markdown and vim

David Sanson dsanson at
Tue Nov 22 00:30:50 EST 2011

I primarily use vim and pandoc and I get along pretty well. But I was surprised when starting out by how anemic the markdown syntax files were compared to emacs and textmate. As I recall, there are several variants on github: you might poke around and compare if you haven't already.

You might also want to take a look at [vim-pandoc]. It has fairly accurate markdown highlighting and section folding. Of course, it has lots of pandoc-specific features too, so if you arent using pandoc you'll probably want to make some changes or just poach the parts that are useful.

I'm one of the maintainers of vim-pandoc, but the other maintainer, Felipe Morales, is responsible for the heavy lifting with the syntax file. I don't really have a taste for the regex gymnastics involved in putting together a vim syntax file. My sense is that accurate highlighting of markdown in vim is too expensive for files of any significant size. I usually have to disable the more expensive stuff or vim gets too slow to be usable (this is while writing academic papers: short blog posts would probably be fine). But even then, the highlighting is good enough for my purposes. I'm one of those writers who is comfortable just seeing the plain text for the most part.

For me, the killer feature of the plugin is citation completion. That's pandoc specific, of course. But I don't think it would be too hard to tweak to support multimarkdown style citations instead.



On Nov 21, 2011, at 9:39 PM, Chris Lott <chris at> wrote:

> Am I the only person who uses Markdown somewhat intensively and uses

> the Vim editor? I'm surprised that-- unless I'm missing it-- there is

> only one markdown "mode" for vim, and it is broken in all sorts of

> ways (most seriously, anything in square brackets other than a link

> breaks the syntax highlighting in a bad way, and it can't handle

> "text_like this text"). Emacs markdown-mode is far superiors. Any tips

> for using Vim more effectively?


> c

> --

> Chris Lott

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