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A simple Vim plugin to switch segments of text with predefined replacements

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This plugin is easier to demonstrate than explain. You can find a screencast here.


The main entry point of the plugin is a single command,

. When the command is executed, the plugin looks for one of a few specific patterns under the cursor and performs a substitution depending on the pattern. For example, if the cursor is on the "true" in the following code:
flag = true

Then, upon executing

, the "true" will turn into "false".

There's a default mapping to trigger the command,

. Note that this is already a Vim built-in, but it doesn't seem particularly useful.

If you'd like to change the mapping, change the value of

. For example, to map it to "-", place the following in your .vimrc:
let g:switch_mapping = "-"

To avoid the default mapping completely, set the variable to an empty string:

let g:switch_mapping = ""

See the "customization" section below for information on how to create several mappings with different definitions.

There are three main principles that the substitution follows:

  1. The cursor needs to be on the match. Regardless of the pattern, the plugin only performs the substitution if the cursor is positioned in the matched text.

  2. When several patterns match, the shortest match is performed. For example, in ruby, the following switch is defined:

   { :foo => true }
   # switches into:
   { foo: true }

This works if the cursor is positioned somewhere on the ":foo =>" part, but if it's on top of "true", the abovementioned true -> false substitution will be performed instead. If you want to perform a "larger" substitution instead, you could move your cursor away from the "smaller" match. In this case, move the cursor away from the "true" keyword.

  1. When several patterns with the same size match, the order of the definitions is respected. For instance, in eruby, the following code can be transformed:
   could switch into:

but instead, it would switch into:

The second switch will be performed, simply because in the definition list, the pattern was placed at a higher spot. In this case, this seems to make sense to prioritize one over the other. If it's needed to prioritize in a different way, the definition list should be redefined by the user.

Advanced usage

Instead of using the

commands, you can use the autoloaded function
. Calling it without any arguments is the same as calling the
:call switch#Switch()
" equivalent to:

However, you can also call the function with a dict of options. Instead of

, you can invoke it with the
:call switch#Switch({'reverse': 1})
" or,
:call switch#Switch({'reverse': v:true})
" equivalent to:

The other option you can provide is

to set an explicit list of definitions that are different from the built-ins.
:call switch#Switch({'definitions': list_of_definitions})


function returns 1 if it succeeded, and 0 if it failed. You can use the return value to decide if you'd like to apply some other mapping.

See below in "Customization" for more details and examples on how to write use this function.


Note: for more switches by the community, take a look at the wiki

There are two variables that hold the global definition list and the buffer-local definition list --

, respectively. These contain the definitions for the built-ins provided by the plugin. In order to add the switches you want, you should override

The format of the variables is a simple List of items. Each item can be either a List or a Dict.

List definitions

let g:switch_custom_definitions =
    \ [
    \   ['foo', 'bar', 'baz']
    \ ]

With this definition list, if the plugin encounters "foo" under the cursor, it will be changed to "bar". If it sees "bar", it will change it to "baz", and "baz" would be turned into "foo". This is the simple case of a definition that is implemented (in a slightly different way) by the "toggle.vim" plugin.

You might want this to work for different capitalizations, like with

. You might also want to also affect only word boundaries. While you could use the more complicated dict definition, a simple way to tackle these scenarios is with modifier functions:
  • switch#NormalizedCase
  • switch#Words
  • switch#NormalizedCaseWords

Here's how you might use these:

let g:switch_custom_definitions =
    \ [
    \   switch#NormalizedCase(['one', 'two']),
    \   switch#Words(['three', 'four']),
    \   switch#NormalizedCaseWords(['five', 'six']),
    \ ]

The result of this is that: - The first definition would switch between "one" and "two", between "One" and "Two", and between "ONE" and "TWO". - The second definition would switch between "three" and "four" only at word boundaries, as if the patterns have

modifiers added to them. - The third would switch between "five"/"six", "Five"/"Six", "FIVE"/"SIX" only at word boundaries with a combination of the above.


:help switch-internals
for some information on the underlying data format if you'd like to use a different method to generate definitions (like, say, loading JSON).

