Category: shell

Moving Left and Right in zsh (in macOS)

I use the command line a lot on my Macs, in particular, I use iTerm2.

When moving left and right in a command the shortcuts I knew about so far were:

Key (combination)Moves Cursor…
Right Arrow ‘→’One character right
Left Arrow ‘←’One character left
CTRL + aBeginning of the line
CTRL+ eEnd of the line

After adding the following lines to ~/.zshrc, I now can also move left and right per word using ALT-← and ALT-→ respectively:

bindkey "[D" backward-word # ALT-left-arrow  ⌥ + ←
bindkey "[C" forward-word  # ALT-right-arrow ⌥ + →

Especially when moving around in long command lines, this is really convenient & saves a lot of time.

Do you have keyboard shortcuts that you use regularly on the command line (or elsewhere)? I’d love to hear about them!

Passing Multiple Arguments To One Rake Task

Occasionally, I want Rake tasks to take multiple arguments. If the number of these arguments are know beforehand, Rake provides a nice way to express that in the Rakefile (see the Rake documentation for more details).

However, sometimes I like to pass a varying number of arguments the a task, which shall all be processed in the same way. Maybe its user IDs that need to be removed from a database, or a given list of piles to be processed.

Today I found a way to do this, by using Rake::TaskArguments#extras . The method extras returns a list of all the extra arguments passed to a Rake task, that are not named in the task definition. If no argument name(s) are declared in the task definition, then all arguments will be ‘extra arguments’.

An example Rakefile is this:

task :list do |t, args|
  puts "In task '#{}"
  puts 'Passed arguments:'
  puts { |extra| "  * #{extra}" }

Calling this task from the command line and its output (in zsh) looks like this:

$ rake list\[one,2,3.141]
In task 'list
Passed arguments:
  * one
  * 2
  * 3.141

Note, the \ before the opening bracket ‘[‘. In zsh, this is needed to escape the ‘[‘ (pairs of ‘[]’ have a special meaning in zsh). Also note, that there are no spaces between the arguments, just the comma.

If you prefer to add a space after the comma, there’s a way to achieve this (again in zsh): Drop the ‘\’ and instead put the task name and the arguments in quotes:

$ rake "list[one, 2, 3.141]"
In task 'list
Passed arguments:
  * one
  * 2
  * 3.141

$ rake 'list[one, 2, 42]'
In task 'list
Passed arguments:
  * one
  * 2
  * 42

In this example it doesn’t affect the output whether single or double quotes are used. Quoting in shells is … complicated, see for example:

Did you find this helpful? Or do you know a better way to pass multiple arguments to one Rake task? Please let me know.


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