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Syntax folding of Python files

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created 2004 · complexity intermediate · author Lee Chun Kin · version 6.0

The default files provided with Vim do not provide a way to fold Python programs, however entering the command :setlocal foldmethod=indent while editing a Python program enables folding based on the indent level, and that may be all that is needed. However, this tip provides the extra feature of folding def and class regions.

Modifying python.vimEdit

Unfortunately, the Python syntax file provided with Vim does not contain folding information. You can however create a custom Python syntax script that folds def and class regions.

To make this work, copy file python.vim provided with Vim, and modify the copy. In Vim, the file that needs to be copied is $VIMRUNTIME/syntax/python.vim, and the directory $VIMRUNTIME can be determined by entering the following command in Vim: :echo $VIMRUNTIME

For example, on a Unix system the source file might be /usr/share/vim/vim73/syntax/python.vim, while on a Windows system it might be C:\Program Files\Vim\Vim73\syntax\python.vim.

The python.vim file should be copied to the following directory (you need to create any directories that are not present on your system):

  • ~/.vim/after/syntax on Unix-based systems; or
  • $HOME/vimfiles/after/syntax on Windows systems (use :echo $HOME to determine your $HOME directory)

Open the copied file in Vim and change it like this:

Find the line that looks like:

syn keyword pythonStatement     nextgroup=pythonFunction skipwhite

and delete it. And also find these lines:

if version < 600
  syntax clear
elseif exists("b:current_syntax")

and change them to:

syntax clear

Additionally, you should create file after/ftplugin/python.vim which sets up folding for Python files. In that file, write:

setlocal foldmethod=syntax
setlocal foldtext=substitute(getline(v:foldstart),'\\t','\ \ \ \ ','g')

This will enable syntax folding for Python scripts. Additional settings for Python files can also be in after/ftplugin/python.vim (see indenting source code for an example).

If the settings from this file do not work, you need to set up the filetype settings in your vimrc (see :help :filetype-plugin-on).


The changed syntax script removes the syntax highlighting for keywords class and def.

See alsoEdit



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