Extended session management for Vim
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README.md

Extended session management for Vim

The session.vim plug-in improves upon Vim's built-in :mksession command by enabling you to easily and (if you want) automatically persist and restore your Vim editing sessions. It works by generating a Vim script that restores your current settings and the arrangement of tab pages and/or split windows and the files they contain.

To persist your current editing session you can execute the :SaveSession command. If you don't provide a name for the session 'default' is used. You're free to use whatever characters you like in session names. When you want to restore your session simply execute :OpenSession. Again the name 'default' is used if you don't provide one. When a session is active, has been changed and you quit Vim you'll be prompted whether you want to save the open session before quitting Vim:

Screenshot of auto-save prompt

When you start Vim without editing any files and the 'default' session exists, you'll be prompted whether you want to restore the default session:

Screenshot of auto-open prompt

When you start Vim with a custom server name that matches one of the existing session names then the matching session will be automatically restored. For example I use several sessions to quickly edit my Vim plug-ins:

$ gvim --servername easytags-plugin
$ gvim --servername session-plugin
$ # etc.

The session scripts created by this plug-in are stored in the directory ~/.vim/sessions (on UNIX) or ~\vimfiles\sessions (on Windows) but you can change the location by setting g:session_directory. If you're curious what the session scripts generated by session.vim look like see the sample below.

Installation

Unzip the most recent ZIP archive file inside your Vim profile directory (usually this is ~/.vim on UNIX and %USERPROFILE%\vimfiles on Windows), restart Vim and execute the command :helptags ~/.vim/doc (use :helptags ~\vimfiles\doc instead on Windows). After you restart Vim the following commands will be available to you:

Commands

The :SaveSession command

This command saves your current editing session just like Vim's built-in :mksession command does. The difference is that you don't pass a full pathname as argument but just a name, any name really. Press <Tab> to get completion of existing session names. If you don't provide an argument the name 'default' is used, unless an existing session is open in which case the name of that session will be used.

If the session you're trying to save is already active in another Vim instance you'll get a warning and nothing happens. You can use a bang (!) as in :SaveSession! ... to ignore the warning and save the session anyway.

Your session script will be saved in the directory pointed to by the g:session_directory option.

The :OpenSession command

This command is basically :source in disguise, but it supports tab completion of session names and it executes :CloseSession before opening the session. When you don't provide a session name and only a single session exists then that session is opened, otherwise the plug-in will ask you to select one from a list:

Please select the session to restore:

 1. vim-profile
 2. session-plugin
 3. etc.

Type number and <Enter> or click with mouse (empty cancels):

If the session you're trying to open is already active in another Vim instance you'll get a warning and nothing happens. You can use a bang (!) as in :OpenSession! ... to ignore the warning and open the session anyway.

Note also that when you use a bang (!) right after the command name existing tab pages and windows are closed, discarding any changes in the files you were editing!

The :RestartVim command

This command saves your current editing session, restarts Vim and restores your editing session. This can come in handy when you're debugging Vim scripts which can't be easily/safely reloaded using a more lightweight approach. It should work fine on Windows and UNIX alike but because of technical limitations it only works in graphical Vim.

Any commands following the :RestartVim command are intercepted and executed after Vim is restarted and your session has been restored. This makes it easy to perform manual tests which involve restarting Vim, e.g. :RestartVim | edit /path/to/file | call MyTest().

The :CloseSession command

This command closes all but the current tab page and window and then edits a new, empty buffer. If a session is loaded when you execute this command the plug-in will first ask you whether you want to save that session.

Note that when you use a bang (!) right after the command name existing tab pages and windows are closed, discarding any changes in the files you were editing!

The :DeleteSession command

Using this command you can delete any of the sessions created by this plug-in. If the session you are trying to delete is currently active in another Vim instance you'll get a warning and nothing happens. You can use a bang (!) as in :DeleteSession! ... to ignore the warning and delete the session anyway.

Note that this command only deletes the session script, it leaves your open tab pages and windows exactly as they were.

The :ViewSession command

Execute this command to view the Vim script generated for a session. This command is useful when you need to review the generated Vim script repeatedly, for example while debugging or modifying the session.vim plug-in.

