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Create Workflow using Alacritty, Fish Shell, tmux, and Vim

With the power of Alacritty, Fish Shell, tmux, and Vim, take your coding experience to the next level.

Create Workflow using Alacritty, Fish Shell, tmux, and Vim

Even if you use Vim, it does not mean that you have to code in a plain, stuttering, and boring terminal. In this article, we are going to see how to set up a beautiful interface for coding, which is highly configurable yet highly automated. Without further aduo, let’s go!!

Alacritty

Alacritty is a GPU accelerated terminal powered by OpenGL. It renders font nicely and being GPU accelerated makes this terminal even faster. Before using Alacritty, I used the MacOS terminal and items2. The MacOS Terminal does not render 256 color palette. On the other hand, iterm2 had issues with scrolling. I could see history in alternate mode and see alternate screens in scrolling back. Moreover, the coding experience was a bit sluggish and font rendering was not sharp enough for me, even with antialiasing. Thus I started using Alacritty. Installation instruction is available in their repository. Here is my configuration for development:

window:
  dynamic_padding: false
  startup_mode: Maximized
  decorations: transparent
  padding:
    x: 0
    y: 25
font:
  normal:
    family: OperatorMono Font
    style: Light
  bold:
    family: OperatorMono Font
    style: Book
  italic:
    family: OperatorMono Font
    style: Light Italic
  bold_italic:
    family: OperatorMono Font
    style: Book Italic
  size: 18.0
  offset:
    x: 0
    y: 0
  glyph_offset:
    x: 0
    y: 0
  use_thin_strokes: true
# for tmux and fish shell. will discuss it later

This configuration gives a clutter-free look to the terminal:

terminal

The full configuration can be found in this gist file.

Fish Shell

Out of the box, Fish Shell has an inline auto-complete suggestion, 100000 line history, syntax highlight, copy-paste from X clipboard(not primary, useful for vim), and so on. You will need a package manager. I use Fisher for that, not Oh My Fish. To make it look nice, you can use themes like tide, bobthefish, starship, etc. Optional: I use Fish Shell only in Alacritty, other terminals still use ZSH. I have already shared the configuration about alacritty, now just add the following code to use fish shell.

shell:
  program: /usr/local/bin/fish

At shell>program path, I am putting the Fish Shell executable file. Then Alacritty automatically runs this program whenever it starts up.

After using ZSH for more than 5 years, I have moved on to Fish Shell. I like it mostly because of inline auto-complete suggestions, a nice theme and functions. The first two features are also available in ZSH, but I wanted to load some scripts on-demand basis, not always. So I wrote some functions inside ~/.config/fish/functions/ folder, and I utilized tmux to load those functions whenever I want to create a session for a project. Will discuss more about how to use tmux in next section.

tmux

tmux is a terminal multiplexer. It lets you use multiple applications in one terminal, attach detach programs to the session while preserving session. tmux is a server, that is why if you close your terminal, you can resume back to where you left off using tmux. I prefer tmux because I can create sessions for each application along with additional windows, where I usually run the application. These scripts are built using Fish Shell. Here is an example:

  1. I am creating a Fish Shell function, which is saved in ~/.config/fish/functions/develop.fish.
#fish shell configuration
function develop
    tmux -neww session_name: -n window_name -d
end
  1. updating ~/.tmux.config file to add a keybinding, so that I can load the session from tmux:
bind-key -r l run-shell "develop"
  1. Now restart the tmux server by tmux kill-server and run tmux again by entering tmux command in terminal. Now press ctrl-b-l, it will automatically create a session with a window attached to it.

By the way, if you add this in the Alacritty configuration:

shell:
  program: /usr/local/bin/fish
  args:
    - -l
    - -c
    - "tmux attach || tmux"

Then tmux will automatically started whenever you start Alacritty. Here you will see I am sending arguments tmux attach || tmux in shell section of the yml file. That means, it will automatically create a tmux server, or attach to an existing session.

Vim

Now it is time to use Vim or Neo Vim inside tmux session. The existing develop.fish script from the previous section can be used, where you can send some keys to a tmux window, like this:

function develop
    tmux -neww session_name: -n window_name -d
    tmux send-key -t session_name:window_name 'vim /path/to/project'
end

Then if you kill and start tmux server again, press ctrl-a-l, it will not just open a tmux session, it will also start the vim at the project path. How cool is that!! Now with only three keystrokes, you can start your project 😄.

Save configuration

All the configurations are done and now it is time for stroing them. As many applications use ~/.config folder, you can just use Git to store that folder in a repository. If you use Neo Vim, then it will store the configurations in ~/.config/nvim folder (if you have not configured otherwise). Alacritty uses ~/.config/alacritty.yml file as default configuration. Fish Shell the configurations are stored in ~/.config/fish folder. But tmux uses ~/.tmux.config file for loading its configuration. But that is fine, because you can just create a file named ~/.config/.tmux.config, and source it from there. Like this:

source-file ~/.config/.tmux.conf

In conclusion

The combination of Alacritty, Fish Shell/Oh My ZSH, tmux, and Vim gives a better experince in coding. I hope this article helps you to improve your workflow by using these tools. Thank you for reading. Cheers!!

Last updated: Jun 12, 2021


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