Why Use Snippets?

· Nano Tips for Vim

#snippets #automation

Since I unintentionally wrote a small blogpost on reddit, I thought I might as well copypaste it here for my blogreaders.

Use case 1: Boilerplate
Some languages have more boilerplate than another. Out of all languages, I have the largest amounts of snippets for shell, and not by chance.

For example, the code to check if a CLI is installed is this:

1if ! command -v ${1:cli} &>/dev/null; then 
2  echo "${1:cli} not installed." 
3  exit 1

Since I have many small utility shell scripts and work on multiple devices, this simple guard clause is quite useful, and it's just too slow to manually type it all.

Use case 2: hard to memorize code
Again, shell serves as prime example since it has quite a few things that are just hard to remember. Best example: Escape codes to change the color of terminal output.

1\033[1;33m # yellow

typing it does not take that long, but remembering the thing – especially if you don't use it often – is quite cumbersome. With snippets, I just type "yel…" or "blu…" or "gre…" and get a suggestion for the escape code of the color I want.

Use case 3: Saving keystrokes for very common code
Even with non-boilerplate, there are many cases where you do type the same thing over and over again. For example the then in lua. In many cases, when you type then, you type <CR><CR>end, followed by <Esc>ki<Tab>, to position your cursor inside the if clause. That's 13 keystrokes total. With a simple snippet, I can automate all that and only have to type the<CR>. That's 4 keystrokes. Saving 9 keystrokes really isn't much, but considering how often you type if clauses, it adds up over time. Relevant xkcd.