vim and markdown editing

I struggled with vim a bit tonight. I wanted to set it up to edit markdown files and have it behave like a word processor, where at a certain point on a line the text would automatically wrap. After googling for, well, hours, I found out that vim is not a word processor and word wrap simply isn’t in its genes.

Well, kind of.

The first thing I did was install the markdown file type plugin. There are a few and I think I like this one the best: https://github.com/tpope/vim-markdown. Not sure why, it just seems to do the most stuff.

Then I set a few options in .vimrc, specific to markdown filetypes:

autocmd Filetype markdown setlocal wrap
autocmd Filetype markdown setlocal linebreak
autocmd Filetype markdown setlocal nolist
autocmd Filetype markdown setlocal columns=80

The columns=80 actually sets the width of the vim application to 80 columns, which sets he size of the terminal window to 80-columns on my Mac’s iTerm. This is a bit annoying. What I really wanted was for vim to be wide, like the terminal, but for the text to wrap at 80 characters.

Meh.

Alternatively, if I could live with line breaks, I could set up vim so hitting gq would force a paragraph to wordwrap, or gggqG to format the entire document. That config looks like this:

autocmd Filetype markdown setlocal tw=80
autocmd Filetype markdown setlocal wm=4
autocmd Filetype markdown setlocal fo=cat

But I can’t live with line breaks. This markdown editing is what I do all of my writing in…, it’s simple. I can strip it out if necessary, or I could go the other way and generate html, pdf’s, etc. More on that in another post.

9 thoughts on “vim and markdown editing”

  1. I think what you were looking for is “set textwidth=0”. That actually adds newlines to your file where “wrap” just wraps it visually, but doesn’t enter any physical newlines.

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