Quickly look up PHP docs from Vim

As I don’t use a full IDE like PHPStorm, I don’t get much help with the parameters to function calls from my editor. On one hand I find this a good thing: IDE users rely so much on autocomplete that they don’t remember names of things at all. On the other hand: who has the mental space to waist on such things?

My middle ground is that I look up a lot of things on PHP.net. They make that very simple: just add the name of the function you are looking for after the slash and they will give you the correct documentation. But: switching to a browser and typing out the address requires a lot of keystrokes. I found a solution.

nmap <Leader>pd :silent !open https://php.net/<c-r><c-w><cr>

This adds a leader key mapping to look up the word (so: function name) under the cursor. I prefix all my PHP related leader mappings with a p, but feel free to pick something else.

The :! runs a shell command, in this case open, which on Mac can be given a URL, which will then be opened in the default browser. I added silent to ignore the output of the command: I just want to open a URL.

As the URL, I let Vim type out the address to PHP.net, and since we are in command mode, one can do Ctrl+R, Ctrl+W, which will paste the word that is currently under the cursor (very nice to know in itself). We end the sequence with an enter (carriage return) to run it.

So the tip within the tip is Ctrl+R (register) Ctrl+W (word). In general Ctrl+R in insert mode gives you this interesting ‘paste from register’ mode that is good to know. See :help i_ctrl-r and :help c_ctrl-r for more.