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Selectrum

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Selectrum is a better solution for incremental narrowing in Emacs, replacing Helm, Ivy, and Ido.

What is it?

Selectrum aims to provide a better completion UI using standard Emacs APIs. In essence it is an interface for selecting items from a list.

You can use it to run a command with M-x:

Picking from a
list of commands

You can use it to open a file with C-x C-f (find-file):

Navigating the
filesystem

Even TRAMP works great out of the box:

Using sudo via
TRAMP

You can switch buffers:

Switching to
another buffer

And every other command in Emacs is automatically enhanced, without the need for any configuration:

Finding
libraries, with load-path shadows

Installation

Selectrum is available as a package on MELPA. The easiest way to install this package is using straight.el:

(straight-use-package 'selectrum)

However, you may install using any other package manager if you prefer.

Usage

To enable Selectrum, simply add to your init-file:

(selectrum-mode +1)

Now all completion commands will automatically use Selectrum.

The focus of Selectrum is on providing an enhanced completion UI and compose with other packages which stay within the constraints of the standard Emacs API. Because of the modular approach there are several possible package combinations. Many tips and setup help for integration with other packages can be found in our wiki.

The default sorting method of Selectrum is simple and predictable. The candidates are first sorted by their history position, then by length and then alphabetically.

The default filtering of Selectrum uses the Emacs completion-styles. The default setting of the completion-styles variable is rather "basic" and you may want to adjust this variable for more advanced filtering. See for example the built-in substring and flex styles. Instead of using the built-in completion styles we recommended to use additional packages. Here we highlight two possible approaches for more advanced filtering and sorting: 1. Prescient and 2. Orderless.

Alternative 1: Prescient

Filtering and sorting can both be improved by installing the selectrum-prescient package from MELPA and adding the following to your init-file.

;; to make sorting and filtering more intelligent
(selectrum-prescient-mode +1)

;; to save your command history on disk, so the sorting gets more
;; intelligent over time
(prescient-persist-mode +1)
  • Your candidates are sorted by frecency (a combination of frequency and recency). Recently used candidates are sorted first, then frequently used candidates. The remaining candidates are sorted by length. This algorithm turns out to do very well in practice while being fast and not very magical.
  • Your input is split on spaces into subqueries, each of which must (by default) match as either a substring, a regexp, or an initialism (e.g. ffap matches find-file-at-point). The subqueries can match a candidate in any order, but a candidate must match all subqueries to remain in the list of filtered candidates.
    • Other matching styles are available in addition to the default three, and custom styles can be added by users.
    • Filtering features can be toggled on the fly, such as whether to use character/case folding or which matching styles are active.
    • Optionally, fully matched candidates can be listed before partially matched candidates while keeping the frecency-based sorting.
  • The parts of each candidate that matched your input are highlighted, with important sections within each part (such as the initials of an initialism) highlighted in a second color.
Alternative 2: Orderless

Another popular choice for filtering is to use the flexible orderless completion style.

(setq completion-styles '(orderless))

;; Persist history over Emacs restarts
(savehist-mode)

;; Optional performance optimization
;; by highlighting only the visible candidates.
(setq orderless-skip-highlighting (lambda () selectrum-is-active))
(setq selectrum-highlight-candidates-function #'orderless-highlight-matches)

The candidates are sorted using the default sorting method of Selectrum (by recency). The history is persisted using the Emacs built-in savehist-mode. Afterwards the candidates are filtered and highlighted using the completion-styles, in this case orderless.

In some cases you may want to consider to use Prescient on top of Orderless. Prescient can be used to provide frecency-based sorting (a combination of frequency and recency) and history persistence by adding the following.

(setq selectrum-prescient-enable-filtering nil)
(selectrum-prescient-mode +1)
(prescient-persist-mode +1)

User guide

The design philosophy of Selectrum is to be as simple as possible, because selecting an item from a list really doesn't have to be that complicated, and you don't have time to learn all the hottest tricks and keybindings for this. What this means is that Selectrum always prioritizes consistency, simplicity, and understandability over making optimal choices for workflow streamlining. The idea is that when things go wrong, you'll find it easy to understand what happened and how to fix it.

Keybindings

  • To navigate to a candidate: use the standard motion commands (<up>, <down>, C-v, M-v, M-<, M->). If you prefer, you can use C-p and C-n instead of the arrow keys.
  • To navigate to a group of candidates: use M-{ (remapped from backward-paragraph) and M-} (remapped from forward-paragraph) to move to the previous and next group, respectively. You can also use C-M-p and C-M-n.
  • To accept the currently selected candidate: type RET/C-m. (With a prefix argument, accept instead the candidate at that point in the list, counting from one. See selectrum-show-indices. The value zero means to accept exactly what you've typed, as in the next bullet point.) You can also click the left mouse button on a candidate to choose it or use M-m to select one using selectrum-quick-keys.
  • To submit what you've typed, even if it's not a candidate: you can use <up> or C-p to select the user input just like a regular candidate, and type RET as usual. (Alternatively, you can type C-j to submit your exact input without selecting it first.)
  • To abort: as per usual, type C-g.
  • To navigate into the currently selected directory while finding a file: type TAB/C-i. (What this actually does is insert the currently selected candidate into the minibuffer, which for find-file has the effect of navigating into a directory.) With a positive prefix argument, insert the candidate at that display position (see selectrum-show-indices). You can also right click on a candidate to insert it into the minibuffer or use M-i for inserting one using selectrum-quick-keys.
  • To copy the current candidate: type M-w or what is bound to kill-ring-save. When there's an active region in your input, this still copies the active region. The behavior of M-w is not modified when Transient Mark mode is disabled.
  • To select multiple candidates: separate them with crm-separator (, by default). To make this workflow more convenient, you can use TAB to complete the currently selected candidate before typing crm-separator (for common values of crm-separator it will be automatically inserted for you). This feature only works in commands that use completing-read-multiple, such as describe-face. (If multiple selection is enabled, it is shown in the minibuffer prompt.)
  • To change the display style of candidates: use M-q which will cycle from the currently used style through the styles in selectrum-display-style-cycle-list. With the default configuration this command will toggle between the vertical and an icomplete like horizontal display.

Selectrum respects your custom keybindings, so if you've bound next-line to M-* for some reason, then pressing M-* will select the next candidate. If you don't like the standard Selectrum bindings, you can change them in selectrum-minibuffer-map.

The keybindings listed above are the only ones changed from standard editing bindings. So, for example:

  • All your standard horizontal motion, selection, insertion, and deletion commands work as usual.
  • To delete your current input, just use C-a C-k or C-S-backspace (bound to kill-whole-line).
  • To edit by word units use M-DEL like usual. To go up a directory you can use C-M-DEL (bound to selectrum-backward-kill-sexp). Be aware that on some Linux distributions, this binding is used to kill the X server, which can force-quit all programs you opened. Therefore, accidentally killing the X server can cause data corruption and loss of unsaved work. In such cases, you can instead use ESC C-DEL, which Emacs helpfully binds by default.
  • To navigate to your home directory, you can just use C-a C-k ~/. Alternatively, like in default completion, you can type ~/ after a / to ignore the preceding input and move to the home directory.
  • Minibuffer history navigation works as usual with M-p and M-n. M-r will invoke an improved version of history search with completion.

Sorting and filtering

The default sorting and filtering in Selectrum is quite simple and predictable. The method is similar to the one employed by Icomplete. Candidates are sorted first by history position (by recency), then by length and then alphabetically. Afterwards they are filtered and highlighted using the completion-styles. This default behavior is intended as a lowest common denominator that will definitely work.

It is strongly recommended that you customize completion-styles using Orderless or install Prescient as described before. It is also possible to supply your own sorting, filtering, and highlighting logic if you would like. For that, see the developer guide later in this documentation.

