VER – Vim & Emacs in Ruby
VER is a “text editor” in the tradition of Emacs, providing a whole environment
around your editing experience.
It also borrows heavily from Vim, most prominently modal editing and the
default keyboard map.
Finally, I also have to thank the TextMate developers and community, because we
are standing on their shoulders by reusing the syntax definitions and completion
routines as long as they are under an acceptable license (no code of TM is
At the time of writing, around 140 different languages have syntax highlighting
and around 130 languages have extended capabilities like completion or automatic
- You will need to install tk if it isn’t on your system already.
Detailed installation instructions for all major platforms and more
information about Tcl/Tk are available at: Tcl/Tk Project
- In an attempt to make VER available for all Ruby implementations, I wrote an
alternative for ruby-tk, called ffi-tk.
Eventually it should be available as a gem, but for now you can get the source
from manveru/ffi-tk on github
No compilation required.
- Only a `gem install eventmachine` away:
- VER and ffi-tk are 100% (hopefully straightforward) Ruby.
- Syntax highlighting for around 140 file types.
- Keymaps for Vim, Emacs, Nano, and Diakonos behaviour.
- Intelligent indentation based on file type.
- Automatic completion for words, lines, aspell, and more.
- Support for TextMate bundles and snippets.
- Recursive fuzzy file finding
- Recusive pattern grepping
- Find and replace using oniguruma
- Unlimited undo
- In-buffer ruby evaluation, can also be used for text manipulation
- CTags support
- much more…
For Tcl/Tk there are various instructions available from
VER only runs on Ruby 1.9.1+, but should run on any implementation conforming to
the corresponding specification because no C extensions are involved.
At the time of writing, VER should run on MRI and JRuby (with —1.9 switch).
This means that there is no need to follow all the complicated instructions to
get Ruby and Tk to work together, you do need to install both however.
A couple of hints that should help you get started on any platform.
See further below for detailed instructions for specific platforms, feel free to
contribute additional information as you encounter issues.
Installing RVM will show you how to
install rvm, which is the best way to get Ruby 1.9.1 on platforms that have no
Once rvm installed, a simple
rvm install 1.9.1 and
rvm use 1.9.1 should get
Tk is easy to install in most cases, for Windows there is ActiveTcl, and there
are packages for every linux distribution i know.
OSX poses a unique challenge, it does ship with Tk 8.4there on one hand TkAqua,
which uses the old Carbon UI, and on the other hand X11/Tk, which requires X11
to be installed (I hear it’s part of XCode).
Users have reported best functionality under X11.
Since VER doesn’t use any buttons, sliders, or entry widgets, the difference
should be very hard to notice.
Additionally, there is a developer working on a Tk-Cocoa port, which should be
ready in the near future.
Installation on Archlinux is simple, as Ruby 1.9.1 and Tk 8.5.8 are the default
packages (in the extra repository).
pacman -S tk ruby
gem install ver
I plan to make a tarball release of VER sometime in the future to allow easy
installation from AUR.
At the time of writing, there are only a few options exposed.
Options can be changed in your ~/.config/ver/rc.rb where you can find a few
default settings already.
In earlier revisions of VER, options are often to subject change, so be aware
that at some point they might not work as expected anymore.
If options are deprecated or replaced, I will try to keep the configuration
working, but in early stages this is no priority.
There is a handful of plugins available right now, which you can use by adding
VER.plugin :name statements in your ~/.config/ver/rc.rb file.
The most stable ones are probably the git and autosave plugins.
So, to use the git plugin, put
VER.plugin :git in your rc.rb.
Please note that all plugins have only bindings in the vim keymap right now,
autosave doesn’t require any keybinds, so it works with all keymaps.
VER features 3 keymaps out of the box, Vim, Nano, and Diakonos, which are
constantly tested and improved.
As might be expected, the Vim keymap is not 100% complete, and I’m adding new
mappings as I become aware of them.
Vim is a fairly complex piece of software developed over the past 20 years, so
don’t expect full compatibility or behaviour in all cases.
An Emacs keymap is currently under development, but not ready for daily use.
We are searching for contributors that can provide keymaps for other editors.
To add a new keymap, put it under config/keymap/$name.rb and start VER with
ver -k $name
$name is a placeholder for the filename of the keymap you created.
So to try out nano, use
ver -k nano.
Yet another editor?
A little bit of philosophy
After many years of being a code ninja, it became apparent to me that there
could be as many editors as there are developers.
It feels to me, like there are many useless religious wars going on around this
seemingly simple topic, there is the church of emacs, the cult of vi, and many
other groups that don’t have chosen how to call themselves yet.
I’m guilty myself of telling people what to use, without really considering what
the consequences of my actions are.
A text editor should not be treated like a religion.
For one, everybody should be given an objective overview over the choices out
there. Recently, Wikipedia seems to have taken over this role, so I won’t invest
much energy into this topic.
What I find really interesting, is that only very few people even think of
attempting to write their own editor.
Maybe I’m suffering from a severe case of NIH, but i want to give everybody a
chance to see what’s involved. You can write an equivalent of nano in a couple
of days, but how much does it take to improve on the concepts of the great
I won’t say it’s an easy task, it’s more in the spirit of a Jedis building their
own laser-sword, once you reach a good enough proficiency in programming it
should be good practice to build your own tools, and what tool is more to
writing programs than an editor?
It also has other benefits, teaching you new things about yourself and the way
You will learn more about the strengths and weaknesses your language.
The next time you curse your editor, you can make it better.
I’ve used many editors over the years, and a lot of them have inspired me,
amongst them are Proton, JEdit, SciTE, Vim, Emacs, Nano, Gobby, GEdit, Kate…
However, Vim and Emacs can be considered the most prominent of the editors that
try to do much more than just editing text.
I’ve never had a big interest in IDEs, maybe because Ruby saves you from most of
the boilerplate that is usually associated with programming, and for most
dynamic languages they just don’t provide you that much.
Maybe, someday, VER will become for Ruby what Emacs is for Lisp.
I have very mixed feelings about that.
I tried to come up with a short name, that would give credit to my biggest
There is not much more to it.
VER is free and open software, we welcome anyone to use it and contribute.
The source is at “Github”:“http://github.com/manveru/ver”
For bug tracking, release-, and feature-planning, we use
You can join the tracker and help out with creating stories.
I’d like to thank following people:
- Aman Gupta and the folks in #eventmachine
Helping me and keeping me going crazy when I hit some weird C syntax.
- Francis Cianfrocca
EventMachine, making evented programming fun and even profitable.
- Julian Langschaedel
First user and contributor.
Inspiration through Diakonos and patience testing just about anything I throw
- Richard M. Stallman
- Yukihiro Matsumoto
Ruby, ruby-tk, and the knowledge that programmers can make a deep impact if
they are just persistent enough.
(The MIT License)
Copyright © 2009 Michael Fellinger
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of
this software and associated documentation files (the ‘Software’), to deal in
the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to
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the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so,
subject to the following conditions:
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copies or substantial portions of the Software.
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