New Year, New Terminal

I have been rocking mrxvt as my primary terminal emulator for what seems like 10 years. Coincidentally that is about the same amount of time since it was last updated. Simple, configurable, and most importantly speedy – mrxvt has been a reliable and faithful companion. For no particular reason except curiosity, and a bit of time around the holidays for tinkering, I decided to explore some other options.

To be clear, I spend the majority of my waking hours on a computer, and the majority of that at the command line, and the majority of that in vim. Swapping out the terminal part of that equation is not something I take lightly. This isn’t the first time I have ventured on this journey, but it is the first time I actually found a destination worth lingering on.

I started slogging through the old school contenders like so many times in the past, then I worked through the new-ish crop of terminals. I found some neat options, but nothing that quite fit the bill. Then I happened upon a long shot, a performance focused terminal called alacritty. By itself, allacritty did not have all the features I wanted, but paired with tmux, which it is intended to be used with, I thought it might just do the trick. Plus the project name is just to clever. Alacrity + TTY, I love it!

I have used screen in the past, and have heard of tmux, but basically had zero practical experience before the last few days. Turns out tmux is pretty sweet. Lots of knobs to twist, somewhat complicated to get setup the way I wanted, but not a vim level learning curve. Even more promising, I was able to massage tmux to behave like my custom mrxvt config. Big win for the old muscle memory.

Alacritty is a unique terminal emulator. It uses GPU accelerated rendering for speed, and has a very minimal, but smart, feature set. There are no Debian packages, so I had to compile from source. I have never built a program written in rust before, but it was as simple as apt-get installing a few pre-reqs, starting the build, and waiting for it to finish. While I was at it I built tmux from the latest git checkout, and installed the Hack font to replace the Terminus font I have been using for I don’t even know how long. I figure if I’m going new, may as well go new all the way. Well not all the way, I’m not switching to Emacs. That would be nuts!

One thing I LOVE about alacritty (aside from the speed), is the ability to map your own codes to keyboard combinations. I don’t use a lot of vim tweaks or plugins, but one thing I absolutely cannot do without is mapping “:wa” to Shift-Enter. It’s so handy! Some terminals just produce the same keycode for Enter when hitting Shift-Enter, but with allacritty I could easily setup a custom keycode that I could then map in my vimrc. Happy times!

Now I have UTF-8 support in the terminal, much improved HiDPI support for my laptop, and a slick fast terminal emulator with tabs and all the shortcuts I’m used to. It took about 2 days to tweak everything, but I’m going to use my new setup when I go back to work tomorrow and my dork excitement level is pretty high. I’m sure I will run into issues once I sink my teeth in, but I’m jazzed about starting 2018 with something new and improved (already LOVING tmux copy mode vs standard terminal scrollback (once I tweaked copy/paste)). I just nested parens, I love it when that happens!

Below are my .alacritty.yml and .tmux.conf files, and the obligatory screenshots of the before and after.

Old school

New school

.alacritty.yml (with few exceptions, this is the default alacritty config file)

# Configuration for Alacritty, the GPU enhanced terminal emulator

# Any items in the `env` entry below will be added as
# environment variables. Some entries may override variables
# set by alacritty it self.
  # TERM env customization.
  # If this property is not set, alacritty will set it to xterm-256color.
  # Note that some xterm terminfo databases don't declare support for italics.
  # You can verify this by checking for the presence of `smso` and `sitm` in
  # `infocmp xterm-256color`.
  TERM: xterm-256color

  # Window dimensions in character columns and lines
  # Falls back to size specified by window manager if set to 0x0.
  # (changes require restart)
    columns: 80
    lines: 24

  # Adds this many blank pixels of padding around the window
  # Units are physical pixels; this is not DPI aware.
  # (change requires restart)
    x: 20
    y: 20