Independent of the sorting and filtering method, Selectrum adds two special features on top:

  • If your input matches one of the candidates exactly, then that candidate is unconditionally sorted first. (So, if you type in find-file, then ido-find-file will never be sorted before find-file, no matter what.) This is intended to reduce frustration in the case that you know what you want and you don't want Selectrum getting in the way.
  • After that, if the caller of Selectrum specified a default candidate (for example, describe-function suggests the function near point as a default) then that candidate will be sorted before the rest. This means you can just press RET immediately to accept the default, like usual.

Case-sensitivity and other filter options should be configured via the used refinement function. The built-in completion-styles support the completion-ignore-case, read-file-name-completion-ignore-case and read-buffer-completion-ignore-case options.

Additional features

  • You can repeat the last command that invoked Selectrum, restoring your user input and selected candidate, using selectrum-repeat. You must bind this command to a key sequence in order to use it, since running selectrum-repeat from M-x will dutifully repeat the last command that invoked Selectrum, which was M-x. For example:

    (global-set-key (kbd "C-x C-z") #'selectrum-repeat)

Customization

User options can be configured via M-x customize-group RET selectrum RET. Faces can be customized via M-x customize-group RET selectrum-faces RET.

  • Faces:

    • selectrum-completion-annotation: How annotations are shown next to candidates.
    • selectrum-completion-docsig: How function signatures are shown in completion-in-region.
    • selectrum-current-candidate: How the current candidate is highlighted. If you don't like the color, you can adjust it to taste.
    • selectrum-group-title: How the titles of candidate groups (such as those used by Consult) are displayed. See the user option selectrum-group-format for how this face is used.
    • selectrum-group-separator: By default, group titles are surrounded by struck-through blank space. See the user option selectrum-group-format for how this face is used.
    • selectrum-mouse-highlight: How candidates are shown when the mouse pointer hovers above them.
    • selectrum-quick-keys-highlight: How the keys are shown when using selectrum-quick-select (M-m) and selectrum-quick-insert (M-i).
    • selectrum-quick-keys-match: How pressed quick keys are shown when more than one key is needed.
    • You might also be interested in the face completions-common-part for completion-in-region.
  • Window configuration and candidate display:

    • By default, 10 candidates at most are shown in the minibuffer at any given time. selectrum-max-window-height sets the maximum height the window can expand to.

    • By default, the window is only as tall as it needs to be to display the candidates, which can be less than the maximum height. selectrum-fix-vertical-window-height determines whether the window should always be as tall as the maximum height, even when less space is needed.

    • The variable selectrum-num-candidates-displayed controls how many candidates are displayed in total. The default value auto will automatically use as many candidates as are possible to display given the space and height settings.

    • Candidates can be displayed vertically (like Ivy and Helm) or horizontally (like Icomplete). This is determined by selectrum-display-style. Display styles can be cycled using the command selectrum-cycle-display-style (M-q) and the user option selectrum-display-style-cycle-list.

    • Candidates can also be displayed outside of the minibuffer, such as in another window or frame as determined by the user option selectrum-display-action. If you want to display the whole minibuffer (including the input line) in a separate frame you can use the mini-frame package, see the wiki for setup instructions.

      To run additional code when initializing the candidate buffer, you can use selectrum-display-action-hook.

    • Selectrum collapses multi-line candidates into a single line. selectrum-multiline-display-settings controls how this is done.

    • selectrum-group-format controls how candidate-group titles are displayed. This option makes use of the faces selectrum-group-title and selectrum-group-separator.

  • Additional info and highlighting:

    • By default, the total number of matches are shown before the prompt. selectrum-count-style controls how the count is displayed, if at all. The value current/matches can be helpful when selectrum-cycle-movement is enabled.

    • You can show the indices of displayed candidates by customizing selectrum-show-indices. If t, the index shown is the prefix argument that you should pass to selectrum-select-current-candidate and selectrum-insert-current-candidate in order to choose that candidate.

      To display a custom index (e.g. letters instead of indices, roman numerals, etc.), you can set selectrum-show-indices to a function that takes in the relative index of a candidate and returns the string you want to display.

    • By default, only the displayed text is highlighted, with the highlighting being extended when annotations are used. If you wish to always extend the highlighting, you can set selectrum-extend-current-candidate-highlight to t.

