Managing text editor plug-ins

The open-source community, empowered by distributed version control system hosts like GitHub, has been critical to the success of democratising, and enabling access to supplementary tools like text editor plug-ins — all without the need for creators of text editors to pro-actively manage the ecosystem. Taking advantage of this, both Sublime Text and Vim support plug-in management as an option. Sublime Text offers Package Control, while Vim has several, of which I like Vim Plug. By letting install only what one needs, they keep the text editors sharp and responsive.

Package Control

It grew out of one enthusiast’s need to distribute his package to become the official package manager for Sublime Text. Today it maintains a catalogue of a vast array of packages (or plug-ins) that supplement and enhance the functionality of Sublime Text. In a class of its own, Package Control offers a couple of ways end-users can install and use plug-ins, viz., (a) from the official index list, which requires developers to make an effort to submit theirs, or (b) it allows a package repository to be added directly to Sublime Text without the need to go via the method (a) route. Both these methods are described in Usage. Here is a demonstration of how-to install packages covering both these methods.1

Ways to install packages (plug-ins) in Sublime Text.

Updating packages is manual and for good reasons. Package Control: Upgrade Package option from the Command Palette shows all packages that have been updated, and one can select packages to be updated.

The two packages sacs_st and usfos_st got developed because I needed syntax highlighting for my model files. I took the time to have them listed, thinking these could readily be useful to others too. Whereas for latex-snippets-st, my other package, I decided not, since Sublime Text is pre-bundled with a good LaTeX package already; my above package supplements it with personalised triggers and snippets. Still if one is interested, they can be just as easily installed. See the video from 36s onward on how-to.

Vim Plug

Vim Plug is another class act. A one line installer followed by a super-simple block within .vimrc to download and install the plug-ins of choice is all it takes to get the required Vim plug-in(s) working. Here is an example using my latex-snippets-vim plug-in.

call plug#begin('~/.vim/plugged')
Plug 'sirver/ultisnips'
Plug 'ckunte/latex-snippets-vim'
call plug#end()

Plug calls GitHub repositories by default. Then all one needs is reload .vimrc and :PlugInstall to install plug-ins. Plug-ins can be updated with :PlugUpdate. Removing plug-ins is also as easy as removing Plug lines from .vimrc, reload, and running :PlugClean from within Vim. See a demo below.2

Updating plug-ins via Vim Plug.

  1. Each method has its benefits. Method (a) offers greater visibility to end-users, while method (b) enables greater control and access to packages that may not be available from Package Control’s global list. 

  2. See also Nick’s video commentary regarding Vim Plug.