  # Window decorations
  # Setting this to false will result in window without borders and title bar.
  decorations: false

# Display tabs using this many cells (changes require restart)
tabspaces: 8

# When true, bold text is drawn using the bright variant of colors.
draw_bold_text_with_bright_colors: true

# Font configuration (changes require restart)
# Important font attributes like antialiasing, subpixel aa, and hinting can be
# controlled through fontconfig. Specifically, the following attributes should
# have an effect:
# * hintstyle
# * antialias
# * lcdfilter
# * rgba
# For instance, if you wish to disable subpixel antialiasing, you might set the
# rgba property to "none". If you wish to completely disable antialiasing, you
# can set antialias to false.
# Please see these resources for more information on how to use fontconfig
# *
# * file:///usr/share/doc/fontconfig/fontconfig-user.html
  # The normal (roman) font face to use.
    family: Hack # should be "Menlo" or something on macOS.
    # Style can be specified to pick a specific face.
    # style: Regular

  # The bold font face
    family: monospace # should be "Menlo" or something on macOS.
    # Style can be specified to pick a specific face.
    style: Regular

  # The italic font face
    family: monospace # should be "Menlo" or something on macOS.
    # Style can be specified to pick a specific face.
    # style: Italic

  # Point size of the font
  size: 10.0

  # Offset is the extra space around each character. offset.y can be thought of
  # as modifying the linespacing, and offset.x as modifying the letter spacing.
    x: 0.0
    y: 0.0

  # Glyph offset determines the locations of the glyphs within their cells with
  # the default being at the bottom. Increase the x offset to move the glyph to
  # the right, increase the y offset to move the glyph upward.
    x: 0.0
    y: 0.0

  # OS X only: use thin stroke font rendering. Thin strokes are suitable
  # for retina displays, but for non-retina you probably want this set to
  # false.
  use_thin_strokes: true

# Should display the render timer
render_timer: false

# Use custom cursor colors. If true, display the cursor in the cursor.foreground
# and cursor.background colors, otherwise invert the colors of the cursor.
custom_cursor_colors: true

# Colors (Tomorrow Night Bright)
  # Default colors
    background: '0x000000'
    foreground: '0xeaeaea'

  # Colors the cursor will use if `custom_cursor_colors` is true
    text: '0x000000'
    cursor: '0x888888'

  # Normal colors
    black:   '0x000000'
    red:     '0xd54e53'
    green:   '0xb9ca4a'
    yellow:  '0xe6c547'
    blue:    '0x7aa6da'
    magenta: '0xc397d8'
    cyan:    '0x70c0ba'
    white:   '0xffffff'

  # Bright colors
    black:   '0x666666'
    red:     '0xff3334'
    green:   '0x9ec400'
    yellow:  '0xe7c547'
    blue:    '0x7aa6da'
    magenta: '0xb77ee0'
    cyan:    '0x54ced6'
    white:   '0xffffff'

  # Dim colors (Optional)
    black:   '0x333333'
    red:     '0xf2777a'
    green:   '0x99cc99'
    yellow:  '0xffcc66'
    blue:    '0x6699cc'
    magenta: '0xcc99cc'
    cyan:    '0x66cccc'
    white:   '0xdddddd'

# Visual Bell
# Any time the BEL code is received, Alacritty "rings" the visual bell. Once
# rung, the terminal background will be set to white and transition back to the
# default background color. You can control the rate of this transition by
# setting the `duration` property (represented in milliseconds). You can also
# configure the transition function by setting the `animation` property.
# Possible values for `animation`
# `Ease`
# `EaseOut`
# `EaseOutSine`
# `EaseOutQuad`
# `EaseOutCubic`
# `EaseOutQuart`
# `EaseOutQuint`
# `EaseOutExpo`
# `EaseOutCirc`
# `Linear`
# To completely disable the visual bell, set its duration to 0.
  animation: EaseOutExpo
  duration: 0

