Thursday, December 11, 2008

Making MacVim work with Vimperator's external editor feature

Because I'm a vim user, it's naturally for me to use vimperator on top of Firefox.

Today I posted a tip on that helps me use Vimperator on my MacOS system. I'm reposting that tip here.

To make a long story short, try an editor setting like
:set editor='bash -lc "mvim -f \$*" mvim '
or (if you prefer gvim)
:set editor='bash -lc "gvim -f \$*" gvim '
Then you should be able to hit CNTRL+I to launch an external editor for textareas. There are simpler solutions and explanations below.

Shelling out to external commands is hairier in OS X than it is on other platforms.

In my case, I use MacVim, which includes a script mvim that can be called as
mvim -f ...
so that the script will wait for the GUI to exit before it exits. This functionality is identical to the gvim found with other Vim distributions (including older Vim distros for OS X).

My mvim script is in /usr/local/bin. Unfortunately, the PATH environment variable that sits behind user processes has to be set in an special ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist file, and the default PATH does not include /usr/local/bin. If you don't believe me, try
As you can see, those environment variables are very different from the ones you'd expect in a "login shell." You could go add an appropriate environment.plist file to match your login shell, but then you'll have to keep it up-to-date after every change to your shell profile. As a consequence, it's probably a good idea to
:set shcf='-lc'
Then you'll notice that :!env gives you more expected results. However, Vimperator won't run the editor unless it can find it in what Firefox thinks is the PATH, and so shcf won't help you.

A simple solution is to
:set editor='/usr/local/bin/mvim -f'
For most people, this solution will be perfect. However, some will notice that their favorite utilities (e.g., /opt/local/bin/par or /sw/bin/aspell) will not be accessible in the editor (unless the environment.plist file is modified).

So the final solution is to use bash as your external editor, and have it operate as a login shell that calls your editor of choice.
:set editor='bash -lc "mvim -f \$*" mvim '
Here, bash calls mvim and passes "mvim" as $0 and everything following bash as $1, $2, and so on...


Anonymous said...

This works but had one annoying wart. As described it starts the VIM process behind the other windows. It seemst that adding -g to macvim (macvim -g -f ...)solves that, bringing the new editor window to the foreground as one might expect when invoking an external editor.

I may look at some way to really integrate this with the way that I work ... to start a remote vim process on a persistent GNU screen session that I do 99% of my text work through.

However this will still be a major improvement in my workflow for now.

JoaquĆ­n said...

Thanks for this, works perfectly!

Kurt Rudolph said...

How might I make it so after the Macvim application closes it switches back to firefox?