One of the things I really like about coding with Emacs is how I can easily identify a repeated task and turn it into a command in my environment, saving me a load of work down the line.

pypath.el is one such example.

In my day job I write a lot of Django code. As part of that, I write a good number of unit tests too. Sometimes I’ll write the tests as I’m writing the code they test, other times I’m writing them afterwards; it all really depends on where my head’s at and how the code is flowing.

When I’m writing those tests, I often want to test them as I go. Given that starting up a test session can take a while, and given that running all the tests in the system can take a while, it’s really handy if I can run that single test I’m working on.

This is easy enough with Django. In my work environment it’s normally something like:

$ pipenv run ./ test -v 2 app.test.some.sub.module.TestClass.test_method

Only… typing out the:


part is a bit of a pain. Sure, once you’ve typed it the once you can use your shell of choice (mine being fish and on occasion eshell) to recall it from history, but typing it out the first time is the annoying part.

So this was the point where I took 1/2 hour or so to code up pypath.el to solve the problem for me. It gives me two commands:

  • pypath: which simply places the dotted path of the current “defun”, within the context of being part of a Django system, into the clipboard buffer.
  • pypath-django-test: which works similar to the above but places the whole Django testing command into the clipboard.

With the above, I can work on a test, hit the latter command above, flip to my command line, paste and I’m running the test.

Of course, I’m sure there’s plenty of other handy ways to do this. Doubtless there’s work environments where the test can be run right there, in the edit buffer, without flipping away, and which takes into account the fact that there’s a pipenv-managed virtual environment involved, etc. If there is, that’s great, but I don’t think it’d work with how I work.

And that’s one of the things I really love about Emacs, and why it’s still my work environment after almost 25 years of on and off use: with very little work on my part I can create a couple of commands that work exactly how I need them to. While it’s great to create generally-useful code for Emacs that lots of people benefit from, sometimes the real value is that you can code up your own particular quirk and just get on with stuff.

To conclude: this post isn’t to show off pypath.el; really this post is to sing the praises of Emacs and why it still works so well for me after all these years.