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Vim plugin for debugging Ruby applications (using ruby-debug-ide gem)

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This is a new version of the plugin, which uses debugger-xml gem, and works only with Ruby >= 1.9. If you want to use ruby-debug-ide gem and/or Ruby <= 1.8.7, you should check 'v1.0' branch (


This Vim plugin implements interactive Ruby debugger in Vim.

This version of the plugin works only with Ruby >= 1.9. It uses debugger-xml under the hood, which is just a XML/IDE extension for the debugger gem, which supports Ruby 1.9.2 and 1.9.3 out-of-the-box, but doesn't support Ruby <= 1.8.7.


  1. It can debug any Ruby application (Rails, by default), debugger-xml gem
  2. The debugger looks like in any IDE - you can go through the code, watch variables, breakpoints in a separate window, set and remove breakpoints.
  3. It supports execution of commands in the context of stopped line. E.g., you can execute ':RdbEval User.all' in the Vim command line and it will display the results like usual echo Vim command.


  1. Vim >= 7.0, compiled with +signs, +clientserver and +ruby. You can verify it by VIM command:

    :echo has("signs") && has("clientserver") && has("ruby") && v:version > 700

    It should show result '1'.

  2. debugger-xml gem.

  3. For OS X:

    The vim that ships with OS X does not use ruby, nor does it support --servername, so MacVim must be used.

    Make sure that both MacVim, and mvim are installed.

    If they are not, you can use homebrew (

    brew install macvim

    This will install MacVim, along with the mvim command line utility.


  1. Clone the repo

    git clone git://

    or just download the archive from here:

    You will get the 'vim-ruby-debugger' dir with the plugin.

  2. Copy contents of the 'vim-ruby-debugger' dir to your ~/.vim/ (or to ~/.vim/bundle/vim-ruby-debugger if you use pathogen).

  3. Generate the local tags file

    :helptags ~/.vim/doc

    Now, you can use

    :help ruby-debugger

    to get help for the ruby-debugger plugin.

  4. If using MacVim:

    Modify your ~/.vimrc to add the following line:

    let g:ruby_debugger_progname = 'mvim'

Windows is not supported, sorry, Windows users.


  1. Run Vim. If you use gvim/mvim, it will automatically start the server, but if you use vim, you need to set servername explicitly, e.g., vim --servername VIM

  2. Go to the directory with some your Rails application.

     :cd ~/projects/rails
  3. Run Server with Debugger:


    It will run debugger-xml's rdebug-vim executable, create a UNIX socket in tmp directory, and connect to debugger-xml through it.

  4. Set a breakpoint somewhere by <Leader>b (e.g., '\b'). You should see 'xx' symbol at current line.

  5. Open a page with the breakpoint in a browser. Vim should automatically set the current line to the breakpoint.

  6. After this, you can use commands:

     b - set breakpoint at current line
     v - open/close window with variables. You can expand/collapse variables by 'o' in normal mode or left-mouse double-click
     n - step over
     s - step into
     c - continue
  7. You may find useful to override default shortcut commands by F5-F8 shortcuts. Add these to your .vimrc:

      map   :call g:RubyDebugger.step()
      map   :call
      map   :call g:RubyDebugger.continue()


If you want to run tests, replace in /autoload directory rubydebugger.vim to **rubydebugger.vim** from additionals/autoload directory. And then, in command mode execute





Special thanks to tpope (for rails.vim) and Marty Grenfell (for NERDTree), mostly, I learn Vim Scripting from their projects.

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