires pathogen.vim):

autocmd FileType ruby let &l:tags = pathogen#legacyjoin(pathogen#uniq(
      \ pathogen#split(&tags) +
      \ map(split($GEM_PATH,':'),'v:val."/gems/*/tags"')))

Tim Pope doesn't like to get crazy. ;-)


Copyright (c) Tim Pope; Lukáš Zapletal. MIT License.