In Vim I make auto-completion of the filesystem paths just by the shortcut Ctrl + x, Ctrl + f, in insert mode.

In a Makefile I sometimes put a path's prefix in a variable. For instance STYLEDIR=/home/user/style.

Then I have to refer to a file in that directory on another point in the Makefile. For instance

pandoc --style $(STYLEDIR)/main.css ...

In this case I can't autocomplete with Vim, because Vim is not aware of the value of the STYLEDIR variable. I start with $(STYLEDIR)/ and then Ctrl + x, Ctrl + f and doesn't show the completion.

Is there a way to have autocompletion of files in this case? Maybe a GNU Make plugin for Vim?

1 Answer 1


Get variable value

make -p -f/dev/null 2>/dev/null | grep -Po 'var\s*=\s*\K.+'

Complete in vim

I use :h complete() in this case, you need to tell it where complete starts and give it a list of candidates.

Assume your current line looks like this:

                                  ^---cursor position in insert mode

The idea is to get var, mid=/mid0/mid1/mid2/ and base, send var to :h system() to expand it, combine the expanded value with mid and base, send it to :h glob() , remove leading expanded var + mid from every item in glob result, and that's our final complete candidates:

inoremap <c-b> <c-r>=<sid>complete_make_var_path()<cr>

function! s:complete_make_var_path()

  " search $(..) backward, do nothing if not found
  let dolllar_pos = searchpos('\v\$\([^)]+\)', 'bn', line('.'))
  if dolllar_pos == [0, 0]
    return ''

  " get prefix from $ to current column -1
  let dir_base = getline('.')[ dolllar_pos[1] - 1 : col('.') - 2 ]

  " separate $(var)/mid0/mid1/mid2/base into var, mid, base
  let [var, mid, base] = matchlist(dir_base, '\v\$\(([^)]+)\)(.*/)?(.*)')[1:3]

  " expand var, erase trailing newline
  let evar = system('make -p -f/dev/null 2>/dev/null | grep -Po ''' . var . '\s*=\s*\K.+''' )
  if empty(evar)
    return ''
  let evar = evar[ 0 : len(evar) - 2 ]

  " glob candidates, remove leading evar+prefix
  let candidates = map(glob(evar . mid . base . '*', 0, 1), {i,v -> v[ len(evar . mid) : ]})
  call complete(col('.') - len(base), candidates)
  return ''

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