This chapter introduces you to some of the more advanced capabilities of the vi and ex editors. You should be reasonably familiar with the material presented in the earlier chapters of this book before you start working with the concepts presented in this chapter.
This chapter is divided into five parts.
The first part discusses a number of ways to
set options that allow you to customize your editing environment.
You'll learn how to use the
set command and how to create
a number of different editing environments using .exrc files.
The second part discusses how you can execute UNIX commands from within vi, and how you can use vi to filter text through UNIX commands.
The third part discusses various ways to save long sequences of commands by reducing them to abbreviations, or even to commands that use only one keystroke (this is called mapping keys). It also includes a section on @-functions, which allow you to store command sequences in a buffer.
The fourth part discusses the use of ex scripts from the UNIX command line or from within shell scripts. Scripting provides a powerful way to make repetitive edits.
The fifth part discusses some features of vi that are especially useful to programmers. vi has options that control line indentation and an option to display invisible characters (specifically tabs and newlines). There are search commands that are useful with program code blocks or with C functions.
You have seen that vi operates differently on various terminals. (For instance, on "dumb" terminals, vi inserts @ symbols in place of deleted lines; on intelligent terminals, vi redraws the screen with each edit.) vi gets operating instructions about your terminal type from a file called /etc/termcap. (In System V, termcap has been replaced with an alternate terminal database called terminfo.)
There are also a number of options that you can set from within vi that affect how it operates. For example, you can set a right margin that will cause vi to wrap lines automatically, so you don't need to insert carriage returns.
You can change options from within vi by using the ex command
In addition, whenever vi is started up, it reads a file in your
home directory called .exrc for further operating instructions.
:set commands in this file,
you can modify the way vi acts whenever you use it.
You can also set up .exrc files in local directories to initialize various options that you want to use in different environments. For example, you might define one set of options for editing English text, but another set for editing source programs. The .exrc file in your home directory will be executed first, then the one in your current directory.
There are two types of options that can be changed with the
command: toggle options, which are either on or off, and
options that take a numeric or string value (such as the location
of a margin or the name of a file).
To turn a toggle option off, the command is:
If you want vi to return to being case-sensitive in searches, give the command:
displays the complete list of options, including options that you have set and defaults that vi has "chosen." The display should look something like this:
noautoindent nooptimize tabstop=8 autoprint open taglength=0 noautowrite prompt term=wy50 nobeautify noreadonly noterse directory=/tmp redraw timeout noedcompatible remap ttytype=wy50 noerrorbells report=5 warn hardtabs=8 scroll=11 window=20 noignorecase sections=AhBhChDh wrapscan nolisp shell=/bin/csh wrapmargin=10 nolist noshowmatch nowriteany magic noslowopen mesg paragraphs=IPLPPPQP LIpp1pipbb number tags=tags /usr/lib/tags
You can find out the current value of any individual option by name, using the command:
shows options that you have specifically changed, or set, either in your .exrc file or during the current session. For example, the display might look like this:
number sect=AhBhChDh window=20 wrapmargin=10
The .exrc file that controls your own vi environment is in your home directory (the directory you are in when you first log on). You can modify the .exrc file with the vi editor, just as you can any other text file.
If you don't yet have an .exrc file, simply use vi to
Enter into this file the
that you want to have in effect whenever you use vi or ex.
map are discussed later in this chapter.)
A sample .exrc file looks like this:
set nowrapscan wrapmargin=7 set sections=SeAhBhChDh nomesg map q :w^M:n^M map v dwElp ab ORA O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
Since the file is actually read by ex before it enters visual mode (vi), commands in .exrc should not have a preceding colon.
In addition to reading the .exrc file in your home directory, vi will read a file called .exrc in the current directory. This allows you to set options that are appropriate to a particular project.
For example, you might want to have one set of options in a directory mainly used for programming:
set number lisp autoindent sw=4 terse set tags=/usr/lib/tags
and another set of options in a directory used for text editing:
set wrapmargin=15 ignorecase
NOTE: In System V, Release 3.2 and later, vi doesn't read .exrc files in the current directory unless you first set the
exrcoption in your home directory's .exrc file:set exrc
This mechanism prevents other people from placing, in your working directory, an .exrc file whose commands might jeopardize the security of your system.
You can also define alternate vi environments by saving option
settings in a file other than .exrc and reading in that file
:so command. For example:
Local .exrc files are also useful for defining abbreviations and key mappings (described later in this chapter). When we write a book or manual, we save all abbreviations to be used in that book in an .exrc file in the directory in which the book is being created.
As you can see when you type
there are an awful lot of options that can be set.
Many of them are used internally by vi and aren't usually changed.
Others are important in certain cases,
but not in others (for example,
be useful on a dialup line at a low baud rate).
The table in Appendix B, Setting Environment Options ,
contains a brief description of each option.
We recommend that you take
some time to play with setting options - if an option looks interesting,
try setting it (or unsetting it) and watch what happens while you edit.
You may find some surprisingly useful tools.
As discussed earlier in this book,
is essential for editing nonprogram
wrapmargin specifies the size of the right margin that
will be used to autowrap text as you type.
(This saves manually typing carriage returns.)
A typical value is 7 to 15:
Three other options control how vi acts when conducting a search.
Normally, a search differentiates between uppercase and
lowercase (foo does not match Foo), wraps around to the beginning
of the file
(meaning that you can begin your search anywhere in the
file and still find all occurrences), and recognizes wildcard
characters when pattern matching.
The default settings that control
these options are
To change any of these defaults, you would set the opposite toggle options: