vim rails rails.vim ide

A Brief History Of Me Using Vim

Like so many others, I started using Vim to edit configuration files on servers or my local workstation. Vim usage became even more usual once I discovered Mutt, a very powerful terminal-based MUA that uses a normal text editor to compose emails.

My first Rails editor was Radrails. I had to switch to Netbeans when Radrails stopped working after an upgrade to my Fedora Linux installation. Netbeans has always been a slow-poke (it got better once I disabled the auto-complete feature) and so I wasn't all that sad when they announced Ruby on Rails support would be discontinued back in January 2011.

It was then that I turned to Vim to give it a bash as a Ruby IDE. I regret nothing.

I Was Ready To Write Vimscript!

It has always annoyed me that I couldn't1 create a missing spec file from a corresponding model or controller: :Vfunctionaltest would of course only complain about a nonexistent file. But Rails.vim already knows how to derive functional test filenames from a given controller, so it shouldn't be so difficult to just create one with, let's say, a :Vfunctionaltest! command, right?

1 better: or didn't know how.

So I took a trip to the tpope/vim-rails repo on Github and started digging for a function definition to hook into. I have never really done Vimscript and thought of it as a nice sport, but while I was figuring out how it all works together I found out that my desired feature actually existed already. Eager to learn what else I have missed up to the recent v5.0, I quickly had a look at the :help rails file. Let me share what I have found.

Creating Models, Controller Tests and View Templates

Let's start with the feature I was looking for: Rails.vim is able to create a new unsaved buffer with some boilerplate code to get you started.

"Note the bang! at the end of the filename
:Efunctionaltest foobar_controller!

The generated code depends on whether Rails.vim detects Test::Unit or RSpec. Here's an example for the generated code in an app that uses RSpec:

# Created buffer: spec/controllers/foobar_controller_spec.rb
require 'spec_helper'

describe FoobarController do

Awesome! Room for improvement would be to be able to ommit the _controller portion as that can easily be guessed from its functionaltest command. If there's a way to do it, please tell me.

Next up: creating a model.

:Emodel HelloWorld! " :Emodel hello_world! works as well
# Created buffer: app/models/hello_world.rb
class HelloWorld

If you're in a controller source file, let's assume it's app/controllers/foobar_controller.rb, you can create view templates for it:

:Eview preview.html.haml " Opens a buffer for app/views/foobar/preview.html.haml

Jump To Line

This is just a minor one, but might come in handy when you already see a line number of your failing test in the console. You can open a file and jump directly to a line number using this format:

:Eunittest foo:43 " Opens a buffer for spec/models/foo_spec.rb with cursor at line 43

Rails.vim's Builtin Abbreviations

I knew that ae<TAB> in a test case expands to »assert_equal« but I wasn't aware of the many, many shortcuts that are readily available in Rails.vim.

:Rabbrev " Shows all current abbreviations
AC::    ActionController
AD::    ActionDispatch
AM::    ActionMailer
AO::    ActiveModel
AR::    ActiveRecord
AS::    ActiveSupport
AV::    ActionView
bt(     belongs_to
co(     composed_of
habtm(  has_and_belongs_to_many
hm(     has_many
ho(     has_one
logd(   logger.debug
loge(   logger.error
logf(   logger.fatal
logw(   logger.warn
va(     validates_associated
vb(     validates_acceptance_of
vc(     validates_confirmation_of
ve(     validates_exclusion_of vf(     validates_format_of
vi(     validates_inclusion_of
vl(     validates_length_of
vn(     validates_numericality_of
vp(     validates_presence_of
vu(     validates_uniqueness_of

A pretty exhaustive list. And guess what: you can even create more.

Auto-Completion Based On Syntax Definitions

If you found the above list may prove to be useful, buckle your seatbelts. You're used to Ctrl-n to autocomplete with a wordlist built from all open buffers. Ctrl-x Ctrl-u gives you a set of autocompletable words based on Rails.vim's syntax definition file. Woot? I think I need to find a more comfortable keyboard mapping for that, though.

Customising Rails.vim With Projections

If your app has a directory structure that expands on the standard Rails layout, Rails.vim is at a loss determining alternate and related files. But fear not, you can train your editor to adapt to your custom layout with a config/projections.json file. Read more about that in the documentation.

Use :Rextract To Move Code Into A Module

Here's another killer: with the hail of app/(controllers|models)/concerns in Rails 4, :Rextract (formerly only known to me to extract code from a view template into a new partial) is even more useful.

Calling :Rextract name from a (visual) selection also works in a model or controller and will extract the selected code into a module.

# Buffer: app/models/foobar.rb
class Foobar
  def greet
    "Hello World"

Calling :2,4Rextract greeter will yield the following results:

# New buffer in vertical split: app/models/concerns/greeter.rb
module Greeter
  extend ActiveSupport::Concern

  def greet
    "Hello World"

# Buffer: app/models/foobar.rb
class Foobar
  include Greeter

The same goes for controllers, only the module will be created in app/controllers/concerns of course.

I'm sure there are other gems to be found in the mighty-mighty Rails.vim plugin (gems… get it?). I've seen a :Rpreview which actually hits a running server in your development env. It can be configured with an OpenURL command, but that's something for another time.

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