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Tags and Symbols

The Vim's tags system are quite useful for us. By the power of ctags, we can generate the tags and analysis code with it in Vim.

exVim improve this by introduce the ex-tags and ex-symbol plugins. exVim also integrate the ctags generation in its :Update command.

Tag Selection

In Vim we use <ctrl-]> and :ts tag-name to jump by tags. ex-tags provides the same way but in different commands --- <leader>] and :TS tag-name.

You can think they are a polish version of the original.

For example, suppose we want to list the defines and declarations of dlmalloc, we type :ts dlmalloc and Vim give us:


After that we have to type a number to select or press <Esc> to cancel it.

In ex-tags we do this by :TS dlmalloc and Vim give us:


Almost same as first one except this time you can move up and down by your cursor and can press <Enter> to select.


Symbols is the collection of tag names. In exVim's :Update command, after generate tags file with ctags, it will read the tags, extracts the tag names into symbol file. This file a.k.a symbols
will be used in ex-symbol to help user fast search tags.

The symbols is very useful when you forget the exactly words in tags. It help you search from the tag names, and allow you filter the result similar to the filter methods in Global Search.

List symbols

ex-symbols provides you 4 different ways to list tags in the symbol window:

Commands Usage
<leader>ss List all symbols in the symbol window.
<leader>sq Open symbol window and show the last listed symbols.
<leader>sg Use current word under the cursor as search tag, list all tags match it in the symbol window.
:SL <your-tag> Use <your-tag> as search tag, list all tags match it in the symbol window.


ex-symbols will list the search results like this:


There is too many results if you list it all by <leader>ss. The ex-symbol design a very similar search filter commands to Global Search.

ex-symbol allow user apply Vim's search commands such as /, ? and so on (more details type :help search-commands). After you confirm the Vim's search pattern, you can use ex-symbol's filter command to remove the result you don't want in the symbol window.

Commands Usage
<leader>r Remove the symbols listed in symbol window not contains the Vim's search pattern.
<leader>d Remove the symbols listed in symbol window contains the Vim's search pattern.

The cool thing is, you can use these filter methods again and again till the result less enough to choose.

By pressing <Enter> you will confirm the ex-symbol searches. By default, ex-symbol use :ts command on the selected symbol. exVim will change this to :TS if ex-tags installed.


use <leader>sg, <leader>gg and <leader>] everywhere

The global commands such as <leader>sg, <leader>gg and <leader>] can be apply in all the buffers in the Vim. This means they are not only can be used in edit-window, but also plugin-windows.

For example:

Do a global search by :GS foobar. In your "foobar" result window,

  1. You can pick a word and search again by <leader>gg.
  2. You can show a tag by <leader>]
  3. You can list a symbol by <leader>sg.

In your listed symbols

  1. You can confirm the select
  2. You can move to a symbol and doing <leader>gg to global search it.

exVim doing good in integrate all these plugins together. Don't worry about windows, they will be closed automatically when you doing a global ex-commands.

use <leader>sg or :SL <your-tag> get class members

When you use <leader>sg or :SL <your-tag> in a current word which is a class name, it will bring you the list of the class and its members. This is very userful to check what's the functions and
member variables in this class. But remember, ex-symbol not smart enough to bring you the inherits.

Here is what I get when I use sg in a class named “exSprite” in a csharp project:


use <leader>sg or :SL <your-tag> to check a member in different classes

Unlike browsing members in one class, you can also use <leader>sg or :SL <your-tag> get same define in different members.

For example, you can type :SL :push_back, and it will show the ":push_back" function in different classes in a cpp project:


use the whole symbol jump instead of <leader>] jump

As we know <leader>] will list all possible tags defines and delcarations of the word under your cursor. That means you can't expect <leader>] list "ex::Array::push_back" since it is three words in Vim.

There is two ways to solve this: One is type the whole define by :TS ex::Array::push_back or we can choose it in ex-symbol. It will use the whole symbol as your search pattern in :TS.