Pimp your Vim

tooling Vim vim tools

In the good ol’ days I used Eclipse, NetBeans, Dreamweaver. Then I switched to TextMate when I started doing Ruby. Now I use Vim for all my Ruby/Javascript development. At this point in my backwards journey through time, I would like to document how you can increase the awesomeness of Vim using a few well-chosen plugins.

First things first: use pathogen.vim. Pathogen allows you to install each Vim plugin in its own separate directory under .vim/bundle. It makes your life much less painful.

# Installation procedure from
# https://github.com/tpope/vim-pathogen:
mkdir -p ~/.vim/autoload ~/.vim/bundle
curl -Sso ~/.vim/autoload/pathogen.vim \

# Add this to your "~/.vimrc" file:
call pathogen#infect()

NERD tree

This is a filesystem tree that you can display as a sidebar. You can navigate it with your keyboard and/or mouse. Open it up with :NERDTree.

# Install with pathogen:
cd ~/.vim/bundle
git clone https://github.com/scrooloose/nerdtree


Allows you to use the Tab key for auto-completion.

# Install with pathogen:
cd ~/.vim/bundle
git clone https://github.com/ervandew/supertab


Ruby on Rails power tools. It adds syntax highlighting for methods like has_and_belongs_to_many, allows you to jump between related files (model, controller, helper, migration, etc), and more.

# Install with pathogen:
cd ~/.vim/bundle
git clone git://github.com/tpope/vim-rails.git


“Go to file” smart plugin. It does pretty awesome things like find /app/controllers/home_controller.rb just by typing ach. It’s a bit trickier to install because it has a C Ruby extension for speed.

You must have Vim compiled with Ruby support. To check this, type vim --version. If +ruby appears in the version information then you have Ruby support. To compile Vim with Ruby support on OS X with MacPorts, install it with sudo port install vim +ruby.

# Install with pathogen
cd ~/.vim/bundle
git clone https://github.com/wincent/Command-T

# Build C extension
# WARNING: You must do this with the same Ruby that Vim
#          was compiled with. In my case, I have RVM and
#          installed Vim+ruby with MacPorts, so I had to
#          run "rvm use system" to switch to the
#          MacPorts Ruby.
cd ~/.vim/bundle/command-t/ruby/command-t
ruby extconf.rb

Once installed, you can bring up the Command-T interface with :CommandT or <Leader>t. The leader character is your personal modifier key (backslash by default). I have configured it to be a comma, so I bring up Command-T by typing ,t.

# File: ~/.vimrc

# Use comma as the leader character
let mapleader = ","


Git wrapper to call Git commands from Vim. Allows you to manipulate the index, move files with open buffers, and much more. Watch the following screencast for an introduction: Fugitive.vim - a complement to command line git.

# Install with pathogen
cd ~/.vim/bundle
git clone https://github.com/tpope/vim-fugitive

Let the tuning begin.