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Increased Developer Productivity with Tmux, Part 6: Leveraging Elinks to stay focused.



Use Elinks to reduce from the dreaded productivity killer, context switching

In Part 5 I covered the send-keys command. In this edition, I show how wisely using Elinks, the console-based web browser, will curtail context switching allowing you to retain your concentration at the task at hand.

I don't cover installing Elinks, but if you are using OSX and Brew see my dated article, which may be still helpful. I am using version 0.12pre5 but I don't worry about keeping up with latest Elinks' versions because as you will see I mostly only use Elinks in situations where web-page layout doesn't matter, such as for documentation and API references.

  1. To get started I launch Tmux with my basic starter template, ~/.tmuxgo (see part 4 — Starter templates), which starts Elinks automatically in -no-connect mode.
  2. A window dedicated to Elinks is standard in all my starter templates.
    This section is at the 1:20 mark in the screencast.
    Minimul says —

    Elinks is designed in a similar way to Tmux with a client/server approach. By using the -no-connect option you launch Elinks in a stand-alone mode. I prefer this as it makes it possible to register new configuration changes. If you don't use the -no-connect switch you will notice that Elinks doesn't pickup your configuration changes on a quit and restart. This is because you need to restart the entire Elinks server (again when launching Elinks without -no-connect switch).

  3. I like to have Elinks running near the end of my window indexes in each of my projects so I can go it quickly with muscle memory.
  4. I usually have Elinks running at window indexes 5, 6, or 7.
  5. To maximize Elinks effectiveness the configuration file must be understood along with the concept of "dumb" and "smart" rewrites.
  6. I open my Elinks configuration file located locally for me at ~/.elinks/elinks.conf.
  7. Discussion of Elinks configuration is at the 4:05 mark.
    My full Elinks configuration is located here.
    My conf file starts off with smart and dumb rewrites, arguably the most important part of configuration file.
    Minimul says —

    Why are smart and dumb rewrites so important?

    Because Elinks can excel when being used for references, documentation, cheat sheets, etc. Smart and dumb rewrites make Elinks simple and efficient to use for these use cases.

  8. A smart rewrite is one that handles dynamic input.
  9. This "g" smart rewrite (shortcut for a Google search) is my most popular one.
    Explanation and use of a smart rewrite is at the 5:15 mark.
    After executing the "g ruby array" smart rewrite.
  10. Links are in a slight bold. To locate a desired link in a mouse-free way, initiate a text search via typing # - / and then your search text. In this example, I start typing "Class" to match the link I want.
  11. Selecting sought after links quickly.
    Minimul says —

    If Elinks is going to become a tool that steps-up your productivity you "must" use the text content search to find your links speedily. Otherwise you will be frustrated with Elinks and stop using it because navigating to links is cumbersome. Please watch around the 7:00 mark to see a live demonstration.

  12. Smart rewrites are fantastic for references like a thesaurus look up.
  13. After the "g" smart rewrite a thesaurus lookup via "th" is my 2nd most used Elinks rewrite.
  14. Here are some "dumb" rewrites, these shortcuts don't accept dynamic input, hard links, if you will.
  15. Dumb rewrites.
  16. A dumb rewrite I use regularly is my personal Vim cheat sheet (named "myvim"), which is a publicly host Google doc.
  17. Cheat sheets and documentation are great uses for dumb rewrites.
    Find information, not just links, with the text content feature.
    Dumb rewrites are at the 9:01 mark.
  18. Lastly, let me display a "binding", which is a topic I will go into more in depth in Part 7. I mapped lowercase "o" as a short cut to open the URL window/modal that has already been seen many places in this article and screencast.
  19. Lowercase "o" is my most frequently used binding.

That concludes installment 6. Leveraging Elinks to stay focused.

I am going to stop here as I don't want this article nor screencast getting too long winded. The information here is enough to make you dangerous so don't delay in finding some time to invest in getting started today adding Elinks to your Tmux productivity arsenal.

Next in part 7, I continue with Elinks, digging deeper into my configuration file. While you are waiting for the article check out the screencast that is already cooked.

If you like this article and screencast go to the dedicated page for this series at http://minimul.com/teaches/tmux.

  • Pushed on 06/30/2014 by Christian