Skip to content


Subversion checkout URL

You can clone with HTTPS or Subversion.

Download ZIP
A plug-in for the Vim text editor that provides context-sensitive documentation for Python source code.
tree: 5dd2e8b539

Fetching latest commit…

Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time

Failed to load latest commit information.

Context-sensitive documentation
for Python source code in Vim

The file pyref.vim is a plug-in for the Vim text editor that maps the <F1> key in Python buffers to search through the Python language reference and library reference documentation for the keyword or identifier at the current cursor position and open the first match in your web browser. When no GUI is available a command-line web browser like lynx or w3m will be used, otherwise the plug-in prefers a graphical web browser like Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.

How does it work?

The search works by scanning through a special index file with keyword, URL pairs separated by tabs and delimited by newlines. You can create this index yourself using a Python script I've written (see the file or you can download the index that I've already created (see the file index).

Usage and options

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 try it out: Open a Python script and press the <F1> key. If it doesn't work at first, please see the pyref_browser and pyref_mapping options below.

The following paragraphs explain the available options:

The pyref_browser option

If the plug-in doesn't work out of the box or you don't like the default web browser you can change the global variable pyref_browser to the filename or pathname of your preferred web browser, e.g. inside Vim type:

:let pyref_browser = '/usr/bin/konqueror'

The plug-in tries to find a suitable default web browser but that might not always work. To see the currently configured web browser type the following:

:let pyref_browser

The pyref_mapping option

When you've set pyref_browser but it still doesn't work you're probably running Vim inside a terminal which doesn't support <F1>. In this case you can change the key-mapping by setting the global variable pyref_mapping according to the syntax expected by Vim's :imap and :nmap commands:

:let pyref_mapping = 'K'

Note that setting pyref_mapping won't change the mapping in existing buffers.

The pyref_mirror option

The option pyref_mirror is useful when you don't always have a reliable internet connection available while coding. Most Linux distributions have an installable package containing the Python documentation, for example on Ubuntu and Debian you can execute the following command to install the documentation:

sudo apt-get install python2.6-doc

The above package puts the documentation in /usr/share/doc/python2.6/html/ which happens to be the default location checked by the pyref.vim script. If you've installed the documentation elsewhere, change the global variable pyref_mirror accordingly.

The pyref_index option

If you don't like the default location of the index file you can change it by setting the global variable pyref_index. A leading ~ in the pyref_index variable is expanded to your current home directory ($HOME on UNIX, %USERPROFILE% on Windows). Be aware that when you change the pyref_index option automatic updates using the getscript plug-in won't update the index file anymore!

General note about options

You can change any of the above options permanently by putting the relevant :let statements in your ~/.vimrc script (on UNIX) or %USERPROFILE%\_vimrc script (on Windows). If you set pyref_browser and/or pyref_mirror in your vimrc this can improve Vim's startup speed slightly because the plug-in won't have to query the file-system when it's loaded.


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


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

Something went wrong with that request. Please try again.