GNU ELPA - wconf


Minimal window layout manager
wconf-0.2.1.tar (.sig), 2024-Apr-24, 30.0 KiB
Ingo Lohmar <>
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To install this package from Emacs, use package-install or list-packages.

Full description

1. wconf

1.1. About

wconf is a minimal window configuration manager for GNU Emacs. Its goal is to have several window configurations easily available, to switch between them, and to save them to disk and later restore them.

For example, I might have a default "workspace" for miscellaneous stuff, and then I might have workspaces "UI", "MT", "DB" for a classic 3-tier application.

Can double as a "boss" key; not that you would ever use something like that yourself.

1.2. Using the Package

Make sure the files are in your load-path, and either (require 'wconf) or make sure its autoloads are known to Emacs — if you have installed from a package archive, that should take care of both.

Here is an example from my configuration to show you the intended use of wconf.

(add-hook 'desktop-after-read-hook      ;so we have all buffers again
	  (lambda ()
	    (wconf-switch-to-config 0)
	    (add-hook 'kill-emacs-hook
		      (lambda ()

(global-set-key (kbd "C-c w s") #'wconf-store)
(global-set-key (kbd "C-c w S") #'wconf-store-all)
(global-set-key (kbd "C-c w r") #'wconf-restore)
(global-set-key (kbd "C-c w R") #'wconf-restore-all)
(global-set-key (kbd "C-c w w") #'wconf-switch-to-config)
(global-set-key (kbd "C-<prior>") #'wconf-use-previous)
(global-set-key (kbd "C-<next>") #'wconf-use-next)

After desktop has restored all file buffers from my last session, wconf-load will get its stored configs from wconf-file (defaults to <YOUREMACSDIR>/wconf-window-configs.el), and I want it to immediately switch to the first configuration. Then we hook into killing emacs to store and save all our configurations in that same file. The global key bindings expose those commands that I consider useful in day-to-day work.

1.3. Concepts

The main idea is stolen from inspired by workgroups. We keep a list of configuration pairs. Each such pair consists of an active configuration (what you see when you switch to this slot of the list), and a stored one (what you have in the back, and maybe save to disk at some point). In workgroups parlance, these are the working and base configs.

At each point in time there is (at most) one configuration current. You can explictly store and restore the current active configuration to/from the stored one, or do likewise for all configurations. For example, you might decide that you have a carefully hand-crafted set of configurations that you always want to start from, but that you do not wish to change this setup, except when doing so explicitly. That's easy: just remove the (wconf-store-all) call from the above hook function.

A nice feature of wconf is that it does not alter any hooks or settings outside its own small world, and I intend to keep it that way. This implies that the currently active configuration is only updated explicitly, via one the functions/commands in the package.

1.4. Rationale, and Other Packages

I used for several years. It is a great package, which offers a lot of additional features besides the core business of managing window configs. It also has some shortcomings, is somewhat complex (at 79k), and I occasionally experienced minor glitches. Most importantly, it has been unmaintained for roughly 4 years now. promises to pick up where workgroups left, and is actively maintained. The main difference, as I understand it, is the desire to restore "special" buffers as well (help, info, org-mode agendas, notmuch mail, you name it). Finally trying it, it did not provide a lot of benefit for my personal needs, but added still more complexity. The functionality that I want should not require 179k of elisp.

Nowadays (at least since the GNU Emacs 24.4 release), there are proper lisp-reader (de)serializations for both frame and window configurations, and window.el and frameset.el provide functions to deal with them (relatively) comfortably. Desktop already (re)stores a single configuration. That's when I decided that it's time to roll my own: build something light on top of what's already there, in order to provide persistent switchable configurations.

1.5. Notes, TODO

I only use a single fullscreen frame all the time. An earlier version of this package stored configurations as whole framesets, without any effort to deal with the multiple-frames case. It has now changed to deal with window configurations in a single frame only. This is much better defined, simpler, and no longer suffers from annoying flickering effects.

Calling the package commands from different frames inside a single session may or may not result in the behavior you want. In the latter case, feel free to open an issue and describe what happens and what you expected/wanted to happen. I explicitly do not guarantee that the code will change to suit your wishes — but if minor changes could render it more generally useful, I am all ears.

I am thinking about some rescaling options to deal with restoring on frames of different sizes (possible due to a different screen size). Filtering options for what is generally (re)stored (and how) might be a pleasant side effect. Don't hold your breath.

Old versions

wconf-0.2.0.el.lz2015-Aug-033.12 KiB