The 'write-plugin' section of the help recommends the following 3-level map approach:

map ,c  <Plug>TypecorrAdd 
noremap <unique> <script> <Plug>TypecorrAdd  <SID>Add 
noremap <SID>Add  :call <SID>Add(expand("<cword>"), 1)<CR> 

I understand how it works, but it wasn't immediately clear to me what was being gained by the middle level of indirection: specifically the map to Add. What is the advantage of this strategy over the following 2-level approach?

map ,c  <Plug>TypecorrAdd 
noremap <unique> <script> <Plug>TypecorrAdd :call <SID>Add(expand("<cword>"), 1)<CR> 

The help says... "If another script would also map Add, it would get another script ID and thus define another mapping."

While this is true, isn't this sort of script-uniqueness already guaranteed by the use of in the rhs of the 3rd mapping? I.e.,

:call Add(...)

Update: After much discussion with a patient and helpful @Peter Rincker, I now think the reason for the extra map level has become clear, but in the simple example I presented above, there's no need for it. The full example in the Vim help, however, had another map, which I neglected to copy into my question. The complete example looks like this:

map ,c  <Plug>TypecorrAdd 
noremap <SID>Add  :call <SID>Add(expand("<cword>"), 1)<CR> 
noremap <unique> <script> <Plug>TypecorrAdd  <SID>Add 
noremenu <script> Plugin.Add\ Correction      <SID>Add

Note that, in this full example, 2 distinct maps use <SID>Add in their rhs. The only purpose (AFAICT) of creating the map from <SID>Add is to avoid duplicating the code in its rhs in those 2 maps (normal map <Plug>TypecorrAdd and menu command Plugin.Add Correction). IOW, the extra (3rd) level of indirection seems to be more about code reuse than about hygiene or script insulation.

1 Answer 1


There are two things going on here: an <SID> mapping and the use of <script>


<SID> is used to make "local" mappings or menus. It does via name mangling. These <SID> mappings are often created for the purpose of code reuse.

See :h <SID> for more information.


<script> only allows remaps of <SID> so it is more hygienic. The idea is to use <script> to make mappings more resistant to recursive mappings or being polluted by unintended mappings. See :h :map-script for more.

Your example

So this code is doing the following things:

  • Creating an <SID> mappings to some function (for reuse)
  • Creating a <Plug> mapping that will be available outside the current script. This uses <script> to be my hygienic.
  • Creates a map to a <Plug> mapping. This the kind of mapping that you would often find in your vimrc.

Contrived example

A contrived example below to show the issues with not using <script> and <SID>. In our case we are going to reuse the yiw mapping (<Plug>(foo)).

nnoremap <Plug>(foo) yiw
nmap <Plug>(bar) <Plug>(foo)<cr>p
nmap <down> <Plug>(bar)

This all works fine until <cr> or p is mapped. e.g. nnoremap <cr> *

To avoid this we can add another level of indirection via <script> and <SID>.

nnoremap <SID>(foo) yiw
nnoremap <Plug>(foo) <SID>(foo)
nmap <script> <Plug>(bar) <SID>(foo)<cr>p
nmap <down> <Plug>(bar)

This example both <cr> or * can be mapped and the <Plug>(bar) mapping is resistant to these side-effects.


If you need to reuse a mapping or menu then using <SID> and script is a great option.

However many plugin developers do not bother with this much indirection as they do not need to reuse a mapping and therefore using <script> as it is not needed. Alternatively many plugins also avoid this by refactoring the common mapping(s) into part of a function call.

You will also notice that most newer script use the <Plug>(plugin-name-function) pattern instead of <Plug>PlugNameFunction. The parens make it easier to extend the plugin without coming up with weird names due to a common prefix.

  • But I still don't see how the middle map provides hygiene beyond what is provided by the 2-level mapping. In both 2 and 3-level approaches, noremap protects us from unintended recursive mappings, and <SID> ensures that the function called belongs to the proper script. I do see that without the <script> modifier on the middle map, <SID>Add in the rhs wouldn't be remapped, but without the middle map, there would be no need for the <SID>Add mapping at all, as the <Plug> map would map directly to something like :call <SNR>123Add(...)<CR>, which seems just as hygienic...
    – BPS
    Dec 10, 2016 at 3:01
  • Perhaps it would help if you could provide an example scenario (even a contrived one) where the intermediate map (the one from <Plug>TypecorrAdd to <SID>Add) fixes a problem you'd have if you tried to map directly from <Plug>TypecorrAdd to the final rhs.
    – BPS
    Dec 10, 2016 at 3:05
  • Thanks. But wouldn't this (2-level approach) do the same thing? noremap <Plug>(bar) yiw<cr>p nmap <down> <Plug>(bar) Just looked again at the example in the 'using-<Plug>' section of the Vim help, and I'm thinking that perhaps the extra level of indirection was added because the <SID>Add functionality was needed in the rhs of multiple maps (both a normal map and a menu map). In other words, the purpose of the <SID>Add map was to avoid repeating the rhs code, not to make the mapping more hygienic. Does this make sense?
    – BPS
    Dec 11, 2016 at 3:08
  • Yes the idea be able to reuse<Plug>(foo) in multiple places. It is a way reuse certain mappings while reducing side effects (hygienic). In reality I doubt you need to worry so much about using this technique. I haven't seen a great deal plugins using it as it is often superfluous. Dec 11, 2016 at 7:15
  • I've always understood the purpose of <Plug> (and even <SID> used in the rhs). It's the use of <SID>(foo) in the lhs that was confusing me, but not because I didn't understand what it was doing; rather, my confusion stemmed from my mistaken assumption that the 3rd level of indirection was added to increase hygiene, when it was really more about common code reuse. IOW, without the noremenu <script> Plugin.Add\ Correction in the Vim doc example, there would have been no point in making a map from <SID>Add. I appreciate your patience and help. I'd never seen this use of parens in maps.
    – BPS
    Dec 11, 2016 at 13:28

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