# Background opacity
background_opacity: 1.0

# Mouse bindings
# Currently doesn't support modifiers. Both the `mouse` and `action` fields must
# be specified.
# Values for `mouse`:
# - Middle
# - Left
# - Right
# - Numeric identifier such as `5`
# Values for `action`:
# - Paste
# - PasteSelection
# - Copy (TODO)
  - { mouse: Middle, action: PasteSelection }

  double_click: { threshold: 300 }
  triple_click: { threshold: 300 }

    semantic_escape_chars: ",│`|:\"' ()[]{}"

dynamic_title: true

hide_cursor_when_typing: true

# Style of the cursor
# Values for 'cursor_style':
# - Block
# - Underline
# - Beam
cursor_style: Block

# Live config reload (changes require restart)
live_config_reload: true

# Shell
# You can set shell.program to the path of your favorite shell, e.g. /bin/fish.
# Entries in shell.args are passed unmodified as arguments to the shell.
# shell:
#   program: /bin/bash
#   args:
#     - --login

# Key bindings
# Each binding is defined as an object with some properties. Most of the
# properties are optional. All of the alphabetical keys should have a letter for
# the `key` value such as `V`. Function keys are probably what you would expect
# as well (F1, F2, ..). The number keys above the main keyboard are encoded as
# `Key1`, `Key2`, etc. Keys on the number pad are encoded `Number1`, `Number2`,
# etc.  These all match the glutin::VirtualKeyCode variants.
# Possible values for `mods`
# `Command`, `Super` refer to the super/command/windows key
# `Control` for the control key
# `Shift` for the Shift key
# `Alt` and `Option` refer to alt/option
# mods may be combined with a `|`. For example, requiring control and shift
# looks like:
# mods: Control|Shift
# The parser is currently quite sensitive to whitespace and capitalization -
# capitalization must match exactly, and piped items must not have whitespace
# around them.
# Either an `action`, `chars`, or `command` field must be present.
#   `action` must be one of `Paste`, `PasteSelection`, `Copy`, or `Quit`.
#   `chars` writes the specified string every time that binding is activated.
#     These should generally be escape sequences, but they can be configured to
#     send arbitrary strings of bytes.
#   `command` must be a map containing a `program` string, and `args` array of
#     strings. For example:
#     - { ... , command: { program: "alacritty", args: ["-e", "vttest"] } }
# Want to add a binding (e.g. "PageUp") but are unsure what the X sequence
# (e.g. "\x1b[5~") is? Open another terminal (like xterm) without tmux,
# then run `showkey -a` to get the sequence associated to a key combination.
  - { key: V,        mods: Control|Shift,    action: Paste               }
  - { key: C,        mods: Control|Shift,    action: Copy                }
  - { key: Q,        mods: Command, action: Quit                         }
  - { key: W,        mods: Command, action: Quit                         }
  - { key: Insert,   mods: Shift,   action: PasteSelection               }
  - { key: Key0,     mods: Control, action: ResetFontSize                }
  - { key: Equals,   mods: Control, action: IncreaseFontSize             }
  - { key: Subtract, mods: Control, action: DecreaseFontSize             }
  - { key: Home,                    chars: "\x1bOH",   mode: AppCursor   }
  - { key: Home,                    chars: "\x1b[H",   mode: ~AppCursor  }
  - { key: End,                     chars: "\x1bOF",   mode: AppCursor   }
  - { key: End,                     chars: "\x1b[F",   mode: ~AppCursor  }
  - { key: PageUp,   mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[5;2~"                   }
  - { key: PageUp,   mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[5;5~"                   }
  - { key: PageUp,                  chars: "\x1b[5~"                     }
  - { key: PageDown, mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[6;2~"                   }
  - { key: PageDown, mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[6;5~"                   }
  - { key: PageDown,                chars: "\x1b[6~"                     }
  - { key: Tab,      mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[Z"                      }
  - { key: Back,                    chars: "\x7f"                        }
  - { key: Back,     mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b\x7f"                    }
  - { key: Insert,                  chars: "\x1b[2~"                     }
  - { key: Delete,                  chars: "\x1b[3~"                     }
  - { key: Left,     mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[1;2D"                   }
  - { key: Left,     mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[1;5D"                   }
  - { key: Left,     mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[1;3D"                   }
  - { key: Left,                    chars: "\x1b[D",   mode: ~AppCursor  }
  - { key: Left,                    chars: "\x1bOD",   mode: AppCursor   }
  - { key: Right,    mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[1;2C"                   }
  - { key: Right,    mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[1;5C"                   }
  - { key: Right,    mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[1;3C"                   }
  - { key: Right,                   chars: "\x1b[C",   mode: ~AppCursor  }
  - { key: Right,                   chars: "\x1bOC",   mode: AppCursor   }
  - { key: Up,       mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[1;2A"                   }
  - { key: Up,       mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[1;5A"                   }
  - { key: Up,       mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[1;3A"                   }
  - { key: Up,                      chars: "\x1b[A",   mode: ~AppCursor  }
  - { key: Up,                      chars: "\x1bOA",   mode: AppCursor   }
