Jezen Thomas

Jezen Thomas

I'm a programmer and entrepreneur. Occasionally I write about technology, and speak at conferences. Find me on Instagram, or on GitHub, or write me an email.

Moving to the Beginning of the Line

When I started using Vim, one of the first custom mappings I added to my .vimrc was moving to the beginning of the line with H and moving to the end of the line with L.

" Jump to beginning of line
noremap H 0
" Jump to end of line
noremap L $

This mapping may be slightly awkward because it’s rare you want to move to the first column of the current line, and in most cases you actually would rather move the cursor to the first non-whitespace character of the line.

We could change this mapping to move to the first non-whitespace character of the current line by using ^ instead of 0, but I don’t want to lose the ability to move to the first column of the line. To remedy this, I wrote a short function that moves the cursor to the first non-whitespace character of the current line, or moves the cursor to the first column if it was already on the first non-whitespace character.

" Jump to first character or column
noremap <silent> H :call FirstCharOrFirstCol()<cr>

function! FirstCharOrFirstCol()
  let current_col = virtcol('.')
  normal ^
  let first_char = virtcol('.')
  if current_col <= first_char
    normal 0
  endif
endfunction

The function above works by first checking the column that the cursor is currently on and storing it in current_col. We then move the cursor to the first non-whitespace character and check the column again. If the current column number is greater than that of the first non-whitespace character, then we move the cursor to the first non-whitespace character. Otherwise, we move the cursor to the first column.