      Note that in Emacs 27 and greater, the face selectrum-current-candidate must have the :extend attribute set to t for this feature to work.

  • Completion settings:

    • By default, Selectrum also handles in-buffer completion via completion-in-region. To disable this, you can set selectrum-complete-in-buffer to nil before activating selectrum-mode.
      • You can configure the initial filtering of selectrum-completion-in-region using selectrum-completion-in-region-styles.
    • The option selectrum-should-sort controls whether preprocessing functions should sort.
  • Candidate selection and prompt selection:

    • Selectrum provides an ivy-avy-like interface to quickly select a candidate via key annotations using the commands selectrum-quick-select (M-m) or selectrum-quick-insert (M-i).
      • You can configure these keys in the user option selectrum-quick-keys.
      • You can configure the appearance of these key annotations with selectrum-quick-keys-highlight and selectrum-quick-keys-match face.
    • Using the selectrum-files-select-input-dirs option you can adjust the selection behavior for file completions. When non-nil, the input gets selected whenever it contains a full directory name.
    • You set selectrum-cycle-movement to t to wrap around to the other end of the candidate list when moving past the first or last candidate.

Complementary extensions

For a fully fledged setup enabling additional features similar to those you find in Helm or Ivy, we recommend the following additional packages:

  • Useful commands based on completing-read are provided by consult. Consult is designed as the counsel equivalent for Selectrum and Icomplete or more generally any completion system based on completing-read.

  • For filtering and frecency-based sorting (a combination of frequency and recency) there is Prescient.

  • As an alternative filtering method, there is orderless. It supports many different matching styles and integrates with completion-styles.

  • For minibuffer actions and occur/export features there is embark. Embark provides features like ivy-actions/ivy-occur in a framework agnostic way.

  • Helpful minibuffer annotations for M-x, describe-* functions and completions in general are provided by marginalia, which is similar to ivy-rich but works with any framework implementing the default API for completion annotations.

  • You can display completions in a child frame using emacs-mini-frame.

The above packages work well in combination and we are collaborating with each other to ensure an optimal experience while not introducing any hard dependencies. Our common denominator is the standard Emacs API.

For other possibly interesting packages, see our wiki which also contains configuration tips for many of these.

But what is it doing to my Emacs??

By inspecting the source code of selectrum-mode, you will see that Selectrum operates by setting a number of standard Emacs variables (completing-read-function, read-file-name-function, etc.) and installing advice on a number of standard functions (read-library-name, minibuffer-message, etc.).

If you object to these changes being made magically, you can make them yourself and refrain from enabling selectrum-mode. However, backwards compatibility is not guaranteed for this usage, so you will need to review the source code of selectrum-mode after each update of Selectrum.

The autoloads of Selectrum are set up so that you can enable selectrum-mode without actually loading Selectrum. It will only be loaded once you use some of its functionality in an interactive command.

If you want to enable selectrum-mode for everything except a few commands, you can advise those commands to temporarily deactivate selectrum-mode. For example, below is how one could disable Selectrum for org-set-tags-command. Note that such advice also affects recursive minibuffers.

(defun exclude-from-selectrum (orig-fun &rest args)
    (selectrum-mode -1)
    (apply orig-fun args)
    (selectrum-mode +1))

(advice-add 'org-set-tags-command :around #'exclude-from-selectrum)

News

We document changes for users in the CHANGELOG. To keep up with latest changes and features you can subscribe to the feed.

Developer guide

This section is intended for the authors of packages which integrate with Selectrum, or for end users who wish to customize the sorting and filtering behavior of Selectrum.

Usage of Selectrum

In normal usage, there should be no need to use any Selectrum-specific functions. Simply use completing-read and friends, and Selectrum will automatically enhance the experience if selectrum-mode is enabled.

Selectrum does expose some completion functions as part of its public API.