Options

The sessionoptions setting

Because the session.vim plug-in uses Vim's :mksession command you can change how it works by setting 'sessionoptions' in your [vimrc script] vimrc, for example:

" If you only want to save the current tab page:
set sessionoptions-=tabpages

" If you don't want help windows to be restored:
set sessionoptions-=help

Note that the session.vim plug-in automatically and unconditionally executes the following changes just before saving a session:

" Don't persist options and mappings because it can corrupt sessions.
set sessionoptions-=options

" Always persist Vim's window size.
set sessionoptions+=resize

The g:session_directory option

This option controls the location of your session scripts. Its default value is ~/.vim/sessions (on UNIX) or ~\vimfiles\sessions (on Windows). If you don't mind the default you don't have to do anything; the directory will be created for you. Note that a leading ~ is expanded to your current home directory ($HOME on UNIX, %USERPROFILE% on Windows).

The g:session_autoload option

By default this option is set to 'prompt'. This means that when you start Vim without opening any files and the default session script exists, the session plug-in will ask whether you want to restore your default session. When you set this option to 'yes' and you start Vim without opening any files the default session will be restored without a prompt. To completely disable automatic loading you can set this option to 'no'.

The g:session_autosave option

By default this option is set to 'prompt'. When you've opened a session and you quit Vim, the session plug-in will ask whether you want to save the changes to your session. Set this option to 'yes' to always automatically save open sessions when you quit Vim. To completely disable automatic saving you can set this option to 'no'.

The g:session_default_to_last option

By default this option is set to false (0). When you set this option to true (1) and you start Vim, the session plug-in will open your last used session instead of the default session. Note that the session plug-in will still show you the dialog asking whether you want to restore the last used session. To get rid of the dialog you have to set g:session_autoload to 'yes'.

The g:session_persist_globals option

The session.vim plug-in uses Vim's [:mksession] mksession command but it changes 'sessionoptions' so that Vim options and mappings are not persisted. The plug-in does this because persistence of options and mappings can break loading of sessions, in other words it's fragile (in my opinion).

If you want the plug-in to persist specific global variables or options you can add their names to the list g:session_persist_globals in your [vimrc script] vimrc:

" Persist the value of the global option 'makeprg'.
let g:session_persist_globals = ['&makeprg']

Because the [vimrc script] vimrc is loaded before the plug-in you have to define the list yourself. To persist multiple values:

" Persist all options related to :make.
let g:session_persist_globals = ['&makeprg', '&makeef']

Here's how you persist global variables: (in this case the variables of the session plug-in itself :-)

" Persist the options of the session plug-in using the session plug-in...
let g:session_persist_globals = ['&sessionoptions']
call add(g:session_persist_globals, 'g:session_autoload')
call add(g:session_persist_globals, 'g:session_autosave')
call add(g:session_persist_globals, 'g:session_default_to_last')
call add(g:session_persist_globals, 'g:session_persist_globals')

The example above doesn't persist the g:session_directory variable because this variable is used before loading a session script so persisting it inside the session script is pointless.

The g:session_restart_environment option

This option is a list of environment variable names (without the dollar signs) that the :RestartVim command will pass on to the new instance of Vim. This option is only useful on UNIX. By default the three environment variables $TERM, $VIM and $VIMRUNTIME are included in this list.

The g:session_command_aliases option

The names of the commands defined by the session plug-in start with the action they perform, followed by the string 'Session'. Some people prefer it the other way around because they find it easier to remember and you can type :Session<Tab> to get completion of all available commands (actually this works with the other style as well if you type :*Session<Tab> but I digress). If you are one of those people you can enable this option in your [vimrc script] vimrc like this:

:let g:session_command_aliases = 1

When this option is enabled the session plug-in will define the following command aliases:

  • SessionOpen is an alias for OpenSession
  • SessionView is an alias for ViewSession
  • SessionSave is an alias for SaveSession
  • SessionDelete is an alias for DeleteSession
  • SessionClose is an alias for CloseSession

The aliases support tab completion just like the real commands; they're exactly the same except for the names.

The g:loaded_session option

This variable isn't really an option but if you want to avoid loading the session.vim plug-in you can set this variable to any value in your [vimrc script] vimrc:

:let g:loaded_session = 1

Compatibility with other plug-ins

Vim's :mksession command isn't fully compatible with plug-ins that create buffers with generated content and because of this session.vim includes specific workarounds for such plug-ins:

If your favorite plug-in doesn't work with session.vim drop me a mail and I'll see what I can do. Please include a link to the plug-in in your e-mail so that I can install and test the plug-in.

