[Emacs] outline with outshine outshines outline
Emacs Lisp
Latest commit d45a512 Oct 25, 2016 @tj64 committed on GitHub Merge pull request #63 from vapniks/patch-1
Don't clobber imenu-generic-expression


outshine.el — outline with outshine outshines outline

Author: Thorsten Jolitz Version: 2.0 URL: https://github.com/tj64/outshine


copyright: Thorsten_Jolitz

copyright-from: 2013+

version: 2.0

licence: GPL 2 or later (free software)

licence-url: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/

part-of-emacs: no

authors: Thorsten_Jolitz Carsten_Dominik Per_Abrahamsen

author_email: tjolitz AT gmail DOT com

credits: Fabrice_Niessen Alexander_Vorobiev Jonas_Bernoulli

inspiration: outline-magic outxxtra out-xtra

keywords: emacs outlines file_structuring

git-repo: https://github.com/tj64/outshine.git

git-clone: git://github.com/tj64/outshine.git


About outshine

Outshine attempts to bring the look&feel of Org-mode to the (GNU Emacs) world outside of the Org major-mode. It is an extension of outline-minor-mode (Org-mode itself derives from outline-mode), so there is no such thing like an 'outshine mode', only `outline-minor-mode' with outshine extensions loaded.

Outshine is major-mode agnostic. At least in theory, it should work out-of-the-box with all major-modes, even those not yet written, as long as these modes have comment syntax defined. In real life there are some major-modes where outshine just works, others that need some minor tweaks to make outshine work, and a few that need special handling.

An outshine file is structured just like an org file, only that the headlines are outcommented with the current major-mode's comment syntax. We call these outcommented org headers 'outshine headers'. The different headline levels are fontified like in Org-mode, and many of the outline-navigation, visibility cycling and structure editing commands known from Org-mode work in outshine too. An Org-mode user will feel right at home in an outshine buffer, the look&feel should be pretty similar, only the keybindings differ. Since outshine extends a minor-mode it has to avoid conflicts with major-mode keymaps by using a rather unusual prefix that is still easy to type (M-#). But the Org-mode speed-commands have been ported to outshine too, and they use exactly the same (one-key) bindings like in Org-mode.

There is a distinction between the library 'outshine.el' and the 'Outshine Project' (or 'Outshine Suite') which contains 3 libraries:

  • outshine.el: The core library. The `outshine-hook-function' must be added to the `outline-minor-mode-hook' to activate its extensions when outline-minor-mode is loaded.

  • outorg.el: Major-mode for toggling between the programming-mode view and the org-mode view of outshine buffers, i.e. buffers structured with outshine headers that have outline-minor-mode with outshine extensions activated.

  • navi-mode.el: Occur-based major-mode for super-fast buffer-navigation and buffer-remote-control with one-key-bindings from an associated read-only Navi buffer. Navi-mode allows to have the (outshine- or org-) buffer overview side by side with the buffer details, and it gives many different kinds of overviews (these views are actually customizable). With point in the Navi overview buffer, many actions in the associated original (outshine- or org-) buffer can be triggered without leaving the Navi buffer.

Note that there is a fourth library 'poporg.el' from François Pinard, which allows to edit function docstrings in temporary Org-mode buffers and thus nicely complements 'outorg.el'.

Together these libraries enable a lightweight kind of 'literate programming' that turns the usual implementation of the concept upside-down: instead of using a text-mode as default and taking extra action to edit and execute source-code, with Outshine the programming-mode is the default mode and the text-mode (i.e. Org-mode) only called when needed. This is much simpler, it treats Org-mode and Programming-mode simply as two different views on the same (outshine) file while making it easy to switch between these views.

History and Credits

The outshine.el library merges, modifies and extends two existing extension-libraries for `outline' (minor) mode: `outline-magic' (by Carsten Dominik) and `out-xtra' (by Per Abrahamsen). It offers all the functionality of `outline-magic' (with some tiny changes and fixes) and parts of the functionality of `out-xtra', together with many new features and ideas.

See `outline-magic.el' (https://github.com/tj64/outline-magic) for detailled instructions on the usage of the additional outline functions introduced by `outline-magic'.

Furthermore, `outshine.el' includes some functions and keybindings from `outline-mode-easy-bindings' (http://emacswiki.org/emacs/OutlineMinorMode). Unfortunately, no author is given for that library, so I cannot credit the person who wrote it.