  - { key: Down,     mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[1;2B"                   }
  - { key: Down,     mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[1;5B"                   }
  - { key: Down,     mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[1;3B"                   }
  - { key: Down,                    chars: "\x1b[B",   mode: ~AppCursor  }
  - { key: Down,                    chars: "\x1bOB",   mode: AppCursor   }
  - { key: F1,                      chars: "\x1bOP"                      }
  - { key: F2,                      chars: "\x1bOQ"                      }
  - { key: F3,                      chars: "\x1bOR"                      }
  - { key: F4,                      chars: "\x1bOS"                      }
  - { key: F5,                      chars: "\x1b[15~"                    }
  - { key: F6,                      chars: "\x1b[17~"                    }
  - { key: F7,                      chars: "\x1b[18~"                    }
  - { key: F8,                      chars: "\x1b[19~"                    }
  - { key: F9,                      chars: "\x1b[20~"                    }
  - { key: F10,                     chars: "\x1b[21~"                    }
  - { key: F11,                     chars: "\x1b[23~"                    }
  - { key: F12,                     chars: "\x1b[24~"                    }
  - { key: F1,       mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[1;2P"                   }
  - { key: F2,       mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[1;2Q"                   }
  - { key: F3,       mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[1;2R"                   }
  - { key: F4,       mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[1;2S"                   }
  - { key: F5,       mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[15;2~"                  }
  - { key: F6,       mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[17;2~"                  }
  - { key: F7,       mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[18;2~"                  }
  - { key: F8,       mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[19;2~"                  }
  - { key: F9,       mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[20;2~"                  }
  - { key: F10,      mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[21;2~"                  }
  - { key: F11,      mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[23;2~"                  }
  - { key: F12,      mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[24;2~"                  }
  - { key: F1,       mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[1;5P"                   }
  - { key: F2,       mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[1;5Q"                   }
  - { key: F3,       mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[1;5R"                   }
  - { key: F4,       mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[1;5S"                   }
  - { key: F5,       mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[15;5~"                  }
  - { key: F6,       mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[17;5~"                  }
  - { key: F7,       mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[18;5~"                  }
  - { key: F8,       mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[19;5~"                  }
  - { key: F9,       mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[20;5~"                  }
  - { key: F10,      mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[21;5~"                  }
  - { key: F11,      mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[23;5~"                  }
  - { key: F12,      mods: Control, chars: "\x1b[24;5~"                  }
  - { key: F1,       mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[1;6P"                   }
  - { key: F2,       mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[1;6Q"                   }
  - { key: F3,       mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[1;6R"                   }
  - { key: F4,       mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[1;6S"                   }
  - { key: F5,       mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[15;6~"                  }
  - { key: F6,       mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[17;6~"                  }
  - { key: F7,       mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[18;6~"                  }
  - { key: F8,       mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[19;6~"                  }
  - { key: F9,       mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[20;6~"                  }
  - { key: F10,      mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[21;6~"                  }
  - { key: F11,      mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[23;6~"                  }
  - { key: F12,      mods: Alt,     chars: "\x1b[24;6~"                  }
  - { key: F1,       mods: Super,   chars: "\x1b[1;3P"                   }
  - { key: F2,       mods: Super,   chars: "\x1b[1;3Q"                   }
  - { key: F3,       mods: Super,   chars: "\x1b[1;3R"                   }
  - { key: F4,       mods: Super,   chars: "\x1b[1;3S"                   }
  - { key: F5,       mods: Super,   chars: "\x1b[15;3~"                  }
  - { key: F6,       mods: Super,   chars: "\x1b[17;3~"                  }
  - { key: F7,       mods: Super,   chars: "\x1b[18;3~"                  }
  - { key: F8,       mods: Super,   chars: "\x1b[19;3~"                  }
  - { key: F9,       mods: Super,   chars: "\x1b[20;3~"                  }
  - { key: F10,      mods: Super,   chars: "\x1b[21;3~"                  }
  - { key: F11,      mods: Super,   chars: "\x1b[23;3~"                  }
  - { key: F12,      mods: Super,   chars: "\x1b[24;3~"                  }
  - { key: Return,   mods: Shift,   chars: "\x1b[25;3~"                  }

