I posted Emacs use-package on Saturday, 9 November, 2019

Just declared `.emacs` bankruptcy. Starting over with `use-package`.

Post emacs packages

Emacs use-package

I admit it. My Emacs usage is intermittent at best. But I do use Emacs sometimes. Still haven’t found anything to match org mode for taking notes or writing posts.

So until I find something better than Org mode — which may take a while — I need Emacs. That means I need to get better at using it. That starts with configuration that isn’t a tribute to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

use-package helps organize loading and configuring Emacs packages. I need it.

My new ~/.emacs

I start with a prelude, telling Emacs about package manager details: mainly where to find packages and to install use-package if it isn’t already available.

;; package manager setup

(require 'package)

(add-to-list 'package-archives '("org" . "https://orgmode.org/elpa/"))
(add-to-list 'package-archives '("melpa" . "http://melpa.org/packages/"))

(setq package-enable-at-startup nil)

(unless (package-installed-p 'use-package)
  (package-install 'use-package))

  (require 'use-package))

Trailing slashes are important! melpa.org/packages/ gets a list. melpa.org/packages does not.

Next I tell use-package that I want org.

;; Load and configure packages

;; org of course
(use-package org
  :ensure org-plus-contrib
  (setq org-agenda-files(quote ("~/Dropbox/org/agendas/tasks.org")))
  (global-set-key "\C-cl" 'org-store-link)
  (global-set-key "\C-cc" 'org-capture)
  (global-set-key "\C-ca" 'org-agenda))

The additional options are where the use-package approach gets interesting to me. I can insist the package be installed with :ensure t — or as in this case, ensure that another package be installed to meet my requirements.

:config provides code that gets executed after org is loaded. Pretty minimal so far, but the thing is — well, there’s a couple things:

  • :config code won’t execute if the package doesn’t load. That keeps the Emacs session tidy.
  • All the configuration relevant to org is right there in one place.

So later tonight when I add elscreen and writegood-mode, I can keep all their configuration details together with minimal effort. It’s the default pattern with use-package. That’s promising.

That’s the package management out of the way. The rest is a couple settings I already know I want, to satisfy muscle memory and streamline prose editing.

;; Preferences not covered already by packages or custom

;; Invoke M-x without Alt
(global-set-key "\C-x\C-m" 'execute-extended-command)

;; Wrap long lines when editing text
(add-hook 'text-mode-hook 'turn-on-auto-fill)

Finally is custom-set-variables, already filling up with automated customizations. My bad habits include hand-editing these values, so I put in a reminder to stop doing that.

;; Custom settings. Try to leave them alone.

 ;; custom-set-variables was added by Custom.
 ;; If you edit it by hand, you could mess it up, so be careful.
 ;; Your init file should contain only one such instance.
 ;; If there is more than one, they won't work right.
 '(package-selected-packages (quote (use-package))))

Done! Now let’s see how tidy I can keep my .emacs file.

What next

Not sure, really. Install elscreen and writegood-mode. Maybe revisit Rainer König’s OrgMode Tutorial videos. ox-hugo also looks pretty interesting!

Okay that last is a little disengenous. ox-hugo looked interesting enough that I used it to write this post. I might talk about that more once I have a better idea what I’m doing.

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