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Functional Fixes for Emacs

Yeah, yeah, yeah…I love Emacs, but some functions could make better assumptions to what you want, and of course, we can waste any good bindings. For instance, a function may require a region to be selected before working, but a keybinding shouldn’t. It should make good assumptions, where the ‘region’ would simply override those assumptions.

Case in point, is the ‘line’ work bound to Ctrl-k … cut to the end of the line, fine, but giving it a prefixed number will cut multiple lines, but not the full text of the current line…like why would you ever do that?

Note: I want to look at the old Tiny Tools project and steal their deletion code.

Aligning Variables

I like the align- collection of functions, however, setting the regular expression for align-regexp can be daunting to remember for some tasks.

For instance, I like to have my maps and hashtables and other variable assignments aligned, but calling align-regexp interactively leaves a bit to be desired.

This amounts to two primary steps:

  1. Move each line in the region to the column specified by the first line
  2. Increase the spaces (after the initial indention) so that this “second column” lines up (done with align-regexp).
(defun align-variables (start end)
  "Attempts to align all variables in an assignment list or keys
in a hash table. For instance:

   :base-extension \"org\"
   :recursive t
   :headline-levels 4  ; Just the default for this project.
   :auto-sitemap t     ; Generate automagically

Turns into the following if the region begins on the first line
with the colon:

    :base-extension  \"org\"
    :recursive       t
    :headline-levels 4  ; Just the default for this project.
    :auto-sitemap    t     ; Generate automagically

Note: This currently does not align the comments.

All lines in region will be indented to the position of the first
line. For most languages/modes, this should be sufficient, but if
it doesn't work, start the region as the column they should all
be indented. For instance:

   var x = 10,
       start = beginningOfFile,
       end = File.end();

Start the region at the x, to achieve:

   var x     = 10,
       start = beginningOfFile,
       end   = File.end();"
  (interactive "r")
    (goto-char start)
    (let* ((times (count-lines start end))
           (real-start (if (looking-at-p "[ \\t(]")
                           (1- (search-forward-regexp "[^ \\t(]" end t))
           (real-end nil)  ;; Will be set later
           (dest-column (progn
                          (goto-char real-start)

      ;; Step 1. Align all lines to the column of the text in the first line
      (dotimes (line times)
        (indent-line-to dest-column))
      (setq real-end (point))

      ;; Step 2. Align all the values in a second column
      (align-regexp real-start real-end "\\(\\s-*\\)\\(\\S-*\\)\\(\\s-*\\)" 3 1 nil))))

Kill Entire Lines

According to this article, killing the rest of the line is fine, but C-3 C-k kills only 2½ lines. Not so useful.

This creates a macro that moves to the beginning of the line and then calls a function given to it. Quite an interesting approach:

(defmacro bol-with-prefix (function)
  "Define a new function which calls FUNCTION.
Except it moves to beginning of line before calling FUNCTION when
called with a prefix argument. The FUNCTION still receives the
prefix argument."
  (let ((name (intern (format "ha/%s-BOL" function))))
       (defun ,name (p)
           "Call `%s', but move to the beginning of the line when called with a prefix argument."
         (interactive "P")
         (when p
           (forward-line 0))
         (call-interactively ',function))

And we re-bind them to functions that use them.

(global-set-key [remap paredit-kill] (bol-with-prefix paredit-kill))
(global-set-key [remap sp-kill-hybrid-sexp] (bol-with-prefix sp-kill-hybrid-sexp))
(global-set-key [remap org-kill-line] (bol-with-prefix org-kill-line))
(global-set-key [remap kill-line] (bol-with-prefix kill-line))

(global-set-key (kbd "C-k") (bol-with-prefix kill-line))

Selecting Words

While you can type: M-4 M-@ to select the next four words, that is too much finger stretching for something I want to use often. (Yes, hitting M-@ four times is actually easier, but…)

The M-w does nothing different with a prefix, so this seems quite reasonable to re-purpose such a direct command:

(defun ha/select-words-or-copy (num)
  "If region is active, copy to kill ring as normal, but given a
prefix, selects that number of words."
  (interactive "p")
   ((use-region-p) (kill-ring-save (region-beginning) (region-end)))
   ((> num 0) (progn
                (beginning-of-thing 'word)
                (push-mark (point) nil t)
                (forward-word num)))
   ((< num 0) (progn
                (end-of-thing 'word)
                (push-mark (point) nil t)
                (forward-word num)))))

Now bind them to the standard keys:

(global-set-key (kbd "M-w") 'ha/select-words-or-copy)

Better Newline

Since paredit and other modes automatically insert final characters like semi-colons and parenthesis, what I really want is to hit return from the end of the line. Pretty simple function.

(defun newline-for-code ()
  "Inserts a newline character, but from the end of the current line."
  (move-end-of-line 1)

And we can bind that to the free, Meta-Return:

(global-set-key (kbd "M-RET") 'newline-for-code)

Remember, this works everywhere except for org-mode.

Join Lines

I like how M-SPC removes all but one space, and M-\ removes all spaces. Would be nice to remove all newlines in the same way.

Sure, C-x C-o removes all following newlines, so if at the end of the first line that should be joined, then this acts somewhat like M-SPC.

(defun join-lines ()
  "If at the end of the line, will join the following line to the
  end of this one...unless it is blank, in which case, it will
  keep joining lines until the next line with text is

  ;; Move to the the beginning of the white space before attempting
  ;; this process. This allows us to join lines even if we are in the
  ;; middle of some empty lines.
  (re-search-backward "[^[:space:]\\r\\n]")

  ;; Just in case we have some trailing whitespace we can't see, let's
  ;; just get rid of it. Won't do anything if in the middle of a line,
  ;; or if there is not trailing whitespace.
  (delete-trailing-whitespace (point) (point-at-eol))

  ;; While we are at the end of the line, join a line, remove the
  ;; whitespace, and keep on going until we're through...
  (while (eq (point-at-eol) (point))
    (delete-char 1)
    (delete-trailing-whitespace (point) (point-at-eol))))

(global-set-key (kbd "C-RET") 'join-lines)

I would like to have M-RET remove the lines similar to the way M-SPC works, but that is already bound in org-mode to making a special header, so I’ll just bind it to Control.

Better Movement

The iy-go-to-char project allows a quick search for a particular character. In Episode 6 of EmacsRocks, Magnar Sveen pulls it all together and makes a compelling case for micro-optimizations. I find it better than avy when in a macro.t

(use-package iy-go-to-char
  :ensure t
  ("C-`" . iy-go-to-char)
  ("<f13>" . iy-go-to-char)
  ("C-~" . iy-go-to-char-backward))

To use, type C-` and then a character, number or other symbol to jump to. Typing most things will bugger out of its “state” and start editing, however, typing:

  • ; will jump to the next occurrence of that letter
  • =,= jumps backwards
  • C-w cuts from where the cursor started and where it ended.
  • M-w copies that region

Better Beginning of Line

This Emacs Redux article has a great suggestion for having C-a go to the beginning of the line’s content instead of the actual beginning of the line. Hit C-a a second to get to the actual beginning.

(defun smarter-move-beginning-of-line (arg)
  "Move point back to indentation of beginning of line.

Move point to the first non-whitespace character on this line.
If point is already there, move to the beginning of the line.
Effectively toggle between the first non-whitespace character and
the beginning of the line.

If ARG is not nil or 1, move forward ARG - 1 lines first.  If
point reaches the beginning or end of the buffer, stop there."
  (interactive "^p")
  (setq arg (or arg 1))

  ;; Move lines first
  (when (/= arg 1)
    (let ((line-move-visual nil))
      (forward-line (1- arg))))

  (let ((orig-point (point)))
    (when (= orig-point (point))
      (move-beginning-of-line 1))))

;; remap C-a to `smarter-move-beginning-of-line'
(global-set-key [remap move-beginning-of-line] 'smarter-move-beginning-of-line)
(global-set-key [remap org-beginning-of-line]  'smarter-move-beginning-of-line)

Next and Previous File

Sometimes it is obvious what is the next file based on the one I’m currently reading. For instance, in my journal entries, the filename is a number that can be incremented. Same with presentation files…

(defun split-string-with-number (string)
  "Returns a list of three components of the string, the first is
the text prior to any numbers, the second is the embedded number,
and the third is the rest of the text in the string."
  (let* ((start (string-match "[0-9]+" string))
         (end (string-match "[^0-9]+" string start)))
    (if start
        (list (substring string 0 start)
              (substring string start end)
              (if end  (substring string end)  "")))))

Which means that the following defines this function:

(split-string-with-number "abc42xyz")  ;; ("abc" "42" "xyz")
(split-string-with-number "42xyz")     ;; ("" "42" "xyz")
(split-string-with-number "abc42")     ;; ("abc" "42" "")
(split-string-with-number "20140424")  ;; ("" "20140424" "")
(split-string-with-number "abcxyz")    ;; nil

Given this splitter function, we create a function that takes some sort of operator and return a new filename based on the conversion that happens:

(defun find-file-number-change (f)
  (let* ((filename (buffer-file-name))
         (parts    (split-string-with-number
                    (file-name-base filename)))
         (new-name (number-to-string
                    (funcall f (string-to-number (nth 1 parts))))))
     (concat (file-name-directory filename)
             (nth 0 parts)
             (nth 2 parts))))

And this allows us to create two simple functions that can load the “next” and “previous” files:

(defun find-file-increment ()
  "Takes the current buffer, and loads the file that is 'one
more' than the file contained in the current buffer. This
requires that the current file contain a number that can be
  (find-file (find-file-number-change '1+)))

(defun find-file-decrement ()
  "Takes the current buffer, and loads the file that is 'one
less' than the file contained in the current buffer. This
requires that the current file contain a number that can be
  (find-file (find-file-number-change '1-)))

(global-set-key (kbd "C-c f +") 'find-file-increment)
(global-set-key (kbd "C-c f n") 'find-file-increment)
(global-set-key (kbd "C-c f -") 'find-file-decrement)
(global-set-key (kbd "C-c f p") 'find-file-decrement)

Kill This Buffer

I rarely want to kill any buffer but the one I’m looking at.

(global-set-key (kbd "C-x k") 'kill-this-buffer)
(global-set-key (kbd "C-x K") 'kill-buffer)

Better Transpose Word

Seems that the prefix feature of the traspose-words function is backwards… at least, for case my use whatever

(defun ha/transpose-words (pre)
  "Wrapper around `transpose-words' and `org-transpose-words'
that works more intuitively when you are at the end of the line."
  (interactive "p")
  (let ((wrap-this (if (equal major-mode 'org-mode)
    ;; At the end of the line with a positive prefix?
    (when (looking-at "\s*$")
       ;; No prefix? Send last word back before the previous...
       ((null pre) (setq pre -1))
       ;; Call it with a negative version of the prefix...
       ((> pre 0)  (setq pre (- 0 pre)))))
    (funcall wrap-this pre)))

(add-hook 'org-mode-hook (lambda()
                          (define-key org-mode-map [remap org-transpose-words] #'ha/transpose-words)))
(global-set-key [remap transpose-words] #'ha/transpose-words)

Technical Artifacts

Make sure that we can simply require this library.

(provide 'init-fixes)

Before you can build this on a new system, make sure that you put the cursor over any of these properties, and hit: C-c C-c