Known issues

Recently this plug-in switched from reimplementing :mksession to actually using it because this was the only way to support complex split window layouts. Only after making this change did I realize :mksession doesn't support quickfix and location list windows and of course it turns out that bolting on support for these after the fact is going to complicate the plug-in significantly (in other words, I'm working on it but it might take a while...)

Contact

If you have questions, bug reports, suggestions, etc. the author can be contacted at peter@peterodding.com. The latest version is available at http://peterodding.com/code/vim/session/ and http://github.com/xolox/vim-session. If you like the script please vote for it on Vim Online.

License

This software is licensed under the MIT license.
© 2011 Peter Odding <peter@peterodding.com>.

Sample session script

Here's an example session script generated by the session.vim plug-in while I was editing the plug-in itself in Vim:

" ~/.vim/sessions/example.vim: Vim session script.
" Created by session.vim on 30 August 2010 at 05:26:28.
" Open this file in Vim and run :source % to restore your session.

set guioptions=aegit
set guifont=Monaco\ 13
if exists('g:syntax_on') != 1 | syntax on | endif
if exists('g:did_load_filetypes') != 1 | filetype on | endif
if exists('g:did_load_ftplugin') != 1 | filetype plugin on | endif
if exists('g:did_indent_on') != 1 | filetype indent on | endif
if !exists('g:colors_name') || g:colors_name != 'slate' | colorscheme slate | endif
call setqflist([])
let SessionLoad = 1
if &cp | set nocp | endif
let s:so_save = &so | let s:siso_save = &siso | set so=0 siso=0
let v:this_session=expand("<sfile>:p")
silent only
cd ~/Development/Vim/vim-session
if expand('%') == '' && !&modified && line('$') <= 1 && getline(1) == ''
  let s:wipebuf = bufnr('%')
endif
set shortmess=aoO
badd +473 ~/Development/Vim/vim-session/autoload.vim
badd +1 ~/Development/Vim/vim-session/README.md
badd +1 ~/Development/Vim/vim-session/session.vim
badd +1 ~/Development/Vim/vim-session/TODO.md
set lines=43 columns=167
edit ~/Development/Vim/vim-session/README.md
set splitbelow splitright
set nosplitbelow
set nosplitright
wincmd t
set winheight=1 winwidth=1
argglobal
let s:l = 28 - ((27 * winheight(0) + 21) / 42)
if s:l < 1 | let s:l = 1 | endif
exe s:l
normal! zt
28
normal! 0
tabedit ~/Development/Vim/vim-session/TODO.md
set splitbelow splitright
set nosplitbelow
set nosplitright
wincmd t
set winheight=1 winwidth=1
argglobal
let s:l = 6 - ((5 * winheight(0) + 21) / 42)
if s:l < 1 | let s:l = 1 | endif
exe s:l
normal! zt
6
normal! 0
tabedit ~/Development/Vim/vim-session/session.vim
set splitbelow splitright
set nosplitbelow
set nosplitright
wincmd t
set winheight=1 winwidth=1
argglobal
let s:l = 17 - ((16 * winheight(0) + 21) / 42)
if s:l < 1 | let s:l = 1 | endif
exe s:l
normal! zt
17
normal! 014l
tabedit ~/Development/Vim/vim-session/autoload.vim
set splitbelow splitright
set nosplitbelow
set nosplitright
wincmd t
set winheight=1 winwidth=1
argglobal
let s:l = 473 - ((41 * winheight(0) + 21) / 42)
if s:l < 1 | let s:l = 1 | endif
exe s:l
normal! zt
473
normal! 018l
tabnext 4
if exists('s:wipebuf')
  silent exe 'bwipe ' . s:wipebuf
endif
unlet! s:wipebuf
set winheight=1 winwidth=1 shortmess=filnxtToO
let s:sx = expand("<sfile>:p:r")."x.vim"
if file_readable(s:sx)
  exe "source " . fnameescape(s:sx)
endif
let &so = s:so_save | let &siso = s:siso_save
doautoall SessionLoadPost
unlet SessionLoad