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Semantic highlighting for Lua in Vim
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Semantic highlighting for Lua in Vim

The Vim plug-in luainspect.vim uses the LuaInspect tool to (automatically) perform semantic highlighting of variables in Lua source code. It was inspired by lua2-mode (for Emacs) and the SciTE plug-in included with LuaInspect.


  1. Unzip the most recent ZIP archive file inside your Vim profile directory (usually this is ~/.vim on UNIX and %USERPROFILE%\vimfiles on Windows) and move or symlink the file luainspect4vim.lua somewhere where Lua's require() function can find it.

  2. Download the latest LuaInspect sources and unpack the contents of the luainspectlib/ and metalualib/ directories where Lua's require() function can find them.

  3. Restart Vim and edit any Lua file. Within a few seconds semantic highlighting should be enabled automatically.


When you open any Lua file the semantic highlighting should be enabled automatically within a few seconds, so you don't have to configure anything if you're happy with the defaults.

The :LuaInspect command

You shouldn't need to execute this command manually unless you've disabled automatic highlighting using the g:lua_inspect_automatic option. When you execute the :LuaInspect command the plug-in runs LuaInspect and then highlights all variables in the current buffer using one of the following highlighting groups:

  • luaInspectGlobalDefined
  • luaInspectGlobalUndefined
  • luaInspectLocalUnused
  • luaInspectLocalMutated
  • luaInspectUpValue
  • luaInspectParam
  • luaInspectLocal
  • luaInspectFieldDefined
  • luaInspectFieldUndefined

The g:lua_inspect_automatic option

By default semantic highlighting is automatically enabled after a short timeout. If you don't want this you can add the following to your vimrc script:

:let g:lua_inspect_automatic = 0

The g:lua_inspect_internal option

The plug-in can use the Lua interface for Vim so it doesn't have to run LuaInspect as an external program (which can slow things down). This feature isn't enabled by default though, because the Lua interface for Vim doesn't include most of io.* and os.* from Lua's standard library, and this causes LuaInspect to flag all references to those modules as undefined global variables! If you want to enable use of the Lua interface for Vim despite this, you can add the following to your vimrc script:

:let g:lua_inspect_internal = 1


Right now the highlighting styles used by luainspect.vim are the same as those used by the SciTE plug-in and they don't work well on dark backgrounds. As soon as I get around to picking some alternate colors I'll include those in the plug-in.


If you have questions, bug reports, suggestions, etc. the author can be contacted at The latest version is available at and If you like this plug-in please vote for it on


This software is licensed under the MIT license.
© 2010 Peter Odding <>.

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