  • selectrum-completing-read (for completing-read-function)
  • selectrum-completing-read-multiple (to override completing-read-multiple)
  • selectrum-completion-in-region (for completion-in-region-function)
  • selectrum-read-buffer (for read-buffer-function)
  • selectrum-read-file-name (for read-file-name-function)
  • selectrum-read-directory-name (to override read-directory-name)
  • selectrum-read-library-name (to override read-library-name)

These functions are used as replacements for the standard completion functions when selectrum-mode is enabled. If you want to define your own commands using completion, it is recommended to use the standard completing-read API.

Sorting, filtering, and highlighting

Selectrum exposes a very simple API for sorting, filtering, and highlighting. Each of these three tasks is controlled by a separate user option:

  • selectrum-preprocess-candidates-function takes the original list of candidates and sorts it (actually, it can do any sort of preprocessing it wants). Usually preprocessing only happens once. Under special circumstances where the candidate set is dynamic, preprocessing happens instead after each input change.
  • selectrum-refine-candidates-function takes the preprocessed list and filters it using the user's input. This refinement happens every time the user input is updated.
  • selectrum-highlight-candidates-function takes a list of the refined candidates that are going to be displayed in the minibuffer, and propertizes them with highlighting.

For exact specifications of these functions, including whether or not the input list may be modified, please see their docstrings. This information is important, because if you make copies of the candidate list unnecessarily, there will be noticeable lag due to the slowness of Emacs' garbage collector.

Text properties

Selectrum allows changing the display of candidates within the constraints of the official API by make use of text properties of completion candidates. However it is preferable to use an annotation function (or affixation which is introduced in Emacs 28), see `(info "(elisp) Programmed Completion") to make the annotations work with any compliant completion framework. We also have some information about using annotations on the wiki.

The following text properties can be used, which may be applied to candidates using propertize:

  • selectrum-candidate-display-prefix: controls how the candidate is displayed in the list shown in the minibuffer. If this property is present, then its value is prepended to the candidate when it is displayed. This is used, for example, to display disambiguating parent directories in read-library-name.
  • selectrum-candidate-display-suffix: same as the display prefix, but it's postpended instead of prepended when the candidate is dispalyed. This is used, for example, to display candidate annotations under completion-in-region.

Besides, we have:

  • selectrum-candidate-display-right-margin: if this property is presented, its value is displayed at the right margin after the candidate. Currently Selectrum doesn't make use of this property. It can be used to display supplementary information.

Note that sorting, filtering, and highlighting is done on the standard values of candidates, before any of these text properties are handled.

Hooks

Selectrum provides two hooks for getting information about what candidates were selected. These are intended primarily for packages like prescient.el which want to record history statistics. The hooks are:

  • selectrum-candidate-selected-hook
  • selectrum-candidate-inserted-hook

For more information, see their docstrings.

Variables

You can use the variable selectrum-is-active to check if the current minibuffer session is a Selectrum one.

To adjust session settings you can set the user option variables locally in minibuffer-with-setup-hook. Additionally the following variables can be used to adjust session behavior:

  • selectrum-move-default-candidate

For more information, see the respective docstrings.

Contributor guide

Please see the contributor guide for my projects. We have some test scripts for testing minimal default configurations of common package combinations. You can run them using

cd test; ./run.sh <package-combo>.el

Technical points:

  • When adding a new state variable, make sure it is declared as a local variable (using defvar-local) so recursive sessions aren't affected. By convention we also use setq-local each time such a state variable is set.

  • By default, debug-on-error doesn't work for errors that happen on post-command-hook. You can work around the issue like so:

    (defun force-debug (func &rest args)
      (condition-case e
          (apply func args)
        ((debug error) (signal (car e) (cdr e)))))
    
    (advice-add #'selectrum--minibuffer-post-command-hook :around #'force-debug)

Caveats

  • There is no built-in support for alternate actions on minibuffer candidates, but you can add those using embark.
  • In Emacs 26 and earlier, the way that messages are displayed while the minibuffer is active is unworkably bad: they block out the entire minibuffer as long as they are displayed, and then mess up redisplay. This issue has been fixed in Emacs 27, and I suggest upgrading. I think the best solution for people running Emacs 26 would be the development of a small third-party package which backports the improvement from Emacs 27. That way all minibuffer-based packages can benefit from the improvement.
  • With certain theme settings face attributes can conflict with selection indication and faces used for match highlighting. This can become apparent when candidates use the :background property for example when matching org block lines using consult-line, see #425. To work around this specific case you can configure the consult option consult-fontify-preserve.
  • There are a few standard features which aren't implemented in Selectrum, yet. We collect those in (#481), most notable ones are:
    • We don't make use of completion-boundaries (#448).
    • Dynamic table support is incomplete (#114).

