I have the following file

NODE  / 11000001       1009.6809       -878.9679        316.3049
NODE  / 11000001       1009.6809       -878.9679        316.3049
NODE  / 11000001       1009.6809       -878.9679        316.3049
NODE  / 11000001       1009.6809       -878.9679        316.3049

I'd like to fold it using the foldexpr method (I tried syntax, but I have other requirements that for now keep me from pursuing that further). There should be 2 folds, one containing the first 2 lines, a second containing the other. If need be, I'd be ok with a third fold containing the other two, but I'd like it better if this could be avoided.

:h fold-expr refers to :h fold-indent for using foldlevels:

A sequence of lines with the same or higher fold level form a fold, with the lines with a higher level forming a nested fold.

So, as far as I can see, I need to have the first 2 lines the same foldlevel, as well as lines 3-6. But lines 1-2 need a higher foldlevel, so the fold for lines 1-2 fold does not include lines 3-6. I can achieve that in the following way

set foldexpr=GetPamFold(v:lnum)

function! GetPamFold(lnum)
  let linestr = getline(a:lnum)

  if linestr =~ '^NODE'
    return '2'
  elseif linestr =~ '^#'
    return '3'

  return '0'

I can check the foldlevels via echom foldlevel(1) and such, and it works as expected.

What does not work is the folding itself. I get 2 folds: 1 containing the first 2 lines (good), and a second containing the first fold and lines 3-6. That's bad. Also, both those folds are each contained in another fold that ONLY contains the other fold, i.e. trivially folds the 1 line (e.g. the folded lines 1-2) into one line. Really bad.

To clarify:

  • Fold1 contains lines 1-2
  • Fold2 contains Fold1
  • Fold3 contains Fold2 and lines 3-6
  • Fold4 contains Fold3

As far as I can see, it's not what the docs say what would happen. What am I missing? What can I do to achieve my folds?

I'm using vim 7.4. Thanks for any pointers!

1 Answer 1


I would do it like this:

  • A new fold starts (>1) if the current line starts with one of the keywords and the previous line has no / a different keyword.
  • Else, if the current line starts with one of the keywords, keep the fold level (1, or =), else no fold.


set foldexpr=GetPamFold(v:lnum)
function! GetPamFold(lnum)
  let current  = matchstr(getline(a:lnum), '^\(NODE\|#\)')
  let previous = matchstr(getline(a:lnum - 1), '^\(NODE\|#\)')

  return ! empty(current) && current != previous ? '>1' : (empty(current) ? 0 : 1)
  • That does work, thank you! I just can't figure out why... everything gets a fold level of 1 in my example, so there should just be one fold containing all the lines, right? Why does it do what I want? Apr 16, 2015 at 12:41
  • 1
    The trick is the >1, which instructs Vim to start a new fold (even if the level is the same as on the line before). Apr 16, 2015 at 13:15
  • Oh ok, I did not see that this is possible in foldexpr. Thanks! Apr 16, 2015 at 13:34

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