One option would be the other
<C-w>f opens in a new split and
<C-w>gf in a new tab.
You could try to
:set switchbuf=useopen and see if that helps.
Lastly, you could use an ftplugin to map
:drop as follows:
nnoremap <buffer> gf :execute 'drop' expand('<cfile>')<CR>
(If you go for this route, you may want to adjust
b:undo_ftplugin as well.)
This last solution does suffer from the fact that
:drop does not open in a new tab if the buffer doesn't exist (it uses the current window). You could fix this with
nnoremap <buffer> gf :execute (bufloaded(expand('<cfile>')) ? 'drop' : 'tabedit') expand('<cfile>')<CR>
There are further caveats to either mapping solution:
expand('<cfile>') should be an exact replica of the filename-resolution system used by
gf, which is far more intelligent than just "word under cursor" (it involves using
suffixesadd, at the least). If
expand('<cfile>') isn't working, you can try
.&l:suffixesadd as a workaround.
- I made the mappings buffer-local since I put them in an ftplugin. In general I recommend not overriding vim’s builtins unless it’s strictly a superset of the behavior, but YMMV.
- If you consider tab pages to be more like window layouts, it may be more advantageous to envision a workflow where you are ok with having the same file open in multiple windows across multiple tab pages. I may have a tab for the main entry points of a project, a tab for each of successive stages of a processing pipeline, etc. Each of those tabs may have different or the same files; sometimes, I have the same file in multiple windows just for different views! This depends on the complexity of the project though, as for many projects I don't need more than 2 or 3 windows and am often only in 1 or 2.