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Initialize new Vim buffers with file-type-specific templates
VimL Ruby C++


Initialize new Vim buffers with file-type-specific templates

Build Status


  • Automatically populate new buffers with file-type-specific templates
  • Include dynamic text in your templates with simple placeholders
  • Create custom placeholders that are replaced by functions you define
  • Define custom replacements based on file-type
  • Define custom templates based on filename and containing directory
  • Simple convention-over-configuration design (no configuration required)


The Basics

Add something like the following to ~/.vim/templates/skel.xml:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>

And when you create a new buffer, e.g., books.xml, it will be initialized with your template:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
    [cursor is here]

It differs from a snippet plug-in in that it is concerned with initializing new buffers with boilerplate text without any manual intervention such as triggering a snippet.

vim-skeleton stays out of your way: it will never load a template unless the buffer is empty and is not associated with an existing file on disk. And if you don't happen to want to use the template for a particular file, hitting undo (u) restores your empty buffer.

Template Precedence

Out of the box, vim-skeleton will attempt to load <parent_dir_name>.<ext>. So for example, editing a new buffer with name app/controllers/user_controller.rb will attempt to load controllers.rb and fall back to skel.rb if not found. The plug-in can be extended with your own rules for loading templates and doing your own processing of template files (such as doing custom substitutions). See :help skeleton-config for details.

Provided Commands

Use the :SkelEdit[!] command for quick access to the currently loaded template file (or a specific template if specified).

Use the :SkelInsert[!] command to load a specific template or force insertion of a template when automatic insertion wouldn't normally be triggered.

See :help skeleton-commands for details.


vim-skeleton is installed just about the same way as any other Vim plug-in. The only extra step is creating your templates directory and adding templates to it. By default, vim-skeleton looks in ~/.vim/templates, but this can be changed (see :help skeleton-config).

To get started, try:

mkdir -p ~/.vim/templates
echo "Hello world" > ~/.vim/templates/skel.txt
vim hello.txt



Tests are written for vspec, which can be installed via vim-flavor:

bundle install
vim-flavor install

The test suite can then be run via the rake task:

rake test


The documentation in doc/ is generated from the plug-in source code via vimdoc. Do not edit doc/skeleton.txt directly. Refer to the existing inline documentation as a guide for documenting new code.

The help doc can be rebuilt by running:

rake doc
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