.tmux.conf (this was mashed up from a bunch of different google-able tmux examples)

setw -g mode-keys vi
set -g mouse on
set -g terminal-overrides 'xterm*:smcup@:rmcup@'
set-option -g visual-activity off
set-option -g visual-bell off
set-option -g visual-silence off
set-window-option -g monitor-activity off
set-option -g bell-action none
set-window-option -g word-separators ' '

bind -n S-Left previous-window
bind -n S-Right next-window
bind -n S-Up select-pane -U
bind -n S-Down select-pane -D
bind -n C-h split-window -v
bind -n S-PageUp copy-mode
bind -n C-n new-window \; \
    setw -g force-height 63

bind-key -T copy-mode-vi DoubleClick1Pane \
    select-pane \; \
    send-keys -X select-word \; \
    send-keys -X copy-pipe "xclip" \

bind-key -n DoubleClick1Pane \
    select-pane \; \
    copy-mode -M \; \
    send-keys -X select-word \; \
    send-keys -X copy-pipe "xclip" \; \
    display-message "COPIED"

bind-key -T copy-mode-vi \
    y send-keys -X \
    copy-pipe-and-cancel "xclip" \; \
    display-message "COPIED"

bind-key -T copy-mode-vi \
    MouseDragEnd1Pane \
    send-keys -X \
    copy-pipe-and-cancel \
    "xclip" \; \
    display-message "COPIED"

set -g pane-border-fg black
set -g pane-active-border-fg brightred
set -g status-justify left
set -g status-bg default
set -g status-fg colour12
set -g status-interval 2
set -g message-fg black
set -g message-bg yellow
set -g message-command-fg blue
set -g message-command-bg black
setw -g mode-bg colour6
setw -g mode-fg colour0
setw -g force-height 63
setw -g window-status-format " #F#I:#W#F "
setw -g window-status-current-format " #F#I:#W#F "
setw -g window-status-format "#[fg=magenta]#[bg=black] #I #[bg=cyan]#[fg=colour8] #W "
setw -g window-status-current-format "#[bg=brightmagenta]#[fg=colour8] #I #[fg=colour8]#[bg=colour14] #W "
setw -g window-status-current-bg colour0
setw -g window-status-current-fg colour11
setw -g window-status-current-attr dim
setw -g window-status-bg green
setw -g window-status-fg black
setw -g window-status-attr reverse
set -g status-left ''
set -g default-terminal "screen-256color"
setw -g clock-mode-colour colour135
setw -g mode-attr bold
setw -g mode-fg colour17
setw -g mode-bg colour238
set -g pane-border-bg colour0
set -g pane-border-fg colour0
set -g pane-active-border-bg colour0
set -g pane-active-border-fg colour0
set -g status-position bottom
set -g status-bg colour233
set -g status-fg colour4
set -g status-attr dim
set -g status-left ''
set -g status-right ''
set -g status-right-length 50
set -g status-left-length 20
setw -g window-status-current-fg colour81
setw -g window-status-current-bg colour238
setw -g window-status-current-attr bold
setw -g window-status-current-format ' #I#[fg=colour250]:#[fg=colour255]#W#[fg=colour50]#F '
setw -g window-status-fg colour138
setw -g window-status-bg colour235
setw -g window-status-attr none
setw -g window-status-format ' #I#[fg=colour237]:#[fg=colour250]#W#[fg=colour244]#F '
setw -g window-status-bell-attr bold
setw -g window-status-bell-fg colour255
setw -g window-status-bell-bg colour1
set -g message-attr bold
set -g message-fg colour250
set -g message-bg colour234

