Although I primarily use Emacs, I love the idea of vim text objects, and wanted to incorporate them into my editing. The Kakoune introduction explains that vim uses verb first, noun second for its commands, whereas Kakoune uses noun first, verb second. I wrote a blog post about why I prefer noun-verb over verb-noun, not only in text editors but also in games and other applications.

I started cobbling together some commands in a hydra, trying to match vim keys when I could:

(defhydra hydra-mark (:body-pre (set-mark-command nil) :color red)
_w_, _,w_: word, symbol    _i'_, _a'_: string  _i)_, _a)_: pair
_t_, _f_: to char (exclude/include)   _0_, _$_: begin/end of line
_;_: comment   _u_: url    _e_: email      _>_: web-mode block or tag
_S_: sexp      _d_: defun  _p_: paragraph  _s_: sentence
_h_, _j_, _k_, _l_: move   _H-._: off
  ("t" mark-to-char-exclusive)
  ("f" mark-to-char-inclusive)
  ("0" move-beginning-of-line)
  ("$" move-end-of-line)
  ("w" er/mark-word)
  (",w" er/mark-symbol)
  ("i'" er/mark-inside-quotes)
  ("a'" er/mark-outside-quotes)
  ("i)" er/mark-inside-pairs)
  ("a)" er/mark-outside-pairs)
  ("i]" er/mark-inside-pairs)
  ("a]" er/mark-outside-pairs)
  ("j" next-line)
  ("k" previous-line)
  ("h" left-char)
  ("l" right-char)
  (";" er/mark-comment)
  ("u" er/mark-url)
  ("e" er/mark-email)
  ("d" er/mark-defun)
  ("S" mark-sexp)
  ("s" mark-end-of-sentence)
  ("p" mark-paragraph)
  (">" web-mode-mark-and-expand)
  ("H-." deactivate-mark :exit t)
(defun my/hydra-mark ()
  (set-mark-command nil)

(bind-key "H-." #'my/hydra-mark)
And some helper functions:
(defun move-to-char (arg char)
  (interactive (list (prefix-numeric-value current-prefix-arg)
                     (read-char "Move to char: " t)))
  (search-forward (char-to-string char) nil nil arg))

(defun mark-to-char-exclusive (arg char)
  "Mark up to but not including ARGth occurrence of CHAR."
  (interactive (list (prefix-numeric-value current-prefix-arg)
                     (read-char "Mark to char: " t)))
     (move-to-char arg char)

(defun mark-to-char-inclusive (arg char)
  "Mark up to and including ARGth occurrence of CHAR."
  (interactive (list (prefix-numeric-value current-prefix-arg)
                     (read-char "Mark to char: " t)))
     (move-to-char arg char)

(use-package expand-region) ;; for the er/* commands

I've been using this since 2017. It's now 2022. How did it go?

Old habits are hard to break. I used this for urls, words, strings, almost none of the others. It's easier for me to move the cursor manually than to learn the specific commands, unless the command is something I use often.

So I'm going to call this experiment complete. I learned that it it's not going to work for me. That's ok. I try lots of things and most don't work. Some do, which is why I keep trying.

I still think the idea is good but I have 30 years of emacs muscle memory to fight.

I considered switching to one of these:

  • mark-thing-at lets you define keys for marking each type of thin
  • objed lets you work on text objects, inspired by vim and kakoune
  • expand-region will guess the object instead of making me choose

I decided I'll remove my experiment code and try expand-region next.



Kyle wrote at Friday, August 26, 2022 at 1:34:00 PM PDT

Another package that you might want to consider is embark. One of the nice parts about it is that it could do more than just select text. I find that the more useful a command is, the more likely that I'll be able to train myself to reach for it.

Amit wrote at Wednesday, August 31, 2022 at 8:36:00 AM PDT

Thanks Kyle! Embark was on my list of packages to try, for other reasons. I agree, the more useful the command is, the more likely I can train myself to use it.