Does vim expose an api for manipulating argv before the "main program" looks at it?

I want to be able to use the syntax:

$ vim /path/to/my/file:100

and have it mean the same thing as

$ vim +100 /path/to/my/file

if /path/to/my/file:100 does not itself exist.

I can potentially see writing a wrapper script that does something like the example below, but I would really prefer to keep the logic inside my .vimrc if possible.

#!/usr/bin/env perl
use strict;
use warnings;

my @args;

foreach my $x (@ARGV) {
    my $candidate = (not (-f $x)) and ($x =~ /:/);
    if ($candidate) {
        my ($path, $linum) = split /:/, $x, 2;
        push @args, ("+" . $linum, $path);
    } else {
        push @args, $x;

exec "vim", @args;

1 Answer 1


You could write a dirty function for doing this for you:

au BufNewFile * nested call ReadFile()

func! ReadFile()
  let l:filename = expand('%:p')
  if l:filename =~ ':\d\+$'
    let l:number = matchstr(l:filename, ':\zs\d\+$')
    let l:filename = matchstr(l:filename, '^[^:]*')
    execute 'bd |  e! '. l:filename
    call cursor(l:number, 1)

This is not beatiful and has some downfalls, but could get you started.

Credits to muru for the nested modifier!

  • 2
    This is indeed a little bit more complex as we may want to jump to a buffer already opened, we need to apply ftdetect after the :edit. BTW, I don't remember why, I actually have a keepalt e. Aug 9, 2017 at 15:16
  • Aah here comes @lucHermitte again. Sorry was a bit in a hurry, wasn't the last version. I do not think that keepalt is needed here, since i delete the "wrong" buffer (Or maybe i misunderstood something). I didn't really understand what you are saying in the first part. As far as I understand it, the do BufRead will trigger the ftdetect, as always I would be thankfully to hear where I am wrong ;-) (This seems to make no problems with opening already open buffers...) Aug 10, 2017 at 11:34
  • 1
    Maybe use a nested autocmd, instead of manually calling do BufRead? See vi.stackexchange.com/q/2195/205
    – muru
    Aug 10, 2017 at 11:49
  • @muru that is great, thank you very much. I've searched for something like this. Aug 10, 2017 at 11:54
  • Also: I'd use :\d\+$ to ensure the line number is at the end of the string, just in case we get an argument like foo:1.bar:10, and use ^.*\ze: to get the filename
    – muru
    Aug 10, 2017 at 12:04

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