I want to wish all unencumbered readers out there a happy New Year, and I hope this next year brings all of you good fortune. I also want to thank Farmobile (my employer), for giving us the last week off. Without it I would not have had the time to get my geek on and make this update possible. I almost can’t wait to go back to work tomorrow!

Psql + Vim = Happy Face

I love Vim. I use it to develop software, write blog posts, analyze and manipulate raw data, even compose E-mail. If I’m typing something and it requires more than 4 words, I do it in Vim. I was going to write a post about all the Vim tips and tricks I have consumed over the years, but that information lives almost exclusively in muscle memory, which requires too much effort to extract. Instead, I’m writing about how you can spice up your psql environment with Vim, since I just did that last week, and kind of sort of remember how I did it.

Psql is the command line client for Postgres. It’s a powerful, if somewhat boring, interface to the DB. Type an SQL statement, get an ASCII formatted result. In this way it’s similar to the mysql command line interface for that other RDMS you may have heard of. Psql has some interesting options we can use to bring the Vim goodness. That other client might have similar features, but thankfully I don’t work with that anymore and have all but forgotten it existed at all.

Vi Style Key Bindings

This is like “set -o vi” in bash, but for psql. Support for vi key-binding is provided by the readline or libedit library, so enabling this in psql can be done using the .inputrc file in your home directory. Just create the file if it does not exist, and add the following:

set editing-mode vi
set keymap vi-command

Now you can navigate the Psql command line with some Vim-like shortcuts via a limited command mode accessed with ESC. So cool!

Editing Queries With Vim

Being able to jump around the CLI is nice, but when you are building a complicated query, it’s better to have a full featured editing environment. Psql provides a command, “\e”, that will start an editor with the last query pre-loaded. When exiting the editor, the updated query will be re-run. You can control the editor with the EDITOR environment variable. Just set that to “vim” before starting psql. I define this in my .bashrc file so ANY program respecting the EDITOR variable will use Vim by default, because of course I do. The only other trick here is to make sure Vim knows that you are editing a query so we get fancy-pants syntax highlighting. Adding this to your .vimrc file should do the trick (presuming psql is using /tmp like it does on Debian):

syntax on
au BufRead /tmp/psql.edit.* set syntax=sql

Now I can seamlessly use Vim from psql to develop complex SQL statements. SO GOOD.

Query Results in Vim

In the course of developing said complex SQL statements, I’m running oodles of queries and analyzing the results. This is yet another place we can dollop Vim awesome-sauce into psql. Like the EDITOR environment variable, psql respects the PAGER variable. This defines what program will be used to display results that don’t fit in the available terminal screen real-estate. There are 3 steps to gluing this all together: 1. Setup a custom Vim syntax file to make the results all pretty; 2. create a custom Vim config to be used when displaying results; and 3. Set the correct PAGER value before starting psql.