Leaving lists aside, the more complicated (and more powerful) way to define a switch pattern is by using a Dict. In fact, a list definition is processed into three dict definitions, one for each pair of switches.

Dict definitions

autocmd FileType eruby let b:switch_custom_definitions =
    \ [
    \   {
    \     ':\(\k\+\)\s\+=>': '\1:',
    \     '\',
    \   },
    \ ]

When in the eruby filetype, the hash will take effect. The plugin will look for something that looks like

:foo =>
and replace it with
, or the reverse --
, so it could turn it into
:foo =>
. The search string is fed to the
function, so all special patterns like
have effect in it. And the replacement string is used in the
command, so all of its replacement patterns work as well.

Notice the use of

autocmd FileType eruby
to set the buffer-local variable whenever an eruby file is loaded. The same effect could be achieved by placing this definition in

Another interesting example is the following definition:

autocmd FileType php let b:switch_custom_definitions =
      \ [
      \   {
      \     '':        '',
      \     '': '',
      \   }
      \ ]

In this case, when in the "php" filetype, the plugin will attempt to remove the "echo" in "<?php echo 'something' ?>" or vice-versa. However, the second pattern wouldn't work properly if it didn't contain "\%(echo)\@!". This pattern asserts that, in this place of the text, there is no "echo". Otherwise, the second pattern would match as well. Using the

pattern in strategic places is important in many cases.

For even more complicated substitutions, you can use the nested form.

Nested dict definitions

The following expression replaces underscored identifier names with their camelcased versions.

let b:switch_custom_definitions = [
      \   {
      \     '\': {
      \       '_\(.\)': '\U\1'
      \     },
      \     '\': {
      \       '\([A-Z]\)': '_\l\1'
      \     },
      \   }
      \ ]

If the cursor is on "foobarbaz", then switching would produce "fooBarBaz" and vice-versa. The logic is as follows:

  • The keys of the dict are patterns, just like the "normal" dict version.
  • The values of the dict are dicts with patterns for keys and replacements for values.

The goal of this form is to enable substituting several different kinds of patterns within the limits of another one. In this example, there's no way to define this switch using the simpler form, since there's an unknown number of underscores in the variable name and all of them need to be replaced in order to make the switch complete.

The nested patterns differ from the simple one in that each one of them is replaced globally, only within the limits of the "parent" pattern.

Note that this particular example is NOT included as a built-in, since it may overshadow other ones and is probably not that useful, either (it's rare that a language would require changing between the two forms). An example usage may be within javascript, if your server-side variables are underscored and the client-side ones need to be camelcased. For something more complete, you can take a look at this gist.

You could also use a separate mapping for that.

Separate mappings

While there's a default mapping for

, you could actually define several mappings with your own custom definitions:
let g:variable_style_switch_definitions = [
      \   {
      \     '\': {
      \       '_\(.\)': '\U\1'
      \     },
      \     '\': {
      \       '\([A-Z]\)': '_\l\1'
      \     },
      \   }
      \ ]
nnoremap + :call switch#Switch({'definitions': g:variable_style_switch_definitions})
nnoremap - :Switch

With this, typing

would invoke the built-in switch definitions, while typing
would switch between camelcase and underscored variable styles. This may be particularly useful if you have several clashing switches on patterns that match similar things.

More complicated mappings

By using the

function, you can also write more complicated mappings that check if a switch succeeded, and apply some fallback if it didn't. The function returns 1 for success and 0 for failure.

For example, if you want to switch, or fall back to activating the speeddating plugin, you could map

 like so:
" Don't use default mappings
let g:speeddating_no_mappings = 1

" Avoid issues because of us remapping and below nnoremap SpeedDatingFallbackUp nnoremap SpeedDatingFallbackDown

" Manually invoke speeddating in case switch didn't work nnoremap :if !switch#Switch() \ call speeddating#increment(v:count1) endif nnoremap :if !switch#Switch({'reverse': 1}) \ call speeddating#increment(-v:count1) endif


Here's a list of all the built-in switch definitions. To see the actual definitions with their patterns and replacements, look at the file plugin/switch.vim.


