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vi_diff.txt   Nvim

                  VIM REFERENCE MANUAL    by Bram Moolenaar

Differences between Vim and Vi                          vi-differences

                                      Type gO to see the table of contents.

1. Limits                                               limits

Vim has only a few limits for the files that can be edited {Vi: can not handle
<Nul> characters and characters above 128, has limited line length, many other

Maximum line length        2147483647 characters
Maximum number of lines    2147483647 lines
Maximum file size          2147483647 bytes (2 Gbyte) when a long integer is
                           32 bits.  Much more for 64 bit longs.  Also limited
                           by available disk space for the swap-file.
Length of a file path      Unix and Win32: 1024 characters, otherwise 256
                           characters (or as much as the system supports).
Length of an expanded string option
                           Unix and Win32: 1024 characters, otherwise 256
Maximum display width      Unix and Win32: 1024 characters, otherwise 255
Maximum lhs of a mapping   50 characters.
Number of different highlighting types: over 30000
Range of a Number variable:  -2147483648 to 2147483647 (might be more on 64
                           bit systems)
Maximum length of a line in a tags file: 512 bytes.

Information for undo and text in registers is kept in memory, thus when making
(big) changes the amount of (virtual) memory available limits the number of
undo levels and the text that can be kept in registers.  Other things are also
kept in memory:  Command-line history, error messages for Quickfix mode, etc.

2. The most interesting additions                       vim-additions

Support for different systems.
        Vim can be used on:
        - Modern Unix systems (*BSD, Linux, etc.)
        - Windows (XP SP 2 or greater)
        - OS X

Multi level persistent undo.                                    undo
        'u' goes backward in time, 'CTRL-R' goes forward again.  Set option
        'undolevels' to the number of changes to be remembered (default 1000).
        Set 'undolevels' to 0 for a Vi-compatible one level undo.  Set it to
        -1 for no undo at all.
        When all changes in a buffer have been undone, the buffer is not
        considered changed anymore.  You can exit it with :q, without <!>.
        When undoing a few changes and then making a new change Vim will
        create a branch in the undo tree.  This means you can go back to any
        state of the text, there is no risk of a change causing text to be
        lost forever. undo-tree
        The undo information is stored in a file when the 'undofile' option is
        set.  This means you can exit Vim, start Vim on a previously edited
        file and undo changes that were made before exiting Vim.

Graphical User Interface (GUI).                         gui
        Included support for GUI: menu's, mouse, scrollbars, etc.  You can
        define your own menus.  Better support for CTRL/SHIFT/ALT keys in
        combination with special keys and mouse.  Supported for various
        platforms such as Win32.

Multiple windows and buffers.                           windows.txt
        Vim can split the screen into several windows, each editing a
        different buffer or the same buffer at a different location.  Buffers
        can still be loaded (and changed) but not displayed in a window.  This
        is called a hidden buffer.  Many commands and options have been added
        for this facility.
        Vim can also use multiple tab pages, each with one or more windows.  A
        line with tab labels can be used to quickly switch between these pages.

Syntax highlighting.                                    :syntax
        Vim can highlight keywords, patterns and other things.  This is
        defined by a number of :syntax commands, and can be made to
        highlight most languages and file types.  A number of files are
        included for highlighting the most common languages, like C, C++,
        Java, Pascal, Makefiles, shell scripts, etc.  The colors used for
        highlighting can be defined for ordinary terminals, color terminals
        and the GUI with the :highlight command.  A convenient way to do
        this is using a :colorscheme command.
        The highlighted text can be exported as HTML. convert-to-HTML
        Other items that can be highlighted are matches with the search string
        'hlsearch', matching parens matchparen and the cursor line and
        column 'cursorline' 'cursorcolumn'.

Spell checking.                                         spell
        When the 'spell' option is set Vim will highlight spelling mistakes.
        About 50 languages are currently supported, selected with the
        'spelllang' option.  In source code only comments and strings are
        checked for spelling.

Folding.                                                folding
        A range of lines can be shown as one "folded" line.  This allows
        overviewing a file and moving blocks of text around quickly.
        Folds can be created manually, from the syntax of the file, by indent,

Diff mode.                                              diff-mode
        Vim can show two versions of a file with the differences highlighted.
        Parts of the text that are equal are folded away.  Commands can be
        used to move text from one version to the other.

Plugins.                                                add-plugin
        The functionality can be extended by dropping a plugin file in the
        right directory.  That's an easy way to start using Vim scripts
        written by others.  Plugins can be for all kind of files, or
        specifically for a filetype.
        Packages make this even easier. packages

Asynchronous communication and timers.                  job-control timer
        Vim can exchange messages with other processes in the background.
        Vim can start a job, communicate with it and stop it. job-control
        Timers can fire once or repeatedly and invoke a function to do any
        work. timer

Repeat a series of commands.                            q
        "q{c}" starts recording typed characters into named register {c}.
        A subsequent "q" stops recording.  The register can then be executed
        with the "@{c}" command.  This is very useful to repeat a complex

Flexible insert mode.                                   ins-special-special
        The arrow keys can be used in insert mode to move around in the file.
        This breaks the insert in two parts as far as undo and redo is

        CTRL-O can be used to execute a single Normal mode command.  This is
        almost the same as hitting <Esc>, typing the command and doing a.

