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With emacs, you can use the emacsclient program to open a file in an already existing emacs frame. Is there any way to do this with vim? In other words, I want to have something I can type at the command prompt to open a file in a vim window I already have open rather than creating a new one.

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Not your exact question, but emacs has some VIM emulation modes, at least one of which is trying to be very faithful to VIM itself. If a mostly-vim-like mode in emacs is acceptable for some of your uses, emacsclient's functionality comes along with it. – user38983 Jun 27 at 18:25
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I actually figured this one out on my own. This is supported in vim natively if you use the --remote option. Ex:

gvim --remote foo.txt

You can also specify a server name:

gvim --remote foo.txt --servername foo

I added the following function to my .zshrc (but it should work in bash as well) to make this a bit easier:

function vs() {
    gvim --remote-silent $@

This way, all you have to type in is vs <filename>.

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emacs client is much more useful than just gvim --remote. With emacs client you can open a duplicate emacs gtk window. Then you can have emacs open with some files on your machine, ssh in with X11 forwarding and run emacsclient to pop up a emacs window on your remote machine. It's like screen for emacs. Unfortunately, gvim --remote only works to evaluate expressions, send keybindings, and open files, which while useful and matching your usecase, is not the same as emacsclient.

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