GNU ELPA - transient


Transient commands
transient-0.6.0.tar (.sig), 2024-Mar-31, 550 KiB
Jonas Bernoulli <>
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Full description

1. Transient command menus

Transient is the library used to implement the keyboard-driven “menus” in Magit. It is distributed as a separate package, so that it can be used to implement similar menus in other packages.

1.1. Some things that Transient can do

  • Display current state of arguments
  • Display and manage lifecycle of modal bindings
  • Contextual user interface
  • Flow control for wizard-like composition of interactive forms
  • History & persistence
  • Rendering arguments for controlling CLI programs

1.2. Complexity in CLI programs

Complexity tends to grow with time. How do you manage the complexity of commands? Consider the humble shell command ls. It now has over fifty command line options. Some of these are boolean flags (ls -l). Some take arguments (ls --sort=s). Some have no effect unless paired with other flags (ls -lh). Some are mutually exclusive. Some shell commands even have so many options that they introduce subcommands (git branch, git commit), each with their own rich set of options (git branch -f).

1.3. Using Transient for composing interactive commands

What about Emacs commands used interactively? How do these handle options? One solution is to make many versions of the same command, so you don't need to! Consider: delete-other-windows vs. delete-other-windows-vertically (among many similar examples).

Some Emacs commands will simply prompt you for the next "argument" (M-x switch-to-buffer). Another common solution is to use prefix arguments which usually start with C-u. Sometimes these are sensibly numerical in nature (C-u 4 M-x forward-paragraph to move forward 4 paragraphs). But sometimes they function instead as boolean "switches" (C-u C-SPACE to jump to the last mark instead of just setting it, C-u C-u C-SPACE to unconditionally set the mark). Since there aren't many standards for the use of prefix options, you have to read the command's documentation to find out what the possibilities are.

But when an Emacs command grows to have a truly large set of options and arguments, with dependencies between them, lots of option values, etc., these simple approaches just don't scale. Transient is designed to solve this issue. Think of it as the humble prefix argument C-u, raised to the power of 10. Like C-u, it is key driven. Like the shell, it supports boolean "flag" options, options that take arguments, and even "sub-commands", with their own options. But instead of searching through a man page or command documentation, well-designed transients guide their users to the relevant set of options (and even their possible values!) directly, taking into account any important pre-existing Emacs settings. And while for shell commands like ls, there is only one way to "execute" (hit Return!), transients can "execute" using multiple different keys tied to one of many self-documenting actions (imagine having 5 different colored return keys on your keyboard!). Transients make navigating and setting large, complex groups of command options and arguments easy. Fun even. Once you've tried it, it's hard to go back to the C-u what can I do here again? way.


Compile Manual GNU ELPA MELPA Stable MELPA

Old versions

transient-0.5.3.tar.lz2023-Dec-1690.2 KiB
transient-0.5.2.tar.lz2023-Dec-0590.1 KiB
transient-0.5.0.tar.lz2023-Nov-2888.8 KiB
transient-0.4.3.tar.lz2023-Aug-2586.4 KiB
transient-0.4.1.tar.lz2023-Jun-0386.0 KiB
transient-0.4.0.tar.lz2023-May-1085.8 KiB
transient-0.3.7.tar.lz2021-Oct-2569.8 KiB
transient-0.3.6.tar.lz2021-Jul-0168.9 KiB
transient-0.3.5.tar.lz2021-Jun-1668.4 KiB
transient-0.3.4.tar.lz2021-May-2568.4 KiB
transient-0.3.2.tar.lz2021-Apr-2068.4 KiB
transient-0.3.0.tar.lz2021-Feb-2768.2 KiB


# -*- mode: org -*-
* v0.6.0    2024-03-21

- On Emacs 28.1 and later, all infix commands and suffix commands
  that are defined inline (i.e., using a lambda when defining a prefix
  command), are now hidden from ~execute-extended-command~ (aka ~M-x~) /by
  default/.  It was already possible to hide these commands, but users
  had to opt-in explicitly.  After refactoring how these commands are
  declared to be unsuitable for ~M-x~, it is now possible to hide them
  /without/ also hiding other, unrelated kinds of unsuitable commands.

  I recommend that you instruct to hide /all/ unsuitable command.
  This requires that you customizing ~read-extended-command-predicate~,
  because the Emacs authors have decided that this should be an opt-in

  Note that this has no effect on Emacs releases before 28.1.

- Added documentation stating that ~:class~ has to be specified when
  using ~:setup-children~.  beecdc85

- Added a new prefix slot ~column-widths~, which can be used to specify
  the minimal width of each column in all ~transient-columns~ groups of
  that prefix.  92e8952e

- When assigning a name to a suffix that is defined inline, we no
  longer use the suffix description, iff that would result in an
  overly long name.  81a108ba

- Functions used as the value of face slots can now take one
  argument, the suffix object.  Functions that take zero arguments
  are still supported.  Additionally, ~transient--pending-suffix~ is
  bound around calls to these functions, but it is better to pass
  the object as an argument.  f582a9bc

- The new ~definition~ suffix slot can be used to specify a default
  function definition that is used if no function body is provided
  using ~transient-define-suffix~.  5b334a51

- Taught ~transient-suffix-object~ about ~transient--pending-suffix~.

Bug fixes:

- If ~transient-parse-suffix~ and ~transient-parse-suffixes~ are called
  with an invalid value for their ~prefix~ argument, they failed to
  detect that.  03e752d9

- If ~nil~ is encountered inside a group specification, that was
  silently ignored.  Now an error is signaled.  8c01a1eb

- ~find-function~ wasn't able to locate the definitions of infix
  commands anymore.  a30df67b

- There was no binding for ~ignore-preserving-kill-region~ in
  ~transient-predicate-map~.  0fc87002

- Invoking a non-symbolic non-suffix command, caused an error.

- When a group begins with an included subgroup, that affected what
  group class was assumed, in the absence of an explicit specification.

- ~transient--suspend-override~ failed to move out of the minibuffer
  before refreshing the transient buffer.  833143ba

- When a suffix command signaled an error during a trivial phase
  (which does not involve, e.g., the minibuffer), then the transient
  window was not deleted when the debugger was entered.  9d8f361f

- When a prefix was refreshed, the wrong color was used for suffix
  commands that exit the prefix, indicating that would cause a return
  to the outer prefix, even though there is none.  f51c144a

- Calling ~transient-infix-read~ with an invalid value, resulted in
  a confusing error.  Now an appropriate error is used.  3ebb6acf

- When third-party code or user customization managed to display
  another buffer in our dedicated window, then that buffer got
  killed when we tried to kill the transient buffer.  #271

* v0.5.3    2023-12-16

- Fixed regression when setting ~:pad-keys~ for a ~transient-columns~
  group.  #269

* v0.5.2    2023-12-05

- Fixed formatting issues in the manual.

* v0.5.1    2023-12-05

- Added a new introduction by JD Smith (@jdtsmith).

Bug fixes:

- Faces that use a box are now defined more defensively to protect
  against unexpected values and provide reasonable fallback colors.
  413310cd, b8aefce3

- Only prepare to return to the parent transient if there actually is
  a parent.  The only negative effect of failing to do this was that
  the suffix was colored wrong, since ~transient--do-return~ falls back