Making MacVim Pretty

1 minute read

The holy editor wars. Almost everyone has their favorite, and your colleague, conference mate, or cellmate will rabidly talk your ear off about one editor versus another. I have to admit, I bounce back and forth between TextMate and MacVim, and am closely watching my new up and coming favorite, Vico.

Lately I’ve been favoring MacVim. Especially with these modifications I’m about to show you that make it… pretty!

macvim screenshot

First, there is Alloy’s MacVim fork. It gives you a nice Mac-like sidebar, project drawer - just like TextMate. The easiest way I found to install Alloy’s fork is to use the normal homebrew recipe for macvim, but edit it, and point it to a new tarball that you’ve created.

  • install homebrew if you haven’t already
  • git clone
  • tar -cvzf macvim-7.3-63.tgz macvim/
  • brew edit macvim
  • change the line with the URL to something like file:///Users/ivan/dev/macvim-7.3-63.tgz. Make sure to use your own file path
  • you can either delete the md5 line or calculate the md5 of your tgz file with: md5 macvim-7.3-63.tgz
  • you may need to update the version if it has changed
  • brew uninstall macvim if you already had it installed
  • brew install macvim
  • launch MacVim and press command-, to get the preferences window. You should now have the option to show the sidebar

Secondly, there is Geoffrey Grosenbach’s PeepOpen. It gives you an improvement over TextMate’s Command-T file picker. There are Vim plugins that duplicate and improve on Command-T’s functionality already, like Ctrl-P but none of them are a pretty Cocoa GUI like PeepOpen. It is a paid product, but it’s worth the cost if you like to make your environment worth tolook at it.

Other reasons I am preferring Vim over TextMate lately are Tim Pope’s excellent plugins: Rails.vim, and (for Git).