Expanded Port of the Vim textobj-anyblock Plugin (to be deprecated in favor of targets.el)
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Deprecation Notice

I have discontinued development of this package, as targets.el implements all of this package's functionality and more. Targets.el is not yet stable, so feel free to continue to use this package, but please make any bug reports or feature requests in the targets repository.


Evil-textobj-anyblock is port of the vim plugin vim-textobj-anyblock. It gives a text object that will select the closest of (), {}, [], <>, '', "", ` `, or “” by default. This can be convenient for operating on the closest block without having to type its symbol.

In addition to the features provided by vim-textobj-anyblock, anyblock will seek forward in the case that there is not a surrounding match. Also, repeatedly using a text object in visual mode has an expand-region-like functionality by expanding the visual selection to the next block. This is not a primary feature of anyblock but may be nice in some simple cases and is given by evil for free.


Anyblock does not make any mappings by default. Here is some suggested configuration:

(define-key evil-inner-text-objects-map "b" 'evil-textobj-anyblock-inner-block)
(define-key evil-outer-text-objects-map "b" 'evil-textobj-anyblock-a-block)

The block alist can be modified by the user and contains regexps (though non-characters may not work well). The user may want to set this variable locally, for example for lisp modes by removing ' as a potential block:

(add-hook 'lisp-mode-hook
          (lambda ()
            (setq-local evil-textobj-anyblock-blocks
                        '(("(" . ")")
                          ("{" . "}")
                          ("\\[" . "\\]")
                          ("\"" . "\"")))))

Creating More Specific Text Objects

This package can potentially be used to create text objects for more specific use cases. I'm sure there is already a package that does this, but as an example, you can use the following to create a text object that will select the closest quotation (single, double, smart, etc.):

(evil-define-text-object my-evil-textobj-anyblock-inner-quote
  (count &optional beg end type)
  "Select the closest outer quote."
  (let ((evil-textobj-anyblock-blocks
         '(("'" . "'")
           ("\"" . "\"")
           ("`" . "'")
           ("“" . "”"))))
    (evil-textobj-anyblock--make-textobj beg end type count nil)))

(evil-define-text-object my-evil-textobj-anyblock-a-quote
  (count &optional beg end type)
  "Select the closest outer quote."
  (let ((evil-textobj-anyblock-blocks
         '(("'" . "'")
           ("\"" . "\"")
           ("`" . "'")
           ("“" . "”"))))
    (evil-textobj-anyblock--make-textobj beg end type count t)))

(define-key evil-inner-text-objects-map "q" 'my-evil-textobj-anyblock-inner-quote)
(define-key evil-outer-text-objects-map "q" 'my-evil-textobj-anyblock-a-quote)


This package also provides motions, which may or may not be useful. For example, if you want to override b:

(define-key evil-motion-state-map "b" 'evil-textobj-anyblock-forward-open-block-start)


If you just want a text-object that operates on s-expressions, you may want to use the "form" text objects that evil-cleverparens provides. They are very nice and will work with parentheses and quotations.