GNU ELPA - tmr


Set timers using a convenient notation
tmr-0.4.0.tar (.sig), 2024-Mar-31, 140 KiB
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Full description

This manual, written by Protesilaos Stavrou, describes the customization options for tmr (or TMR, TMR May Ring, …), and provides every other piece of information pertinent to it. The name of the package is pronounced as “timer” or “T-M-R”.

The documentation furnished herein corresponds to stable version 0.4.0, released on 2022-07-07. Any reference to a newer feature which does not yet form part of the latest tagged commit, is explicitly marked as such.

Current development target is 0.5.0-dev.


Copyright (C) 2021-2022 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with the Front-Cover Texts being “A GNU Manual,” and with the Back-Cover Texts as in (a) below. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License.”

(a) The FSF’s Back-Cover Text is: “You have the freedom to copy and modify this GNU manual.”

2. Overview

TMR is an Emacs package that provides facilities for setting timers using a convenient notation. The first point of entry is the tmr command. It prompts for a unit of time, which is represented as a string that consists of a number and, optionally, a single character suffix which specifies the unit of time. Without a suffix, the number is interpreted as a count in minutes. Valid input formats:

Input Meaning
5 5 minutes
5m 5 minutes
5s 5 seconds
5h 5 hours

The input can be a floating point:

Input Meaning
1.5 1.5 minutes (90 seconds)
1.5h 1.5 hours (90 minutes)

The input can also be an absolute time, such as 16:00 or 16:00:30. It sets a timer from present time until the one specified.

If tmr is called with an optional prefix argument (C-u with default key bindings), it asks for a description to be associated with the given timer.

An alternative to the tmr command is tmr-with-description. The difference between the two is that the latter always prompts for a description.

The command tmr-edit-description can change the description a given timer object.

The user option tmr-descriptions-list defines the completion candidates that are shown at the description prompt. Its value can be either a list of strings or the symbol of a variable that holds a list of strings. The default value of tmr-description-history, is the name of a variable that contains input provided by the user at the relevant prompt of the tmr and tmr-with-description commands.

When the timer is set, a message is sent to the echo area recording the current time and the point in the future when the timer elapses. Echo area messages can be reviewed with the view-echo-area-messages which is bound to C-h e by default. To check all timers, use the command tmr-tabulated-view, which has more features than the generic *Messages* buffer (Grid view).

The tmr-cancel command cancels running timers without erasesing them from the list of created timer objects. Timers at the completion prompt are described by the exact time they were set and the input that was used to create them, including the optional description that tmr and tmr-with-description accept.

The tmr-remove command is like tmr-cancel, except it is not limited to active timers: it can target elapsed ones as well.

The tmr-clone command directly copies the duration and optional description of a timer into a new one. With an optional prefix argument (C-u by default), this command prompts for a duration. If a double prefix argument is supplied (C-u C-u), the command asks for a duration and then a description. The default values of such prompts as those of the original timer.

The command tmr-reschedule changes the duration of the given timer to a new one provided at the prompt. In practice this is a shortcut to (i) cloning the timer, (ii) prompting for duration, and (iii) cancelling the original timer.

The tmr-remove-finished command deletes all elapsed timers from the list of timers. This means that they can no longer be cloned.

By default, TMR uses minibuffer completion to pick a timer object in operations such as cloning and cancelling. If the user option tmr-confirm-single-timer is set nil, TMR will not use completion when there is only one timer available: it will perform the specified command outright.

Timers have hooks associated with their creation, cancellation, and completion (Hooks). TMR can also integrate with the desktop environment to send notifications (Sound and desktop notifications).

TMR does not specify any global key bindings. The user must configure their own (Sample configuration).

2.1. Grid view

Timers can be viewed in a grid with tmr-tabulated-view. The data is placed in the *tmr-tabulated-view* buffer and looks like this:

Start      End        Remaining  Description
10:11:49   10:11:54   ✔
10:11:36   10:31:36   19m 35s
10:11:32   10:26:32   14m 31s    Yet another test
10:11:16   10:21:16   9m 14s     Testing how it works

If a timer has elapsed, it has a check mark associated with it, otherwise the Remaining column shows the time left. A Description is shown only if it is provided while setting the timer, otherwise the field is left blank.

Inside this grid view, all TMR commands that operate on timer objects automatically target the one at point. Whereas the global behaviour is to use minibuffer completion to pick a timer to operate on.