Selectrum in comparison to other completion-systems

This section documents why I decided to write Selectrum instead of using any of the numerous existing solutions in Emacs.

I have not used many of these packages extensively. So, if you think I've overlooked an important part or I've written something mean or unfair, please feel free to contribute a correction.

See #23 for discussion.

Ido

Ido is a package for interactive selection that is included in Emacs by default. It's a great improvement on the default completing-read experience. However, I don't like how it displays candidates in a horizontal instead of a vertical manner. It feels less intuitive to me. Another key issue with Ido is that it hardly supports any commands out of the box (only buffers and files). There is an extension package ido-completing-read+ which adds support for the completing-read interface, but I have been told that even this package does not handle all the cases correctly.

There is a package ido-vertical-mode which makes Ido display candidates vertically instead of horizontally, but I suspect that the problems with completing-read non-compliance remain.

Helm

Helm is an installable package which provides an alternate vertical interface for candidate selection. It has the advantage of having very many features and a large number of packages which integrate with it. However, the problem with Helm for me is exactly that it has too many features. Upon opening a Helm menu, I am immediately confronted by numerous colors, diagnostics, options, and pieces of help text. It is too complicated for the problem I want solved. Of course, I am sure it is possible to customize Helm so that it is simpler in appearance. But that would take a long time and I would rather use a piece of software which was designed for the use case I have in mind. I also personally prefer using software that I have some hope of understanding, which ideally means that they don't provide a hugely complex array of features of which I only use one or two.

See #203.

Ivy

Ivy is a promising alternative to Selectrum. It is described as a minimal alternative to Helm which provides a simpler interface. The problem with Ivy is that its architecture and API have grown organically, and as a result the implementation is complex. Ivy was originally designed to be used as a backend to Swiper, a buffer search package that originally used Helm. When Ivy became a more general-purpose interactive selection package, more and more special cases were added to try to make various commands work properly. As a result, the ivy-read API is complex with around 20 arguments and multiple special cases for particular values. Numerous functions in Ivy, Counsel, and Swiper have special cases hardcoded into them to detect when they're being called from specific other functions in the other two packages.

The main differences between Selectrum and Ivy are:

  • The Selectrum code base is simpler and more concise, since Selectrum provides a more restricted feature set.
  • Selectrum focuses on the standard completion API offered by Emacs and tries to provide the best possible UI for this API. In contrast, Ivy deviates from this API and invents its own API with extra features, sacrificing reuse and composability down the road.
  • The packages centered around the completing-read API are more composable, interchangable and modular. Since Selectrum does not offer a public completion API, the decoupling of the components is enforced.
  • By focusing on a single API, the components can be tested against different implementations, e.g., Selectrum, Icomplete or default completion, which improves consistency and helps with correctness.

Selectrum does not support features which break the completing-read API and works with every Emacs command with essentially no special cases, specifically because it focuses on doing the common case as well as possible.

Icomplete

Icomplete is the built-in Emacs package for interactive selection. It is basically the same as the standard completing-read framework, except that the available candidates are displayed in the minibuffer as you type. Unlike Selectrum, the candidates are displayed horizontally (by default). This can be changed by some manual configuration, including customizing icomplete-separator, although it is clear that this use case is not an intended one for Icomplete. A serious usability problem of Icomplete is that the way you select a candidate from lower down in the list is very unintuitive: you must "rotate" the entire set of candidates, whereupon the previous candidates become invisible since they have wrapped to the bottom of the list.

