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Writing heredocs in the shell from emacs presented to me a little nuisance: since the RETurn key is bound to ‘comint-send-input -a function that sends the text to the shell process- I coudn’t re-edit the previous line after having pressed it to insert a simple line break. (I should add that this is actually the usual unix bash behaviour, I only happen to use bash from emacs and so wanted to overcome the problem there)

Yesterday it dawned on me to just use “C-q C-j” under that situation, (that’s how you stick in a line feed in emacs regardless of the mode you are in).

Given that the perspective of typing “C-q C-j” several times looked rather awkward I thought of binding RET with the control key for that:

(global-set-key (quote [(control return)]) (quote newline))

But then, the idea of going the other way around showed more appealing: why not to make newlines with a simple RET, and use the Control key to send the input? Besides, it makes sense to prevent hitting return by accident, I hate when my pinky lands there when searching the pipe “|” key.

While at it I decided to also rebind the TAB functionality so I could further improve the readability of my scripts by indenting them at the same time.

Implementing those changes is simple when you’ve got the luxury of a highly-configurable tool:

(defun my-shell-hook ()
  (local-set-key (quote [(return)]) (quote newline))
  (local-set-key (quote [(control return)]) (quote comint-send-input))
  (local-set-key (kbd "M-i")  'my-unindent)
  (local-set-key (kbd "C-i")  'indent-or-complete))

(add-hook 'shell-mode-hook 'my-shell-hook)

UPDATE: After a day trying this set-up I think that I’d rather stick to the normal binding of the RET key. I’m leaning toward using C-j and C-m instead, as I caught myself reaching to either of them to insert carriage returns. Here are the modified bindings in replacement:

(defun my-shell-hook ()
  (local-set-key (kbd "M-i")  'my-unindent)
  (local-set-key (kbd "C-i")  'indent-or-complete)
; (local-set-key (quote [(return)]) (quote newline))
; (local-set-key (quote [(control return)]) (quote comint-send-input))
;; I actually liked these two better for adding  newlines, leaving the return with it's default behavior
  (local-set-key (quote [(control j)]) (quote newline))
  (local-set-key (quote [(control m)]) (quote newline))
  (local-set-key (quote [(return)]) (quote comint-send-input)))


(add-hook 'shell-mode-hook 'my-shell-hook)
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2 Comments

  1. One of the things I miss from my old MacOS days (I’m talking MacOS 7 and even 6.x) is that MPW used the keypad key (by default) for executing commands. The normal return key was just that and nothing else. Its works out extremely well – at least it did for me, in practice – because there is never any accidental command executions. Oh, the memories …

    • Interesting, I didn’t look at the keypad key … might work as well.
      As you probably know that key could be configured also in emacs, doing something like:

      (global-set-key (kbd "<kp-enter>") 'whatever)

      Thanks for commenting!


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