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 :-)

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