Vim plugins. Introduction

Vim is a highly configurable text editor that is often used by developers. One of the ways to customize Vim is by using plugins. In this article, we will discuss what plugins are, why we need them, and how to install and manage them.

What are plugins?

Plugins are additional software packages that can be added to Vim to extend its functionality. They can provide features such as syntax highlighting, code completion, and file navigation. Plugins are written in Vim script or a variety of other languages and can be easily installed and configured to enhance the user experience.

One of the main reasons for using plugins is to increase productivity. Many plugins are designed to automate repetitive tasks or provide shortcuts for commonly used commands. For example, a plugin called “nerdtree” provides a tree-like file explorer that allows you to quickly navigate through your files. Another popular plugin called “vim-fugitive” adds Git integration to Vim, allowing you to perform Git actions such as committing and pushing directly from the editor.

How to install plugins?

Installing plugins can be done in a few different ways. One method is to manually download the plugin files and place them in the appropriate directory within your Vim configuration. For example, on a Unix-like system, you would place the files in the ~/.vim/ directory. Once the files are in the right place, you can configure them by adding the appropriate commands to your .vimrc file.

Another way to install plugins is to use a plugin manager. A plugin manager is a tool that helps you manage and install plugins for Vim. The three most popular plugin managers are Vundle, Pathogen, and Vim-plug.

I have decided to use vim-plug as the plugin manager. Therefore, all future steps and instructions will be based on using vim-plug.


Vim-plug is a minimalist plugin manager that is easy to use and has a wide range of features. It is written in pure Vim script and is compatible with both Unix and Windows systems.

One of the advantages of vim-plug is its parallel plugin installation feature, this allows to install multiple plugins at the same time, making it faster than other plugin managers. It also supports on-demand loading, which means that plugins are only loaded when they are needed, saving memory and improving performance. Additionally, it has support for lazy loading and post-update hooks, which makes it a versatile plugin manager.

To install vim-plug, the first step is to download the vim-plug file and place it in the appropriate directory within your Vim configuration. On a Unix-like system, you would place the file in the ~/.vim/autoload/ directory.

Once you have the file in the correct location, you need to add the following lines to your .vimrc file:

" Specify a directory for plugins
" - For Neovim: stdpath('data') . '/plugged'
" - Avoid using standard Vim directory names like 'plugin'
call plug#begin('~/.vim/plugged')

" Declare the plugins you want to install
Plug 'plugin/name'

" Initialize plugin system
call plug#end()

With these lines added to your .vimrc file, Vim will now recognize the vim-plug plugin manager. You can now start installing plugins by adding them to the “Declare the plugins you want to install” section. For example, to install the “nerdtree” plugin, you would add the following line:

Plug 'scrooloose/nerdtree'

Once you have added the plugins you want to install, save and exit your .vimrc file. Now, open Vim and run the command:


This command will install all the plugins you have specified in your .vimrc file.

Now you have successfully installed and configured vim-plug, you can easily install and manage plugins for your Vim editor. With vim-plug, you can install multiple plugins at the same time, make on-demand loading, lazy loading, post-update hooks and many other features that makes it a versatile plugin manager.

There are many popular plugins available for Vim, but here are a few examples of some of the most widely used and highly recommended plugins:

  1. NERDTree: This plugin provides a file explorer for Vim, allowing you to easily navigate and manipulate your project’s files and directories. It also supports bookmarks and tab-based navigation.
  2. vim-airline: This plugin provides a sleek and visually appealing status line that displays useful information such as the current file name, buffer number, and git status.
  3. vim-surround: This plugin provides a simple and efficient way to manipulate surrounding characters such as parentheses, brackets, and quotes. It makes it easy to add, change, and delete surrounding characters.
  4. CtrlP: This plugin provides a powerful fuzzy file, buffer, and mru finder. It allows you to quickly search for and open files in your project, making it easy to navigate large projects.
  5. vim-fugitive: This plugin is a Git wrapper that allows you to run Git commands directly from Vim. It also provides integration with Git status, allowing you to view and manipulate your Git repository from within Vim.
  6. YouCompleteMe: This plugin provides code completion for Vim, with support for a wide range of programming languages. It’s one of the most popular plugins for Vim, providing powerful and fast code completion.
  7. SyntaxChecker: It’s a plugin that allows you to check the syntax of your code in real-time. It supports a wide range of languages and it’s a very useful plugin for programmers.

These are just a few examples of the many popular plugins available for Vim. There are many more plugins available that cater to different needs and preferences, and you can easily install and manage them using a plugin manager

In conclusion

Plugins are a powerful way to customize and enhance the functionality of Vim. They can help increase productivity by automating repetitive tasks and providing shortcuts for commonly used commands. Installing and managing plugins can be done manually or by using a plugin manager. Popular plugin managers like Vundle and Pathogen make it easy to install and manage plugins, making it a good option for those who want to use plugins.