Meet minpac


This is a transcript of screencast 70.

Minpac is a minimal package manager for Vim 8. It makes it easy to add plugins, keep them up to date, and remove them. In this video, we’ll see how it works.

Installing minpac

For the sake if this demo, we’ll start out with a fresh installation of Vim 8 and no plugins.

We’ll start by creating a new package for minpac, naming it after the plugin itself:

mkdir -p ~/.vim/pack/minpac/opt

The minpac plugin should be installed as an optional plugin, so we’ll change to the opt subdirectory and clone it there:

cd ~/.vim/pack/minpac/opt
git clone

Let’s open up our vimrc file… and we’ll add two lines:

packadd minpac
call minpac#init()

to load the plugin then initialize it.

Now let’s reload our vimrc file and inspect our runtimepath:

:source ~/.vimrc
:set rtp?

Minpac is now installed.

Adding plugins

We can add plugins by calling the minpac#add() function. This takes as an argument a string representing the author’s github username and the name of the plugin itself. Let’s add the surround, unimpaired, and scriptease plugins:

call minpac#add('tpope/vim-surround')
call minpac#add('tpope/vim-unimpaired')
call minpac#add('tpope/vim-scriptease')

This function takes an optional second argument, which can be a dictionary of config options. By default, minpac installs plugins to the start directory, but we could override this by specifying 'type': 'opt'. We’ll use this method to register the scriptease plugin:

call minpac#add('tpope/vim-scriptease', {'type':'opt'})

And while we’re at it let’s register minpac as well, so that our package manager can update itself:

call minpac#add('k-takata/minpac', {'type':'opt'})

We can install these plugins by reloading our vimrc then calling the minpac#update() function:

:source ~/.vimrc
:call minpac#update()

For each plugin that’s been registered, minpac will either install it fresh, or fetch the latest version from github. As each plugin is processed minpac logs a message. In this case the messages went by too quickly to see, but we can view the logs by running the :messages command:

Installing vim-scriptease
Installing vim-surround
Installing vim-unimpaired

Now let’s look inside our minpac package:

:!tree ~/.vim/pack/minpac
├── opt
│   └── minpac
│       ├──
│       ├── autoload
│       │   └── minpac
│       │       ├── LICENSE-async-vim.txt
│       │       ├── impl.vim
│       │       └── job.vim
│       ├── doc
│       │   └── minpac.txt
│       ├── plugin
│       │   └── minpac.vim
│       └── tools
│           └──
└── start
    ├── vim-surround
    │   ├── README.markdown
    │   ├── doc
    │   │   ├── surround.txt
    │   │   └── tags
    │   └── plugin
    │       └── surround.vim
    └── vim-unimpaired
        ├── README.markdown
        ├── doc
        │   ├── tags
        │   └── unimpaired.txt
        └── plugin
            └── unimpaired.vim

14 directories, 15 files

The plugins have been added to our package, but we can’t use them yet. To make Vim load these plugins, we’ll have to restart.

Now if we inspect our runtimepath:

:set rtp?

it includes the plugins that we installed to the start directory, as well as minpac itself.

We can toggle line numbering using the con mapping (which is supplied by unimpaired). And we can quickly swap between different types of parentheses using the mappings supplied by the surround plugin.

We can also consult the documentation for our newly installed plugins:

:help surround

because minpac automatically generates helptags each time it updates a plugin.

Removing plugins

minpac also makes it easy to uninstall plugins using the minpac#clean() function. Let’s remove the scriptease plugin. Then we’ll save and reload our vimrc and call the clean() function:

:source %
:call minpac#clean()
Removing the above directory. [y/N]?

We get a prompt asking if we’re sure we want to remove the directory. I’ll answer y for yes. And that’s all there is to it.

Convenience commands

As the name suggests, minpac is a minimal package manager. It doesn’t define any commands it only defines functions, which we can execute via the :call command. We can create our own commands for ease of use. We’ll create shorthand commands for the update and clean tasks.

" minpac commands:
command! PackUpdate call minpac#update()
command! PackClean call minpac#clean()

If I save my vimrc and reload it, I can now test these commands:

:source %
All plugins are up to date
Already clean

Migrating from other plugin managers

Plugin managers such as Vundle and vim-plug pre-date the native packages feature that came out with version 8 of Vim. These plugins had to invent their own solutions for managing the runtimepath, whereas minpac simply builds on top of the packages feature and gets the runtimepath management for free.

Minpac can install and update plugins in parallel. This is made possible by Vim’s job control feature, which is also new in version 8.

:help channel

By building on top of native functionality, minpac is able to provide the basic features of a package manager with a very minimal codebase.