First up, the syntax highlighting. Create a file called “dbout.vim” and put it in ~/.vim/syntax. If those folders don’t exist in your home directory, create them. Put the following super hacky syntax highlight definitions in that file:

" Vim syntax file
" " Language: db output
" " Maintainer: Jason Munro

syn region Heading start=/^ \l/ end=/[-+]\+$/
syn match Border "|"
syn match IntVal " \d\+\(\n\| \)"
syn match NullVal " NULL\(\n\| \)"
syn match NegVal " -\d\+\(\n\| \)"
syn match FloatVal " \d\+\.\d\+\(\n\| \)"
syn match NegFloatVal " -\d\+\.\d\+\(\\n\| \)"
syn match DateTime "\d\{4}-\d\{2}-\d\{2} \d\{2}:\d\{2}:\d\{2}\(\.\d\{1,}\|\)"
syn match TrueVal " t\(\n\| \)"
syn match FalseVal " f\(\n\| \)"

hi def Heading ctermfg=246
hi def IntVal ctermfg=229
hi def FalseVal ctermfg=88
hi def NullVal ctermfg=242
hi def Border ctermfg=240
hi def NegFloatVal ctermfg=160
hi def FloatVal ctermfg=230
hi def NegVal ctermfg=160
hi def DateTime ctermfg=111
hi def TrueVal ctermfg=64

The color definitions I’m using here expect a 256 color capable terminal, those with less will have to fiddle with the ctermfg values. Next, create a custom Vim configuration for the results that uses the syntax highlighting. Just copy your existing .vimrc to .vimrcpg, and add the following lines:

syntax on
set syntax=dbout

Finally, set the PAGER environment variable before running psql:

export PAGER='vim -R -u ~/.vimrcpg -'

And, voila! Check out the super cool color highlighting from the obviously very useful “test” table I just created!
In conclusion, psql is awesome, but psql with Vim integration is awesome-er.

Running WordPress 3.8 on a Nexus 7

I had the good fortune recently to come into possession of an Asus Nexus 7 Android tablet. After a couple of months playing games on it, a task it excels at I might add, I decided it might be neat to see if I could setup a super-portable self-contained mini-development environment for WordPress. Turns out this is surprisingly easy to put together. With all the pieces in place I can both run and hack WordPress code on the device, even without an active network connection. There are surely many ways to accomplish this, but here is what worked for me.

  • Keyboard
    Trying to code with a onscreen keyboard is a show stopper for me, so in order to make this work I need an external keyboard. It just so happens that my employer, Automattic, included an exceptional Logitech Bluetooth keyboard in our very generous holiday gift packages. It pairs with the device out of the box, but unfortunately the media keys are not supported. To fix that, and to create some useful application shortcuts, I’m using External Keyboard Helper Pro ( It’s not the most intuitive interface (quite possibly one of the worst) but it is powerful with a lot of advanced options.
  • PHP enabled web and DB server
    I expected this to be the most pain in the ass part of the process, but it turned out to be really easy. I chose the Bit Web Server ( app which is amazingly simple to use and does not require root privileges. It had a small problem with some default paths on first install, but that only took a minute to fix. Web and DB services are accessible via the localhost interface so you can use them without any external network connection. It even comes with phpmyadmin for database management.
  • Vim
    I use Vim for software development and there is a very nice port for Android called Vim Touch ( It’s really a full featured build, and for the most part compatible with my standard configuration.
  • WordPress
    Download the latest WordPress zip file, move it to the document root of the web server, unzip it, run the browser based install. I expected this to be easy, and I was not disappointed: It worked flawlessly.
Vim FTW!

Vim FTW!

I'm blogging!

I’m blogging!

So far it seems to all fit together nicely. I can switch between code and a browser with just the keyboard, and the fact that it’s entirely self contained over localhost is handy for traveling. I have some LONG flights coming up in the next month or two, so I’m hoping I can take advantage of the time and work on some plugins. I have to admit I’m strangely disappointed at how easy this was to setup. I expected a long drawn out battle with obtuse error conditions and undocumented issues. Maybe I should see if I can dual boot Debian and Android …