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Find files in subdirectories

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created 2006 · complexity intermediate · author Vladimir Marek · version 6.0


I'm working with big, nested workspaces and often I don't remember the exact path to the file, only its filename or part of the filename. If I know some of the text in the file, I could always recursively use 'vimgrep', but for searching on filenames alone I have been using:

:!find . -name ...

to locate the file and then edit it. I was trying to find if there is some solution directly in Vim, and haven't found one. Closest were :find and :globpath(). :find works nearly as I need, but unfortunatelly it opens the first file of a given name without telling me that there are more. For globpath() I was unable to make it work with the '**' construction, so that it would look into all subdirectories under current directory.

So I wrote this small function. You can use it like this:

:Find whatever.c - this opens the file "src/core/whatever.c"

If there is more than one match, it will present you a selection:

:Find Makefile
1 ./src/Makefile
2 ./src/core/Makefile
3 ./src/api/Makefile
...
89 ./src/deelply/hidden/Makefile
90 ./Makefile
Which ? (CR=nothing)

You may also use wildchars (whatever find(1) knows).

:Find *stream*.c
1 ./src/core/i_stream.c
2 ./src/core/o_stream.c
3 ./src/core/streamio.c
Which ? (CR=nothing)

The function itself:

" Find file in current directory and edit it.
function! Find(name)
  let l:list=system("find . -name '".a:name."' | perl -ne 'print \"$.\\t$_\"'")
  let l:num=strlen(substitute(l:list, "[^\n]", "", "g"))
  if l:num < 1
    echo "'".a:name."' not found"
    return
  endif
  if l:num != 1
    echo l:list
    let l:input=input("Which ? (CR=nothing)\n")
    if strlen(l:input)==0
      return
    endif
    if strlen(substitute(l:input, "[0-9]", "", "g"))>0
      echo "Not a number"
      return
    endif
    if l:input<1 || l:input>l:num
      echo "Out of range"
      return
    endif
    let l:line=matchstr("\n".l:list, "\n".l:input."\t[^\n]*")
  else
    let l:line=l:list
  endif
  let l:line=substitute(l:line, "^[^\t]*\t./", "", "")
  execute ":e ".l:line
endfunction
command! -nargs=1 Find :call Find("<args>")

Comments

You can load an arbitrary list of files with :args <pattern>, for instance:

Open all .c or .h files in the directory (and it's subdirectories) two directories up from the current directory:

args ../../**/*.[ch]

The only caveat (and it's a major one) is that it's very slow.

There's also the :Explore **/[pattern] command, available via netrw.vim. Example:

:Explore **/*.vim

This command will show the current match number out of the total quantity of matches in the status line, and one may move forwards and backwards in the matching files list. Hitting the <CR> on a matching file opens the file, of course.


When I try the :Explore command it gives error: E77: Too many file names

Adding a quit button is not a bad idea. Vim internal pager has quit bound to 'q' (see :help more-prompt), but this will stop my original script. I tried to use try-catch block around and it seems to work.

  if l:num != 1
    try
      echo l:list
    catch /.*/
    endtry
    let l:input=input("Which ? (CR=nothing)\n")

I think, it will be better to use vimgrep for find, than it works also under windows. I don't know how.

Here is a version the exclude subversion directory:

function! Find(name)
  let l:list=system("find . -name '".a:name."' | grep -v \".svn/\" | perl -ne 'print \"$.\\t$_\"'")
  let l:num=strlen(substitute(l:list, "[^\n]", "", "g"))
  if l:num < 1
    echo "'".a:name."' not found"
    return
  endif
  if l:num != 1
    echo l:list
    let l:input=input("Which ? (CR=nothing)\n")
    if strlen(l:input)==0
      return
    endif
    if strlen(substitute(l:input, "[0-9]", "", "g"))>0
      echo "Not a number"
      return
    endif
    if l:input<1 || l:input>l:num
      echo "Out of range"
      return
    endif
    let l:line=matchstr("\n".l:list, "\n".l:input."\t[^\n]*")
  else
    let l:line=l:list
  endif
  let l:line=substitute(l:line, "^[^\t]*\t./", "", "")
  execute ":e ".l:line
endfunction
command! -nargs=1 Find :call Find("<args>")

Here is a other nice solution to vimrc

if exists("$PROJECTDIR")
  set path=$PROJECTDIR/**
  set tags=$PROJECTDIR/tags
endif

well, is on the shell $PROJECTDIR defined the include recursive all directories.

with :find foo.cpp it's open the file on Vim.


Yes, I have been using construct very similar to yours, the trouble was that :find opens first file of a given name it finds, without telling you that there are other two.

The other thing, :find also does not like wildcard characters, they are expanded before the :find is executed. I would like to be able to use ':find blah*.c'. Or maybe I just don't know how to use :find properly ? :)


The tags mechanism is how I jump around files. The Exuberant Ctags tool allows you to tag the files themselves.

I have a script that looks like this:

ctags --extra=+f --langdef=file --langmap='file:.xml.jsp.properties.xslt' \
--exclude=WEB-INF/classes \
-R src/com src/java testharness/src web/pages sql gen WEB-INF

In your Vim session set the tags file location

:set tags=pathtotags/tags

And then use :tag FileName

Added bonus, :tag lets you use tab completion!


