My vim configuration; packaged to be other-user-friendly
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This is a vim configuration created by duwanis. It includes a few niceties for Ruby/Rails development, as well as a few MacVim/Gui specific options - but is mostly composed of general tools to improve the Vim editing experience. The one exception is that this configuration necessitates a *nix system (Mac OS X, Linux, etc.) in order to work properly. But you're probably on *nix anyway if you want to use Vim, so that's probably not a big deal.

A couple of the plugins (namely, Command-T and Conque) require Vim to be compiled with Ruby and/or Python support in order to operate correctly. Be aware of that if you run into any problems.


This config is written to be newbie-friendly - basically, when I introduce someone to Vim, I want to be able to say "go through the vim tutorial, then copy my config, read the README, and you'll be good to go." So I've tried to be explicit here, but you shouldn't expect to pick this config up and run with it if you've never used Vim before - go through the vim tutorial (:help vimtutor) first, at least. :)


Though you'll probably want to just examine this vim config to see what I've used, if you're TOTALLY new to vim, you might want to install it and try it out yourself. That's cool. Here's how:

  1. Fork this repository (so you have your own copy for when you want to make changes).
  2. Install the homesick gem (this makes it really easy): sudo gem install homesick
  3. Install your copy of the vim_config repository using homesick: homesick clone your_github_username/vim_config (assuming you cloned it on github)
  4. Symlink it using homesick: homesick symlink your_github_username/vim_config
  5. Done.
  6. ...unless you want to use command-T, which requires that you build some stuff first.
  7. cd ~/.vim/ruby/command-t && ruby extconf.rb && make takes care of that, though.


Currently, this vim configuration ships with the following plugins:

It also contains a few special syntax files:

  • Haml/Sass
  • Markdown

You can follow the links above to see the original source of each included plugin, but I've also described them later in this document.

Where possible, each plugin is pulled in as a git submodule, so you can stay up-to-date on the latest developments. Sometimes this isn't possible, though, so be sure to check for the latest versions of plugins.


All plugins, syntax files, etc. are stored in the 'usual' place. There are three 'custom' folders, though, that you should be aware of.

  • external - the external folder is where all the git-submodules are stored, for plugins that are kept on github.
  • config - this is where all the custom config files are kept. If you look in the vimrc file, you'll see where everything in this folder is loaded recursively (even subfolders, if you're obsessive about organizing your config settings).
  • config/private - this folder is included in .gitignore in case you have some personal stuff that you don't want to share (for example, if you want to blog using vim, but you don't want to keep your username and password in a git repository somewhere :D).


  • in Vim, you can define a mapleader key, which you can then use for keybindings. I personally prefer to use the semicolon (';') for the mapleader, since it's right there on the home row. If you'd like to change it to something else (it defaults to '\', and I know several people who prefer the comma (',')), you can find that setting in the vimrc file. For the rest of this README I'll use <Leader> to indicate a keybinding that makes use of the mapleader - e.g. <Leader>t means hit <Leader> (the semicolon, unless you've changed it) and then the t key.
  • Vim's default navigation keys - h,j,k, and l, can be used to navigate between windows if preceded by Ctrl-W. I do this often enough (and hate hitting Ctrl enough) that I've created bindings to do this with the mapleader: <Leader>h,<Leader>j,<Leader>k, and <Leader>l.
  • In a similar fashion, I've created bindings for :w! and :q! : <Leader>w and <Leader>q.
  • Every once in a while I open a file that I don't have write access to (a file that Root owns, for example), make some changes, and go to save only to find out that I don't have the appropriate permissions. Thanks to vim/config/sudoW, you can run :SudoW to write to the file with sudo (assuming you're lucky enough to be in the sudoers file on whatever machine you're using, anyway ;)).
  • Tab-completion is enabled on the command-line (:...), the settings for this are found in vim/config/completion.vim.
  • General display settings (color theme, statusbar, etc.) can be found in vim/config/display.vim.
  • General editing settings (indentation settings, etc.) can be found in vim/config/editing.vim.).
  • GUI-specific settings are located in vim/config/gui.vim.
  • Search-related settings (incremental search, highlighting of search terms, and the like) are found in vim/config/search.vim.
  • Temporary files are kept in one central location so that they don't clutter your project folders. Rather than warning you when you open a file that already has a swapfile (e.g. a file that's open in another vim session), vim should now quietly let you edit the file, which is much less annoying. These settings can be found in vim/config/tempfiles.vim.



Autoclose monitors when you type paired characters (like ", (, etc.) and automatically places the closing character for you. e.g. you can type " and autoclose will automatically change it to "|" (where the '|' in this case represents your cursor location).


BufExplorer is a quick way to switch around between windows. You can run :help bufexplorer to see the full information, or just make use of the <Leader>be keybinding to bring up the BufExplorer window while you've got a few buffers open to see it in action.

BufExplorer is configured in vim/config/bufexplorer.vim


BufOnly is a simple plugin that closes all buffers but the currently open one. Useful for when you've got a bunch of buffers open that aren't pertinent any more (e.g. you're switching to a different project now, etc.). I've mapped the BufOnly command to the <Leader>bo keychain.


