More tools!

Here’s a list of some of the repositories I created on Github recently:

Vim plugins  
MarkdownLinks.vim 2020-02-02T03:54:14Z
PersistentScratch.vim 2020-01-02T09:56:07Z
Scripts in bash / perl / etc  
gospec 2020-01-25T12:08:24Z
json-where 2019-09-23T07:45:08Z
gnucash-xml-to-ledger-dat 2020-02-11T11:35:33Z
launchdarkly-prereq-graph-gen 2019-06-01T08:02:52Z
Firefox add-ons  
wealias-firefox-add-on 2019-02-05T13:49:12Z
open-circleci-workflows-firefox 2019-08-24T07:13:19Z
stern 2019-03-21T14:47:12Z

I realized that I have been building a lot of tools lately. In particular, I have gotten into writing Vim plugins and forking and editing the tools I use often so that they have the options I want, but will probably never be merged into the tool’s repository itself.

I generated this list by making a request to the Github API:

$ curl -s -G --data-urlencode "sort=newest" \
        "" |\
        jq -r '.[] | [ .name, .created_at ] | @tsv' |\

If you have been working on a lot of open source stuff lately, but can’t figure out what exactly it is you spend most of your time doing, I definitely recommend looking through Github’s API!

Vim Plugins

I have been a Vim user for a few years now and I have written extensively about it! The one thing I hadn’t done before was write plugins. So, I started looking into writing a plugin with the specific goal of writing a plugin that would store the currently open buffer in a file somewhere on my file-system. Where the file was stored wasn’t really important, it didn’t even matter what the name of the file was, all the mattered was that it was on my persistent storage somewhere. If I knew that the file was stored, it would allow me to get text (like deployment pipelines), store them on my file-system and go ahead and edit them directly without having to think about where I should store it or what I should name them.

It turns out that Vim’s plugin API is extremely easy to use. There are two particular things about it that I like a lot:

  1. Standardized file-structure
$ tree --charset ascii
|-- autoload
|   `-- persistent_scratch.vim
|-- plugin
|   `-- persistent_scratch.vim

2 directories, 4 files

Most Vim plugins are very similar:

This simple file structure makes it very simple to write a new plugin by looking at an existing plugin and trying to do the same things but for your use-case. My plugin reference was mtth/scratch.vim. My plugin was very similar to that plugin except for the part where the file is being stored on persistent storage.

  1. Easy to test

VimScript is an interpreted language (I think?) and one can test plugins by simply symlinking the plugin’s development directory to a directory inside ~/.vim/bundle. After doing that, you only have to open Vim and start testing your commands / keybindings.

After PersistentScratch, I migrated MarkdownLinks out from my Vimrc out to it’s own plugin. MarkdownLinks is a plugin which adds a hyperlink to the word that your cursor is on or the highlighted text and adds the template [ around the word and the declaration of the link at the end of the file. I was surprised that something like this doesn’t already exist. I wonder how other Markdown writers deal with this.

Note: I actually started using Neovim instead of Vim recently. More on this in another blog post. Hint: The reasons were mostly because of my disillusionment with the BDFL model of governance in open source projects.

Bash functions + Utilities

json-where is something that I have been working on for a while now. It has been extremely useful to me whenever I am reading Kubernetes manifests. (Kubernetes manifests are notorious for containing extremely nested keys with vital information) It tells you the key given a location inside a JSON buffer. This works perfectly from inside Vim, where you can simply run a keybinding and get the path to the key your cursor is on.

gospec is the other thing that I have recently spent some time on. It’s a prettifier for the output produced by the go test command. I have been using it daily at work and it has reduced the time I spend using cumbersome tools (like ag + sort -r) when debugging tests for new code. It doesn’t do anything very complicated and the function itself fits within 100 lines of bash.


I have been writing some Perl recently. Perl is a surprising language as it has been around for a long time and it has remained mostly unchanged. The text handling capacities of bash are limited, and I use Gawk whenever I have to change streams of text, but sometimes even Gawk is not upto the task, especially when JSON is in the mix. One recent example was when I wanted to list all the Kubernetes pods and output the namespaces which had a particular environment variable set to a given value. I ended up writing a NodeJS script for this, but I definitely wished for something faster in the moment and I have been wondering if Perl could have been that language.

Perl’s is able to deal with HTTP requests, XML (some APIs are still XML), and JSON effortlessly. I want to start including it more in my daily scripting tasks. Something that I started using just yesterday:

echo -n "" | perl -MURI::Escape -e "print uri_escape(<>)"

The 2 times I had to URL escape some text, I loaded up and entered it into the console. It took me a couple minutes to find the JS function which escapes text. So, yeah, this approach is way faster.