A Vim plug-in that helps you publish hyperlinked, syntax highlighted source code
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Publish hyperlinked, syntax highlighted source code with Vim

The Vim text editor includes the script 2html.vim which can be used to convert a syntax highlighted buffer in Vim to an HTML document that, when viewed in a web browser, should look exactly the same. After using that script for a while and discovering the excellent Exuberant Ctags I wondered "Wouldn't it be nice to have those tags converted to hyperlinks when I publish source code as HTML?".

After several attempts I managed a working prototype, but it was quite rough around the edges and I didn't really have the time or interest to clean it up. Several months later I found myself with some free time and a renewed interest in Vim scripting so I decided to clean up my code and release it. If you're wondering what the result looks like, I've published the plug-in source code as a demonstration.

Installation & usage

Please note that the vim-publish plug-in requires my vim-misc plug-in which is separately distributed.

Unzip the most recent ZIP archives of the vim-publish and vim-misc plug-ins 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). If you prefer you can also use Pathogen, Vundle or a similar tool to install & update the vim-publish and vim-misc plug-ins using a local clone of the git repository.

As an example we'll publish the plug-in using itself. First create a tags file that contains entries for the files you want to publish using a shell command such as:

$ ctags -Rf ~/.publish_tags ~/.vim/

If this doesn't work because ctags isn't installed you can download it from the Exuberant Ctags homepage, or if you're running Debian/Ubuntu you can install it by executing the following shell command:

$ sudo apt-get install exuberant-ctags

The plug-in needs an up-to-date tags file so that it can create hyperlinks between the published files. Now start Vim and write a script that registers the tags file you just created and calls the function Publish() as follows:

:set tags=~/.publish_tags
:let sources = '/home/peter/.vim'
:let target = 'sftp://peterodding.com/code/vim/profile'
:call Publish(sources, target, [
    \ 'autoload/xolox/escape.vim',
    \ 'autoload/xolox/path.vim',
    \ 'autoload/publish.vim',
    \ 'plugin/publish.vim',
    \ ])

Change the sources and target variables to reflect your situation, save the script as ~/publish_test.vim and try it in Vim by executing the command :source ~/publish_test.vim. If everything goes well Vim will be busy for a moment and after that you will find a bunch of syntax highlighted, interlinked HTML documents in the target directory!

Publishing to a remote location (website)

As you can see from the example above it's possible to publish files directly to your web server using the netrw plug-in that's bundled with Vim, simply by starting the target path with sftp://. All you need for this to work is the ability to establish SCP connections to your server. There are however two disadvantages to remote publishing over SFTP:

  1. The publish.vim plug-in can't automatically create directories on the remote side, which means you'll have to do so by hand -- very bothersome.

  2. It can take a while to publish a dozen files because a new connection is established for every file that's uploaded to the remote location.

As a workaround to both of these issues the publish.vim plug-in will automatically use rsync when both the local and remote system have it installed. This cuts the time to publish to a remote location in half and enables the plug-in to automatically create directories on the remote side.


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/publish/ and http://github.com/xolox/vim-publish. If you like the script please vote for it on Vim Online.


This software is licensed under the MIT license.
© 2013 Peter Odding <peter@peterodding.com>.