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Editing GEDCOM files with vim

GEDCOM files sometimes have no indentation. That makes it difficult to read or edit them with a text editor. Using the following simple instructions, you can auto-indent the file so that it is more readable in the vim editor.

Compare the readability of the two formats

Save the next few lines into a file called gedcom_indent. Make the file executable and place it somewhere in your path.

#!/usr/bin/env python

from __future__ import print_function
import sys

for line in sys.stdin:
    line = line.lstrip()
    try:
        level = int(line.split(' ', 1)[0])
        print('\t' * level, end='')
    except:                                                                                                                                            
        pass
    print(line, end='', sep='')

Now add the following 2 lines to your ~/.vimrc file:

autocmd BufReadPost,FileReadPost *.ged %!gedcom_indent
autocmd FileType gedcom set foldmethod=indent nolist ts=4

This tells vim to filter any file with a “ged” extension through the small gedcom_indent filter (which will add leading tabs to the file). The second line tells it to make each TAB count for 4 spaces, and to fold based on indentation.

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