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created November 4, 2001 · complexity basic · author Joachhim Hofmann · version 5.7

"Automatic" bracket settingEdit

To automatically insert a closing parenthesis when typing an opening parenthesis you can insert the following simple mapping to your vimrc:

:inoremap ( ()<Esc>i

This ends up with the cursor between the opening and the closing parenthesis in insert mode.

You can apply this and the following tips, of course, with the kind of parenthesis/bracket character you want to, i.e. (, {, [, < ..... and, pretty useful as well, quotation marks ",',.... (to be continued)

Further improvement of parenthesis/bracket expandingEdit

If you are ready with filling the parenthesis/brackets, you likely want to "escape" from the brackets again to continue coding.

To make this pretty comfortable, I invented the following kind of mappings, which get out of the last expanded parenthesis/bracket, regardless of the actual type of it, and enter append mode again.

I mapped this kind of "getaway" with CTRL_j, you may use your favorite keystroke with it.

:inoremap ( ()<Esc>:let leavechar=")"<CR>i
:inoremap [ []<Esc>:let leavechar="]"<CR>i
:imap <C-j> <Esc>:exec "normal f" . leavechar<CR>a

Explanation: The variable "leavechar" contents the actual char which is to "escape" from.

A much more simple solution that handles nested braces or quotes correctly:

:inoremap <C-j> <Esc>/[)}"'\]>]<CR>:nohl<CR>a

"Late" bracketing of textEdit

Occasionally I later want already written text parts to put in parenthesis.

I use the following macro, which brackets previously visually selected text.

I mapped it with _(.

:vnoremap _( <Esc>`>a)<Esc>`<i(<Esc>

Furthermore, a sort of mapping for bracketing a *single word* is conceivable.

Because this is not as general like the kind of visual mode mapping, I use this kind of "word bracketing" only for surrounding the word right behind the cursor in insert mode with **. I use the following macro to "emphasize" the word i just typed, for newsgroup articles.

:imap _* <Esc>bi*<Esc>ea*<Space>


Since I use these macros, I never caused a syntax error because of missing brackets, and furthermore I can quickly insert parenthesis and qutotes into code- and non-code files.


Led me to create this mapping:

inoremap { {<CR><BS>}<Esc>ko

to be used in conjunction with my autoindent setup:

set expandtab
set shiftwidth=4
set smarttab
set autoindent
set smartindent

Now, any time i type a '{', this is what i get:

<cursor here ready for coding>

Great time saver and it ensures that i don't ever miss a brace. And it even works for you crazy people who put the open brace on the same line as the for/while/function name ;)

I modified this tip a bit to support different types of parenthisis better. This one will remember the list of parenthesis you typed.

inoremap ( ()<Esc>:call BC_AddChar(")")<CR>i
inoremap { {<CR>}<Esc>:call BC_AddChar("}")<CR><Esc>kA<CR>
inoremap [ []<Esc>:call BC_AddChar("]")<CR>i
inoremap " ""<Esc>:call BC_AddChar("\"")<CR>i
" jump out of parenthesis
inoremap <C-j> <Esc>:call search(BC_GetChar(), "W")<CR>a

function! BC_AddChar(schar)
 if exists("b:robstack")
 let b:robstack = b:robstack . a:schar
 let b:robstack = a:schar

function! BC_GetChar()
 let l:char = b:robstack[strlen(b:robstack)-1]
 let b:robstack = strpart(b:robstack, 0, strlen(b:robstack)-1)
 return l:char

I ran into this too. If there's actually a space in the mapping in your .vimrc file it will get added to the mapping. So just make sure to remove the space. If you check the current mapping by doing a

:inoremap {

if you did have that trailing whitespace it would show the mapping as

{ {<CR>}<Esc>:call BC_AddChar("}")<CR><Esc>kA<CR><Space>

Vim shouldn't interpret the whitespace as part of the mapping, perhaps this is a bug ?

The following may be a little more complex than it needs to be, but allows me to type the closing character to get out of the delimiter, if I'm already at the end.

inoremap ( ()<Esc>i
inoremap [ []<Esc>i
inoremap { {<CR>}<Esc>O
autocmd Syntax html,vim inoremap < <lt>><Esc>i| inoremap > <c-r>=ClosePair('>')<CR>
inoremap ) <c-r>=ClosePair(')')<CR>
inoremap ] <c-r>=ClosePair(']')<CR>
inoremap } <c-r>=CloseBracket()<CR>
inoremap " <c-r>=QuoteDelim('"')<CR>
inoremap ' <c-r>=QuoteDelim("'")<CR>

function ClosePair(char)
 if getline('.')[col('.') - 1] == a:char
 return "\<Right>"
 return a:char

function CloseBracket()
 if match(getline(line('.') + 1), '\s*}') < 0
 return "\<CR>}"
 return "\<Esc>j0f}a"

function QuoteDelim(char)
 let line = getline('.')
 let col = col('.')
 if line[col - 2] == "\\"
 "Inserting a quoted quotation mark into the string
 return a:char
 elseif line[col - 1] == a:char
 "Escaping out of the string
 return "\<Right>"
 "Starting a string
 return a:char.a:char."\<Esc>i"

This one is nice if one uses Perl:

inoremap {<CR> {<CR>}<Esc>ko

this will not add the closing bracket if you type something like '$foo{"bar"}++', but it will help if you make subs or multiline hashes.

In Breadman's cool script you might want to add a TAB to the third line thusly

inoremap { {<CR>}<Esc>O<TAB>

so when you hit { you will have


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