Visual mode.                                            Visual-mode
        Visual mode can be used to first highlight a piece of text and then
        give a command to do something with it.  This is an (easy to use)
        alternative to first giving the operator and then moving to the end of
        the text to be operated upon.
        v and V are used to start Visual mode.  v works on characters
        and V on lines.  Move the cursor to extend the Visual area.  It is
        shown highlighted on the screen.  By typing "o" the other end of the
        Visual area can be moved.  The Visual area can be affected by an
                d       delete
                c       change
                y       yank
                > or <  insert or delete indent
                !       filter through external program
                =       filter through indent
                :       start : command for the Visual lines.
                gq      format text to 'textwidth' columns
                J       join lines
                ~       swap case
                u       make lowercase
                U       make uppercase

Block operators.                                        visual-block
        With Visual mode a rectangular block of text can be selected.  Start
        Visual mode with CTRL-V.  The block can be deleted ("d"), yanked ("y")
        or its case can be changed ("~", "u" and "U").  A deleted or yanked
        block can be put into the text with the "p" and "P" commands.

Help system.                                            :help
        Help is displayed in a window.  The usual commands can be used to
        move around, search for a string, etc.  Tags can be used to jump
        around in the help files, just like hypertext links.  The :help
        command takes an argument to quickly jump to the info on a subject.
        <F1> is the quick access to the help system.  The name of the help
        index file can be set with the 'helpfile' option.

Command-line editing and history.                       cmdline-editing
        You can insert or delete at any place in the command-line using the
        cursor keys.  The right/left cursor keys can be used to move
        forward/backward one character.  The shifted right/left cursor keys
        can be used to move forward/backward one word.  CTRL-B/CTRL-E can be
        used to go to the begin/end of the command-line.
        {Vi: can only alter the last character in the line}
        {Vi: when hitting <Esc> the command-line is executed.  This is
        unexpected for most people; therefore it was changed in Vim.  But when
        the <Esc> is part of a mapping, the command-line is executed.  If you
        want the Vi behaviour also when typing <Esc>, use ":cmap ^V<Esc>
        The command-lines are remembered.  The up/down cursor keys can be used
        to recall previous command-lines.  The 'history' option can be set to
        the number of lines that will be remembered.  There is a separate
        history for commands and for search patterns.

Command-line completion.                                cmdline-completion
        While entering a command-line (on the bottom line of the screen)
        <Tab> can be typed to complete
           what         example         
        - command       :e<Tab>
        - tag           :ta scr<Tab>
        - option        :set sc<Tab>
        - option value  :set hf=<Tab>
        - file name     :e ve<Tab>
        - etc.

        If there are multiple matches, CTRL-N (next) and CTRL-P (previous)
        will walk through the matches.  <Tab> works like CTRL-N, but wraps
        around to the first match.

        The 'wildchar' option can be set to the character for command-line
        completion, <Tab> is the default.  CTRL-D can be typed after an
        (incomplete) wildcard; all matches will be listed.  CTRL-A will insert
        all matches.  CTRL-L will insert the longest common part of the

Insert-mode completion.                                 ins-completion
        In Insert mode the CTRL-N and CTRL-P keys can be used to complete a
        word that appears elsewhere.    i_CTRL-N
        With CTRL-X another mode is entered, through which completion can be
        done for:
        i_CTRL-X_CTRL-F       file names
        i_CTRL-X_CTRL-K       words from 'dictionary' files
        i_CTRL-X_CTRL-T       words from 'thesaurus' files
        i_CTRL-X_CTRL-I       words from included files
        i_CTRL-X_CTRL-L       whole lines
        i_CTRL-X_CTRL-]       words from the tags file
        i_CTRL-X_CTRL-D       definitions or macros
        i_CTRL-X_CTRL-O       Omni completion: clever completion
                                specifically for a file type

Long line support.                                      'wrap' 'linebreak'
        If the 'wrap' option is off, long lines will not wrap and only part
        of them will be shown.  When the cursor is moved to a part that is not
        shown, the screen will scroll horizontally.  The minimum number of
        columns to scroll can be set with the 'sidescroll' option.  The zh
        and zl commands can be used to scroll sideways.
        Alternatively, long lines are broken in between words when the
        'linebreak' option is set.  This allows editing a single-line
        paragraph conveniently (e.g. when the text is later read into a DTP
        program).  Move the cursor up/down with the gk and gj commands.

Text formatting.                                        formatting
        The 'textwidth' option can be used to automatically limit the line
        length.  This supplements the 'wrapmargin' option of Vi, which was not
        very useful.  The gq operator can be used to format a piece of text
        (for example, gqap formats the current paragraph).  Commands for
        text alignment: :center, :left and :right.

