My text editor of choice is Emacs. Its extensibility is a major contributor to this preference. The ease of adding additional functionality means you can customize it to your liking. You should not go overboard and change too much of the default behavior but you should feel free to add additional features.
I recently found myself often editing a file in emacs and then switching to a terminal and running a bash script to see how the output changed. This is part of my work flow for shutting down or starting new server processes. Since this is something I’ll be doing quite frequently in the future, I wrote some Emacs Lisp to run the shell script and display the output in a temporary buffer. With this function in place I no longer have to toggle to a terminal and run a command.
I’m picky and I wanted this output buffer to have the same behavior as
the help buffer. That is, I wanted to be able to close the buffer by
just hitting the letter
q. It took me a while to figure out how to
do this so I thought I would share it here in hopes it might benefit others.
First I’ll show the code and then I’ll explain what it is doing.
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The above snippet defines a function named
blog-example. It takes no
arguments and is interactive (as indicated by the second line calling
interactive). This call to
available to be called interactively, meaning you can call it after
M-x. This is probably a simplification of what is
actually does, so if you care the documentation is available
After the call to
interactive we hit the core of this function, the
with-output-to-temp-buffer. This function a buffer name as a first argument
and additional forms. The output of those forms is put into the named
The form I’m passing to
with-output-to-temp-buffer is a call to
shell-command will run
echo This is an example
synchronously and redirect stdout to
*blog-example* and stderr to
The final line opens the buffer and switches focus to it. Now you can
look at the output and when you are ready to return just hit
This is a simplified example but it shows how easy it is to extend Emacs functionality. Doing something similar to this made a task I do frequently more pleasant.
My use case is a bit more complicated and involves saving the buffer I’m currently editing and then running a command against the saved file. Below is some sample code that does something similar.
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