Emacs Redux

Return to the Essence of Text Editing

Automatic(electric) Character Pairing

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When editing text (and source code in particular) we often have to deal with characters that are usually paired (like (), [], {}, etc). By default Emacs doesn’t treat such characters in any special manner and that kind of sucks, since it’s quite easy to misplace a closing parenthesis for instance.

While there are several modes that target that particular problem, in this post I’ll showcase just one of them - the built-in(since Emacs 24.1) global minor mode electric-pair-mode. Enabling it is trivial:

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(electric-pair-mode +1)

At this point typing an open parenthesis automatically inserts the corresponding closing parenthesis. (Likewise for brackets, etc.) As an added bonus, consider the following scenario(the bar(|) represents your cursor):

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some_fun(param1, param2|)

Typing a closing parenthesis a this point will not insert a second parenthesis, but will simple move the cursor over the existing one, keeping the expression correct.

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some_fun(param1, param2)|

Simple, but effective. A little bit down the road we might take a looks at some of the (more powerful) alternatives to electric-pair-mode.

electric-pair-mode is enabled by default in Prelude.

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