Jul 17, 2019

Extending Zsh Line Editor (ZLE) with python widgets

Was finally annoyed enough by lack of one-hotkey way to swap arguments in stuff like cat /some/log/path/to/file1 > /even/longer/path/to/file2, which is commonly needed for "edit and copy back" or various rsync tasks.

Zsh has transpose-words widget (in zle terminology) bound to ESC-t, and its transpose-words-match extension, but they all fail miserably for stuff above - either transpose parts (e.g. path components, as they are "words"), wrong args entirely or don't take stuff like ">" into account (should be ignored).

These widgets are just small zsh funcs to edit/set BUFFER and CURSOR though, and binding/replacing/extending them is easy, except that doing any non-trivial string manipulation in shell is sort of a nightmare.

Hence sh-embedded python code for that last part:

_zle-transpose-args() {
  res=$(python3 - 3<<<"$CURSOR.$BUFFER" <<'EOF'
import re

pos, line = open(3).read().rstrip('\r\n').split('.', 1)
pos, suffix = int(pos) if pos else -1, ''

# Ignore words after cursor, incl. if it's on first letter
n = max(0, pos-1)
if pos > 0 and line[n:n+1]:
  if line[n:n+1].strip(): n += len(line[n:].split(None, 1)[0])
  line, suffix = line[:n], line[n:]

line = re.split(r'(\s+)', line.rstrip('\r\n'))
arg_ns = list( n for n, arg in enumerate(line)
  if arg.strip() and not re.search(r'^[-<>|&]{1,4}$', arg) )
line[arg_ns[-2]], line[arg_ns[-1]] = line[arg_ns[-1]], line[arg_ns[-2]]
line = ''.join(line) + suffix

if pos < 0: pos = len(line)
print(f'{pos:02d}{line}\n', end='')
EOF
)
  [[ $? -eq 0 ]] || return
  BUFFER=${res:2}
  CURSOR=${res:0:2}
}
zle -N transpose-words _zle-transpose-args # bound to ESC-t by default

Given that such keys are pressed sparingly, there's really no downside in using saner language for any non-oneliner stuff, passing code to stdin and any extra args/values via file descriptors like 3<<<"some value" above.

Opens up a lot of freedom wrt making shell prompt more friendly and avoiding mouse and copy-pasting to/from there for common tasks like that.

Member of The Internet Defense League