Plugins: Overview

Vim compatibility

Vim has a large number of plugins available. There are plugins for almost everything: for different filetypes, color schemes, new commands or new features. Vem is compatible with most of them. The only plugins that may encounter an incompatibility are those that remap keys that are already mapped by Vem.

Most well written plugins take a lot of care to not to interfere with key mappings that the user may have defined. That's why most of them start their key mappings using the <leader> key (by default backslash \ both in Vim and Vem). If a plugin defines key mappings starting with <leader>, it should work in Vem as it does in Vim. However, some plugins don't follow this best practice. In those cases, they may override a key mapping set up by Vem and then, some Vem actions can make some actions to get altered or, directly, unreachable.

A word of caution

Once they realize the vast amount of plugins that are available, frequently new users find very tempting to start installing large amounts of them from the beginning. While plugins can be extremely useful, installing many of them indiscriminately can drag performance down, cause unexpected behavior of the editor and create cross-effects between mutually incompatible plugins.

It is usually a good idea to test any plugin that is installed to see if it is really useful and to see if it causes any problem. Also, when evaluating a plugin, consider that Vim may already offer a native solution to the problem that the plugin solves. Keeping a lean installation of the editor can help to keep it snappy and to avoid conflicts.

Plugin installation

Installing plugins is pretty easy. Just place them inside this folder (create it if it doesn't exist yet):


Vem will load all plugins present in this directory at startup.

For example, to install vim-eunuch you can do:

# only required if the start folder doesn't exist
mkdir -p ~/.config/vem/pack/plugins/start

cd ~/.config/vem/pack/plugins/start/
git clone

Take the following into account when managing your plugins:

  • Plugins are loaded at startup time, that means that you need to restart Vem any time you add or remove plugins for the changes to make effect.

  • If you add plugins to the start directory by directly cloning them from their repositories. That way you can pull changes every time that you want to update one.

  • To delete plugins, it is only necessary to delete their directories and restart Vem.

  • Plugin configuration options in Vem can be set in your vemrc file, instead of vimrc file, which is the one used in Vim.

  • Inside pack/ you can have multiple directories to group plugins. For example, you could have pack/foo/start/ and pack/bar/start simultaneously and the plugins of both directories will be loaded when you start Vem. Using pack/plugin/start/ is just a suggestion.

Help tags

If you want to be able to browse the documentation of the installed plugins using the :help command, you have to instruct Vim/Vem to parse the plugin help files first. To do that, execute:


It can be a good idea to execute this command every time that you add or remove plugins.

Plugin Managers

A popular option to manage plugins is to use a plugin manager. Plugin managers such as Vim Plug ( allow you to define a list of plugins you want to use and then they provide commands to clone (or upgrade) all them automatically. They also take care of updating your help tags without you having to do it manually.

Included plugins

Internally, Vem uses a selection of plugins to provide certain parts of the functionality and looks. These plugins are included with Vem in their unmodified versions and can be used and configured by the users directly without having to install them: