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Googling Stack Overflow Screencast

Thank you Daniel, Brionius, and bytecode77!

GSO now work exclusively in Python 3. Confirmed to work in NeoVim.

(GSO now also prints the answer URL.)


(If you just want to try, there are demo keys at the bottom of this page. They are shared, so play nice.)

Make sure your vim supports python scripting (vim --version | grep +python3 should return something). If this doesn't work, the vim-nox-py2 package on ubuntu has this (sudo apt-get install vim-nox-py2), else, look to SO.

Then, install python dependencies:

pip3 install google-api-python-client Cython py-stackexchange lxml

If there are issues with installing lxml, it's probably to do with a missing libxml library. The lxml site has some help for this.

Get API keys for Google Custom Search (scroll to API key), and Stack Apps. This is free, don't be intimidated by the forms! Enter whatever in the boxes, and the key generated for you will be compatible with this app. Trust me, it's worth it.

Put these into environment variables GOOGLE_KEY and SE_KEY, respectively (e.g., export GOOGLE_KEY="......").

(Vundle) Add this repo to your .vimrc file:

Plugin 'MilesCranmer/gso'

Then, just :PluginInstall in vim.

(optional) Map Ctrl-E to type ":GSO " for you, by putting the following in your .vimrc:

nnoremap <C-e> :GSO 


:GSO [(-l | --language) <language>] [-n | --no-text] [<search>...]

For example, in a file, run:

:GSO Do a bubble sort

And watch the python code get dumped below your cursor. GSO will append the language to your query by the file extension, but you can set it explicitly by:

:GSO -l haskell Generate a fibonacci sequence


  • The Python compiled into my vim is saying it can't see googleapi-client, what do I do?

I have a similar problem and made a hack around it. Your gso should be installed into ~/.vim/gso. Edit the file ~/.vim/gso/plugin/gso.vim, and after each python << EOF, paste the following lines:

import sys

Replace the inside of the string with the "site-packages" directory where googleapi-client is installed. Make sure you use python 3 to install the packages, or optionally replace the python3 << EOF with python << EOF.


There is a shell utility in tools. It simply calls the GSO command and dumps the result to the /dev/stdout. Copy it to /usr/bin/gso (or anywhere on the PATH), then call it as you normally would:

➜  gso How to change the url of a git remote

You can
git remote set-url origin git://

(see git help remote) or you can just edit .git/config and change the 
URLs there. You're not in any danger of losing history unless you do 
something very silly (and if you're worried, just make a copy of your 
repo, since your repo is your history.)


To pull and run (with your Google and Stack apps API keys, or the demo ones at the bottom):

docker run -it -e GOOGLE_KEY=$GOOGLE_KEY -e SE_KEY=$SE_KEY mcranmer/gso

Then, inside vim:

:GSO Flatten a list of lists

And it will dump the highest score answer to below your cursor.


  • Unit tests. Apparently these are uncommon among vim plugins, so there is little built-in testing functionality, but since I am using a lot of python, I could just write regular python unittests on the gso module.
  • Automatic reading of code, triggered by a flag, so that you can dump the current line of code to the search query to help your results. This way, it's a little bit like an advanced man function.
  • Automatic piping of error messages to GSO, have it dump a solution to your error in the code. This might have to be linked to the build command, e.g., make. Then, if make produces a nonzero error message, you activate GSO at the cursor position. This could be something you toggle on and off. It could also just be called, e.g., by an empty :GSO command after an error. You could also add functionality to turn specific errors off if they are too basic (e.g., forgetting a semi-colon), or too common (e.g., generic seg fault).
  • (#1 TODO) Multi answer/multi question, as well as easy keystroke swapping. This would have GSO load up a bunch of answers/questions to the quickfix list, then you could use unimpaired.vim to quickly replace the pasted text below your cursor.
  • Answer preview, so you can see answers in a new pane, and swipe between them until you like one. Then you could hit some keystroke to dump it in.
  • General speedups (though this isn't really needed on an AWS instance, so I might not work on this for a while).
  • Comments for more languages built-in.
  • Improve the shell utility so it doesn't have to open vim, it just calls the python functions.
  • (crazy idea) Have something that recognizes what variables you are dealing with, tries to guess which ones to use in the dumped code, then does a search and replace. This could be so you can just rapid fire dump code without thinking much. It wouldn't be a negative, as you likely have to replace some variables manually anyway. The initial implementation could do simple things, such as seeing if you are inside a loop, then taking the looped over variable, and maybe replacing the most common variable in the pasted text with your looped one... But again, this is a crazy idea.


This is the custom search engine that GSO uses:

Currently, it searches the stackoverflow, superuser, tex, and unix forums.

SE: "NExeVkJzlom8ZUagXLcHQA(("

GOOGLE: "AIzaSyAk7sxnY_yHAP2OIdSOrgf9JysO8E_xJRo"

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