Vim Session Workflow

Nearly a year ago I started using a new vim workflow leveraging sessions. I’m very pleased with it and would love to share it with anyone who is interested.

Session Creation

This is what really made sessions work for me. Normally in vim when you store a session, which almost the entire state of the editor (all open windows, buffers, etc) you have to do it by hand, with the :mksession command. While that works, it means that you are doing that all the time. Tim Pope released a plugin called Obsession which resolves this issue.

When I use Obsession I simply run this command if I start a new project: :Obsess ~/.vvar/sessions/my-cool-thing. That will tell Obsession to automatically keep the session updated. I can then close vim, and if I need to pick up where I left off, I just load the session.

Lately, because I’m dealing with stupid kernel bugs, I have been using :mksession directly as I cannot seem to efficiently make session updating reliable.

Session Loading

I store my sessions (and really all files that vim generates to function) in a known location. The reasoning here is that I can then enumerate and select a session with a tool. I have a script that uses dmenu to display a list, but you could use one of those hip console based selectors too. Here’s my script:


exec gvim -S "$(find ~/.vvar/sessions -maxdepth 1 -type f | dmenu)"

That simply starts gvim with the selected session. If the session was created with Obsession, it will continue to automatically update.

This allows me to easily stop working on a given project and pick up exactly where I left off. It would be perfect if my computer would stop crashing; hopefully it’s perfect for you!

If you’d like to learn more, I can recommend two excellent books. I first learned how to use vi from Learning the vi and Vim Editors. The new edition has a lot more information and spends more time on Vim specific features. It was helpful for me at the time, and the fundamental model of vi is still well supported in Vim and this book explores that well.

Second, if you really want to up your editing game, check out Practical Vim. It’s a very approachable book that unpacks some of the lesser used features in ways that will be clearly and immediately useful. I periodically review this book because it’s such a treasure trove of clear hints and tips.

Posted Thu, Jun 9, 2016