Commenting lines in Vim

Emacs has a nice command called comment-region, which can be used for commenting lines of code. The command adds comment symbols to the beginning of each line in the selected region. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent command in Vim, but a similar command can be easily created with just a few lines of Vimscript.

fu! CommentLines() range
    let commentsymbol = exists('b:commentsymbol') ? b:commentsymbol : '//'
    let beginsWithComment = getline(a:firstline) =~ ('\M^' . l:commentsymbol)
    for linenum in range(a:firstline, a:lastline)
        let line = getline(linenum)
        let replacement = l:beginsWithComment
            \ ? substitute(line, '\M^' . l:commentsymbol . '\s\?', '', '')
            \ : l:commentsymbol . ' ' . line
        if exists('b:commentsymbolend')
            let l:replacement = l:beginsWithComment
                \ ? substitute(l:replacement, '\M\s\?' . b:commentsymbolend . '$', '', '')
                \ : l:replacement . ' ' . b:commentsymbolend
        call setline(linenum, replacement)
    call cursor(a:lastline + 1, 1)

fu! CommentSymbol(start, ...)
    let b:commentsymbol = a:start
    if a:0 >= 1
        let b:commentsymbolend = a:1
    elseif exists('b:commentsymbolend')
        unlet b:commentsymbolend
command! -nargs=0 -range Comment <line1>,<line2>call CommentLines()
command! -nargs=+ CommentSymbol call CommentSymbol(<f-args>)

In the code listing above, the function CommentLines is used for commenting the selected range. The command Comment is a short hand for the function, which can be invoked like any other range command. For example, invoking :5,10Comment will (un)comment the lines between 5 and 10. Invoking the command without a range will (un)comment the line under the cursor. Here’s how the command can be bound to a key combination such as <Leader>c:

nnoremap <silent> <Leader>c :Comment<cr>
vnoremap <silent> <Leader>c :Comment<cr>

The comment symbols can be configured using two buffer local variables. The function uses variable b:commentsymbol as the comment symbol. By default, // is used as the comment symbol, if the variable is not set. An optional variable b:commentsymbolend can also be specified, which will be appended to the commented lines. The comment symbols can be set directly to the variables using let:

" Python comments
let b:commentsymbol = '#'

" C style comments
let b:commentsymbol = '/*'
let b:commentsymbolend = '*/'

Alternatively, the command CommentSymbol can be used:

" Python comments
CommentSymbol #

" C style comments
CommentSymbol /* */

If the comment function shown above isn’t your cup of tea, check out these plugins instead: