Parsing compiler or grep output for emacsclient

This short bash snippet allows you to copy and paste any grep or compiler output of the form some/ to emacsclient to jump to the specified file, line and column in Emacs:

function emacsClient()
  local IFS=":"
  set $1
  if [ $# -eq 3 ]
    emacsclient -n +"$2:$3" "$1"
  elif [ $# -eq 2 ]
    emacsclient -n +"$2:1" "$1"
    emacsclient -n "$1"

alias ec=emacsClient

Example call:

$ grep -nH custom init.el
init.el:93:  (setq custom-file (expand-file-name "custom.el" (or (file-name-directory user-init-file) default-directory)))
init.el:94:  (load custom-file)
init.el:95:  (global-set-key (kbd "") '(lambda () (interactive) (load custom-file)))
$ ec init.el:95:

Update: I forgot to make the IFS variable local to the function. This would break things like git-bash-prompt, if the IFS is suddenly set to something else.

Autocompletion for C and C++ with Emacs 24

I have already done a blog post on auto completion using Emacs. But that was back in Emacs 23 days. Long ago…

Since then a lot has happened. Emacs 24 has been released, package managers like MELPA or ELPA have become standard, and company-mode seems to be winning against auto-complete. Also, clang has made huge strides forward.

So it is time to revisit the task of developing C or C++ using Emacs. I have put online an easy-to-install Emacs init.el that you can use as a start for your own development environment. I am using the OS X version of Emacs, but this should also work on Linux, given that you have clang and git installed.

You can install this init.el by issuing the following commands:

git clone
mkdir ~/.emacs.d
cd ~/.emacs.d
ln -snf ../yet-another-emacs-init-el/init.el .

The file will make sure that upon startup of Emacs all necessary packages are installed, like company, magit but also LaTeX tools like aucTeX or refTeX. You can disable this check (or individual packages) in the init.el.

The code is up on github, so feel free to fork and/or contribute.

When doing simple C++ programming using only standard libraries, you should be ready to go. For more complex projects, you have to tweak the clang parameters, so that the compiler will find the header files. Completion happens automatically after “.“, “->” and “::” but also when pressing M-/. You can rebind this key in the init.el, of course. This is what the completion looks like:

My most commonly used keys that I have re-bound are as follows:
  • f3 – Runs ff-find-other-file, trying to switch between header and implementation for C/C++ programs.
  • f4 – Toggles the last two used buffers.
  • f5, f6 – If tabbar is enabled (tabbar-mode), navigates back/forward through tabs.
  • f7 – Toggle ispell dictionaries (german/english).
  • f8 – Kill current buffer.
  • f9 – Run compile.
  • M-? – Run grep.
  • M-n – Go to next error in compilation buffer.
  • M-S-n – Go to previous error in compilation buffer.
  • M->, M-< – Go to next/previous Emacs frame.
  • M-/ – Run autocompletion using company mode.
  • C-x o, C-x C-o – Go to next/previous Emacs window

Very nice is also the magit-mode, which is a very sane interface to git for Emacs. It looks like this:

You can run it by executing M-x magit-status. Just type ? to get online help. Magit uses simple one-character-commands, like s for stage, c for commit, p for push and so on.

Currently I am evaluating the integration of lldb into Emacs, but haven’t come far enough to say that I have found a powerful and flexible interface, apart from the standard command line. So there’s more to come, hopefully!

How to view clojure docs in Emacs Cider

Developing clojure with Emacs Cider is great. To be able to view summaries for clojure functions and special forms, type this in you Cider REPL:

(use 'clojure.repl)

Afterwards, you can do stuff like this:

my.repl> (doc conj)
([coll x] [coll x & xs])
conj[oin]. Returns a new collection with the xs
'added'. (conj nil item) returns (item). The 'addition' may
happen at different 'places' depending on the concrete type.

How to automatically refresh Cider when saving a clojure file in Emacs

Emacs has a great mode for using Clojure called Cider. Cider comes with an interactive REPL. The REPL allows you to test your code, start web apps, if you are using Luminus, and all in all accelerates  development. One annoying thing though is that you have to refresh Cider every time you saved your sources. The good thing is that you can do this automatically. Just add the following to your init.el. I took the function from a blog post by Kris Jenkins:

(add-hook 'cider-mode-hook
'(lambda () (add-hook 'after-save-hook
'(lambda ()
(if (and (boundp 'cider-mode) cider-mode)

(defun cider-namespace-refresh ()
"(require '

(define-key clojure-mode-map (kbd "C-c C-r") 'cider-namespace-refresh)

Additionally, you can now run the refresh command manually, by hitting C-c C-r.

