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I am making some remaps for inserting/removing comments and "dividers" for different languages. In my ftplugins files the variable g:CommentChar is defined. For some reason I am getting the following error:

E114: Missing quote: "\ E15: Invalid expression: ":normal! mA^i".g:CommentChar."\

when trying to use the <Leader>c macro. How is this possible? I thought <Esc> was valid in execute command if it was escaped.

nnoremap <Leader>_ :execute 'normal! mAo'.g:CommentChar.'\<esc>100a-\<esc>`A'
nnoremap <Leader>c :execute 'normal! mA^i'.g:CommentChar.'\<esc>`A'
nnoremap <Leader>C :execute 'normal! mA^mBi'.g:CommentChar.'\<esc>f'.g:CommentChar.'dl`Bdl`A'
vnoremap <Leader>c :execute ':s/^/'.g:CommentChar.'/<CR>:noh<CR>'
vnoremap <Leader>C :execute ':s/'.g:CommentChar.'//<CR>:noh<CR>'
  • You can insert ^M by pressing Ctrl and v and then M. Use ^M as an alternative for <CR> This might help you if none of the ways worked out. – SibiCoder Jul 16 '16 at 5:57
  • Replace double quotes " by single quotes '. – Sato Katsura Jul 16 '16 at 5:58
  • @SatoKatsura Tried it. That's not the problem. – Luke Davis Jul 16 '16 at 6:03
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    It's part of the problem. There is no such thing as single backslash inside double quotes. shrug. – Sato Katsura Jul 16 '16 at 6:04
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Use <expr> instead of :execute 'normal! ...':

nnoremap <expr> <Leader>_ 'mao'.g:CommentChar.'<Esc>100a-<Esc>`a<CR>'
nnoremap <expr> <Leader>c 'mA^i'.g:CommentChar.'<Esc>`A<CR>'
nnoremap <expr> <Leader>C 'mA^mBi'.g:CommentChar.'<Esc>f'.g:CommentChar.'dl`Bdl`A<CR>'
vnoremap <expr> <Leader>c ':s/^/'.g:CommentChar.'/<CR>:noh<CR>'
vnoremap <expr> <Leader>C ':s/'.g:CommentChar.'//<CR>:noh<CR>'
  • Thanks! So <expr> just means evaluate the RHS as string, then that's your macro. Could you tell me why my first try didn't work? I was following the direction of this "learn Vimscript the hard way" article. – Luke Davis Jul 16 '16 at 17:14
  • @LukeDavis Pretty much, yes. See :h :map-<expr>. – Sato Katsura Jul 16 '16 at 17:15
  • Any idea for the question ^^ in my edit? – Luke Davis Jul 16 '16 at 17:17
  • @LukeDavis I'm not familiar with that part of the code. I presume it has to do with <Esc> breaking out of :exec. Ask on vim_dev for qualified opinions. – Sato Katsura Jul 16 '16 at 17:23
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The problem with

nnoremap <Leader>c :execute 'normal! mA^i'.g:CommentChar.'\<esc>`A'

is that <esc> is valid in nnoremap, never mind execute and causes the command line up to that point to be executed. (Plus you're missing a <CR> at the end of the mapping.)

One way around this is:

nnoremap <Leader>c :execute 'normal! mA^i'.g:CommentChar.'^V^V^V^[`A'<CR>

where ^V is a literal Ctrl-V character and ^[ is a literal escape character.

The ^V^V^V^[ is translated to ^V^[ upon playback, which inserts an escape character.

If you really want to use execute, do it like this.

:exe 'nnoremap <Leader>c mA^i' . g:CommentChar . '<Esc>`A'

At this point you may as well use <expr> as shown in @SatoKatsura's answer. The difference with map <expr> is that the expression is evaluated at runtime, and a few operations are disallowed (see :h map-<expr>).

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