Vim Tips Wiki

Follow Help Tags Using Ctags

Revision as of 01:28, January 19, 2013 by JoeyTwiddle (Talk | contribs)

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It might be a nice idea to use helptags to jump around non-help files:

   // my_program.c
   // Important code! See |somewhere_else|
   // *somewhere_else*

Pressing Ctrl-] should follow the |tag_reference| to the *tag_location* just like it does when browsing Vim's help.

The Problem

Unfortunately :helptags only runs on .txt files. Two workarounds are:

  • Create symlinks to txt files ~/.vim/docs
  • Set filetype=help and use an external program to generate the tags

Solution with Ctags

But if you are already using exuberant-ctags or taglist.vim, we can just create a new tag type "htag".

This must be done once for each file-type we want it to work on. Here is what I did for .java files:

Add to ~/.ctags:


After regenerating the tags, Ctrl-] should now work within that project.

If you use the taglist plugin and you want to see these tags listed, add to ~/.vimrc

" Defaults from taglist.vim /_java_ with our h:htag type added.
let tlist_java_settings = 'java;p:package;c:class;i:interface;' .
                             \ 'f:field;m:method;h:htag'


The simple pattern given above will be too general in many languages, for example it would find tags in: x = y*4*foo*bar . We could ask it to look for a whitespace either before or after it.

The words you use for your new htags should be unique, or will overlap with existing tags for functions, etc. I suggest using a different naming convention. E.g. in Java use non-camelcase with '_'s.

Tags will not jump directly into Vim help, unless you include help files in your ctags regeneration.

It would be nice to enable it for all filetypes automatically, rather than an an entry (or 2) for every filetype we use.

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