My VIM configuration for PHP development.

Keeping on with my continuous search for the perfect IDE I’ve resumed my fight against VIM. As someone told me the learning of vim is a road of pain. It’s something like going to the gym. We known that going to the gym is good and healthy but it’s hard and painfully especially at the beginning. The learning curve of vim is hard. Vim is rare, or at least it’s different than all other IDEs. In this post I don’t want to create a vim tutorial (there are a lot of on the web). I want to share my actual vim configuration and the plugins I normally use. The configuration is not very original. It’s based on Matthew Weier O’Phinney configuration. You can find here a great post about vim in Matthew Weier’s blog. VIM is not my default IDE yet. I hope to swap to VIM soon but I feel myself slower when I code comparing with Netbeans or ZendStudio, and slow means less productive but I also feel if invest more time vim can be really productive. Here we are my vim plug-ins:


Great plug-in. Allows to explore filesystem. It’s easy and fast. I use F5 to toogle the NerdTree We move across the filesystem (jk) and open files with “o”. It’s really intuitive. Another great feature of NerdTree are the bookmarks. We select a folder and we type :Bookmark and we easily create a bookmark. Really cool when we work with different projects.


We can manage vim’s buffers with standard vim commands(:ls) but I like to use this extension. I’ve mapped BufferExplorer with ç key. I use a spanish keyboard and ç key is a letter I never use and is easily accessible, even for my small hands. When I type ç I can switch between my buffers.

Zen Coding

Really useful when writing HTML
pre#myid>span <Conrol-y>
and we get:

<pre id="myid"></pre>

You can see more examples here


We need xdebug plugin installed on our server. I’ve changed the original keys for this plugin because it uses NerdTree ones. I use control + the original keys. For example control + F5 starts the debuger and waits for the debug session from the browser. Xdebug helper for google chrome works fine.

Debuger session


Mac developers love Textmate. I’ve never use textmate (I’m a linux user) but this allow us create snippets features in Vim like Textmate’s snippets. It’s a good practice to create the snippets we normally use to increase our productivity. I’ve created several snippets for creating classes, function, for loops, and common pieces of code like that


We can open files with :e but commnad-t plugin helps us to open files. I trigger command-t with . Leader is an especial key in vim. We can map this key to a letter. I’ve mapped to “,”

Omni completion

control x – control o. If you have previously created your exuberant tags files, helps you with the autocompletion. Ok it’s not as good a netbeans or eclipse but it works. To create ctags file there is a mkTags bash file under .vim/bin folder


snipMate is trigger with tab key but tab key is used to for auto-completion with php plugin (ftp plugin). Supertab plugin magically triggers the plugin we need. I don’t really know how it works but it works (at least as I expect)

Another useful commands

çç: (insert mode) I use çç as esc key because escape key is too far for my small fingers
ç: (normal mode) Buffer explorer
control p: PHPDoc helper
zz: Open all forlds
F7: open close a fold
F6: show/hide line numbers

You can download my vim configuration from google code here

How to configure vim with my setings:

hg clone gonzalo123-vim
ln -s gonzalo123-vim/ ~/.vim
ln -s gonzalo123-vim/vimrc ~/.vimrc
ln -s gonzalo123-vim/gvimrc ~/.gvimrc

About Gonzalo Ayuso

Web Architect specialized in Open Source technologies. PHP, Python, JQuery, Dojo, PostgreSQL, CouchDB and node.js but always learning.

Posted on January 3, 2011, in php, Technology, tips, vim. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

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