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Chris Arcand

Principal Engineer building Terraform at HashiCorp 👨‍💻 Formerly: Red Hat, NBC SportsEngine, RubyMN organizer. Once played the clarinet for a living, now making a living to play hockey. I make pointless connections to Minnesota as a Minnesotan does.

St. Paul, MN

Vim's new :cdo command

TLDR: The new :cdo in vim allows you to execute whatever command you wish on your quickfix entries.

A demo of substitution with :cdo

A few months ago with 7.4.858, Vim gained a new command: :cdo. If you use the quickfix window you might guess from the :c<suffix> and other similar-looking commands like :bufdo and :windo that it allows you to run any command you wish on the entries in your quickfix list.


This is awesome! A lot of people use the quickfix window for things like the edit-compile-edit cycle (what quickfix was originally designed for), text searching with ack.vim, or super quick TDD with tpope’s vim-dispatch. There are uncountable things you can do with this.

For example, one thing I’ve always felt Vim lacked over modern/GUI text editors was a simple, native way to perform project-wide find-and-replace operations. Sure, there are thousands of ways to do such a thing. In Vim itself, this would involve weird bastardizations of things involving :bufdo, :windo, :tabdo (and their :next commands) to extra commands and plugins that implement :QFDo. Piping around different magical spells of grep, ack and/or sed is the usual way to do it on the command line.

But I wouldn’t remember any command line solution for more than a week (admittedly, I probably should have just created some sort of alias), and certainly didn’t feel like any Vim solution was anything more than a hack. Yesterday marked yet another day that I looked up yet another way to accomplish this. It has easily been #1 on my short list of things that vim doesn’t provide some better way to accomplish over more modern text editors (IMO, naturally).

Most vimmers I know use ack.vim/ag.vim; combined with the new :cdo command, an intuitive and near-native project-wide find-and-replace solution is now available. To replace all instances of foo with bar:

:Ack foo
:cdo s/foo/bar/g | update

That’s it. You’re done.

In fact, :cdo isn’t the only command that was added around this functionality:

  • :cdo[!] {cmd} - Execute {cmd} in each valid entry in the quickfix list.
  • :cfdo[!] {cmd} - Execute {cmd} in each file in the quickfix list.
  • :ld[o][!] {cmd} - Execute {cmd} in each valid entry in the location list for the current window.
  • :lfdo[!] {cmd} - Execute {cmd} in each file in the location list for the current window.

Intuitive and simple, no extra plugins or scripts.

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