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Tip 1618 Printable Monobook Previous Next

created February 24, 2009 · complexity basic · author Runnig · version 7.0

The Project.vim plugin has special functionality allowing a custom script to be run on opening a file. This tip shows how to automate tags generation using this plugin.

This tip assumes you are using the Project.vim plugin and the GNU Make build system. GNU Make will search for source file changes and will rebuild tags when a file is opened from the project window.

Related plugins[]

  • the Indexer plugin already provides painless automatic tags generation for entire projects, and keeps tags up-to-date. It can work as add-on for the Project.vim plugin. Probably this is a better option if you're looking for a ready-made solution.


  • Project.vim plugin to set up a list of frequently-accessed files for easy navigation.
  • GNU Make tool to control the generation of executables and other non-source files of a program from the program's source files. Windows version of GNU Make.

For comfortable use, add Make.exe to your PATH in order to run Make without typing full path:

D:\example\project>which make
C:\Program Files\GnuWin32\bin\make.EXE

D:\example\project>make -v
GNU Make 3.81
Copyright (C) 2006  Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions.
There is NO warranty; not even for MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A

Project layout[]

Let's assume the following directory structure.

D:\example\project>tree /f
Folder PATH listing
Volume serial number is F418-2E27
│      common1.c
│      common2.c
│      project.h
│      libproject.lib

The corresponding .vimprojects file is:

example=d:/example {
  project=project filter="*.c *.h" {

Next, let's write the Makefile for tags generation:

DIRS := source include common
SRC := $(foreach dir,$(DIRS),$(wildcard $(dir)/*.[ch]))

CTAGS_FLAGS=--c++-kinds=+p --fields=+imaS --extra=+q

tags: $(SRC)
	ctags $(CTAGS_FLAGS) $(SRC)

	rm tags

DIRS are all the directories for make to look into, *.[ch] are source .c and include .h files to generate tags from. Now, you can try command make tags to generate tags from your source files:

D:\example\project>make tags
ctags --c++-kinds=+p --fields=+imaS --extra=+q source/src1.c source/src2.c include/project.h common/common1.c common/common2.c

D:\example\project>dir tags
 Volume in drive D has no label.
 Volume Serial Number is F418-2E27

 Directory of D:\example\project

02/24/2009  03:53 PM               416 tags
               1 File(s)            416 bytes

Tags have been generated. Now we can use Project.vim in= or out= option to automate tags generation. Let's add small maketags.vim script to the project folder:

D:\example\project>echo silent execute "make -f Makefile tags" > maketags.vim

This script will call make to generate tags every time you open some source file from the project. To do this, let's modify project.vimprojects file a little bit:

example=d:/example {
  project=project CD=. in=maketags.vim filter="*.c *.h" {

Alternatively, you could update tags on file closing:

  project=project CD=. out=maketags.vim filter="*.c *.h" {