sleuth.vim: Heuristically set buffer options
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.gitignore sleuth.vim 1.0 Dec 30, 2012
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This plugin automatically adjusts 'shiftwidth' and 'expandtab' heuristically based on the current file, or, in the case the current file is new, blank, or otherwise insufficient, by looking at other files of the same type in the current and parent directories. In lieu of adjusting 'softtabstop', 'smarttab' is enabled.

Compare to DetectIndent. I wrote this because I wanted something fully automatic. My goal is that by installing this plugin, you can remove all indenting related configuration from your vimrc.


Install using your favorite package manager, or use Vim's built-in package support:

mkdir -p ~/.vim/pack/tpope/start
cd ~/.vim/pack/tpope/start
git clone
vim -u NONE -c "helptags sleuth/doc" -c q


  • Searching for other files of the same type continues up the directory hierarchy until a match is found. This means, for example, the indent for the first file in a brand new Ruby project might very well be derived from your .irbrc. I consider this a feature.
  • If your file is consistently indented with hard tabs, 'shiftwidth' will be set to your 'tabstop'. Otherwise, a 'tabstop' of 8 is enforced.
  • The algorithm is rolled from scratch, fairly simplistic, and only lightly battle tested. It's probably not (yet) as good as DetectIndent. Let me know what it fails on for you.


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Copyright © Tim Pope. Distributed under the same terms as Vim itself. See :help license.