Quick Bash Scripts Augmenting Org Files

[James Dyer] : Dec 21, 2022 : 450 words
emacs linux 🏷️ org emacs bash 2022

This post isn’t strictly about what can be achieved within the emacs ecosystem but what can be achieved outside it while still binding to the workflow principles of org mode.

I have yet to convert to any of the internal shells/terminal emulators within emacs, I have continued to Control-Alt-T (C-M-t) term my way around linux; although this is becoming less frequent due to my greater proficiency with dired

As my org journey evolves I have now realised that I have two files I rely on for my quick capturing needs. When an idea pops into my head I am usually emacs bound anyway so org-capture is always there for me. But what if I am alfresco?, and maybe, just maybe I am in a terminal! Well I could quickly switch to emacs as it is 99% likely to be already running, but what if it is not?!

I could open emacs and then do my thing but emacs now takes a few seconds to load up and then for me just to close it down again afterwards?! (as if I would) Isn’t there another way?, a better way? Could I idea push to an org file from the terminal with a quick flick of the fingers, could bash help me out here?, so many questions…

Well the answer is that yes, bash can help me out.

For me, any new items using org-capture are always put under the headline, hence using file+headline in my capture template. How will this help?, well using the power of bash and the venerable sed command I can search and replace the headline but replace with an extra piece of data, namely a string of my choosing, effectively placing my TODO or note at the top of the org file list!

I thus came up with the following bash scripts:


if [[ ! -z $@ ]]; then sed --in-place 's/* Tasks/* Tasks\n** TODO '"$(echo ${@})"'/g' \ "~/DCIM/content/aa--todo.org" fi


if [[ ! -z $@ ]]; then sed --in-place 's/* Notes/* Notes\n** '"$(echo ${@})"'/g' \ "~/DCIM/content/aa--notes.org" fi

Here is my original todo org file:

On the command line I can now enter:

todo generate art slideshows

and in a flash my org file would now be

all nice and ready for the next time I open emacs!, and of course now I can also add notes, or anything else of course.

My aim was for the scripts to be very simple, if you pass in no text / arguments no files will be augmented, generally the idea is just to pass in a single string, maybe multiple lines could be passed using \n but that isn’t the way I wanted to use them.