An Auto-Expanding CDPATH

December 03, 2014

$CDPATH is a great tool on Unix (including Mac). It’s an environment variable that improves cd, by letting you go to certain “far-away” directories without typing the whole path to get there.

There’s a good, succinct description from our neighbors at Bocoup. It also mentions using bash-completion to make it even more useful. Check out the Pivotal Labs blog for details.

$CDPATH is good on its own, but not great. To use it, you have to hard-code the parents of the directories that you want easy access to (yeesh!) into one of your bash (or zsh) dotfiles. That’s a pain, especially since I share dotfiles across machines.

But wait… standardization to the rescue!

Remember last time, when I mentioned that I keep my code projects in a predictable hierarchy? They’re all of the form $HOME/code/organization_name/project_name. So, I put this in my ~/.bashrc:

# Add all code repos (if they exist) to the end of CDPATH
if [ -d "$HOME/code" ]; then
    export CDPATH=".:$(find $HOME/code -type d -depth 1 -maxdepth 1 | tr '\n' ':')"
# Initialize bash_completion if it's available
if [ -f $(brew --prefix)/etc/bash_completion ]; then
    . $(brew --prefix)/etc/bash_completion

That export CDPATH line expands out to include all of the directories one level deep in $HOME/code. Since those directories include all of my coding projects, well, now they’re all just one cd away. Between that and bash_completion, command line navigation just got super-easy!

Tags: git, unix
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