There are three ways to get outshine.el (and the other Outshine libraries):

  1. Clone the git repos or fork them on github (https://github.com/tj64)

  2. Use the package manager to install them (from MELPA).

  3. Simply download the raw .el files from github and copy them to a location where Emacs can find them. This is not really recommended, since easy updating is not possible this way.

Note that since version 2.0, outshine.el depends on outorg.el and navi-mode.el depends on both, outshine.el and outorg.el. So the order of installation should be

  1. outorg
  2. outshine
  3. navi-mode (optional)

Put this in your init.el or '.emacs' to get started:

#+begin_src emacs-lisp
  (require 'outshine)
  (add-hook 'outline-minor-mode-hook 'outshine-hook-function)

Add this to your init file if you always want outshine for emacs-lisp buffers (recommended):

#+begin_src emacs-lisp
  (add-hook 'emacs-lisp-mode-hook 'outline-minor-mode)

It makes sense to add 'outline-minor-mode' to the hooks of other major-modes too, e.g.

#+begin_src emacs-lisp
 (add-hook 'LaTeX-mode-hook 'outline-minor-mode)
 (add-hook 'picolisp-mode-hook 'outline-minor-mode)
 (add-hook 'clojure-mode-hook 'outline-minor-mode)
 (add-hook 'ess-mode-hook 'outline-minor-mode)
 (add-hook 'ledger-mode-hook 'outline-minor-mode)
 (add-hook 'message-mode-hook 'outline-minor-mode)

or whatever your favorite Emacs modes are. Then you can structure and handle all your source-files just like Org files, allowing for a uniform approach to file structuring independent from the (text or programming) mode.

Outline(-minor)-mode comes with a rather unusable prefix key out-of-the-box. You need to set the outshine prefix (M-#) in your init file before (!) outline-mode is loaded to enable the outshine keybindings:

#+begin_src emacs-lisp
 (defvar outline-minor-mode-prefix "\M-#")


  1. Basic Usage

    The outshine.el extensions to outline-minor-mode aim to make its use more similar to Org-mode. Given a correctly structured outshine buffer, outline-navigation, structure-editing and visibility cycling with outshine should make an Org-mode user feel right at home.

    Try C-h m (describe-mode) and C-h b (describe-bindings) in an outshine buffer to find out more about the available functions and their keybindings.

    The very useful Org speed-commands have been ported to outshine, here a quote from the Org-mode manual that describes what they do:

    Single keys can be made to execute commands when the cursor is at the beginning of a headline, i.e., before the first star.

    To activate speed-keys, put this in your init-file:

    #+BEGIN_SRC emacs-lisp
     (setq outshine-use-speed-commands t)

    Call `outshine-speed-command-help' to get an overview over the available functionality and the keybindings.

    Note that outshine works with 'imenu' (`outshine-imenu') and has extra functionality to show the number of hidden lines in folded headlines (`outshine-show-hidden-lines-cookies'). There are a few utility commands for latex-mode too (`outshine-latex-insert-header', `outshine-latex-insert-headers-in-buffer' and `outshine-TeX-command-region-on-subtree')

  2. Extended Usage (outshine-use-outorg)

    Outshine's basic usage is mostly based on its own implementation, i.e. code from existing extensions to outline-minor-mode, new code written for outshine, as well as code ported from Org-mode to outshine.

    Its extended use aims to make outshine headers more 'intelligent', i.e. make them know about TODO items, tags, properties, dates and times. This is done via the `outshine-use-outorg' function that uses outorg to first convert an outshine buffer/subtree to org-mode, then call an Org function on it, and finally convert the edited buffer/subtree back to outshine. The outshine-use-outorg concept turns outshine into a kind of org-minor-mode without actually reimplementing Org functionality, just by reusing it with the help of outorg.

    This is still work in progress. Not all Org commands make sense in an outshine buffer. Not all work out-of-the-box. Since there are many Org commands, it will take some time to check them one-by-one and filter out those that make sense with outshine (and fix them if necessary).

Emacs Version

Outshine works with GNU Emacs 24 or later. No attempts of testing with older versions or other types of Emacs have been made (yet).


date author(s) version
<2014-09-20 Sa> Thorsten Jolitz 2.0
<2013-05-03 Fr> Thorsten Jolitz 1.0
<2013-02-20 Mi> Thorsten Jolitz 0.9