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Whitespace hungry backspace/delete

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created 2005 · complexity basic · author brailsmt · version 6.0

I think I figured out a good whitespace hungry delete.

imap <BS> <Esc>d?\S?e1<CR>i

It deletes from the cursor position backwards in the file until it finds the first non-whitespace character, and then changes the match end offset to avoid deleting that non-whitespace char.


Can you make one that will delete (or backspace) in tab-space chunks?

I use soft-tabs so it would be nice to be able to backspace over 4 whitespaces at a time (if they exist).

Unfortunately that doesn't faithfully reproduce <BS> under all circumstances. Try something like this (still not perfect).

function! HungryBackspaceWrapper()
  let column = col('.')
  if column == 1
    return "\<Esc>kJxi"
  elseif column >= 2 && getline('.')[column - 2] =~ '\S'
    return "\<BS>"
    return "\<Esc>d?\\S?e1\<CR>i"
inoremap <silent> <BS> <c-r>=HungryBackSpaceWrapper()<CR>

Are you sure you don't want to set backspace=indent,eol,start

Yeah, that seems to only work if the indentations have been automatically inserted. Example, I can type 8 spaces at the beginning of a line and hit backspace, it will only delete one space.

Also, this will not work for removing "tabs" in the middle or end of lines.

Why not use

v - visual,
ge - backward to the end of the Nth word
l - move right
d - delete.

It doesn't span blank lines.

set softtabstop=4 helps. Not sure whether set smarttab is also necessary to make bs delete 4 Spaces

It seems like it is.

Was looking for something like this, because whenever I paste code with the middle mouse button, the tab's get converted to 8x space's. Figured out a regex switch that works for me


Change "%" to "." to work only on the current line, may remove "g" if all your 8x spaces are at line beginnings.

It would be better to use the :retab command. See Super retab. JohnBeckett 07:56, June 22, 2011 (UTC)

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