Choosing a Vim Plugin Manager

Making a Choice

These are not the only choices for Vim plugins. Another whole subset are clones of Janus, which describes itself as a distribution with its own limited selection of available plugins. Increasingly, there are also managers for GUIS like GVim.

However, you don't have to go beyond the command line to find choices for several different backgrounds and levels of expertise. I would recommend vim-plug to practically anyone, but I would also suggest stating with Pathogen and then experimenting with its descendants Vundle, NeoBundle, and dein.vim until you find the level of complexity that best suits you. However you experiment, be careful to back up your .vimrc files, labelling the backups so you can revert to one if disaster strikes.

Like much of Vim, the plugin managers can appear complex at first. However, once you understand each one's basic premise, most of them become easier to use. Each can also help to reduce complexity as your collection of other plugins grows – as it almost certainly will.

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 ( He is also co-founder of Prentice Pieces, a blog about writing and fantasy at

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