Aaron StrickemailstrickinatoSan Francisco, CA

Futuristic Design w/ fzf

Aaron StrickemailstrickinatoSan Francisco, CA
Futuristic Design w/ fzf

Using fzf to create futuristic menu

For Valentine's day, per tradition, my friend Zoe and I were creating a themed experience for our respective lovers.

Our theme this year was loosely, "London in the Future", and we wanted to put together an interactive, futuristic cocktail selection menu.

Normally, I might reach for web technologies to create a futuristic experience, but I was in a hurry, and the terminal is already so future-y, that it seemed a natural choice, and with a one-liner, I ended up with something I was really stoked about:

the drink menu

Given the directory structure:

$ tree
.
├── aperol-cosmonaut.md
├── flying-vesper.md
└── giga-gimlet.md

The command is:

$ alias drink="\
    ls .\
    | fzf \
        --preview-window up:1:50% \
        --preview \
            'bat \
            --style=numbers \
            --color=always \
            {}'"

$ drink

Let's break it down

Assign this whole big command to a command called drink:

$ alias drink="..."

Take the contents of the current directory:

ls . \

And pipe them into fzf, an interactive chooser:

  | fzf \

With two arguments, both relating to the preview feature of fzf, which allows you to present information related to what you're selecting.

The first, to define a column layout with the preview stacked vertically on top of the selector:

(This is wholly unnecessary, and was an aesthetic choice. For longer items, it's probably nice to have the vertical layout, where more line numbers are visible in the preview)

   --preview-window up:1:50% \

The second to use bat as the viewer for the preview window. bat is a drop-in replacement for the more traditional, cat (which could be used here). The reason I chose it though is for the colorization that it provides.

Note, that the {} is the placeholder fzf fills in with the contents of the selection.

    --preview \
       'bat \
         --style=numbers \
         --color=always \
         {}' \

Now see the menu!

$ drink

That's it! An interactive menu!

Update (2020-03-08)

After discussing with some fellow Recurse Center alums, I thought it worth mentioning a few addendums:

ls . --> ls *.md

Instead of ls ., it might be worth running ls *.md if you want to filter out any non-markdown files that may live in the directory.

alias -> script

This was implemented as a quick and dirty, but there are some reasons to run commands like this as a script, rather than as an alias, and that's something worth considering. Check out SO Answer for some differences.

Web Mentions:

TAKE ME BACK TO HAWAII (1:43)