Extended search patterns.                               pattern
        There are many extra items to match various text items.  Examples:
        A "\n" can be used in a search pattern to match a line break.
        "x\{2,4}" matches "x" 2 to 4 times.
        "\s" matches a white space character.

Directory, remote and archive browsing.                 netrw
        Vim can browse the file system.  Simply edit a directory.  Move around
        in the list with the usual commands and press <Enter> to go to the
        directory or file under the cursor.
        This also works for remote files over ftp, http, ssh, etc.
        Zip and tar archives can also be browsed. tar zip

Edit-compile-edit speedup.                              quickfix
        The :make command can be used to run the compilation and jump to the
        first error.  A file with compiler error messages is interpreted.  Vim
        jumps to the first error.

        Each line in the error file is scanned for the name of a file, line
        number and error message.  The 'errorformat' option can be set to a
        list of scanf-like strings to handle output from many compilers.

        The :cn command can be used to jump to the next error.
        :cl lists all the error messages.  Other commands are available.
        The 'makeef' option has the name of the file with error messages.
        The 'makeprg' option contains the name of the program to be executed
        with the :make command.
        The 'shellpipe' option contains the string to be used to put the
        output of the compiler into the errorfile.

Finding matches in files.                               :vimgrep
        Vim can search for a pattern in multiple files.  This uses the
        advanced Vim regexp pattern, works on all systems and also works to
        search in compressed files.

Improved indenting for programs.                        'cindent'
        When the 'cindent' option is on the indent of each line is
        automatically adjusted.  C syntax is mostly recognized.  The indent
        for various styles can be set with 'cinoptions'.  The keys to trigger
        indenting can be set with 'cinkeys'.

        Comments can be automatically formatted.  The 'comments' option can be
        set to the characters that start and end a comment.  This works best
        for C code, but also works for e-mail (">" at start of the line) and
        other types of text.  The = operator can be used to re-indent

        For many other languages an indent plugin is present to support
        automatic indenting. 30.3

Searching for words in included files.                  include-search
        The [i command can be used to search for a match of the word under
        the cursor in the current and included files.  The 'include' option
        can be set to a pattern that describes a command to include a file
        (the default is for C programs).
        The [I command lists all matches, the [_CTRL-I command jumps to
        a match.
        The [d, [D and [_CTRL-D commands do the same, but only for
        lines where the pattern given with the 'define' option matches.

Automatic commands.                                     autocommand
        Commands can be automatically executed when reading a file, writing a
        file, jumping to another buffer, etc., depending on the file name.
        This is useful to set options and mappings for C programs,
        documentation, plain text, e-mail, etc.  This also makes it possible
        to edit compressed files.

Scripts and Expressions.                                expression
        Commands have been added to form up a powerful script language.
        :if           Conditional execution, which can be used for example
                        to set options depending on the value of $TERM.
        :while        Repeat a number of commands.
        :for          Loop over a list.
        :echo         Print the result of an expression.
        :let          Assign a value to an internal variable, option, etc.
                        Variable types are Number, String, List and Dictionary.
        :execute      Execute a command formed by an expression.
        :try          Catch exceptions.
        etc., etc.  See eval.
        Debugging and profiling are supported. debug-scripts profile
        If this is not enough, an interface is provided to Python.

        The command-line history, marks and registers can be stored in a file
        that is read on startup.  This can be used to repeat a search command
        or command-line command after exiting and restarting Vim.  It is also
        possible to jump right back to where the last edit stopped with '0.
        The 'viminfo' option can be set to select which items to store in the
        .viminfo file.  This is off by default.

Printing.                                               printing
        The :hardcopy command sends text to the printer.  This can include
        syntax highlighting.

Mouse support.                                          mouse-using
        The mouse is supported in the GUI version, in an xterm for Unix, for
        BSDs with sysmouse, for Linux with gpm, and for Win32.  It can be used
        to position the cursor, select the visual area, paste a register, etc.

Usage of key names.                                     <> key-notation
        Special keys now all have a name like <Up>, <End>, etc.
        This name can be used in mappings, to make it easy to edit them.

Editing binary files.                                   edit-binary
        Vim can edit binary files.  You can change a few characters in an
        executable file, without corrupting it.  Vim doesn't remove NUL
        characters (they are represented as <NL> internally).
        -b            command-line argument to start editing a binary file
        'binary'      Option set by -b.  Prevents adding an <EOL> for the
                        last line in the file.

Multi-language support.                                 multi-lang
        Files in double-byte or multibyte encodings can be edited.  There is
        UTF-8 support to be able to edit various languages at the same time,
        without switching fonts. UTF-8
        Messages and menus are available in different languages.

Move cursor beyond lines.
        When the 'virtualedit' option is set the cursor can move all over the
        screen, also where there is no text.  This is useful to edit tables
        and figures easily.


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