Squeeze Multiple Blank Lines within vim

The Problem

I want to squeeze multiple blank lines into just one while editing in vim. I often receive source code which the author used multiple blank lines to separate functions. I don’t mind if functions or code block are one or two lines apart, but I have seen sources where functions are four or more blank lines from each other. This is annoying and I want to squeeze many of them into one.

The Solutions

The obvious solution is to use vim’s search-and-replace feature, as discussed in this post. However, my regular expression skill is very basic and I tend to forget the syntax when I need it. Hence, I devised my own solution, one which I have better luck memorizing.

My solution involes the cat command:

:%!cat -s

This short little command applies ‘cat -s’ on my entire file contents, which squeezes multiple blank lines down to one. Note that this solution will only work on Unix-like systems such as BSD, Linux, and Mac OS X. It does not work on Windows. This is one of the shortcoming of this method compare to the previous one.

2 thoughts on “Squeeze Multiple Blank Lines within vim

  1. Ying chen

    Interesting command. but it leave 2 blank lines, not one.

    Linux l.s.w.a.com 2.6.9-89.ELsmp #1 SMP Mon J un 22 12:32:43 EDT 2009 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux

    man cat -s –squeeze-blank never more than one single blank line.

    Created a file with contents of ” Line1, 5 blank lines, Line2 , 5 blank lines, Line3″

    ychen:labstatsion102:~/tcl>od -c m-line
    0000000 L i n e 1 \n \n \n \n \n L i n e 2 \n
    0000020 \n \n \n \n L i n e 3 \n

    you can see there are 5 \n after each lines.

    Issue command in Vim :%!cat -s –> 11 lines filtered. why 11?

    but it still has 2 blank lines, not 1.

    ychen:labstation102:~/tcl>od -c m-line
    0000000 L i n e 1 \n \n L i n e 2 \n \n L i
    0000020 n e 3 \n

    I aslo tried:

    cat -s m-line> m-line-2> same result. 2 blank lines, not one.
    Anything that I missed.

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