Integrating Dash Into Vim and the Command Line

December 26, 2014

Dash is an outstanding documentation and API reader for Max OS X. Dash gives you instant, offline, access to over 150 documentation sets -- including cheatsheets, vendor documentation, and user submitted docsets. It's well worth evey penny of it's $19.95 cost. And if that wasn't enough you can easily integrate Dash into any number of editors and/or application launchers.

Here's how I've integrated into my Vim setup and into my command line.


The dash.vim plugin adds a family of :Dash commands and mappings to your Vim configuration. The mapping that I use is this:

:nmap <silent> <leader>d <Plug>DashSearch

This mapping allows me to seach Dash for the term currently under my cursor. This one mapping has vastly improved my Dash usage, so much so that I haven't bothered to discover what else this plugin adds to Vim.

Command Line

Brett Terpstra regularly creates and writes about wonderful functions, shell scripts, and tool integrations. In Bash and Dash he talks about two shell functions that let you search Dash's docsets from the command line. The first

# Open argument in Dash
function dash() {
  open "dash://$*"

searches Dash for the query provided. Each Dash docset is associated with a shortcut, so you can search for things like ruby:FileUtils or chef:service.

The second,

function dman() {
  open "dash://manpages:$*"

searches the manpages docset, allowing you to view man pages in Dash rather than in your terminal.

Since I spend most of my working day at the command line or in Vim, these simple configurations make it vastly easier to search documentation.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.