>> But maybe there is some way to generate two different tag files and use them in Vim at the same time?

Sure there is! You can try:

set tags=<path1>/tags,<path2>,tags

Thank you, very useful script. Would it be possible to add an option to open the found file with another program? For example openoffice in case the found file is odt?


If the user has no permission for some of the files, they are included in the listing. I solved it by redirecting stderr to /dev/null.

Old line:

let l:list=system("find . -name '".a:name."' | grep -v \".svn/\" | perl -ne 'print \"$.\\t$_\"'")

New line:

let l:list=system("find . -name '".a:name."' 2> /dev/null | grep -v \".svn/\" | perl -ne 'print \"$.\\t$_\"'")

The find command can be nicely integrated with the quickfix functionality of vim. Here an implementation based on the python vim module. Put this in you .vimrc file:

python << EOL
import vim

def Finder(*args):
    ''' Operation is as follows:
        - request the starting dir
        - find command finds the requested file
        - the printf param formats it to accomodate the errorformat '%f:%l:%m'
        - line is always 1, message is empty (-)
        - the 'cgete' vim command puts it into the quickfix errorlist
        - 'botright copen' opens the quickfix list
    '''
    start_dir = vim.eval('input("Start from dir: ", getcwd(), "dir")')
    find_cmd = (r'find %s -name %s -printf %%p:1:-\\n' % (start_dir, args[0]))
    vim.command("cgete system('%s')" % find_cmd)
    vim.command('botright copen')
EOL
command! -nargs=1 Find :py Finder("<args>")


This is the slightly modified version of the script so it accepts an optional (second) argument. If given it represents a path to be used in a search. The result of the search is redirected to a quickfix window.
The quickfix window gets focus after the search is done.

" Find file in current directory and edit it.
function! Find(...)
  let path="."
  if a:0==2
    let path=a:2
  endif
  let l:list=system("find ".path. " -name '".a:1."' | grep -v .svn ")
  let l:num=strlen(substitute(l:list, "[^\n]", "", "g"))
  if l:num < 1
    echo "'".a:1."' not found"
    return
  endif
  if l:num != 1
    let tmpfile = tempname()
    exe "redir! > " . tmpfile
    silent echon l:list
    redir END
    let old_efm = &efm
    set efm=%f

    if exists(":cgetfile")
        execute "silent! cgetfile " . tmpfile
    else
        execute "silent! cfile " . tmpfile
    endif

    let &efm = old_efm

    " Open the quickfix window below the current window
    botright copen

    call delete(tmpfile)
  endif
endfunction
command! -nargs=* Find :call Find(<f-args>)

One more slight modification. If only one file is found, the script directly above this comment will not open anything. And since there's no need to open the quickfix list for one file, it just opens it directly (like find).

" Find file in current directory and edit it.
function! Find(...)
  let path="."
  if a:0==2
    let path=a:2
  endif
  let l:list=system("find ".path. " -name '".a:1."' | grep -v .svn ")
  let l:num=strlen(substitute(l:list, "[^\n]", "", "g"))
  if l:num < 1
    echo "'".a:1."' not found"
    return
  endif
  if l:num == 1
    exe "open " . substitute(l:list, "\n", "", "g")
  else
    let tmpfile = tempname()
    exe "redir! > " . tmpfile
    silent echon l:list
    redir END
    let old_efm = &efm
    set efm=%f

    if exists(":cgetfile")
        execute "silent! cgetfile " . tmpfile
    else
        execute "silent! cfile " . tmpfile
    endif

    let &efm = old_efm

    " Open the quickfix window below the current window
    botright copen

    call delete(tmpfile)
  endif
endfunction
command! -nargs=* Find :call Find(<f-args>)

Added configurable inverted grep. Set g:FindIgnore in your .vimrc to a list of strings:

set g:FindIgnore = ['.swp', '.pyc', '.class', '.git', '.svn']
" Find file in current directory and edit it.
function! Find(...)
    if a:0==2
        let path=a:1
        let query=a:2
    else
        let path="./"
        let query=a:1
    endif

    if !exists("g:FindIgnore")
        let ignore = ""
    else
        let ignore = " | egrep -v '".join(g:FindIgnore, "|")."'"
    endif

    let l:list=system("find ".path." -type f -iname '*".query."*'".ignore)
    let l:num=strlen(substitute(l:list, "[^\n]", "", "g"))

    if l:num < 1
        echo "'".query."' not found"
        return
    endif

    if l:num == 1
        exe "open " . substitute(l:list, "\n", "", "g")
    else
        let tmpfile = tempname()
        exe "redir! > " . tmpfile
        silent echon l:list
        redir END
        let old_efm = &efm
        set efm=%f

        if exists(":cgetfile")
            execute "silent! cgetfile " . tmpfile
        else
            execute "silent! cfile " . tmpfile
        endif

        let &efm = old_efm

        " Open the quickfix window below the current window
        botright copen

        call delete(tmpfile)
    endif
endfunction

command! -nargs=* Find :call Find(<f-args>)
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