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Monday, February 11, 2013

Writing Macros with Vim

First, let’s start with a Javascript function:
function foo(hello, world,
             how, are,
             you) {
Now let’s convert that to the following:
function foo(parameters) {
    var hello = parameters.hello;
    var world =;
    var how =;
    var are = parameters.are;
    var you =;
Here are the macros I used to do this:
let @r='di(iparameters^[/\{^M2o^[kpg`[v`]Jgv:s/\s//g^M0:try|exe "norm! @q"|endtry^MA;^[V:s/,/;\r/g^Mv``='
let @q='ywivar ^[pa = parameters.^[f,^[l@q'
Note that if you copy paste the above into your vimrc it will not work. The ^[ and ^M found are actually single characters, not two. To input this properly you will need to chord it in input mode with <Ctrl-V>. So for <Esc> you would chord <Ctrl+V><Ctrl+[>

So, when I’m inside the parameters of the function, I can hit @r and it will perform the refactoring. Now let’s break it down step by step.

@q The first macro

This is a recursive macro which takes something like a,b,c and turns it into var a = p.a,var b = p.b,var c = p.c. Let’s see how that’s done.
  1. yw i var <Esc> p Yanks the word and enter insert mode, type var, exit insert mode and paste the just yanked word.
  2. a = parameters. Append and fill in parameters.
  3. <Esc> f, l Exit insert mode, first the next ,
  4. l @q Adjust the cursor position and recursively call itself.
Recursive macros terminate when the first error occurs. In this macro, that error is when there are no more commas left.

@r The second macro

The is the macro that should be invoked, and references the @q macro.
  1. di( Deletes everything inside the brackets.
  2. i parameters Enter insert mode and type parameters.
  3. <Esc> /{ <CR> Leaves insert mode and finds the next brace.
  4. 2o <Esc> k p Creates two empty lines and pastes what we deleted into the first line.
  5. g`[v`] J Visually select what we just pasted and join them all into a single line.
  6. gv :s/\s//g <CR> Reselect the visually and delete all whitespace.
  7. 0 Move to the beginning of the line.
  8. :try|exe "norm! @q"|endtry <CR> Macros will terminate on the first error, even if referencing another macro. Wrapping the other macro with try|endtry swallows the error and lets the current macro continue.
  9. A; <Esc> Append ; to the end of the line.
  10. V :s/,/;\r/g <CR> Visually select the line, replace with carriage returns.
  11. v=` ` Visually select from the current cursor position back to where it was originally was, and format.
Now is this the best way to do it? Probably not. I would not be surprised if someone was able to do it with less keystrokes or a single macro.  But hey, it was fun learning experience, and ultimately I turned all of that into two keystrokes that can be reused many times.

I posted this on vimgolf so let’s see how other people solved the same refactoring!

1 comment:

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