Vim Tips in Ubuntu 10.04

The objective of this article is to make Vim your programmer’s editor.

First, a normal version of Vim should be installed to enable syntax highlighting. The default installation of Ubuntu 10.04 only contains a compact version “vim-tiny”:

Then copy a local vim configure file:

1. Line Number

Add line into the .vimrc file:

A similar command can be used to show/hide line number when editing on the fly:

Related help:

2. Tab-space Conversion

From the Vim help:

'tabstop' 'ts'          number  (default 8)
                        local to buffer
        Number of spaces that a  in the file counts for.  Also see
        |:retab| command, and 'softtabstop' option.

        Note: Setting 'tabstop' to any other value than 8 can make your file
        appear wrong in many places (e.g., when printing it).

        There are four main ways to use tabs in Vim:
        1. Always keep 'tabstop' at 8, set 'softtabstop' and 'shiftwidth' to 4
           (or 3 or whatever you prefer) and use 'noexpandtab'.  Then Vim
           will use a mix of tabs and spaces, but typing  and  will
           behave like a tab appears every 4 (or 3) characters.
        2. Set 'tabstop' and 'shiftwidth' to whatever you prefer and use
           'expandtab'.  This way you will always insert spaces.  The
           formatting will never be messed up when 'tabstop' is changed.
        3. Set 'tabstop' and 'shiftwidth' to whatever you prefer and use a
           |modeline| to set these values when editing the file again.  Only
           works when using Vim to edit the file.
        4. Always set 'tabstop' and 'shiftwidth' to the same value, and
           'noexpandtab'.  This should then work (for initial indents only)
           for any tabstop setting that people use.  It might be nice to have
           tabs after the first non-blank inserted as spaces if you do this
           though.  Otherwise aligned comments will be wrong when 'tabstop' is

I will choose to use the 2nd approach, so add:

The auto-indent feature is also useful:

When setting expandtab, a real tab can be input by <Ctrl-v>_<Tab>

Related help:

3. Option ‘modeline’:

If you start editing a new file, and the ‘modeline’ option is on, a number of lines at the beginning and end of the file are checked for modelines. This is simply enabled by adding:

Your C/C++ comment may look like one of the following:

And likely, the Python comments:

Here, ai, et, ts and sw are just abbreviations. And expandtab is an option only in Vim, not Vi.

Read related help by typing:

4. Using Taglist:

There are lots of useful scripts in the Vim website that we can use. But Actually, Ubuntu repository also has some of them included:

After installation, these scripts are just downloaded, but not installed for your Vim. We list available script by typing:

Output on Lucid 10.04:

The Taglist plugin is described here, while OmniCppComplete plugin in next section. Both of them make use of ctags utility. Install it first:

Now install the Taglist plugin to your Vim:

When editing a supported file type, Show the taglist window can be opened by one of the following:

Move your cursor between windows by <Ctrl-w>_w as usual. You may want to add a shortcut to toggle this feature. Add lines to your .vimrc file per official document:

When your cursor hovers on a function, <Ctrl-]> takes you to its declaration, while <Ctrl-t> takes you back.

More help:

5. Using OmniCppComplete:

Vim include basic support for code completion. The simplest way is to use <Ctrl-p>. Vim will search your include headers and do insertion. See the screenshot:


The include search path can be set by:

More help info:

Next, Vim provides basic C language completion using ctags. No C++ is supported. Additional languages script can be found in Vim’s autoload directory, say /usr/share/vim/vim72/autoload. But you should generate necessary ctags index files first. For libc6 header files:

And add lines to .vimrc file:

Omni completion can be issued by <Ctrl-x>_<Ctrl-o>.

Screenshot showing function prototype:


Screenshot showing struct member completion:


More help info:

Note, the ccomplete does not work well in C++ completion. So we need to install OmniCppComplete plugin:

Generate ctags index for libstdc++ and qt4:

And add lines to .vimrc file:

You may encounter problems when completing STL functions. Refer to :help omnicpp-faq and find the solution. Anyway, it works all good for me. Here’re screenshots showing STL and Qt code completion:



!!!NOTE!!! : The tags file for current file must be generated for OmniCppComplete to work. I’ve set Ctrl+F12 as the accelerate key. Otherwise, you’ll get “Pattern not found” error. More help:

Finally, the list of lines adding to my .vimrc file:

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