The tmr-tabulated-view command relies on Emacs’ tabulated-list-mode. From the *tmr-tabulated-view* buffer, invoke the command describe-mode (C-h m with standard key bindings) to learn about the applicable functionality, such as how to expand/contract columns and toggle their sort.

While in this grid view, one can perform all the operations on timers we have already covered herein (the C-h m will show you their key bindings in this mode).

2.2. Hooks

TMR provides the following hooks:

This is triggered by the tmr command. By default, it will print a message in the echo area showing the newly created timer’s start and end time as well as its optional description (if provided).
This runs when a timer elapses. By default, it will (i) produce a desktop notification which describes the timer’s start/end time and optional description (if available), (ii) play an alarm sound (Sound and desktop notifications), and (iii) print a message in the echo area which is basically the same as the desktop notification.
This is called by tmr-cancel. By default, it will print a message in the echo area describing the timer that was cancelled.

2.3. Sound and desktop notifications

Once the timer runs its course, it produces a desktop notification and plays an alarm sound. The notification’s message is practically the same as that which is sent to the echo area.

The sound file for the alarm is defined in tmr-sound-file, while the urgency of the notification can be set through the user option tmr-notification-urgency. Note that it is up to the desktop environment or notification daemon to decide how to handle the urgency value.

If the tmr-sound-file is nil, or the file is not found, no sound will be played.

Sound playback depends on the ffplay executable which is part of ffmpeg.

Desktop notifications work only if Emacs is built with DBus functionality. This is the norm. If such functionality is not available, TMR will issue warning informing the user accordingly.

2.4. Minibuffer histories

TMR defines two variables that store user input: tmr-duration-history and tmr-description-history. Minibuffer histories can persist between sessions if the user enables the built-in savehist library. Sample configuration:

(require 'savehist)
(setq savehist-file (locate-user-emacs-file "savehist"))
(setq history-length 10000)
(setq history-delete-duplicates t)
(setq savehist-save-minibuffer-history t)
(add-hook 'after-init-hook #'savehist-mode)

3. Installation

3.1. GNU ELPA package

The package is available as tmr. Simply do:

M-x package-refresh-contents
M-x package-install

And search for it.

GNU ELPA provides the latest stable release. Those who prefer to follow the development process in order to report bugs or suggest changes, can use the version of the package from the GNU-devel ELPA archive. Read:

3.2. Manual installation

Assuming your Emacs files are found in ~/.emacs.d/, execute the following commands in a shell prompt:

cd ~/.emacs.d

# Create a directory for manually-installed packages
mkdir manual-packages

# Go to the new directory
cd manual-packages

# Clone this repo, naming it "tmr"
git clone tmr

Finally, in your init.el (or equivalent) evaluate this:

;; Make Elisp files in that directory available to the user.
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/.emacs.d/manual-packages/tmr")

Everything is in place to set up the package.

4. Sample configuration

;; Load the `tmr' library
(require 'tmr)

;; set to nil to disable the sound
(setq tmr-sound-file "/usr/share/sounds/freedesktop/stereo/alarm-clock-elapsed.oga")

(setq tmr-notification-urgency 'normal)

;; Read the `tmr-descriptions-list' doc string
(setq tmr-descriptions-list 'tmr-description-history)

;; OPTIONALLY set global key bindings:
(let ((map global-map))
  (define-key map (kbd "C-c t t") #'tmr)
  (define-key map (kbd "C-c t T") #'tmr-with-description)
  (define-key map (kbd "C-c t l") #'tmr-tabulated-view) ; "list timers" mnemonic
  (define-key map (kbd "C-c t c") #'tmr-clone)
  (define-key map (kbd "C-c t k") #'tmr-cancel)
  (define-key map (kbd "C-c t s") #'tmr-reschedule)
  (define-key map (kbd "C-c t e") #'tmr-edit-description)
  (define-key map (kbd "C-c t r") #'tmr-remove)
  (define-key map (kbd "C-c t R") #'tmr-remove-finished))

5. Integration with Embark

The embark package provides standards-compliant infrastructure to run context-dependent actions on all sorts of targets (symbol at point, current completion candidate, etc.). TMR is set up to make its timer objects recognisable by Embark. All the user needs is something like the following glue code:

(defvar tmr-action-map
  (let ((map (make-sparse-keymap)))
    (define-key map "k" #'tmr-remove)
    (define-key map "r" #'tmr-remove)
    (define-key map "R" #'tmr-remove-finished)
    (define-key map "c" #'tmr-clone)
    (define-key map "e" #'tmr-edit-description)
    (define-key map "s" #'tmr-reschedule)

(with-eval-after-load 'embark
  (add-to-list 'embark-keymap-alist '(tmr-timer . tmr-action-map))
   for cmd the key-bindings of tmr-action-map
   if (commandp cmd) do
   (add-to-list 'embark-post-action-hooks (list cmd 'embark--restart))))

6. Acknowledgements

TMR is meant to be a collective effort. Every bit of help matters.

