Emacs Config From Scratch, Part 3: LSP & Tree-sitter

This is Part 3 of my series, Emacs Config From Scratch1, where I create my perfect editor using Emacs. In this post, I’ll do some housekeeping, set up LSP2, language modes for Rust, Go, TypeScript and Zig, and add search.

Table Of Contents


The first thing I want to do is make the UI titlebar match the Emacs theme and hide the file icon:

(use-package emacs
  (add-to-list 'default-frame-alist '(ns-transparent-titlebar . t))
  (add-to-list 'default-frame-alist '(ns-appearance . light))
  (setq ns-use-proxy-icon  nil)
  (setq frame-title-format nil))

The next thing is automatically loading $PATH from my shell using exec-path-from-shell—this is important so Emacs can find our installed binaries, e.g. for language servers:

(use-package exec-path-from-shell

Another problem I ran into was writing square brackets when on the MacBook, as it would interpret the keys as Meta-5/Meta-6. I fixed that by updating the keybindings from Part 1:

(use-package emacs
  (when (eq system-type 'darwin)
    (setq mac-command-modifier 'super)
    (setq mac-option-modifier nil)
    (setq mac-control-modifier nil)))

I like to keep most of my code at 80 characters, so let’s add a ruler:

(use-package emacs
  (setq-default fill-column 80)
  (set-face-attribute 'fill-column-indicator nil
                      :foreground "#717C7C" ; katana-gray
                      :background "transparent")
  (global-display-fill-column-indicator-mode 1))

Finally, we want to store backup files in ~/.saves instead of next to the file we’re saving:

(use-package emacs
  (setq backup-directory-alist `(("." . "~/.saves"))))


Let’s install company-mode first, for auto-completion:

(use-package company-mode

Now we configure the built-in LSP package eglot:

(use-package emacs
  :hook (zig-mode . eglot-ensure)
  :hook (rust-mode . eglot-ensure)
  :hook (go-mode . eglot-ensure)
  :hook (typescript-mode . eglot-ensure)
    "l" '(:ignore t :which-key "lsp")
    "l <escape>" '(keyboard-escape-quit :which-key t)
    "l r" '(eglot-rename :which-key "rename")
    "l a" '(eglot-code-actions :which-key "code actions")))

This runs eglot-ensure in languages we have language servers installed for. It also sets up SPC l r to rename a symbol and SPC l a to prompt for code actions.


We’ll use treesit-auto to automatically install and use tree-sitter major modes:

(use-package treesit-auto
  (treesit-auto-install 'prompt)
  (treesit-auto-add-to-auto-mode-alist 'all)

This is handy because it doesn’t require us to think about using e.g. zig-ts-mode instead of zig-mode, it handles everything for us.

Language support

Next, we install all language modes we need:

(use-package markdown-mode
  (setq markdown-fontify-code-blocks-natively t))
(use-package zig-mode
    "m" '(:ignore t :which-key "mode")
    "m <escape>" '(keyboard-escape-quit :which-key t)
    "m b" '(zig-compile :which-key "build")
    "m r" '(zig-run :which-key "run")
    "m t" '(zig-test :which-key "test")))
(use-package rust-mode
    "m" '(:ignore t :which-key "mode")
    "m <escape>" '(keyboard-escape-quit :which-key t)
    "m b" '(rust-compile :which-key "build")
    "m r" '(rust-run :which-key "run")
    "m t" '(rust-test :which-key "test")
    "m k" '(rust-check :which-key "check")
    "m c" '(rust-run-clippy :which-key "clippy")))
(use-package go-mode)
(use-package gotest
    "m" '(:ignore t :which-key "mode")
    "m <escape>" '(keyboard-escape-quit :which-key t)
    "m t" '(go-test-current-project :which-key "test")
    "m r" '(go-run :which-key "run")))
(use-package typescript-mode)

I’m using SPC m to change based on major-mode, e.g. means SPC m t means test in most programming modes, but won’t exist in markdown-mode.


Sometimes we don’t know what file we’re looking for, so let’s add rg.el to help us find it:

(use-package rg
    "f" '(rg-menu :which-key "find")))

This opens a Magit-like menu and allows you to search in various modes (dwim, regex, literal, etc.).

Wrapping up

Opening a Zig project now looks like this3; see also the final init.el:

A screenshot of Emacs with a dark theme showing Zig code and a context menu for code actions

I’m going to switch to Emacs as my primary editor and tune it further in the coming weeks. In the next part, I want to add support for Org-mode, show a dashboard on startup, enable font ligatures and fix all the small things that I’ll find.

Subscribe to the RSS feed so you don’t miss Part 4, and let me know what you think!

  1. Check out parts one and two if you haven’t already!

  2. Language Server Protocol

  3. By the way, I switched my theme to Kanagawa.