Part of the job performed by virtually all plugin managers in Vim is to create helptags, which will index the help files shipped with the plugins and will allow searching for commands and mappings added by the plugins themselves.
This action is implemented by calling the
:helptags command and passing it the path to the
doc/ directory inside a plugin directory tree.
:helptags command will scan that directory for files matching
*.txt, index the tags inside those files and then create a new file named
tags inside that same directory.
So the contents of the
tags file only depend on contents of files shipped by the plugin itself (the
doc/*.txt files) and the file lives within the plugin directory tree as well (also under the
So why is it that this file always needs to be generated when installing or updating plugins, rather than shipped with the plugins themselves?
I ask because it's kind of a pain to keep that always up to date when manually managing plugins, for instance when using the package manager support from Vim 8 and when storing the plugins as git submodules of a main repository.