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A custom text object for selecting ruby blocks.
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A custom text object for selecting ruby blocks.

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Depends on Kana's textobj-user plugin. Test suite requires vspec (also by Kana).

Also requires that the matchit.vim plugin is enabled. Ensure that the following line is included somewhere in your vimrc file:

runtime macros/matchit.vim


When textobj-rubyblock is installed you will gain two new text objects, which are triggered by ar and ir respectively. These follow Vim convention, so that ar selects all of a ruby block, and ir selects the inner portion of a rubyblock.

In ruby, a block is always closed with the end keyword. Ruby blocks may be opened using one of several keywords, including module, class, def if and do. This example demonstrates a few of these:

module Foo
  class Bar
    def Baz
      [1,2,3].each do |i|
        i + 1

Suppose your cursor was positioned on the word def. Typing var would enable visual mode selecting all of the method definition. Your selection would comprise the following lines:

def Baz
  [1,2,3].each do |i|
    i + 1

Whereas if you typed vir, you would select everything inside of the method definition, which looks like this:

[1,2,3].each do |i|
  i + 1

Note that the ar and ir text objects always enable visual line mode, even if you were in visual character or block mode before you triggered the rubyblock text object.

Note too that the ar and ir text objects always position your cursor on the end keyword. If you want to move to the top of the selection, you can do so with the o key.


Some text objects in Vim respond to a count. For example, the a{ text object will select all of the current {} delimited block, but if you prefix it with the number 2 (e.g. v2i{) then it will select all of the block that contains the current block. The rubyblock text object does not respond in this way if you prefix a count. This is due to a limitation in the textobj-user plugin.

However, you can achieve a similar effect by repeating the rubyblock text-object manually. So if you press var to select the current ruby block, you can expand your selection outwards by repeating ar, or contract your selection inwards by repeating ir.


Specs are currently broken. :-/

Running the specs

To run the specs, you call vspec as follows:

vspec {input-script} [{non-standard-runtimepath} ...]

In this case, the non-standard runtimepath must include the vspec plugin, the textobj-user plugin (which is a dependency for this plugin) and this plugin.

Assuming you use pathogen to manage your plugins, then the plugins required to run the test suite will be found in the following locations:


So to run the basic.input tests, you would run:

cd ~/dotfiles/vim/bundle/textobj-rubyblock
../vspec/bin/vspec test/basic.input ../vspec/ ../textobj-user/ .

Generating a vimball

To distribute the script on wrap it up as a vimball by following these steps:

  • open the file vimballer in Vim
  • set the variable g:vimball_home to the development directory of this plugin (e.g. run: :let g:vimball_home='~/dotfiles/vim/bundle/textobj-rubyblock')
  • visually select all lines in vimballer file
  • run '<,'>MkVimball! textobj-rubyblock.vba

That should create a file called textobj-rubyblock.vba which you can upload to


This plugin was built by Drew Neil, but the real credit goes to Kana, whose textobj-user plugin provides a framework for building custom text objects. I couldn't have created the rubyblock plugin without building on top of his hard work, so I'd like to say a big thanks to Kana.

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