Where parallels cross

Interesting bits of life

Engine-mode, or how to shorten your time-to-browser

Too long; didn't read

Use engine-mode for searches, it is brilliant and fantastic for work (see code below for engines to search Jira and Confluence).

The problem

I cannot remember Jira stories codes. Do you know those STORY-123? Sometimes I need these codes for documentation and I vaguely remember the title of a story. Then I need to go to Jira, search my board, find my story and... tada! I get the code and even a link as a bonus. This is boring!

It is a problem indeed

Interestingly, I had the same problem for finding books. I like to reference books in my posts, and I like to use GoodReads so that readers can look at reviews other than mines. And again it takes quite some clicking to find the books I want to reference.

And there is a solution

And I remembered a dark corner of my Emacs configuration: there it was engine-mode. I remember to have heard of this mode and have immediately thought it useful. Then I forgot about it. Now it is saving me time!

This mode is about using keybindings to search terms in your favourite search engines. The configuration is straightforward:

(use-package engine-mode
  (engine/set-keymap-prefix (kbd "C-c e"))  
  (defengine goodreads
      :keybinding "r"))

If you load the configuration above, you will be able to search a book (title, author or ISBN) by pressing C-c e r. AND it will search the region if you have marked one with C-space! That is really useful to me!

Now the way to come up with engines is to:

  1. go to a website,
  2. search some text in its search bar,
  3. save the URL produced
  4. substitute the text you searched in the url with the %s, which will let engine-mode to inject your query when you compose the keybinding

Sometimes though it is a bit challenging and that is the case of Jira. I needed to play a little with things to find the right search URL for my team and the following is what I came up with:

(defengine zd-jira-bg
    "https://jira.<your-domain>/issues/?filter=-9&jql=project %%3D <your-project-id> AND text%%20 ~ \"%s\" order by updated DESC"
          :keybinding "x")

You should substitute the bits that have <xxx> in it. The domain is easy. The project id requires a second of search: you want to look into the functionality of Jira that lets you filter stories, select a board from the menu and see what is the id. Probably even easier to put this in your browser search bar

https://jira.<your-domain>/issues/?filter=-9&jql=text%%20 ~ \"bla\" order by updated DESC,

and then select a project from the Jira user interface.

Note that projects with multiple words need to go between quotes: these will look like

https://jira.<your-domain>/issues/?filter=-9&jql=project %%3D \"<your-project-id-with-multiple-words>\" AND text%%20 ~ \"%s\" order by updated DESC

Importantly, the text bit of the URL allows you to search both in the heading and the body of the story. That is helpful if your memory is a bit imprecise, otherwise you can use more focused filters (like description or I think title, experiment with the Jira UI for finding your best filters).


I am enjoying myself at searching stories and resources online directly from Emacs. I like using the !g/y/??? syntax of DuckDuckGo, but Emacs keybindings are just faster (and spend less electricity/TCP packets). Give a chance to engine-mode and see if you enjoy it as well as I do.

Happy browsing!