Protesilaos Stavrou (maintainer), Damien Cassou, Daniel Mendler.
Contributions to the code or manual
Christian Tietze, Nathan R. DeGruchy.

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    A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU
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Old versions

tmr-0.3.1.tar.lz2022-Jun-0922.5 KiB
tmr-0.3.0.tar.lz2022-May-1718.1 KiB
tmr-0.2.3.tar.lz2022-Apr-2813.7 KiB
tmr-0.2.2.tar.lz2022-Apr-2213.1 KiB
tmr-0.2.1.tar.lz2022-Apr-2113.1 KiB


This document contains the release notes for each tagged commit on the project's main git repository:

The newest release is at the top. For further details, please consult the manual:

Version 0.4.0 on 2022-07-07

The general theme of this release is that TMR became simpler, better, and more robust. Daniel Mendler provided lots of patches and is now recognised as co-author of the package together with Damien Cassou and me (Protesilaos). With the exception of documentation changes and other accompanying tweaks, all of the following are courtesy of Daniel Mendler. Consult the git log for the minutia.

  • Timers can also be set using an absolute time input. For example, 21:45 will set a timer from now until the specified time. The familiar ways of starting timers with relative values, work as they did before. This is part of a wider internal revision to make the parsing of input more strict.
  • TMR no longer maintains distinct feature sets between its minibuffer and tabulated interfaces. What works in one context, works equally in the other. All commands that were formerly available only in the tmr-tabulated-mode (accessed via tmr-tabulated-view) are now implemented anew to provide the requisite minibuffer capabilities. When called from inside the tmr-tabulated-mode, the commands operate on the timer at point. Otherwise they prompt for completion among the available timers (where relevant). This covers all operations for creating, cloning, [re-]describing, rescheduling, and removing timers. The tmr-tabulated-mode-map is updated thus:

    (defvar tmr-tabulated-mode-map
      (let ((map (make-sparse-keymap)))
        (define-key map "k" #'tmr-remove)
        (define-key map "r" #'tmr-remove)
        (define-key map "R" #'tmr-remove-finished)
        (define-key map "+" #'tmr)
        (define-key map "t" #'tmr)
        (define-key map "*" #'tmr-with-description)
        (define-key map "T" #'tmr-with-description)
        (define-key map "c" #'tmr-clone)
        (define-key map "e" #'tmr-edit-description)
        (define-key map "s" #'tmr-reschedule)
      "Keybindings for `tmr-tabulated-mode-map'.")

    Similarly, our sample key bindings are these:

    ;; OPTIONALLY set your own global key bindings:
    (let ((map global-map))
      (define-key map (kbd "C-c t t") #'tmr)
      (define-key map (kbd "C-c t T") #'tmr-with-description)
      (define-key map (kbd "C-c t l") #'tmr-tabulated-view) ; "list timers" mnemonic
      (define-key map (kbd "C-c t c") #'tmr-clone)
      (define-key map (kbd "C-c t k") #'tmr-cancel)
      (define-key map (kbd "C-c t s") #'tmr-reschedule)
      (define-key map (kbd "C-c t e") #'tmr-edit-description)
      (define-key map (kbd "C-c t r") #'tmr-remove)
      (define-key map (kbd "C-c t R") #'tmr-remove-finished))
  • The tabulated view now shows the remaining time for all timer objects. This is how the *tmr-tabulated-view* buffer is formatted:

    Start      End        Remaining  Description
    10:11:49   10:11:54   ✔
    10:11:36   10:31:36   19m 35s
    10:11:32   10:26:32   14m 31s    Yet another test
    10:11:16   10:21:16   9m 14s     Testing how it works
  • All timer objects are refactored to expose a properly formatted completion table. The completion category is tmr-timer. In practical terms, embark (and other standards-compliant packages) can operate on them. The manual provides sample glue code for Embark:

    #+beginsrc emacs-lisp (defvar tmr-action-map (let ((map (make-sparse-keymap))) (define-key map "k" #'tmr-remove) (define-key map "r" #'tmr-remove) (define-key map "R" #'tmr-remove-finished) (define-key map "c" #'tmr-clone)

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