Charlie Harvey

Vim macro: Sort aliases into alphabetical order with a macro

When I administer mail servers, I often use the aliases functionality to set up email groups and forwards. I find it very convenient to have everything in a single file. One thing that I don't like is keeping all the names in alphabetical order. While doing so might seeem like something from the twitterstream of , it is actually very convenient to have entries in order to help me find if emails are in an alias quickly.

What I needed was a Vim macro to automate away the tedious and error prone work of keeping entries in order. This is what I came up with. It may be useful for other Vimmers.

let @s = ':s/$/,/e^M:s/\s+//ge^M:s/([,:])/\1\r/eg^MkV?:^Mj:sort^MV/\n\n^M:s/\n//eg^MkJ:s/:/:\t\t/eg^M:s/,$//e^M'

And here it is in action …

Quick tip: use /e on substitution calls

As you can see the macro is mostly just a series of regex substitutions. An annoying but easily fixed problem with Vim’s macro handling is that if a substitution’s regex does not match, an error is thrown, causing the whole macro to fail. Yuk. You can avoid it by adding the /e flag to your substitutions.


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