Category Archives: emacs

2019-06-10 Emacs news

Links from, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, /r/planetemacs, Hacker News,, YouTube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Turning an Org Mode outline into an HTML table with a column for more notes

The last time A- had a babysitter, I quickly scribbled down some ideas for activities that A- might enjoy. The babysitter found the list very helpful, so I figured I’d make a list that I could easily update as A-‘s interests change. I wanted a two-column table with space for notes, but I didn’t want to fiddle with LibreOffice or manually writing HTML. Org Mode to the rescue! To turn something like this:

* Activity ideas  :noexport:
** Gross motor
*** Balance on one leg
*** Coast on the balance bike
** Fine motor
*** Cut along a curve or shape

into a table like this:

Two-column table

I wrote this bit of code inside a #+begin_src emacs-lisp :exports results :results value html#+end_src block:

(let* ((elements (org-element-parse-buffer))
          "Activity ideas"
          `(:parse-tree ,elements)))))
   "<table><tr><th width=\"50%%\">Activity ideas</th><th width=\"50%%\">Notes</th></tr>%s</table>"
    (lambda (section)
      (format "<tr><td><h2>%s</h2><ul>%s</ul></td><td></td></tr>"
              (org-element-property :raw-value section)
              (mapconcat (lambda (idea)
                           (format "<li>%s</li>"
                                   (org-element-property :raw-value idea)))
                         (org-element-contents section)
    (org-element-contents activity-ideas)

I can then export the buffer to HTML and get my nice neat table by itself, since the data comes from a subtree with the :noexport: tag. The code parses the elements in the buffer, looks at the children under the “Activity ideas” header, turns each child into a table row, and turns the children of those nodes into list items.

The code coincidentally takes advantage of the org-export-resolve-link I wrote to help someone with an Org feature request. Yay for multipurpose code!

For the next step, I’ll probably put TODO state filtering in so that I can keep a long list of activities and then select a few for each category. It’s nice to have an outline I can easily update!

Making a numpad-based hydra for categorizing Org list items

I like to categorize links for Emacs News so that it’s not an overwhelmingly long wall of text. After I’ve deleted duplicate links, there are around a hundred links left to categorize. I used to use Helm and some custom code to simplify moving Org list items into different categories in the same list. Then I can type “org” to move something to the Org Mode category and “dev” to move something to the Emacs development category.

When I don’t have a lot of computer time, I usually do this categorization by SSHing into my server from my phone. It’s hard to type on my phone, though. I thought a numpad-based Hydra might be better for quick entry, like a phone system. I wanted to be able to use the numeric keypad to sort items into the most common categories, with a few shortcuts for making it easier to organize. Here’s a list of shortcuts:

0-9 Select options from the list, with 0 for other.
\/ Opens the URL in a web browser
, Selects a category by name, creating as needed
\* Shows the URL in the messages buffer, and toggles it
Deletes the item
. Quits

Here’s what the Helm version looked like on the left, and here’s the new numpad-powered one on the right. I liked how fewer buttons made it easier to hit the right one when I’m sorting on my phone. I can add new categories with completion. Because I assigned numbers to specific categories instead of having them automatically calculated based on the headings in the list, it was easy to get into the rhythm of tapping 6 for Org, 7 for coding, and so on.

Comparison of Helm and Hydra approaches

Here’s the code that makes it happen. I experimented with dynamically defining a hydra using eval and defmacro so that I could more easily define the menu in a variable. It seems to work fine so far.

(defvar my/org-categorize-emacs-news-menu 
  '(("0" . "Other")
    ("1" . "Emacs Lisp")
    ("2" . "Emacs development")
    ("3" . "Emacs configuration")
    ("4" . "Appearance")
    ("5" . "Navigation")
    ("6" . "Org Mode")
    ("7" . "Coding")
    ("8" . "Community")
    ("9" . "Spacemacs")))

(defun my/org-move-current-item-to-category (category)
  "Move current list item under CATEGORY earlier in the list.
CATEGORY can be a string or a list of the form (text indent regexp).
Point should be on the next line to process, even if a new category
has been inserted."
  (interactive "MCategory: ")
  (when category
    (let* ((beg (line-beginning-position))
           (end (line-end-position))
           (string (org-trim (buffer-substring-no-properties beg end)))
           (category-text (if (stringp category) category (elt category 0)))
           (category-indent (if (stringp category) 2 (+ 2 (elt category 1))))
           (category-regexp (if (stringp category) category (elt category 2)))
           (pos (point))
      (delete-region beg (min (1+ end) (point-max)))
      (unless (string= category-text "x")
        (if (re-search-backward category-regexp nil t)
            (forward-line 1)
          (setq s (concat "- " category-text "\n"))
          (insert s)
          (setq pos (+ (length s) pos)))
        (insert (make-string category-indent ?\ )
                string "\n")
        (goto-char (+ pos (length string) category-indent 1))

 `(defhydra my/org-categorize-emacs-news (global-map "C-c e")
       (lambda (x)
         `(,(car x)
           (lambda () (interactive) (my/org-move-current-item-to-category ,(concat (cdr x) ":")))
           ,(cdr x)))
     (lambda () (interactive)
        (completing-read (match-string 2) (my/org-get-list-categories))))
     "By string")
    ("/" (lambda () (interactive)
             (re-search-forward org-link-bracket-re)
     (lambda () (interactive)
       (if (string= (buffer-name) "*Messages*")
           (re-search-forward org-link-bracket-re)
           (message (match-string 1)))
         (switch-to-buffer "*Messages*")))
     "Show URL")
    ("-" kill-whole-line "Kill")
    ("." nil "Done")))

Let’s see how it holds up next week!

2019-06-03 Emacs news

Links from, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, /r/planetemacs, Hacker News,, YouTube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

2019-05-27 Emacs news

Links from, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, /r/planetemacs, Hacker News,, YouTube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

2019-05-20 Emacs news

Links from, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, /r/planetemacs, Hacker News,, YouTube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.