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remote - Vim Documentation

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remote.txt    For Vim version 9.1.  Last change: 2022 Feb 17

                  VIM REFERENCE MANUAL    by Bram Moolenaar

Vim client-server communication                         client-server

1. Common functionality         clientserver
2. X11 specific items           x11-clientserver
3. MS-Windows specific items    w32-clientserver

1. Common functionality                                 clientserver

When compiled with the +clientserver option, Vim can act as a command
server.  It accepts messages from a client and executes them.  At the same
time, Vim can function as a client and send commands to a Vim server.

The following command line arguments are available:

    argument                    meaning

   --remote [+{cmd}{file} ...                                 --remote
                                Open the file list in a remote Vim.  When
                                there is no Vim server, execute locally.
                                There is one optional init command: +{cmd}.
                                This must be an Ex command that can be
                                followed by "|".
                                The rest of the command line is taken as the
                                file list.  Thus any non-file arguments must
                                come before this.
                                You cannot edit stdin this way --.
                                The remote Vim is raised.  If you don't want
                                this use
                                 vim --remote-send "<C-\><C-N>:n filename<CR>"

   --remote-silent [+{cmd}{file} ...                  --remote-silent
                                As above, but don't complain if there is no
                                server and the file is edited locally.
   --remote-wait [+{cmd}{file} ...                            --remote-wait
                                As --remote, but wait for files to complete
                                (unload) in remote Vim.
   --remote-wait-silent [+{cmd}{file} ...             --remote-wait-silent
                                As --remote-wait, but don't complain if there
                                is no server.
   --remote-tab                 Like --remote but open each file in a new
   --remote-tab-silent          Like --remote-silent but open each file in a
                                new tabpage.
   --remote-tab-wait            Like --remote-wait but open each file in a new

   --remote-tab-wait-silent     Like --remote-wait-silent but open each file
                                in a new tabpage.
   --servername {name}          Become the server {name}.  When used together
                                with one of the --remote commands: connect to
                                server {name} instead of the default (see
                                below).  The name used will be uppercase.
   --remote-send {keys}         Send {keys} to server and exit.  The {keys}
                                are not mapped.  Special key names are
                                recognized, e.g., "<CR>" results in a CR
   --remote-expr {expr}         Evaluate {expr} in server and print the result
                                on stdout.
   --serverlist                 Output a list of server names.


Edit "file.txt" in an already running GVIM server:
    gvim --remote file.txt

Edit "file.txt" in an already running server called FOOBAR:
    gvim --servername FOOBAR --remote file.txt

Edit "file.txt" in server "FILES" if it exists, become server "FILES"
    gvim --servername FILES --remote-silent file.txt

This doesn't work, all arguments after --remote will be used as file names:
    gvim --remote --servername FOOBAR file.txt

Edit file "+foo" in a remote server (note the use of "./" to avoid the special
meaning of the leading plus):
    vim --remote ./+foo

Tell the remote server "BLA" to write all files and exit:
    vim --servername BLA --remote-send '<C-\><C-N>:wqa<CR>'

SERVER NAME                                             client-server-name

By default Vim will try to register the name under which it was invoked (gvim,
egvim ...).  This can be overridden with the --servername argument.  If the
specified name is not available, a postfix is applied until a free name is
encountered, i.e. "gvim1" for the second invocation of gvim on a particular
X-server.  The resulting name is available in the servername builtin variable
v:servername.  The case of the server name is ignored, thus "gvim" and
"GVIM" are considered equal.

When Vim is invoked with --remote, --remote-wait or --remote-send it will try
to locate the server name determined by the invocation name and --servername
argument as described above.  If an exact match is not available, the first
server with the number postfix will be used.  If a name with the number
postfix is specified with the --servername argument, it must match exactly.

If no server can be located and --remote or --remote-wait was used, Vim will
start up according to the rest of the command line and do the editing by
itself.  This way it is not necessary to know whether gvim is already started
when sending command to it.

The --serverlist argument will cause Vim to print a list of registered command
servers on the standard output (stdout) and exit.
The {server} argument is used by several functions.  When this is an empty
string then on Unix the default server name is used, which is "GVIM".  On
MS-Windows an empty string does not work.

Win32 Note: Making the Vim server go to the foreground doesn't always work,
because MS-Windows doesn't allow it.  The client will move the server to the
foreground when using the --remote or --remote-wait argument and the server
name starts with "g".


The --remote argument will cause a :drop command to be constructed from the
rest of the command line and sent as described above.
The --remote-wait argument does the same thing and additionally sets up to
wait for each of the files to have been edited.  This uses the BufUnload
event, thus as soon as a file has been unloaded, Vim assumes you are done
editing it.
Note that the --remote and --remote-wait arguments will consume the rest of
the command line.  I.e. all remaining arguments will be regarded as filenames.
You can not put options there!

                                                                E240 E573
There are a number of Vim functions for scripting the command server.  See
the description in builtin.txt or use CTRL-] on the function name to jump to
the full explanation.

    synopsis                                 explanation
    remote_startserver( name)                run a server
    remote_expr( server, string, idvar)      send expression
    remote_send( server, string, idvar)      send key sequence
    serverlist()                             get a list of available servers
    remote_peek( serverid, retvar)           check for reply string
    remote_read( serverid)                   read reply string
    server2client( serverid, string)         send reply string
    remote_foreground( server)               bring server to the front

See also the explanation of CTRL-\_CTRL-N.  Very useful as a leading key
The {serverid} for server2client() can be obtained with expand("<client>")

2. X11 specific items                                   x11-clientserver
                                    E247 E248 E251 E258 E277

The communication between client and server goes through the X server.  The
display of the Vim server must be specified.  The usual protection of the X
server is used, you must be able to open a window on the X server for the
communication to work.  It is possible to communicate between different

By default, a GUI Vim will register a name on the X-server by which it can be
addressed for subsequent execution of injected strings.  Vim can also act as
a client and send strings to other instances of Vim on the same X11 display.

When an X11 GUI Vim (gvim) is started, it will try to register a send-server
name on the 'VimRegistry' property on the root window.

A non GUI Vim with access to the X11 display (xterm-clipboard enabled), can
also act as a command server if a server name is explicitly given with the
--servername argument, or when Vim was built with the +autoservername

An empty --servername argument will cause the command server to be disabled.

To send commands to a Vim server from another application, read the source
file src/if_xcmdsrv.c, it contains some hints about the protocol used.

3. Win32 specific items                                 w32-clientserver

Every Win32 Vim can work as a server, also in the console.  You do not need a
version compiled with OLE.  Windows messages are used, this works on any
version of MS-Windows.  But only communication within one system is possible.

Since MS-Windows messages are used, any other application should be able to
communicate with a Vim server.  An alternative is using the OLE functionality

When using gvim, the --remote-wait only works properly this way:

        start /w gvim --remote-wait file.txt