OSX Terminal Automation

Jul 16 2010

My OSX Terminal Environment (as of today)

Some of this might be old hat for a lot of you, but maybe this will help at least a few people.
I’m a pretty big automation addict. During my Ruby on Rails work, I find myself opening up the same set of terminal windows, positioned in the same way, running the same commands…all the time.

I typically keep at least 3 OSX terminal windows open (some with multiple tabs). But when I sit down to start working with nothing open yet, I usually keep 2 terminal windows tiled to the left, 1 on top of another.

The top one I usually use for most filesystem and git operations. I also use this one to open other tabs for running things like rails console or a mongodb console if necessary.

The bottom one I usually have rstakeout running in the background to run my specs or cucumber scenarios automatically.

Then I keep a third terminal window open, tiled to the right at full height running rails server in one tab and compass watch in another tab.

Automating It

First step is to set up specific terminal settings for each window/tab based on how you want them to behave when they start. Here is an example of a basic terminal that changes to the directory I want when started.


And here is a separate terminal setting for automatically starting Compass when the terminal session is started.

terminal - compass

And here is a another one for autostarting the rails server when the terminal session is started.

terminal - rails server

Now, all these can easily be combined into a ‘Windows Group’ that can be opened by the OSX Terminal in one shot, opening multiple terminal windows/tabs all at once using separate terminal settings. Just open the terminal windows/tabs and position them how you like them, then just save it as a window group.

terminal - windows group

Here’s a quick video of a window group in action:


My OSX Terminal Environment from Joey Beninghove on Vimeo.

As you can see, I can get my entire terminal environment up and running with a single command.
(Even better when I can use the fabulous ViKing app by Kevin Colyar to navigate the OSX menus using Vim bindings!)

Wrap Up

In case you’re wondering which OSX terminal theme I’m using, it’s my own tweaked version of IR_Black which I really like. Also, if you want to try out my terminal settings directly, I’ve exported the terminal settings files and the window grouping and pushed them up to my terminal repo on GitHub.

Also I’d LOVE to hear other tips on how you’re automating your development environments, specifically in OSX!

Happy Automating!

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