Vim Macro for IDE-Like Behaviour

I find Vim easiest for browsing source and as I explore TiddlyWiki, I decided to use some fairly recent Vim features – vertical splitting and the explorer window. Combined, these give you the feeling you’re an 1988 edition of Eclipse. Just like a modern IDE, but navigation is ten times faster.

Here’s the macro – which assumes you just opened vim or have a single empty buffer:

map ]xx :Explore<cr>2jp<c-w>H20<c-w><

To switch files, navigate to the new file’s name in the explorer window, and hit “p” (the built-in command for “open this file in the previous location).

The macro:

  • Populates the current buffer with an explorer window
  • Jumps down two lines (to reach the second filename – the first name is often .svn)
  • Opens the file (“p”)
  • Places the explorer window on the left side (which also forces a re-orientation towards vertically split windows)
  • Resizes the explorer window to be 20 columns wide

While in the source window, you can still use commands like “:e filename” to open a new file (with tab completion) and ctrl-o/ctrl-i to jump back and forth.

The other helper is exuberant ctags, which I installed via Fink. I just run “ctags *.js” and then I can hyperlink from the file under my cursor using ctrl-], or visit any function using “:tag function-name”. (One remaining frustration is I can’t get it to hyperlink to OO methods established using the “abc.prototype.xyz = function() {…}” idiom, despite including the pattern in ~/.ctags.)

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