Helix Vim Save

A Vim-like configuration for Helix

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A Vim-like configuration for Helix


Let me guess why you're here. You're a (Neo)Vim user. Today, for the millionth time, you updated your plugins and were met with a sea of criminally useless error messages. You have things to do. You don't have time to search the GitHub issues of arcane plugins maintained by people whose approach to breaking changes is... well, a little too cavalier for your tastes.

You recall a friend or a colleague sent you a link to the Helix editor a while ago. It looked pretty cool, right?

"But what about the plugins!" cried the acolytes of NeoVim. Hmm... Plugins. Those plugins that break your barely recognizable vimrc with depressing regularity. Or maybe you really drank the Kool Aid and translated your config to Lua. It doesn't matter either way. Breaking changes in NeoVim plugins don't care about your .vimrc or your init.lua

Yes... Those plugins that you shouldn't even need to install to have a functional editor.

Plugins be damned!

Your sweaty hands fumble on your obnoxiously loud mechanical keyboard with the alt + hjkl keys to focus your open terminal emulator with your tiling window manager. kitty or alacritty, probably. You are thrown back briefly to a memory of the countless hours spent trying to get your terminal and Neo(Vim) colourschemes to match.

You install the latest binary release of Helix available on your package manager of choice and cd into the directory you were about to start working in before your Neo(Vim) configuration was drowned in a flood of red.


You tentatively press the space bar and try out the file picker. Fuzzy search. Syntax highlighting. Nice. Naturally, the directory you are in hosts a Rust project. You select one of the numerous lib.rs files which serve as the entry points to the Cargo workspace crates that you split your monolith out into in hope of improving your incremental compilation times on your aging Macbook Pro. Your company won't give you one of the new M1 models because this one isn't 5 years old yet. Alas.

You hear rust-analyzer begin to impose its will on your aging Intel CPU, crippled further by Jonny Ive's obsession with thinness above everything. I bet he's a raging fatphobe.

Wait a minute... Your eyes dart around the screen. There are no errors. The syntax highlighting looks right. You try to navigate through the file using {}, but it's not working. Hmm, that can be figured out later. You use the mouse to bring the cursor to an invocation of a declarative macro_rules! macro. You press g and are met with a host of LSP-powered options. You didn't even install an LSP plugin! You press k and a pop-up appears with the documentation for the macro.

This is how life should always be. You resolve to make the switch to Helix.

... And not long after, you give up. Your Vim muscle-memory is too strong. The Verb-Modifier-Object structure of Vim commands has become the language that your brain uses to send instructions to your fingers. Defeated, the references to hx in your .zsh_history become fewer and far between, until they disappear completely, replaced once again by vim, nvim or nvim aliased to vim.

You dismiss the red error messages screaming at you every time you open the editor. Maybe you keep an instance of it running after you have dismissed all the errors so that you don't have to go through the humiliation of dismissing errors that you don't have the time, energy or motivation to fix every time you want to edit a file.

Maybe one day, you think, it will be possible to use Helix in "Vim mode", after all, there is even a pretty decent Vim plugin for VSCode these days, right?

My friend. I have felt your frustration, your anger, your sorrow, your disappointment, and your defeat.

I might not be able to give you a perfect solution right now, but I can give you more than enough to get the ball rolling!


For this config to work well, you're gonna have to compile a pretty new version of Helix from source. And you're gonna have to make a change in the code before you compile it.

This is the change you'll have to make to this block of code.

After that, check out the config.toml file in this repository. It only contains key mappings. These were the most important key mappings to allow me to use as much of my Vim muscle-memory as possible when editing text in Helix.

If you are used to doing c commands a lot, you're going to have to adapt to selecting the area you want with v and then deleting it.

With this being said, a lot of the most basic stuff (including C, 0, $, ^, G, {} and %!) that you rely on every day to edit and navigate a text file without thinking about it, is implemented.

Feel free to fork this, personalize it, make suggestions, improvements, fill in gaps that I don't know how to fill, etc.

Open Source Agenda is not affiliated with "Helix Vim" Project. README Source: LGUG2Z/helix-vim
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