GNU ELPA - tempel


Tempo templates/snippets with in-buffer field editing
tempel-0.3.tar, 2022-Mar-08, 80.0 KiB
Daniel Mendler <>
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To install this package, run in Emacs:

M-x package-install RET tempel RET

Full description


1 Introduction

Tempel is a tiny template package for Emacs, which uses the syntax of the Emacs Tempo library. Tempo is an ancient temple of the church of Emacs. It is 27 years old, but still in good shape since it successfully resisted change over the decades. However it may look a bit dusty here and there. Therefore we present to you, Tempel, a modernized implementation of Tempo, in the form of three commands:

  • tempel-complete completes a template name at point in the buffer and subsequently expands the template. If called non-interactively the function behaves like a Capf and can be added to completion-at-point-functions.
  • tempel-expand expands an exactly matching template name at point in the buffer. If called non-interactively the function behaves like a Capf and can be added to completion-at-point-functions.
  • tempel-insert selects a template by name and insert it into the current buffer.

For the completion at point commands tempel-complete and tempel-expand, you may want to give my Corfu completion at point popup UI a try. After inserting the template you can move between the visible template fields with the keys M-{, M-} or C-up/down which are normally bound to forward/backward-paragraph. Tempel temporarily remaps these commands to tempel-next/previous. The key bindings are defined in the tempel-map keymap. You can customize them there. As soon as you move before (behind) the first (last) field, the fields are finalized.

Tempel can hook into the abbrev mechanism of Emacs by enabling the tempel-abbrev-mode in a buffer or by enabling the tempel-global-abbrev-mode. Then the Tempel templates will be available via expand-abbrev which is usually bound to C-x '.

Note that this package is not a competitor to the mature and widely used YASnippet library, which comes with many readily available snippet collections. Try Tempel only if you like small and simple packages. With Tempel you write your templates in Lisp syntax, which from my perspective fits well to the hackable nature of Emacs. Tempel took inspiration from the Tempo-Snippets package by Nikolaj Schumacher (GitHub link).

2 Quick start

The package is available on GNU ELPA and MELPA and can be installed with package-install. In the following we show an example configuration, which relies on on use-package.

;; Configure Tempel
(use-package tempel
  :bind (("M-+" . tempel-complete) ;; Alternative tempel-expand
	 ("M-*" . tempel-insert))


  ;; Setup completion at point
  (defun tempel-setup-capf ()
    ;; Add the Tempel Capf to `completion-at-point-functions'. `tempel-expand'
    ;; only triggers on exact matches. Alternatively use `tempel-complete' if
    ;; you want to see all matches, but then Tempel will probably trigger too
    ;; often when you don't expect it.
    ;; NOTE: We add `tempel-expand' *before* the main programming mode Capf,
    ;; such that it will be tried first.
    (setq-local completion-at-point-functions
		(cons #'tempel-expand

  (add-hook 'prog-mode-hook 'tempel-setup-capf)
  (add-hook 'text-mode-hook 'tempel-setup-capf)

  ;; Optionally make the Tempel templates available to Abbrev,
  ;; either locally or globally. `expand-abbrev' is bound to C-x '.
  ;; (add-hook 'prog-mode-hook #'tempel-abbrev-mode)
  ;; (tempel-global-abbrev-mode)

;; Optional: Use the Corfu completion UI
(use-package corfu

3 Template file format

The templates are defined in a Lisp file which is stored by default in the user-emacs-directory (~/.config/emacs/templates). The templates are grouped by major mode with an optional :condition. Each template is a list in the concise form of the Emacs Tempo syntax. The first element of each list is the name of the template. Behind the name, the Tempo syntax elements follow. Pre- and post-expansion operations can be specified per template by the optional keys :pre and :post.

;; -*- mode: lisp -*-

fundamental-mode ;; Available everywhere

(today (format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d"))


(fixme (if (derived-mode-p 'emacs-lisp-mode) ";; " comment-start) "FIXME ")
(todo (if (derived-mode-p 'emacs-lisp-mode) ";; " comment-start) "TODO ")
(bug (if (derived-mode-p 'emacs-lisp-mode) ";; " comment-start) "BUG ")
(hack (if (derived-mode-p 'emacs-lisp-mode) ";; " comment-start) "HACK ")


(begin "\\begin{" (s env) "}" > n> r> "\\end{" (s env) "}")
(frac "\\frac{" p "}{" p "}")
(enumerate "\\begin{enumerate}\n\\item " r> n> "\\end{enumerate}")
(itemize "\\begin{itemize}\n\\item " r> n> "\\end{itemize}")

lisp-mode emacs-lisp-mode ;; Specify multiple modes

(lambda "(lambda (" p ")" n> r> ")")


(lambda "(lambda (" p ")" n> r> ")")
(var "(defvar " p "\n  \"" p "\")")
(const "(defconst " p "\n  \"" p "\")")
(custom "(defcustom " p "\n  \"" p "\"" n> ":type '" p ")")
(face "(defface " p " '((t :inherit " p "))\n  \"" p "\")")
(group "(defgroup " p " nil\n  \"" p "\"" n> ":group '" p n> ":prefix \"" p "-\")")
(macro "(defmacro " p " (" p ")\n  \"" p "\"" n> r> ")")
(fun "(defun " p " (" p ")\n  \"" p "\"" n> r> ")")
(let "(let (" p ")" n> r> ")")
(star "(let* (" p ")" n> r> ")")
(rec "(letrec (" p ")" n> r> ")")
(command "(defun " p " (" p ")\n  \"" p "\"" n> "(interactive)" n> r> ")")


