February 14, 2011

Focus on a test in Vim

I have found myself in the situation where I would have Vim running in one window, and a terminal open on the other monitor with my tests. And noticed I was constantly dancing across the keyboard ⌘-tab;⌃-p;↩;⌘-tab (switch windows to Terminal; previous command; enter; switch windows to Vim). Of course this muscle memory was broken when I switched to my browser in between. I wanted to automate this.

I could use autotest, but our test suite is slow to start up and I wanted to focus on one test.

I could run that test within Vim, but MacVim does not show the color escapes when running a command, plus it blocks my editing while I wait for the tests to run.

I could use Vim in the terminal, but I like my ⌘ key mappings and colors.

My solution:

  1. Run the command from Vim in the background and redirect the output to a file
  2. Tail the log in Terminal

How to do it:

Run your test in Vim, the line I would use is something like this (just replace the command bit with the one you want to run):

map <D-r> :silent execute "!ruby test/unit/post_test.rb &> /tmp/vim.log &" <cr>

And tail the logs:

$ tail -f /tmp/vim.log

Now when ever I press ⌘-r I can keep on tinkering with the code while the tests run on the other monitor.

I don’t keep that command in my .vimrc file because I am constantly going back and changing the command – this has become a macro that I change around as I am focusing on different parts of my code.

Protip: use q: to interactively edit and run past Vim commands.

Beauty of this is it works on any command, in any language I am programming in.

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