  • Boolean conditions:

    foo && bar
    foo || bar
  • Boolean constants: ``` flag = true flag = false

flag = True flag = False ```


  • Hash style:

    foo = { :one => 'two' }
    foo = { one: 'two' }
  • If-clauses: ``` ruby if predicate? puts 'Hello, World!' end

if true or (predicate?) puts 'Hello, World!' end

if false and (predicate?) puts 'Hello, World!' end ```

  • Rspec

    1.should eq 1
    1.should_not eq 1
  • Tap:

    foo =
    foo = user.comments.tap { |o| puts o.inspect }.map(&:author).first
  • String style:

    foo = 'bar'
    foo = "baz"
    foo = :baz
    (Note that it only works for single-word strings.)
  • Ruby block shorthands:

    do_something { |x| x.some_work! }
  • Array shorthands:

    ['one', 'two', 'three']
    %w(one two three)
  [:one, :two, :three]
  %i(one two three)

(In this case, be careful to not have the cursor on one of the strings/symbols, or you'll trigger the string switch as seen above.)

PHP "echo" in tags:


  • If-clauses: ``` erb <% if predicate? %> <%= 'Hello, World!' %> <% end %>

<% if true or (predicate?) %> <%= 'Hello, World!' %> <% end %>

<% if false and (predicate?) %> <%= 'Hello, World!' %> <% end %> ```

  • Tag type:


  • Hash style:

     'two' } %>


  • If-clauses: ``` haml - if predicate? Hello, World!
  • if true or (predicate?) Hello, World!

  • if false and (predicate?) Hello, World! ```

  • Tag type:

    - something
    -# something
    = something
  • Hash style:

    %a{:href => '/example'}
    %a{href: '/example'}

C++ pointer dots/arrows:

Object* foo = bar.baz;
Object* foo = bar->baz;


  • Function definitions:

    function example(one, two) { }
    var example = function(one, two) { }
  • ES6-style arrow functions:

    var example = function(one, two) { }
    var example = (one, two) => { }
  • ES6-style variable declarations:

    var example
    let example
    const example
    // var -> let
    // let -> const
    // const -> let
    Switching to var from const or let is unsupported, since it's assumed to be an unlikely case.

CoffeeScript arrows

functionCall (foo) ->
functionCall (foo) =>

CoffeeScript dictionary shorthands

foo = {one, two}
foo = {one: one, two}


  • String style:

    (Note that it only works for single-word strings, such as
    , or
  • If-clauses: ``` clojure (if predicate? (prn "Hello, world!") (prn "oh..."))

(if (or true predicate?) (prn "Hello, world!") (prn "oh..."))

(if (and false predicate?) (prn "Hello, world!") (prn "oh...")) ``

  (Note that it also works for
, and


  • String style:
    "foo bar"
    s"foo bar"
    f"foo bar"
    """foo bar"""
    s"""foo bar"""
    f"""foo bar"""

Git Rebase

  • Git Rebase Commands ``` pick -> fixup -> reword -> edit -> squash -> exec -> break -> drop -> label -> reset -> merge -> (loops back to pick)

    p -> fixup f -> reword r -> edit e -> squash s -> exec x -> break b -> drop d -> label l -> reset t -> merge m -> pick ```


Charlist -> Binary -> Atom

foo = 'bar'
foo = "bar"
foo = :bar

Elixir list shorthands

["one", "two", "three"]
~w(one two three)

[:one, :two, :three] ~w(one two three)a

Capitalized boolean constants :

flag = True
flag = False


Void typecheck

let value = complicated_expression();
let value: () = complicated_expression();


Particularly for files named

with the
filetype (not built-in, but there are plugins for it):
structopt = "0.3.5"
structopt = { version = "0.3.5" }

Similar work

This plugin is very similar to two other ones: - toggle.vim - cycle.vim

Both of these work on replacing a specific word under the cursor with a different one. The benefit of switch.vim is that it works for much more complicated patterns. The drawback is that this makes extending it more involved. I encourage anyone that doesn't need the additional power in switch.vim to take a look at one of these two.


If you'd like to hack on the plugin, please see first.


Any issues and suggestions are very welcome on the github bugtracker.

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