With sufficient configuration, it is likely possible to replicate a subset of the features of Selectrum using Icomplete. However, the documentation of Icomplete is basically nonexistent, and to achieve this configuration one must bend Icomplete rather severely away from the interaction model it is designed for. In other words, the configuration is not an enjoyable process, and the results will never be equivalent in user experience to a package that was designed for the desired interaction model in the first place. Selectrum, on the other hand, offers a well-tuned and snappy vertical completion interface that is robust and works out of the box.

There is a package which takes care of some of the manual labor of configuring Icomplete, called icomplete-vertical.

It is worth noting the new Fido mode which will be included in Emacs 27. It is basically a variation of Icomplete that behaves more like Ido. As such, Fido mode does not offer solutions to the problems outlined in the above sections.

On the upside, Icomplete is the most API compliant enhanced completion UI available. Selectrum also covers the most important aspects of the API and strives to achieve full compliance, as well. For the few edge cases left, see the Caveats section.

Vertico

Vertico is a new minimalistic completion system based on the Emacs default completion offering a similar UI as Selectrum. It uses a different implementation approach - it extends the default completion system in a similar way as Icomplete and is therefore fully compliant with all features of the completing-read API. Overall Vertico follows a similar philosophy as Selectrum, relying on default components and complementary packages. Many of the complementary packages, notably Consult, work well with both Selectrum and Vertico. Selectrum offers a flexible UI, e.g., it supports both a horizontal and a vertical display. Furthermore it provides Avy-style quick keys and display actions, to show the completions in a buffer. On the other hand, Vertico additionally supports cycling over candidates and provides more commands for grouping support.

Icicles

Icicles is a package somewhat like Helm, written by Drew Adams. Like other packages by Drew, Icicles is only available for manual download from EmacsWiki. It has been removed from MELPA due to community consensus that this distribution mechanism has unacceptable security risks, but Drew has declined to migrate to any other distribution mechanism.

Because of this situation, I have never attempted to use Icicles, and cannot comment on the package on the basis of its features. If you would like to submit a pull request explaining the advantages and/or disadvantages of Icicles versus Selectrum, we would appreciate it.

Snails

Snails describes itself as a "modern, easy-to-expand fuzzy-search framework". From the README, it seems to provide a similar vertical completion interface to Selectrum.

One problem with Snails is that, like Ivy, it goes the route of wrapping every possible command with a "backend" rather than using existing Emacs interfaces to handle all possible commands.

Sallet

Sallet describes itself as "a type of light spherical helmet", according to the repo description. However, it also appears to be another vertical completion interface. Although I haven't used Sallet extensively, here are some differences that I can note:

  • Sallet seems to go the route of providing wrappers for all the possible commands, rather than implementing all of them via the existing completing-read interface. I am skeptical of this for the reasons outlined in the Ivy section.
  • Sallet provides a "rich-text" approach to vertical completion, where you are shown an entire buffer with colors and multiple columns. Personally, I would prefer something more minimal that fits neatly into the minibuffer.
  • There is no user-facing documentation, which suggests to me that the package is unfinished.

Raven

Raven is a little-known package for vertical completion. It looks quite similar to Selectrum, and seems pretty usable to me. The main difference is that Selectrum simply has a more fully-rounded set of features (such as candidate highlighting and a full find-file replacement). I suspect that these features have simply not yet been implemented.

Swiper

As discussed in the section on Ivy, Swiper is a buffer-search package that uses Ivy's interface and is coupled closely to the Ivy implementation.

Does Selectrum attempt to provide a replacement for Swiper in addition to Ivy and Counsel?

The answer is no - such functionality will not be part of Selectrum itself, but there are two alternatives available.

  • CTRLF is a from scratch redesigned buffer-search interface. During the design process, I realized that a Selectrum-like interface is not the best way to present buffer search. Instead, I decided on an improved variant of the Isearch interface that takes inspiration from the standard text search interface found in almost every other modern piece of software, such as web browsers.

  • Consult: The Consult package provides the command consult-line which behaves similarly to Swiper.