God-mode for Emacs

By Chris Done

A month ago I blogged about ways to reduce strenuous key presses in my Emacs use. I analyzed my runs of chords in Emacs, then speculated on the merits of exclusive vs mixed editing. Since then I wrote an Emacs mode called god-mode. It’s a mode that you toggle in and out of, and when you’re in it, all keys are implicitly prefixed with C- (among other helpful shortcuts). Over all, it’s been a resounding success. A couple other people, including the author of multiple mark mode, contributed some patches. I’ve been using it for a month and have been very satisfied.

For those interested in the keymapping as of writing, you can skip to that section below.

Compared with Vim

Coming back to the examples I came up with in speculations on exclusive editing, God-mode is on par with Vim. In fact, it’s the same or fewer key presses for each one:

Vim:   bbDi (5)
Emacs: gb.ki (5)

Vim:   db.i (4)
Emacs: g←.i (4)

Vim:   ?r↲lDi (8)
Emacs: rr↲ki (5)

That’s not bad. I grant that my Vim fu is weak, so probably there are shorter ways to write the Vim examples. But at any rate Emacs is doing well here.

Evaluation After One Month

I’ve been using this in my Emacs turned on by default for one month. I knew I was going to stick with it after a week or so of use, it was already ingrained into how I use Emacs. Now, when I access a remote Emacs on a server or whatnot, I find that I reach for the Caps Lock key (my toggler key) in order to do an involved editing operation, only to find that it’s not there! Oh, no! I’ll have to use Ctrl for all these dull commands…

In typical usage, it’s a 50-50. When I’m writing code, I tend to work in normal Emacs mode. When I’m editing, I work almost exclusively in God-mode. Cutting (w), copying (gw), moving (k, gk, Gk, y), navigating (ga, gf, etc.), reindenting, slurping, buffer switching (z), running commands (cc, ci, ct, etc), moving around (e, a, f, b, etc.), searching (s, r), replacing (t), saving (xs). All those things I do from god mode.

I’ve also noticed that the more tired I get with my hands towards the end of the day, the more I tend to stick in god-mode. That gives me extra mileage to finish those last things.

Retaining God Mode Exclusively

In fact in some modes it’s possible to remain entirely in God mode. In CSS mode, for example, I’m able to produce out the following:

.foo {
   display: none;

by typing

{ .foo ↲ : d ↲ ↲

What happens there is that { prompts me for a rule and inserts { } and puts my cursor inside it. Then : prompts for a property name, which is completed with ido-mode. Then it prompts for a value. In the case of the display property, it knows there’s only a list of values available for it, and it prompts for a choice of none, block, etc. I hit to choose the default.

If I want to edit a property/value pair, I hit ; and it prompts me for the value with the input containing the existing value.

The more one is able to stay in God mode, the more the speed and convenience benefits.

The Keymapping

(This is described in the README, but including here for posterity.)

God-mode defines the following mapping:

Note the use of space to produce C-x s.