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A productive workflow with vim sessions and servers

You can find lot of posts on the internet which try to tell you how to improve the ways in which Vim is used. Well, here is another one.

#Vim Server, ZSH and Tiles

A Vim instance behaves as a server in which files can be opened through remote applications. Read :help client-server of Vim to know more about this. I generally keep multiple Vim sessions running, described by task they are related to.

A typical workspace has one instance of Vim running and multiple terminals around it. Lets call this workspace for project foo. So the name of Vim instance server will be foo:

vim --servername foo

And any file will be open in this server, using this command:

vim --servername foo --remote-silent bar.hs

|           |~$         |
|           |           |
|           |-----------+
|    Vim    |~$         |
|   Server  |           |
|           |-----------+
|           |~$         |
|           |           |

How this helps:

  • Lets me keep a well defined separation on various projects I am working on. The list of files in the buffer per instance remains short and manageable.

  • Also each instance can have its own project specific environment - current directory, python virtual environments etc.

For easing all this up, I use a set of helper functions in my zshrc:

# Set the name of vim session the terminal is tied up to
    export VI_SERVER=$1

# Fire up a new server according to the argument supplied
    eset $1
    vim --servername $VI_SERVER

# Open up the files in the environment Vim server.
    vim --servername $VI_SERVER --remote-silent $*

# Reuse Vim ZSH completions for vim completions
compdef _vim es

#Vim Sessions

Having multiple instances is great, but I don’t want to set each up every time I need resume working. For this I use Vim Sessions, which allow the current Vim state to be stored over the disk.

vim-session plugin will help you manage sessions easily. It is well integrated with Vim client-server.

From docs:

When you start Vim with a custom server name that matches one of the existing session names then the matching session will be automatically restored.