“Emacs configuration for working with Python”

Emacs is an excellent text editor for comfortable work with Python code.

Main facilities

To begin with, it is recommended to install an easy-to-use plugin manager with lazy loading and updating, such as NeoBundle from vim. Our choice is el-get - a perfect manager with autocompilation, automatic initialization and, the most importantly, installation recipes. An illustrative example of a recipe.

(:name flycheck
       :type github
       :pkgname "flycheck/flycheck"
       :checkout "0.25.1"
       :minimum-emacs-version "24.3"
       :description "On-the-fly syntax checking extension"
       :build '(("makeinfo" "-o" "doc/flycheck.info" "doc/flycheck.texi"))
       :info "./doc"
       :depends (dash pkg-info let-alist seq)
       :post-init (progn
                    (add-hook 'python-mode-hook             #'flycheck-mode)
                    (add-hook 'js-mode-hook                 #'flycheck-mode)
                    (add-hook 'web-mode-hook                #'flycheck-mode)
                    (add-hook 'lisp-interaction-mode-hook   #'flycheck-mode)
                    (add-hook 'fish-mode-hook               #'flycheck-mode)
                    (add-hook 'markdown-mode-hook           #'flycheck-mode)
                    (add-hook 'go-mode-hook                 #'flycheck-mode)
                    (setq flycheck-check-syntax-automatically '(mode-enabled save idle-change))
                    (setq flycheck-highlighting-mode 'lines)
                    (setq flycheck-indication-mode 'left-fringe)
                    (setq flycheck-checker-error-threshold 2000)

This is a recipe for installation of flycheck - files syntax checking plugin. In recipe you can specify the code origin - git/github repository or, just a link to the file or plugin’s name in ELPA/MELPA, necessary dependencies, for github - a branch or a tag.

Command :built allows to start system utilities, if they required for plugin’s correct installation. There is also another great command - :post-init, where lisp code can be specified, which will be run every time the plugin is initialized. Generally, a very useful tool.

All settings are stored in the following folder~/.emacs.d. The thinnest init.el, where logically broken files from settings folder connect.

(add-to-list 'load-path (expand-file-name "settings" user-emacs-directory))
(require 'dark-mint-theme)
(require 'scratch_my)
(require 'package_my)
(require 'hooks_my)
(require 'keybindings_my)

automatically generated at “customize” code.

The first file is a design theme. More themes here.

Scratch_my.el describes all the standard settings and includes all the required modes, which are incorporated from scratch in any fresh Emacs.

In package_my.el there are a list of all plugins to be installed and several functions for correct installation.

Hooks of different modes are described in a file hooks_my.el. Keybindings changes are taken out in a separate file keybindings_my.el.

The folders with snippets yasnippet and recipes are also synchronized. Changes to recipes are very frequently made, plugins settings are added there, which is why they are stored in a separate folder.

Plugins, irrespective of programming language

We are not going to describe all plugins in detail, for this purpose we attach a link to each of them.

Let’s probably start with avy, a plugin which allows to switch to a word, containing the entered symbol (analogue vim-easymotion).

For autocompletion we used company-mode - a universal autocompletion for Emacs. It works very quickly, can be completely customized, although the documentation is not full, I often looked in sources. The convenience is in a structure of a given plugin. There is backend - an individual code for different modes and frontend - a general code which presents the results of autocompletion in Emacs itself. Different backends are used for different modes. For example, company-elisp backend is used for lisp, for Python - company - jedi (backend for company-jedi - Python code’s static analysis libraries).

Expand-region is used for text’s semantic allocation. More details in this video.

For work with git three wonderful plugins are used - git-gutter, mo-git-blame and magit. The last one should be particularly pointed out - it is just excellent - a couple of touches and your code is on the server.

And you will ask about a file manager? Neotree integration with git is available.

Another very useful plugin - helm - is an aoutocompletion to everything. Search in open buffers (helm-swoop), in recently opened files, in files in current directory, commands search, renaming of variables in several buffers and many other. A great article describes all the capabilities of this plugin. Multiple-cursors - after watching this video you would surely like to try it :)

Plugin, with the help of which you can appoint an action for any keys double-tapping is key-chord (video).

Analogue vim-powerline, of a functional status line powerline.

Projectile - a plugin for project management in Emacs. Project search, project files replacement, go to definition, project switching and many other useful functions. More details in this article.

Yasnippet - allows to create and use snippets for different programming languages.

Python mode

Finally we move to Emacs setting directly for work with Python.

Let’s start with hooks

;; Python mode
(defun my-merge-imenu ()
  (let ((mode-imenu (imenu-default-create-index-function))
        (custom-imenu (imenu--generic-function imenu-generic-expression)))
    (append mode-imenu custom-imenu)))

(defun my-python-hooks()
    (setq tab-width     4
          python-indent 4
          python-shell-interpreter "ipython"
          python-shell-interpreter-args "-i")
    (if (string-match-p "rita" (or (buffer-file-name) ""))
        (setq indent-tabs-mode t)
      (setq indent-tabs-mode nil)
        '("Sections" "^#### \\[ \\(.*\\) \\]$" 1))
    (setq imenu-create-index-function 'my-merge-imenu)
    ;; pythom mode keybindings
    (define-key python-mode-map (kbd "M-.") 'jedi:goto-definition)
    (define-key python-mode-map (kbd "M-,") 'jedi:goto-definition-pop-marker)
    (define-key python-mode-map (kbd "M-/") 'jedi:show-doc)
    (define-key python-mode-map (kbd "M-?") 'helm-jedi-related-names)
    ;; end python mode keybindings

    (eval-after-load "company"
            (unless (member 'company-jedi (car company-backends))
                (setq comp-back (car company-backends))
                (push 'company-jedi comp-back)
                (setq company-backends (list comp-back)))

(add-hook 'python-mode-hook 'my-python-hooks)
;; End Python mode

For plugins’ work some packets need to be installed via pip.

pip install -U jedi virtualenv flake8

We set up indents settings and way to the interpreter, set keys’ specific bindings, add company-jedi backend and adjust imenu.

Autocompletion was mentioned above (company-jedi), search on file and file’s structure (classes names, variables, methods, etc) is carried out via imenu (F10), NeoTree file manager opening and closing is accomplished at tapping F7.

Now a bit about the used plugins

Auto-virtualenv - activates virtualenv for Python file. Works excellently, especially when combined with projectile. Jedi-core - gives variants for autompletion to company-jedi, passes to definitions, shows docs of the functions and classes, etc.

Pip-requirements - as it can be seen from the name - it is a packet for work with requirements.

Py-autopep8 - allows to format a code automatically according to pep8 standard.

Py-isort - can sort all imports in a file automatically.

Python REPL

We specified in hooks which version of shell we are going to use

(setq python-shell-interpreter "ipython"
       python-shell-interpreter-args "-i")

Tapping C-c C-c - all the contents of a current buffer are transferred to ipython, where it can be tested at once. If you want to look through just a part of a code, select it and tap C-c C-r.

You can also use a debugger built-in python-mode, executing a M-x pdb RET command (RET - in emacs means enter/return, first it confused me). There is also a more functional version - realgud.

For example, here are several screenshots: screenshots for editor

screenshots of editor

Other plugins

Markdown-mode - in this very mode the given article is being written. And the result is viewed in browser with the help of livedown.

Web-mode - allows to work with html, css, Django/Jinja2 templates.

Restclient - a plugin to work with different Api. Emacrocks will show more in their video.


It is a pity, that all the features and subtleties of each plugin cannot be embraced in one article, I hope this list of short descriptions will let the readers to find out something new about this wonderful editor.

Useful links