Managing Vim plugins and scripts

Cleaning Up Vundle

You can remove plugins from the system by deleting their subdirectories in ~/.vim/bundle, followed by their mention in .vimrc. This is one of the basic advantages of Pathogen and Vundle. Instead of hunting for all the files associated with a bundle, as with default Vim, you can just delete the subdirectory to be sure that all of a bundle's files have been removed.

However, Vundle also provides :BundleClean so that you can remove plugins that are not being used without leaving Vim. When the basic command is used, you are asked to confirm the removal of each unused plugin. However, when the command is modified to :BundleClean(!), unused plugins are removed without any input from you (Figure 5).

Figure 5: You can remove unused plugins by running :BundleClean.

Searching for Plugins

Run in its simplest form, :BundleSearch finds available plugins that match the search term that you enter. For example, if you enter

:BundleSearch vim

a new window opens, highlighting all instances of vim as part of the name for plugins. From the new window, you can use the arrow keys to select a bundle, then the command :i to install the bundle or :s to do a search among the results. If you install, you will still need to edit .vimrc if you want automatic updates or use :c to clean up the list and :R to reload it.

The :BundleSearch command requires Curl to run. If entered without a search term, it displays all available bundles (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Using :BundleSearch lets you find available plugins and install or remove them.

Deciding Whether to Use Vundle

Vundle is designed for regular users of Vim who are likely to have half a dozen or more plugins installed. If you rarely use Vim and have few plugins installed, you might not consider Vundle worth installing. Additionally, although automatic updates are convenient, to the security-conscious they do represent a vulnerability. Such users may prefer to stick with Pathogen, which rationalizes Vim's directory structure but does not provide automatic updates.

At the other extreme, some users find Vundle useful but think it doesn't go far enough. These users might consider Neobundle [6], a fork of Vundle that includes support for more than Git repositories, delayed plugin loading, and support for several plugins written by Neobundle's creator. However, if anything, Neobundle is too elaborate in its features. By contrast, Vundle, poised as it is between Pathogen and Neobundle, might be called a reasonable compromise between security and convenience.

The Author

Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist and a freelance writer and editor specializing in free and open source software. In addition to his writing projects, he also teaches live and e-learning courses. In his spare time, Bruce writes about Northwest coast art. You can read more of his work at

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