(for "for " (p "i") " in " p " { " p " }")
(while "while { " p " } { " p " }")
(until "until { " p " } { " p " }")
(if "if { " p " } { " p " }")
(if-else "if { " p " } { " p " } { " p " }")
(unless "unless { " p " } { " p " }")
(unless-else "unless { " p " } { " p " } { " p " }")


(cut "--8<---------------cut here---------------start------------->8---" n r n
     "--8<---------------cut here---------------end--------------->8---" n)
(asciibox "+-" (make-string (length str) ?-) "-+" n
	  "| " (s str)                       " |" n
	  "+-" (make-string (length str) ?-) "-+" n)
(rot13 (p "plain text" text) n "----" n (rot13 text))
(calc (p "taylor(sin(x),x=0,3)" formula) n "----" n (format "%s" (calc-eval formula)))


(title (make-string (length title) ?=) n (p "Title: " title) n (make-string (length title) ?=) n)


(class "public class " (p (file-name-base (or (buffer-file-name) (buffer-name)))) " {" n> r> n "}")

c-mode :condition (re-search-backward "^\\w*$" (line-beginning-position) 'noerror)

(inc "#include <" (p (concat (file-name-base (or (buffer-file-name) (buffer-name))) ".h")) ">")
(incc "#include \"" (p (concat (file-name-base (or (buffer-file-name) (buffer-name))) ".h")) "\"")


(title "#+title: " p n "#+author: Daniel Mendler" n "#+language: en" n n)
(quote "#+begin_quote" n> r> n> "#+end_quote")
(example "#+begin_example" n> r> n> "#+end_example")
(center "#+begin_center" n> r> n> "#+end_center")
(comment "#+begin_comment" n> r> n> "#+end_comment")
(verse "#+begin_verse" n> r> n> "#+end_verse")
(src "#+begin_src " p n> r> n> "#+end_src")
(elisp "#+begin_src emacs-lisp" n> r> n "#+end_src"
       :post (progn (tempel-done) (org-edit-src-code)))

4 Template syntax

All the Tempo syntax elements are fully supported. The syntax elements are described in detail in the docstring of tempo-define-template in tempo.el. We document the important ones here:

  • "string" Inserts a string literal.
  • p Inserts an unnamed placeholder field.
  • n Inserts a newline.
  • > Indents with indent-according-to-mode.
  • r Inserts the current region.
  • r> The region, but indented.
  • n> Inserts a newline and indents.
  • & Insert newline if there is only whitespace between line start and point.
  • % Insert newline if there is only whitespace between point and line end.
  • o Like % but leaves the point before newline.
  • (s NAME) Inserts a named field.
  • (p PROMPT <NAME> <NONINS>) Insert an optionally named field with a prompt. The PROMPT is displayed directly in the buffer as default value. If NOINSERT is non-nil, no field is inserted. Then the minibuffer is used for prompting and the value is bound to NAME.
  • (r PROMPT <NAME> <NOINSERT>) Insert region or act like (p ...).
  • (r> PROMPT <NAME> <NOINSERT>) Act like (r ...), but indent region.

Furthermore Tempel supports syntax extensions:

  • (p FORM <NAME> <NONINS>) Like p described above, but FORM is evaluated.
  • (FORM ...) Other Lisp forms are evaluated. Named fields are lexically bound.

Use caution with templates which execute arbitrary code!

5 Adding template sources

Tempel offers a flexible mechanism for providing the templates, which are applicable to the current context. The variable tempel-template-sources specifies a list of sources or a single source. A source can either be a function, which should return a list of applicable templates, or the symbol of a variable, which holds a list of templates, which apply to the current context. By default, Tempel configures only the source tempel-file-templates. You may want to add global or local template variables to your user configuration:

(defvar my-global-templates
  '((example "Global example template"))
  "My global templates.")
(defvar-local my-local-templates nil
  "Buffer-local templates.")
(add-to-list 'tempel-template-sources 'my-global-templates)
(add-to-list 'tempel-template-sources 'my-local-templates)

6 Binding important templates to a key

Important templates can be bound to a key with the small utility macro tempel-key which accepts three arguments, a key, a template or name and optionally a map.

(tempel-key "C-c t f" fun emacs-lisp-mode-map)
(tempel-key "C-c t d" (format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d"))

Internally tempel-key uses tempel-insert to trigger the insertion. Depending on the style of your user configuration you may want to write your own helper macros, which allow you to conveniently bind templates via use-package, general or similar keybinding packages.

7 Alternatives

There are plenty of alternative packages which provide abbreviation or snippet expansion.

  • abbrev.el: Abbreviation expansion, builtin
  • skeleton.el: Lisp syntax for templates, builtin
  • tempo.el: Lisp syntax for templates, builtin
  • aas.el: Auto activating snippets
  • cdlatex.el: Fast LaTeX insertion
  • laas.el: Latex auto activating snippets
  • muban.el: Lightweight template expansion
  • placeholder.el: Treat buffers as templates
  • skempo.el: Unifies the Skeleton and Tempo configuration
  • snippet.el: Original snippet mode
  • tempo-snippets.el: snippet.el-like interface for Tempo
  • yasnippet.el: The most popular Emacs template system

8 Contributions

Since this package is part of GNU ELPA contributions require a copyright assignment to the FSF.

Old versions

tempel-0.2.tar.lz2022-Jan-1120.1 KiB