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TextObjectify is a Vim plugin which improves text-objects
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Vim's text-objects are an extremely powerful tool. However, there are some peculiar lackings in how they operate out-of-the-box. The TextObjectify plugin attempts to rectify these peculiarities as well as add the ability to allow the user to create custom text-objects or even create text-objects on-the-fly if a object is provided that does not already exist.

The peculiarities that TextObjectify attempts to resolve have to do with the mutually-exclusive functionality of the parenthesis-like text-objects and the quote-like text-objects. The parenthesis-like text-objects are all able to operate on objects that cover multiple lines; however, the cursor must be on/within the object for it to work. The quote-like text-objects only work on a single line. However, with the quote-like text-objects, the cursor will seek ahead and jump to a text object if the cursor is not already within one.

For example, consider a buffer that contains nothing but the following:

some example code.
section is multiple lines

if (getinput() == "yes") {
    print "this is an example"
    counter += 1

If the cursor is on the p in print and the user types


The area between the { and } characters will be selected. However, if the cursor is on the s in some and the user types


nothing will happen, because quote-like text-objects do not work on multiple lines. With TextObjectify, the two lines between the triple quote sets will be selected - the parenthesis-style text-object functionality will apply.

If the cursor is on the p in print and the user types


the string this is an example will be selected, because quote-style text-objects seek forward on the same line when looking for an object. However, if the cursor is on the i in if and the user types


nothing will happen, because parenthesis-like text-objects do not seek if they are not in already within a text-object. With TextObjectify, the region between the parenthesis will be selected.

In addition to improving how existing text-objects function, TextObjectify allows user to create custom text-objects. To serve as examples, TextObjectify comes with two custom text objects: <cr> will operate over the entire buffer and V will operate over a block of viml. With default TextObjectify, if a user types


the entire buffer will be stored within the quoteplus register.

Consider a buffer that contains the following:

if nr2char(getchar()) == g:quitmap
    echo "Quitting example"
    return 0

If the cursor is on any of the lines shown and the user enters viV, the echo and return lines will be selected.

Moreover, TextObjectify has the ability to create text-objects on-the-fly if an object is requested that is not provided by Vim out of the box and is not one of TextObjectify's custom text objects. Whatever character is provided becomes the delimiter for either side. For example, if the buffer contains the following:

LaTeX documents can show colors such as red, blue, green, and yellow.
Additionally, they can show pretty mathematics such as $\int x^2dx$.

If the user would like to select an area between commas, there is no need to plan ahead and create such a custom text-object. The user can simply enter "vi," and TextObjectify will create a text-object with commas as delimiters on either side. Similarly, the user could type "ci$" to change the area between the dollar signs without having to create a custom text-object ahead of time.


TextObjectify can be installed like most other Vim plugins. On a Unixy system without a plugin manager, the textobjectify.vim file should be located at:


On a Unixy system with pathogen, the textobjectify.vim file should be located at:


On a Windows system without a plugin manager, the textobjectify.vim file should be located at:


On a Windows system with pathogen, the textobjectify.vim file should be located at:


If you are using a plugin manager other than pathogen, see its documentation for how to install TextObjectify - it should be comparable to other plugins.

If you would like the documentation to also be installed, include textobjectify.txt into the relevant directory described above, replacing plugin with doc.

TextObjectify should have same defaults and be useful without any additional configuration. However, to get the most out of TextObjectify, it is recommended that you configure it to your own tastes.


There are a handful of global variables which can be set to tweak how TextObjectify operates. The main one is g:textobjectify which contains information on how to treat all custom text-objects or modifications of existing text-objects. The others tweak how on-the-fly text-objects function.

All TextObjectify objects have the following attributes:

  • 'left': Regex for the left delimiter
  • 'right': Regex for the right delimiter
  • 'same': Set to 1 to have object prioritize same-line objects over multi-line objects. That is, if the situation is ambiguous, act like quote-like text-objects normally do. Otherwise, set to 0 to have the object act like parenthesis-like text-objects normally do.
  • 'seek': Sets whether or not to search for a text-object if the cursor is not already within one. if 'seek' is 0, no seeking is done, i.e., if the cursor is not already within the text-object abort. if 'seek' is 1, search forward for a text-object if the cursor is not already in one. If 'seek' is 2, search backward for a text-object if the cursor is not already in one. The parenthesis-style text-objects come in pairs - TextObjectify defaults to having the left item of the pairs search forward and the right item search backwards.
  • 'line': If set to '1', it will force the object to act as though it is selected linewise. The V text-object which TextObjectify comes with acts this way.

g:textobjectify is a Dictionary. Each key is the character which is used to select the object. The values are Dictionaries with the above five attributes. For example, the default g:textobjectify is:

let g:textobjectify = {
            \'(': {'left': '(', 'right': ')', 'same': 0, 'seek': 1, 'line': 0},
            \')': {'left': '(', 'right': ')', 'same': 0, 'seek': 2, 'line': 0},
            \'{': {'left': '{', 'right': '}', 'same': 0, 'seek': 1, 'line': 0},
            \'}': {'left': '{', 'right': '}', 'same': 0, 'seek': 2, 'line': 0},
            \'[': {'left': '\[', 'right': '\]', 'same': 0, 'seek': 1, 'line': 0},
            \']': {'left': '\[', 'right': '\]', 'same': 0, 'seek': 2, 'line': 0},
            \'<': {'left': '<', 'right': '>', 'same': 0, 'seek': 1, 'line': 0},
            \'>': {'left': '<', 'right': '>', 'same': 0, 'seek': 2, 'line': 0},
            \'"': {'left': '"', 'right': '"', 'same': 1, 'seek': 1, 'line': 0},
            \"'": {'left': "'", 'right': "'", 'same': 1, 'seek': 1, 'line': 0},
            \'`': {'left': '`', 'right': '`', 'same': 1, 'seek': 1, 'line': 0},
            \'V': {'left': '^\s*\(if\|for\|function\|try\|while\)\>',
                \'right': '^\s*end', 'same': 0, 'seek': 1, 'line': 1},
            \"\<cr>": {'left': '\%^', 'right': '\%$', 'same': 0, 'seek': 0,
            \'line': 0},

This sets how the parenthesis-like text-objects, the quote-like text-objects, and the two new text-objects operate. This is a good reference if you want to make your own.

To create modify or create a new text-object, copy the above lines into your vimrc and adjust accordingly. Note that if you create a g:textobjectify in your vimrc it overwrites all of TextObjectify's default values. Thus if you create an empty g:textobjectify all objects default will act as they would without TextObjectify installed - quote-like text-objects will not act on multiple lines, etc.

By default, TextObjectify will create new text-objects on-the-fly if a mapping is called that does not correspond to an existing text-object (either one of Vim's defaults or one provided by TextObjectify). To disable this, set g:textobjectify_onthefly to 0.

The 'same', 'seek' and 'line' attributes of on-the-fly text-objects can be customized by setting the g:textobjectify_onthefly_same, g:textobjectify_onthefly_seek, and g:textobjectify_onthefly_line variables to the desired value. Otherwise, they default to 0, 1, and 0, respectively.


0.1 (2013-04-06):

  • initial release
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