by klange

klange / bim

small terminal text editor with syntax highlighting

145 Stars 7 Forks Last release: about 2 years ago (v1.0.5) ISC License 821 Commits 51 Releases

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Bim - A Text Editor


Bim is a terminal text editor with syntax highlighting.

Inspired by Vim (one might say a Bad Imitation) and featuring similar mode-based editing, Bim was originally written for ToaruOS, but it has also been tested in Linux, Sortix, FreeBSD, and macOS.

Goals / Purpose

Bim is intended as the included text editor in ToaruOS, a hobby operating system built from scratch.

Bim aims to be lightweight and featureful with no external dependencies, providing a modern editing experience in a single fully-encapsulated binary.


  • Vim-like modal interactions.
  • Arrow-key and traditional vi
  • Syntax highlighting (currently for C/C++, Python, Makefiles, Java, Rust, and a few others).
  • Themes, including 256-color and 24-bit color support.
  • Indentation adjustment and naïve automatic indentation.
  • Multiple editor tabs.
  • Basic Unicode support (sufficient for things like Japanese, but not capable of more complex scripts).
  • Efficient screen redrawing.
  • Terminal support tested in ToaruOS, Sortix, xterm, urxvt, Gnome, XFCE, Linux and FreeBSD consoles, macOS, iTerm2.
  • Mouse support in Xterm-like terminals.
  • Line and character selection, with yanking (paste buffer).
  • Incremental forward and backward search with match highlighting and smart case sensitivity.
  • Undo/redo stack.
  • Highlight matching parens/braces.
  • Multi-line insert mode.
  • Persistent cursor location between sessions.
  • Git integration, shows
    git diff
    status in-line, along with unsaved changes.
  • Convert syntax highlighted code to an HTML document.
  • Split viewports to view multiple files or different parts of the same file.
  • Simple autocompletions using ctags.


Bim has no external dependencies beyond a functioning C library, C99 compiler, and sufficient escape code support in the hosting terminal.

Terminal Support

Unicode support is recommended, but not completely required. Most terminals support the handful of characters used in the default setup regardless, but use

-O nounicode
if you experience issues with the rendering of indentation hints.

256-color and 24-bit color are optional. The default theme uses only the standard 16 colors. If your terminal only supports 8 colors, you can also supply

-O nobright
to disable bright colors.

Scrolling is normally done through

. If your terminal doesn't support these escapes, or has trouble scrolling, supply
-O noscroll
to have the screen refresh when scrolling. This may be slow.

Mouse support with

is available; if this escape sequence causes issues in your terminal, use
-O nomouse

The alternate screen is used if available with

. This can be disabled with
-O noaltscreen

Key Bindings

Default keybindings can be found in docs/


A complete listing of available commands can be found in docs/

Additional Bim Functionality

You can use Bim to display files in your terminal with syntax highlighting with

bim -c
(no line numbers) and
bim -C
(with line numbers).


You can pipe text to bim for editing with

bim -
. Note that Bim will wait for end-of-file before launching, so this is not suitable for use as a pager (pager support is planned).


Bim includes a handful of color schemes for the interface and syntax highlighting.

To enable themes, place theme scripts in an acessible directory and call them with

from your

For example, you can install bim themes to

and add the following lines at the start of your bimrc:
rundir /usr/share/bim/themes
theme sunsmoke

By default, themes are not installed along with bim. You can also embed themes in your bimrc directly.


A plain 16-color theme. Can be configured for use on terminals with or without bright color support. Looks a bit like Irssi.



An original 24-bit color theme with rustic browns and subdued pastel colors.



A 256-color version of Sunsmoke for use in terminals that do not support 24-bit color.



A 256-color theme based on the theme of the same name for Vim.


Solarized Dark

A 24-bit color theme based on the popular color palette.


City Lights

A 24-bit color theme based on the one for Atom and Sublime, featuring low contrast blues.



Based on selenized by Jan Warchoł


Config File

Bim will automatically run commands from

on startup.

A detailed bimrc example is available at docs/example.bimrc.

Bim scripts can define functions which can be called with

call function_name
. Functions with names like
will be automatically run when a file with the matching syntax is opened:
function onload:c
    tabstop 4

Syntax Support

Not all syntax highlighters are complete or support all features of their respective languages.

  • C/C++
  • Python
  • Java
  • diffs
  • Generic INI-style config files
  • Rust
  • git commits and interactive rebase
  • Make / GNU Make
  • Markdown (with some inline code highlighting support)
  • JSON
  • XML / HTML
  • Protobuf
  • Bash

Code Structure

Bim's core functionality lives in

. Syntax highlighter definitions are in
and use constructor methods to initialize and hook into the syntax database. Similarly, themes are in
. A single-file "baked" version of Bim can be generated with
python3 docs/
, which is suitable for distribution in ToaruOS and for when a "one-file" editor is desirable. Bim can be built without the
files, as well; just run
c99 -o bim bim.c
. Baked versions of Bim may be smaller than regular Bim due to better optimizations of debugging information.

Bim is not Vim

Some interactions in Bim work differently from Vim, and sometimes this is intentional. Bim's primary interactions are built around a selection, while Vim has verbs and navigation nouns.

does not let the cursor move past the end of the line, unlike
mode in Vim.

Bim wants to be more like Vim

Some interactions in Bim work differently from Vim, and sometimes this is unintentional. Bim is missing many features I would like to implement, like regular expression search (and replacement).


Bim is released under the terms of the ISC license, which is a simple BSD-style license. See LICENSE for details.


Bim is still primarily developed alongside ToaruOS. This repository is a mirror with fake history going back to the start of that project. Pull requests merged here will be patched into ToaruOS.


If you're using Bim, want to contribute to development, or have ideas for new features, join us in

on Freenode.

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