VimR - A first look

My first impressions on the new VimR and a quick install guide

vimr icon

Recently learned of something called VimR, the full title was VimR - Refined Vim Experience for OS X.

As someone who a) uses Vim, b) runs OS X and c) enjoys refined experiences this had my attention.

Note - The version I am using is v0.1.5, the creator has stated in several places that this is still very much a work in progress

What is VimR

So what is VimR (apart from a refined Vim Experience for OS X!)?

The quick answer is that it is a more visual Vim environment, not dissimilar to MacVim.

The slightly longer answer, if I follow what people have been saying correctly is that this an implementation of the MacVimFramework. MacVimFramework is a fork of MacVim which has been tweaked so that it can be used inside other projects.

To quote the creator of VimR, Tae Won Ha;

So, to summarize: the rationale behind VimR is to build an editor which offers the full Vim experience, even if I don’t use all features of Vim, but has other convenience features—found in many other editors and in Vim scripts—in a graphical form, improving the whole editing experience.
Tae Won Ha

How do you Install VimR

If you have installed any Mac apps before from a website this won’t be new to you but if you haven’t the process is very simple;

  • Visit the official website of VimR
  • Click the Download link, this will download a compressed file
  • I have my machine set up to auto extract compressed files once downloaded, if you don’t you will need to extract the file.
  • Drag or move the extracted file ‘’ into your Applications folder

First Impressions of VimR

The very first time I opened up VimR my immediate first impression was “Yes! They use Solarised” which is the colour scheme that I use in my normal vimmings! Of course then I realised that this isn’t another copy of Vim, this is Vim, so it is reading my vimrc - which means no settings to change :-)

The sidebar file browser defaults to your home directory, which makes sense, I looked to see if I can configure this and at the moment you don’t seem to be able to.

Opening Screen of VimR
Opening Screen of VimR

The first thing I wanted to do is open a project I have been working on to get a feel for how it acts on a project. To do this I pressed CMD+O.

Everything looks good. It noticed I was using Python and has applied syntax highlighting correctly, I can also see just the two files that are in this project (see the following image)

Project view of VimR
Project view of Vimr

This is maybe a silly project to test with, but by pressing CMD+Shift+O I was able to get into Quick Open which allows me to start typing filenames in a fuzzy way and when I tested it on a large rails project it works great.

Things I hope come soon to VimR

I don’t know if Tae Won Ha will ever read this, but if he does, first of all hi and thank you! and secondly, here are some things I would love to see implemented at some stage;

  • Being able to open the app from the command line - I tried a few different methods but couldn’t get my current path passed in correctly. (I have reported this)
  • Being able to make the app full screen - This is fairly common functionality across most OS X apps at this point. (Covered by this issue)
  • A documented or easy way to add plugins - Right now prior knowledge of Vim is assumed.
  • A way to set a default opening directory - Right now we need to open it and immediately open a new project.

The VimR Codebase

If you know Objective-C (I don’t) then you may want to have a look around the codebase.

I have pulled it down and opened it in X Code, like I say I don’t speak Objective-C but it seemed intuitive enough to work around, it is interesting to see how it hangs together.

VimR Sounds Stupid, why not use MacVim or Vim?

A commenter on a Hacker News article I found said it better than I could;

I love the negativity in many of the responses here. Obviously people like native apps. Macvim is a thing. Emacs has a gui version for os x. Sublime is a thing. This is a polished port of macvim that has a file drawer, which is a feature that many people want baked into macvim. Browsing complex file hierarchies and large projects isn't great inside a terminal, and is a giant hurdle for many new users of vim. If this isn't for you then fine but don't rush here to proudly proclaim how you don't understand the point of this. I don't know why anyone submits their pet projects here.

Playing with VimR

Sure there are some things that are what I would consider to be missing, but I think I will continue playing with VimR with a view to it replacing terminal Vim as my main editor.

The fact that it is still Vim at its core means that should I need to jump back to Vim in the terminal there will be no muscle memory lost.

Some VimR Resources

Just in case you want to know more, here is a list of the resources I have used for this write up :-)

Recent posts View all


The best way to test model scopes in Rails

Learn about Rails scopes and how to best test them with both Rspec and Minitest


Finding out what called a Ruby method

A quick way to understand what is calling your code using the caller method