A few months ago I wrote a post about my first time tipping a toe in the water of Vim, an intensely keystroke-based text editor. Despite getting the basics down, I still did 95% of my coding in Sublime Text 2, my old go-to editor.
However in the last few weeks I had a need for a fresh project to take up, and, considering that at least some of my future work will be on remote servers which will force me away from editors like Sublime Text, I figured I’d resume my exploration of Vim.
As I mentioned in that first post, I went through most of Derek Wyatt’s video tutorials, which was super-helpful. Then I found and went through tuts+ and found vimcasts.org, which helped even more, introducing my to some helpful patterns and plugins.
Basically after the first pass with Vim I got the basic movements down. I installed NERDTree, which helped with project and window management. And I copied and pasted some suggested settings and key mapping into my .vimrc file. But there were still plenty of things I was far more comfortable doing in Sublime Text.
A partial list of these tasks would include:
- advanced copy and pasting
- the ability to quickly comment and uncomment lines of code
- a certain amount of code and variable autocompletion
- spellcheck functionality
- An easier way to indent multiple lines
- More comfort with find and replace (ideally something as simple and powerful as Sublime text’s Cmd + d)
I ended up solving these problems with edits to my vimrc file, plus the addition of two new plugins: NERDCommenter and Unimpaired. NERDCommenter allows you to comment out lines of code based on its syntax. My preferred mappings at this point are:
nmap <C-l> <Leader>c<Space> vmap <C-l> <Leader>c<Space>gv imap <C-l> <ESC><Leader>c<Space>a
And Unimpaired I only use for 4 commands that allows me to move single or multiple liens up and down a document. This is not something I ever did using Sublime Text but after first struggling with simple cut and pasting in Vim and then watching this Vimcast on “bubbling text” I decided to set it up and it seems useful. Mappings:
nmap <C-k> [e nmap <C-j> ]ev map <C-k> [egv vmap <C-j> ]egv
Beyond those plugin mappings I also wrote some custom mappings for standard Vim functions. Here is a sample:
" j and k don't skip over wrapped lines nnoremap j gj nnoremap k gk " H to beginning of line, L to the end noremap H ^ noremap L $ noremap <c-a> ^ noremap <c-e> $ " J and K move up and down 10 lines noremap J 10j noremap K 10k " Tab and Shift tab to indent and un-indent nnoremap <Tab> >> nnoremap <S-Tab> << " D deletes to the end of the line, as it should noremap D d$ " X removes line without placing it in the default registry nmap X "_dd " In visual mode, X removes selection without placing it in the default registry vmap X "_d " Control + p pastes from the 'yank register', and the ] formats it to indent you're pasting into (http://vimcasts.org/episodes/ meet-the-yank-register/) nmap <c-p> "0]P
You can see my whole setup here in my new .vimrc file.
As for a better find and replace, I learned a somple pattern. First, use / or ? to search for the pattern you want to replace. Replace that first instance with
ciw, change the word, then hit escape to return to normal mode. Now, hit
n to go to the next instance. Hit
. to make the replacement to that instance, or just hit
n to leave that instance and go to the next instance. For me it’s easier and cleaner than remembering the unintuitive
:%s/texttoreplace/replacementtext/gc (if that’s even right).
Separately, another nice trick is the r command to replace one character. As opposed to the to
s command, it returns you to normal mode after you replace the single character automatically.
Another thing I didn’t realize I needed were the following mappings:
nnoremap j gj nnoremap k gk
which makes j and k go through wrapped lines. Really helpful for navigating through long markdown paragraphs that are all technically one “line” to Vim.
I also found the I kept needing to delete lines, usually blank lines, but I didn’t want them to go to the default registry. I figured out that the _ registry goes nowhere, thus hitting
p won’t paste anything tat goes to the underscore registry. So I made shift X just delete a line to nowhere. Then when I hit
p it pastes not the blank line but what I hopefully expect.
" X removes line without placing it in the default registry nmap X "_dd " In visual mode, X removes selection without placing it in the default registry vmap X "_d
Speaking of registries, there’s also a registry reserved for text that is yanked– the 0 registry. Thus:
nmap <c-p> "0]P
makes Control + p paste from that registry, and the ] bracket auto-formats it for me.