I've followed this tutorial to set up a nice git-commit-template and use it with Vim. I would like to put this one step further and make possible to have in my template a preconfigured variable with my current branch name, something like:

This is my commit title [branch ${MY_BRANCH}]

Commit Body

Is that possible?

Thank you

1 Answer 1


It's possible with some scripting. When editing a commit message, a temporary file .git/COMMIT_EDITMSG is created with the contents of the commit.template file.

With autocmd we can execute a script that changes the content of the buffer:

function! s:expand_commit_template() abort
  let context = {
        \ 'MY_BRANCH': matchstr(system('git rev-parse --abbrev-ref HEAD'), '\p\+'),
        \ 'AUTHOR': 'Tommy A',
        \ }

  let lnum = nextnonblank(1)
  while lnum && lnum < line('$')
    call setline(lnum, substitute(getline(lnum), '\${\(\w\+\)}',
          \ '\=get(context, submatch(1), submatch(0))', 'g'))
    let lnum = nextnonblank(lnum + 1)

autocmd BufRead */.git/COMMIT_EDITMSG call s:expand_commit_template()

For filling the template, we use a context dict that defines expandable placeholders. For MY_BRANCH, we get the current branch and use matchstr() to get the first set of printable characters (otherwise, newline will be included as ^@). I also included AUTHOR to demonstrate that this can expand more than one placeholder.

The lines are scanned for text between ${ and }. When found, the captured text in submatch(1) is used as a key to get a value from context to use as the substitution. If the key doesn't exist in context, the fully matched text in submatch(0) is returned effectively "ignoring" the match.

With the context being {'MY_BRANCH': 'master', 'AUTHOR': 'Tommy A'} and given the template:

This is my commit title [branch ${MY_BRANCH}]

Commit Body ${NON_EXISTENT}


git commit will display a buffer with:

This is my commit title [branch master]

Commit Body ${NON_EXISTENT}

- Tommy A

This will work with git commit and vim-fugitive's :Gcommit command.

  • 1
    This is just a-ma-zing! It worked like a charm, thank you so much Tommy A!
    – caneta
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 15:45

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