Sometimes you want to do some magic fu on your file, while it's not loaded in a vim buffer. This is what I use with perl. I know there is probably a way to do this with sed, but I couldn't find it quickly enough. Most of the time when I do a search and replace out side of vim I want to replace something that's already in the file, with itself in a different position. For example:
I want to replace variablewordspace with variablewordtime, so in the file var.txt I have:
So what I would do is:
cat var.txt | perl -pe 's/(\w+)space/\1time/'
which would give me the output:
For a brief description:
You are display the file var.txt, through the cat command. Then using the pipe (|) you are passing that to perl, with the switches p and e. Switch e allows you to run from the command line without explicitly writing a perl program, while switch p allows you to run a program against every line on standard input, and prints whatever is in $_ after each line. A search and replace using s/// with the search term in the first set of slashes
The parentheses mark that as a group.
The \w+ means any number of word characters, as where the 'space' just represents the word space.
In the last set of slashes is what you want to replace it with.
\1 represents what is in that first set of parenthesis.
And time of course, represents the letters 'time'