In the Mac OS X application TextMate, you can use Cmd-t to do a 'fuzzy' search for files in your current working directory. Command-T is a plugin that duplicates this functionality - using <Leader>t by default. Just start typing and you'll see it in action. The config settings I've made are in vim\config\commandt.vim.


Conque is awesome. It allows you to run (and interact with) any executable inside vim. This means that you can run a shell, irb, script/console, or any similar tool inside of a vim buffer. I've got a few default bindings set up as follows (each of these, by default, opens the new buffer in a new horizontally-split window):

  • <Leader>ss - this starts your $SHELL in a new buffer.
  • <Leader>sc - this starts ./script/console in a new buffer.
  • <Leader>si - this starts irb in a new buffer.
  • <Leader>sx - this starts... whatever you want :) it prompts you to enter the executable you want to run, and then starts it in a new buffer.


Dbext is a very powerful plugin that provides database integration with vim. For the most part, this is included because Rails.vim plays very nicely with it, but you can also use it on its own if you prefer.


Endwise attempts to intelligently insert 'end' in Ruby/VimL. It's likely not useful if you're working with other languages.


Fugitive is an awesome git wrapper for Vim. When you're working in a git repository, the following keybindings are available for you:

  • <Leader>gs - bring up Fugitive's GitStatus window.
  • <Leader>gc - bring up a window for committing the current changes to git.
  • <Leader>gp - push your changes to origin master.

I also added a couple of git-svn keychains:

  • <Leader>gnd - git svn dcommit (push your git revisions to subversion)
  • <Leader>gnr - git svn rebase (pull the latest from subversion and integrate it with your local changes)

:help fugitive will let you browse the full documentation for fugitive.

You can also check the configuration changes I made in vim/config/fugitive.vim.


Gist.vim is a simple plugin for integrating with Github's code-sharing service, Gist. :Gist to post the current buffer to a new gist, :Gist -p posts a new private one, etc., etc. - check the plugin's page for more detailed instructions.


NERDCommenter is a nice plugin that allows you to comment/uncomment lines of code quickly and easily. I've set up a keybinding for it so that <Leader>c will toggle the comment status ofthe current line of code (that is, comment it if it's not already commented, or uncomment it if it is already commented). This also works with line-motion commands - for example, 3<Leader>c will comment the next 3 lines of code, G<Leader>c will comment every line until the end of the file, etc. You can run :help NERDCommenter to see the help info, and check out the config changes I've made in vim/config/nerdcommenter.vim.


NERDTree is a file-navigation buffer that works like the 'drawer' in other editors. It gives you quick and easy access to the file tree for your current working directory, a way to bookmark directories so that you can access them later, and lots of other nice functionality. <Leader>d is configured to toggle the 'drawer' buffer for you. You'll also want to check out the help - :help NERDTree, or simply press ? while you're in the NERDTree buffer to see the list of keyboard shortcuts you can use. The configuration for NERDTree is present in vim/config/nerdtree.vim.


Rails.vim provides a lot of nice functionality for working with Rails applications. There's a lot of really cool functionality that would take a while to explain - if you do any rails work, you should run :help rails-introduction and read up on everything that it offers.

I've made a couple of config changes to rails.vim (mostly changing the automatic 2-space setting that it uses for indentation, since I'm required to use 3 spaces at work), which can be found in vim/config/rails.vim.


rvm.vim allows you to place an indicator in your status line that determines which Ruby/Gemset you're currently using through RVM (the Ruby Version Manager). Although I highly recommend using RVM if you're a Rubyist, you can simply remove rvm.vim if you don't find this helpful.


SnipMate gives you snippets - pieces of often typed text you can insert into your document using a trigger word. Checkout the help files (:help snipmate) or view the plugin's website at for more specifics.


Space.vim allows you to use the key as a repeat key for some complex motion commands (most notably for me, searching - I can search for something and then hit space to move forward and shift-space to move backwards through the results). Run :help space-intro to read up on it.


Surround.vim allows you to do fancy things with surrounding characters/strings... it's really useful if you're working in a tag-based language like HTML or XML. I could describe it more fully here, but the help file has a more than sufficient explanation and tutorial: :help surround.


Syntastic provides syntax-checking for you when you load/write to a buffer. It has syntax checkers for several popular programming languages/markup languages (look in vim/syntax_checkers/ for the full list), and will automatically flag any errors/warnings it finds. You can check the helpfile for it at :help syntastic, and see the configuration settings I use in vim/config/syntastic.vim.


TailMinusF allows you to open a buffer that watches the contents of a file in a similar fashion to the UNIX command tail -f (hence the name). This is mostly included as a dependency to Rails.vim, but you can use it on its own via the :Tail command.


VimClojure provides some syntax coloring, etc. for the Clojure language. It can also provide a lot more if you want to set up a server that it can communicate to. I don't, so the setup here is pretty simple. Check the website for instructions if you're curious on what else it can do, though.


YankRing adds the equivalent of Emacs' "Kill Ring" to Vim. It wraps Vim's default yank/delete mechanisms and allows you to easily work with the last n items that you've put in Vim's registries - it's sort of a clipboard manager for Vim.

:help yankring will give you the full rundown as well as a tutorial.

You can also view the configuration I've set up by examining vim/config/yankring.vim.