Vim use case - fast edit in buffers

My second topic has something do to with workflow I use everyday. I often need to edit a file(s), commit to git (usually amending the last one), build and install a package and test it. Often when I am trying my patch that fixes some bug or something.

I use tabs when doing regular feature coding. Tabs are great feature of Vim and works pretty well, but they do not play very well with many files opened. This is where buffers comes in.

Buffers are essentially files being edited, or just piece of memory for unsaved buffers (e.g. quick fix is also a buffer). You can work with them effectively and they are documented in the “Editing with multiple windows and buffers” section of the Vim documentation.

Simply put, you can open multiple files in Vim (vim file1 file2 …) and all files will be “magically” available as buffers. To list all buffers just use :ls command, to jump on particular buffer use :Nb where N is index of the buffer starting from one (for instance :5b). To jump to the next or previous buffer use :bn (:bnext) and :bp (:bprevious) respectively.

This is the total minimum to know about buffers. You can do much more with them, I highly recommend to search the web and read Vim documentation. As I use them quite often, I have mapped the following combinations for buffers:

map <leader>j :bnext<CR>
map <leader>k :bprevious<CR>
map <leader>q :b#<CR>

Leader key is very special key Vim use for user-defined combinations. Many Vim users, including me, have leader set to comma key:

let mapleader = ","

So the final combination I use is, yes you guess it: ,j ,k and ,q. The last command just switches between last used weapon - I mean buffer. Good old Counter Strike times :-)

Okay, back to buffers, here comes the tip. I often need to edit last commited file(s) from git. You can do this with buffers and simple trick I googled the other day. Put the following into your ~/.gitconfig

fshow = ! sh -c 'git show --pretty="format:" --name-only $1 | grep -v "^$" | uniq | sed -e "s#^#`git rev-parse --show-toplevel`/#"' -
edit  = ! sh -c '$EDITOR `git fshow $1`' -

Suppose you do this:

touch fileA fileB
git add file*; git commit -a "blah"
touch fileX
git add file*; git commit -a "blah"

Now, to edit latest fileX real quick, just issue

git edit

And Vim loads the latest commited file into the first buffer. Thats the default one, you can start editing immediately. Now, to load all three files just do this:

git edit HEAD^..

Use what you know about buffers to navigate them. To load all changed files from last ten commits, do

git edit HEAD~10..

I often edit the latest file (git edit) amending the latest commit to overwrite my change when I test it.

10 December 2012 | linux | fedora | vim
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