Run Command is a really nifty Emacs package that abstracts away running arbitrary shell commands into a nice ivy or helm (or other completion frameworks) frontend. I saw a few of the examples and immediately got an idea for using it to build an RSpec watch mode. It’s a tiny optimization to my work flow as re-running the test command is just a few keystrokes in of itself, but getting automated feedback means I get to focus on other things while writing tests.

The Config

The config is rather simple and only requires a couple of things to be setup. The biggest dependency is on an external tool called `entr` which watches for file changes and will re-run a command if it detects a change.


  • Emacs
    • run-command installed
    • projectile installed
  • System
    • entr installed


Run Command is built on top of custom recipes you create in your config. These recipes define a list of similar functionality and each recipe is added to the recipe list run-command-recipes. Here is my recipe for RSpec:

(defun jd/shell-command-maybe (exe &optional paramstr)
  "run executable EXE with PARAMSTR, or warn if EXE's not available; eg. (jd/shell-command-maybe \"ls\" \"-l -a\")"
  (if (executable-find exe) t nil))

(defun jd/get-current-line-number ()
  "Gets current line number based on `(what-line)` output. I'm sure there's a better way to do this but it's what I got."
  (car (last (split-string (what-line)))))

(defun run-command-recipe-rspec ()
      :command-name "RSpec Run File"
      :command-line (format "bundle exec rspec %s" (buffer-file-name))
      :working-dir (projectile-project-root)
      :display "Run RSpec on file")
      :command-name "Rspec Run Single"
      :command-line (format "bundle exec rspec %s:%s" (buffer-file-name) (jd/get-current-line-number))
      :working-dir (projectile-project-root)
      :display "Run RSpec on single block")
   (when (jd/shell-command-maybe "entr")
      :command-name "RSpec File Watch Mode"
      :command-line (format "find %s | entr -c bundle exec rspec %s" (buffer-file-name) (buffer-file-name))
      :working-dir (projectile-project-root)
      :display "Rerun rspec on file on save"))
   (when (jd/shell-command-maybe "entr")
      :command-name "Rspec Block Watch Mode"
      :command-line (format "find %s | entr -c bundle exec rspec %s:%s" (buffer-file-name) (buffer-file-name) (jd/get-current-line-number))
      :working-dir (projectile-project-root)
      :display "Rerun rspec on block on save"))))

The run command-recipe- name for the function is just a convention. That part of the name gets removed when run command lists your recipes. There’s a couple of utility functions in there, namely jd/shell-command-maybe that is important. The implementation of the watch mode for RSpec requires that entr be installed on the system. I also thought it would be useful at some point in the future so I went ahead and abstracted it into my own namespaced function. If entr is not present on your machine the watch mode recipes will not be in the lists provided by run command during use. jd/get-current-line-number is also just a wrapper around what-line parsing. I’m sure there’s a dedicated function to just get the number but I couldn’t find it fast enough.

This works pretty well and does what it’s intended. It allows me to run a file or block in “watch mode” while I’m developing or just run the spec with a few simple commands. Running M-x run-command will kick start your completion framework (which is auto detected) with a list of all your recipes. I’ve bound it to SPC r c. SPC r has become my default keymap as it’s not used by anything from what I can tell.

Run Command Configuration

According to the Run Commmand documentation it’s recommended to use M-x customize command in order to add recipes to the list however, Doom Emacs does not support the custom interface, so I opted in to just set it manually:

(setq run-command-recipes

Ways to Improve

There are a few things I can do to improve this configuration and make it work more broadly and more like jest works for javascript. Using projectile-rails to find the matching spec file would be a good way to use it to. So if I’m editing app/models/user.rb I could make RSpec run a specific spec in “watch” mode to make TDD a little quicker. If I do that I’ll update this post with the relevant code to do so.


I don’t know A LOT of elisp but after troubleshooting and fumbling around, figuring it out was pretty fun. It’s also yields a high reward as I get to use what I develop every day.