Vim documentation: if_ole

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*if_ole.txt*    For Vim version 8.1.  Last change: 2019 May 05

		  VIM REFERENCE MANUAL    by Paul Moore

The OLE Interface to Vim				*ole-interface*

1. Activation			|ole-activation|
2. Methods			|ole-methods|
3. The "normal" command		|ole-normal|
4. Registration			|ole-registration|
5. MS Visual Studio integration	|MSVisualStudio|

{only available when compiled with the |+ole| feature.  See
An alternative is using the client-server communication |clientserver|.


1. Activation						*ole-activation*

Vim acts as an OLE automation server, accessible from any automation client,
for example, Visual Basic, Python, or Perl.  The Vim application "name" (its
"ProgID", in OLE terminology) is "Vim.Application".

Hence, in order to start a Vim instance (or connect to an already running
instance), code similar to the following should be used:

[Visual Basic]
	Dim Vim As Object
	Set Vim = CreateObject("Vim.Application")

	from win32com.client.dynamic import Dispatch
	vim = Dispatch('Vim.Application')

	use Win32::OLE;
	$vim = new Win32::OLE 'Vim.Application';

        // Add a reference to Vim in your project. 
        // Choose the COM tab.
        // Select "Vim Ole Interface 1.1 Type Library"
	Vim.Vim vimobj = new Vim.Vim();

Vim does not support acting as a "hidden" OLE server, like some other OLE
Automation servers.  When a client starts up an instance of Vim, that instance
is immediately visible.  Simply closing the OLE connection to the Vim instance
is not enough to shut down the Vim instance - it is necessary to explicitly
execute a quit command (for example, :qa!, :wqa).


2. Methods						*ole-methods*

Vim exposes four methods for use by clients.

SendKeys(keys)		Execute a series of keys.

This method takes a single parameter, which is a string of keystrokes.  These
keystrokes are executed exactly as if they had been types in at the keyboard.
Special keys can be given using their <..> names, as for the right hand side
of a mapping.  Note: Execution of the Ex "normal" command is not supported -
see below |ole-normal|.

Examples (Visual Basic syntax)
	Vim.SendKeys "ihello<Esc>"
	Vim.SendKeys "ma1GV4jy`a"

These examples assume that Vim starts in Normal mode.  To force Normal mode,
start the key sequence with CTRL-\ CTRL-N as in

	Vim.SendKeys "<C-\><C-N>ihello<Esc>"

CTRL-\ CTRL-N returns Vim to Normal mode, when in Insert or Command-line mode.
Note that this doesn't work halfway a Vim command

Eval(expr)		Evaluate an expression.

This method takes a single parameter, which is an expression in Vim's normal
format (see |expression|).  It returns a string, which is the result of
evaluating the expression.  A |List| is turned into a string by joining the
items and inserting line breaks.

Examples (Visual Basic syntax)
	Line20 = Vim.Eval("getline(20)")
	Twelve = Vim.Eval("6 + 6")		' Note this is a STRING
	Font = Vim.Eval("&guifont")

SetForeground()		Make the Vim window come to the foreground

This method takes no arguments.  No value is returned.

Example (Visual Basic syntax)

GetHwnd()		Return the handle of the Vim window.

This method takes no arguments.  It returns the hwnd of the main Vimwindow.
You can use this if you are writing something which needs to manipulate the
Vim window, or to track it in the z-order, etc.

Example (Visual Basic syntax)
	Vim_Hwnd = Vim.GetHwnd


3. The "normal" command					*ole-normal*

Due to the way Vim processes OLE Automation commands, combined with the method
of implementation of the Ex command :normal, it is not possible to execute the
:normal command via OLE automation.  Any attempt to do so will fail, probably
harmlessly, although possibly in unpredictable ways.

There is currently no practical way to trap this situation, and users must
simply be aware of the limitation.

4. Registration					*ole-registration* *E243*

Before Vim will act as an OLE server, it must be registered in the system
registry.  In order to do this, Vim should be run with a single parameter of

	gvim -register

If gvim with OLE support is run and notices that no Vim OLE server has been
registered, it will present a dialog and offers you the choice to register by
clicking "Yes".

In some situations registering is not possible.  This happens when the
registry is not writable.  If you run into this problem you need to run gvim
as "Administrator".

Once vim is registered, the application path is stored in the registry.
Before moving, deleting, or upgrading Vim, the registry entries should be
removed using the "-unregister" switch.

	gvim -unregister

The OLE mechanism will use the first registered Vim it finds.  If a Vim is
already running, this one will be used.  If you want to have (several) Vim
sessions open that should not react to OLE commands, use the non-OLE version,
and put it in a different directory.  The OLE version should then be put in a
directory that is not in your normal path, so that typing "gvim" will start
the non-OLE version.

To avoid the message box that pops up to report the result, prepend "-silent":

	gvim -silent -register
	gvim -silent -unregister


5. MS Visual Studio integration			*MSVisualStudio* *VisVim*

The OLE version can be used to run Vim as the editor in Microsoft Visual
Studio.  This is called "VisVim".  It is included in the archive that contains
the OLE version.  The documentation can be found in the runtime directory, the
README_VisVim.txt file.

Using Vim with Visual Studio .Net

With .Net you no longer really need VisVim, since .Net studio has support for
external editors.  Follow these directions:

In .Net Studio choose from the menu Tools->External Tools...
     Title     - Vim
     Command   - c:\vim\vim63\gvim.exe
     Arguments - --servername VS_NET --remote-silent "+call cursor($(CurLine), $(CurCol))" $(ItemPath)
     Init Dir  - Empty

Now, when you open a file in .Net, you can choose from the .Net menu:

That will open the file in Vim.
You can then add this external command as an icon and place it anywhere you
like.  You might also be able to set this as your default editor.

If you refine this further, please post back to the Vim maillist so we have a
record of it.

--servername VS_NET
This will create a new instance of vim called VS_NET.  So if you open multiple
files from VS, they will use the same instance of Vim.  This allows you to
have multiple copies of Vim running, but you can control which one has VS
files in it.

--remote-silent "+call cursor(10, 27)"
	      - Places the cursor on line 10 column 27
In Vim
   :h --remote-silent for more details

[.Net remarks provided by Dave Fishburn and Brian Sturk]

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