Leverage the power of Vim's compiler plugins without being bound by synchronicity. Kick off builds and test suites using one of several asynchronous adapters (including tmux, screen, iTerm, Windows, and a headless mode), and when the job completes, errors will be loaded and parsed automatically.
If that doesn't excite you, then perhaps this video will change your mind.
If you don't have a preferred installation method, I recommend installing pathogen.vim, and then simply copy and paste:
cd ~/.vim/bundle git clone git://github.com/tpope/vim-dispatch.git
The core of Vim's compiler system is
:make, a command similar to
that runs a build tool and parses the resulting errors. The default build
tool is of course
make, but you can switch it (and the associated error
:compiler. There are lots of built-in compilers, and they do
more than just compile things. Plus you can make your own.
We'll start by looking at dispatch.vim's
:Make, and then
move on to higher abstractions.
Kick off quick tasks with
:Make. What happens next depends on which adapter
- If you're in tmux, a small split will be opened at the bottom.
- If you have iTerm running, a new tab is opened.
- On Windows, a minimized cmd.exe window is spawned.
- Otherwise, you get a plain old
When the task completes, the window closes, the errors are loaded and parsed, and the quickfix window automatically opens. At no point will your focus be stolen.
:Make! for longer running tasks, like "run the entire test suite".
- If you're in tmux or GNU screen, a new window is created in the background.
- If you have iTerm running, a new tab is opened but not selected.
- Windows still spawns a minimized cmd.exe window.
- Otherwise, you get a headless invocation. You can't see it, but it's running in the background.
You won't be interrupted with a quickfix window for a background build.
Instead, open it at your leisure with
You can also use
:Copen on a build that's still running to retrieve and
parse any errors that have already happened.
As hinted earlier, it's easy to switch compilers.
:compiler rubyunit :make test/models/user_test.rb
Wait, that's still twice as many commands as it needs to be. Plus, it
requires you to make the leap from
testrb (the executable) to
(the compiler plugin). The
:Dispatch command looks for a compiler for an
executable and sets it up automatically.
:Dispatch testrb test/models/user_test.rb
If no compiler plugin is found,
:Dispatch simply captures all output.
:Dispatch bundle install
:make, you can use
% expansions for the current filename.
:Dispatch rspec %
:Dispatch command switches the compiler back afterwards, so you can pick
a primary compiler for
:Make, and use
:Dispatch for secondary concerns.
With no arguments,
:Dispatch looks for a
b:dispatch variable. You
can set it interactively, or in an autocommand:
autocmd FileType java let b:dispatch = 'javac %'
b:dispatch is found, it falls back to
:Dispatch makes a great map:
nnoremap <F9> :Dispatch<CR>
:FocusDispatch (or just
:Focus) to temporarily, globally override the
:Focus rake spec:models
Now every bare call to
:Dispatch will call
:Dispatch rake spec:models.
You'll be getting a lot of mileage out of that
:Focus! to reset back to the default.
Spawning interactive processes
Sometimes you just want to kick off a process without any output capturing or
error parsing. That's what
:Start is for:
:Start lein repl
:Make, the new window will be in focus, since the idea is that you
want to interact with it. Use
:Start! to launch it in the background.
Using dispatch.vim from a plugin is a simple matter of checking for and using
:Start if they're available instead of
favorite plugin already supports it, assuming your favorite plugin is
How can I have
:Make!open the quickfix window on completion?
:Make. The entire point of the
! is to run in the
background without interrupting you.
But that blocks Vim.
Then the adapter in use doesn't support foreground builds. Adjust your setup.
Copyright © Tim Pope. Distributed under the same terms as Vim itself.