Update: I changed the after-save-hook to only trigger if we are in a buffer that has cider-mode enabled. Otherwise every save command in Emacs would have triggered the refresh!

Getting Emacs for Mac OS X to honour the shell environment

If your are using the excellent Emacs for Mac OS X distribution, you may have noticed that it does not use the environment you may have defined in your ~/.bashrc. This can be a problem if you are using MacPorts, for example to install clojure and Leiningen. You will get an error message like this, when trying to run inferior-lisp in clojure-mode:

apply: Searching for program: No such file or directory, lein

This can be avoided by using the excellent exec-path-from-shell package for Emacs. It is available via (M)ELPA, just install it using list-packages, or download it from github. You can enable it, especially for OS X, by putting this in your init.el:
(when (memq window-system '(mac ns))

Working around connection problems with Emacs Tramp

From time to time I have to edit files on a SunOS 5.10 server. I use Emacs with tramp for this. However, after some time I get this error message from tramp:

File error: Couldn’t find exit status of `test -e …

It seems that the ssh connection goes bad for some reason. After this you won’t be able to save the file anymore. You can work around this by running M-x tramp-cleanup-all-connections and then saving again.

Improved handling of background GNU Global update

Earlier this year I detailed how to run gtags of GNU Global when Emacs is idle. However, this collides with some special Emacs modes, like ediff. That mode makes its own Emacs frame layout, which can be destroyed by the xgtags incremental update buffer. So I conceived a way to disable gtags temporarily as long as ediff is active:

;; This stuff is only needed, if you haven't got xgtags loaded yet
(autoload 'gtags-mode "gtags" "" t)
(require 'xgtags)
(add-hook 'c-mode-common-hook (lambda () (xgtags-mode 1)))
(defun global-update-incrementally () (shell-command "global -u -q" "*Messages*" "*Messages*") )

;; Call gtags update when idle for some time
(defcustom my-gtags-update-idle-time 60
"Number of idle seconds before an incremental gtags update is launched"
:group 'my-group
:type 'integer

;; initially allow gtags updates
(setq my-gtags-update-active t)

(run-with-idle-timer my-gtags-update-idle-time t
(lambda ()
(if (and my-gtags-update-active
(not (minibufferp) )
(message "Running gtags...")

(add-hook 'ediff-quit-hook
(lambda ()
(message "Activating gtags update.")
(setq my-gtags-update-active t)

(add-hook 'ediff-before-setup-hook
(lambda ()
(message "Deactivating gtags update.")
(setq my-gtags-update-active nil)

Java Autocompletion for Emacs

The past few weeks I have been using the great eclim, and the corresponding emacseclim package. It allows you to use many of Eclipse’s features in your favourite editor. The installation of emacs-eclim is rather easy, and the one for eclim is even easier, since it comes with a simple clickety-click-installer.

I use emacs-eclim for Java development, and it works rather well. I use the two functions ac-complete-emacs-eclim and ac-complete-eclim-c-dot for auto-completion, which is the most important aspect when using such heavily object oriented languages and when developing large projects. Also useful are the functions eclim-java-import-missing, and eclim-java-remove-unused-imports. The current project can be compiled by calling eclim-project-build.

In theory, you can also use eclim with CDT for C++ development and auto-completion, but I rather stick with my earlier clang based solution, which is very fast and accurate.

An argument for Emacs window-local variables

The Emacs developers used argue that window-local variables are not neccessary, since there are indirect buffers, which can do mostly the same thing. In recent Emacs releases, the window state is anyway mostly hidden from Lisp. However, I think sometimes it is useful to have window-local variables, instead of buffer-local variables. Emacs is very buffer-centric, but sometimes the UI and the user’s view is rather window-centric. Two use-cases for window-local variables are:

I am using ECB, and it would be neat to enable or disable minor modes according to the ECB window I am in. This is also useful for people who manually tile their Emacs frame. In the main edit window, I like to have the tabbar, but in my compilation window, I’d rather not.

The buffer stack for a navigation history definitely should be window specific. Everything else would be very confusing. If a window is split, the new window will inherit its parents history.