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My tmux workflow

mafflerbach profile image mafflerbach ・3 min read

I am mainly working in a terminal and so it happen that I need more than one session to do my work.
There a good Terminal emulators like Konsole or Gterm, where you have the possibility to use tabs and/or multiple windows to organize your different sessions. But sometimes you need two or more session visible in parallel open, or you have some longterm processes on a remote machine. In this case you have for each task a single window, or tab open and this may clutters the desktop and you maybe become overwhelmed.

To have a little bit more control, i am using a terminal multiplexer like tmux. There are other multiplexer as well, but i didn't spend time that much to evaluate all of them. The famous ones, beside of tmux are e.g. screen or terminator.

With tmux you get the possibility to have multiple terminal sessions in a single window this can look like this:
My tmux workflow - Overview

In this example you see four panes.

| htop |
| vim | second vim instance | build in tmux clock |

But you can see more.
I have multiple tabs which could containing multiple panes as well.

My tmux workflow - top bar example

But my work flow is following some specific rules. This are only followed, if the session is long living, or I know, I need it over a long period of time.
E.G when I am programming with Vim, I am renaming the current window with the project name, or something which shows me in which project context this window is.
In special cases, E.G I am on support and need multiple sessions for holding my ssh connection, I rename the whole session, and the windows names containing the ssh targets.
My tmux workflow - Overview

So the most common key bindings are:

prefix c  create window
prefix w  list windows
prefix n  next window
prefix p  previous window
prefix f  find window
prefix ,  name window
prefix $  name session
prefix x  kill window

# some custom bindings 

prefix |  # vertical split
prefix - # horizontal split
ctrl h # switch pane left
ctrl j # switch pane down
ctrl k # switch pane up
ctrl l # switch pane right

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I have some plugins as well.

tmux-plugins/tmux-urlview allows me to list all URLs in a separated pane and let me choose which one I want to open in my browse.
tmux-plugins/tmux-resurrect allows me to save all my sessions and panes, so that I can restore my layout.

To switch seamlessly between tmux panes and vim splits,I have following settings:

is_vim="ps -o state= -o comm= -t '#{pane_tty}' \
    | grep -iqE '^[^TXZ ]+ +(\\S+\\/)?g?(view|n?vim?x?)(diff)?$'"
# bind-key -n 'C-h' if-shell "$is_vim" 'send-keys C-h'  'select-pane -L'
bind-key -n 'C-j' if-shell "$is_vim" 'send-keys C-j'  'select-pane -D'
bind-key -n 'C-k' if-shell "$is_vim" 'send-keys C-k'  'select-pane -U'
bind-key -n 'C-l' if-shell "$is_vim" 'send-keys C-l'  'select-pane -R'
bind-key -n 'C-\' if-shell "$is_vim" 'send-keys C-\\' 'select-pane -l'
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi 'C-h' select-pane -L
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi 'C-j' select-pane -D
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi 'C-k' select-pane -U
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi 'C-l' select-pane -R
bind-key -T copy-mode-vi 'C-\' select-pane -l

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I changed the default prefix key as well. The default is ctrl+b, but this is not very handy. I use instead ctrl+a, which is quite common.

If you want to have a close look at my configuration you can find it here.

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