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Python scripts to publish Vim plug-ins

I'm a programmer which naturally means I hate performing repetitive tasks... Publishing my Vim plug-ins quickly turned out to fall in this category; I'd keep making the same mistakes and having users e-mail me because I screwed up again and uploaded a broken release to After a while this got embarrassing so I decided to solve this annoying problem once and for all.

Things started out small but as my existing Vim plug-ins mature and I publish more Vim plug-ins to the world, the vim-tools repository grows with me. It now contains several Python modules which can be useful to other people (mostly Vim plug-in developers) which is why I'm sharing it with the world.


The Python module converts Markdown and HTML documents to Vim help files.


  • It can deal with complex HTML thanks to BeautifulSoup
  • Automatically generates Vim help file tags for headings
  • Generates table of contents from headings & tags
  • Supports nested block structures like nested lists, preformatted blocks inside lists, etc.
  • Compacts & expands list items based on average number of lines per list item


It has a command line interface but can also be used as a plain Python module.


The module has several dependencies, the easiest way to install them is in a Python virtual environment:

# Clone the repository
git clone
cd vim-tools

# Create the virtual environment.
virtualenv html2vimdoc

# Install the dependencies.
html2vimdoc/bin/pip install beautifulsoup coloredlogs markdown

# Run the program.
html2vimdoc/bin/python ./ --help

How I use it

I use this module to convert my Vim plug-in files and the Lua, LPeg and Lua/APR manuals to Vim's help file format. Here's my workflow involving the documentation of my Vim plug-ins:

  • I write the documentation of my Vim plug-ins in files because GitHub renders such files as a "repository homepage".
  • A git pre-commit hook runs to convert file to a Vim help file which is included in the commit.
  • When I push a new version of a plug-in to GitHub, it will trigger a web hook which notifies my personal website. The latest version of is fetched and used as the plug-in homepage on my website.


The Python module extracts the public functions and related comments (assumed to contain text in Markdown format) from the Vim scripts in and/or below the current working directory. The extracted documentation is combined into one chunk of text and then this chunk of text is embedded in the Markdown document given on the command line.

I use this module to publish the documentation of my vim-misc scripts.


This module has a dependency on my coloredlogs module which is available on PyPi (the Python package index).


This program (written in Python) makes it easier for me to publish my Vim plug-ins on GitHub and Vim Online. It automates most of my release management, here's a short summary:

  • Run as a git pre-commit hook:
    1. Make sure doc/tags is included in .gitignore
    2. Make sure the copyright in is up to date
    3. Run to update function documentation embedded in
    4. Run to update Vim help file based on
  • Run as a git post-commit hook:
    • Make sure git tags are created for version bumps on the master branch
  • Interactively, for one of two reasons:
    • Publish the latest version of a Vim plug-in to GitHub and Vim Online (vim-plugin-manager -r):
      1. First this pushes the latest commits and tags to GitHub
      2. Then it checks what was the last release uploaded to Vim Online
      3. Based on the last uploaded release a change log is generated from the git history
      4. Vim is opened to approve the change log and allow changes to the contents
      5. The command git archive is used to generate a ZIP archive with a clean copy (no local changes) of the last commit
      6. The approved change log and ZIP archive are combined into a new release which is posted to Vim Online using Mechanize
    • Summarize the local changes in my Vim plug-in repositories (vim-plugin-manager -c)

It might be a bit specific to my workflow but you never know, someone might find it useful :-)


If you have questions, bug reports, suggestions, etc. the author can be contacted at The latest version is available at and


This software is licensed under the MIT license.
© 2013 Peter Odding <>.

The module bundles by Simon Willison. The soupselect module is also licensed under the MIT license. You can find the soupselect module on GitHub and Google Code.

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