Vim Screencast: % Operator

Here's another in my series of vim screencasts. This one talks about the various uses of the % operator. You can find the video at (likely dead)

In non-editing mode, the % operator swaps between (), [] or {} style braces. This is super helpful for PHP style syntax that wraps large portions of code in these. The real power of the % operator comes in Ex mode, however.

Ex mode is the mode that is triggered by the colon ( : ). It prefaces such commands as :w[rite] or :q[uit]. In this mode, the % sign represents your current working file. You can use it to great effect with the ! operator which escapes to the shell temporarily. This allows commands such as::

:!ls -l %

which shows you the permissions of your current file. You can use it to run your current file through a python interpreter with::

:!python %

Another use of this command is to add command line output to the current buffer with commands akin to::

:!ls -l >> %

which uses bash redirection to add the text to the bottom of the file.

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