Pretty Magit - Integrating commit leaders

A comparison of how I see my commit logs and how they truly are:

/img/spacemacs/magit-symbols.png /img/spacemacs/magit-raw.png

Typically this would be accomplished with Emacs font-lock-mode. However Magit is magic, even trivial uses of font-lock-add-keywords will break fontification for the entire buffer.

This post addresses adding faces to Magit to achieve in particular icon and colored commit leaders. I also integrate Ivy/Helm to prompt a leader when committing so you need not remember or type out completely every leader you choose.

Adding leaders

We cannot use font-locks so we compose the symbols and add the face text properties ourselves.

Users will interact with the macro pretty-magit which takes a word such as Fix, Add, and Docs, a unicode point to replace it with, a face attributes plist, and optionally whether to exclude it from being added to the commit prompt.

My personal choices for leaders are:
Any feature or update - check mark
Any bug fix - a bug
Any kind of refactoring - scissors
Documentation changes - info symbol
A milestone commit - flagpost

I also fontify origin and master with the github icon and branch icon respectively, and exclude these from the commit prompts.

(require 'dash)

(defmacro pretty-magit (WORD ICON PROPS &optional NO-PROMPT?)
  "Replace sanitized WORD with ICON, PROPS and by default add to prompts."
     (add-to-list 'pretty-magit-alist
                  (list (rx bow (group ,WORD (eval (if ,NO-PROMPT? "" ":"))))
                        ,ICON ',PROPS))
     (unless ,NO-PROMPT?
       (add-to-list 'pretty-magit-prompt (concat ,WORD ": ")))))

(setq pretty-magit-alist nil)
(setq pretty-magit-prompt nil)
(pretty-magit "Feature" ? (:foreground "slate gray" :height 1.2))
(pretty-magit "Add"     ? (:foreground "#375E97" :height 1.2))
(pretty-magit "Fix"     ? (:foreground "#FB6542" :height 1.2))
(pretty-magit "Clean"   ? (:foreground "#FFBB00" :height 1.2))
(pretty-magit "Docs"    ? (:foreground "#3F681C" :height 1.2))
(pretty-magit "master"  ? (:box t :height 1.2) t)
(pretty-magit "origin"  ? (:box t :height 1.2) t)

(defun add-magit-faces ()
  "Add face properties and compose symbols for buffer from pretty-magit."
    (--each pretty-magit-alist
      (-let (((rgx icon props) it))
          (goto-char (point-min))
          (while (search-forward-regexp rgx nil t)
             (match-beginning 1) (match-end 1) icon)
            (when props
               (match-beginning 1) (match-end 1) props))))))))

(advice-add 'magit-status :after 'add-magit-faces)
(advice-add 'magit-refresh-buffer :after 'add-magit-faces)

I've tried about all the magit hooks and the only way to apply these updates are with advice-add.

Adding Ivy or Helm

Since this is Emacs, we can do better than typing out the leaders we've chosen each time we are committing. Here I present a solution with Ivy but Helm would be little different.

The git-commit-setup-hook they provide has a delayed execution. Magit's ammend, reword, and other commit bindings internally use that same hook. However, it does not make sense to prompt a leader in those cases. We can only distinguish a plain new commit by the call of magit-commit.

With these observations, we must advise magit-commit to let the hook know whether to call the prompt.

(setq use-magit-commit-prompt-p nil)
(defun use-magit-commit-prompt (&rest args)
  (setq use-magit-commit-prompt-p t))

(defun magit-commit-prompt ()
  "Magit prompt and insert commit header with faces."
  (when use-magit-commit-prompt-p
    (setq use-magit-commit-prompt-p nil)
    (insert (ivy-read "Commit Type " pretty-magit-prompt
                      :require-match t :sort t :preselect "Add: "))
    ;; Or if you are using Helm...
    ;; (insert (helm :sources (helm-build-sync-source "Commit Type "
    ;;                          :candidates pretty-magit-prompt)
    ;;               :buffer "*magit cmt prompt*"))
    ;; I haven't tested this but should be simple to get the same behaior
    (evil-insert 1)  ; If you use evil

(remove-hook 'git-commit-setup-hook 'with-editor-usage-message)
(add-hook 'git-commit-setup-hook 'magit-commit-prompt)
(advice-add 'magit-commit :after 'use-magit-commit-prompt)



Beware of two very minor issues that I have not been able to resolve:

  1. If you escape an ivy leader prompt, then next commit will skip the prompt and
  2. will work fine thereon. Avoid by just not escaping the prompt.
  3. In the commit messages, the insertion from the ivy prompt will be the right
  4. symbol, but lose its face properties when text is inserted. This is due to deep Magit propertize magic.

There are many possible leaders, consider these options1:

Create a capability e.g. feature, test, dependency.
Remove a capability e.g. feature, test, dependency.
Fix an issue e.g. bug, typo, accident, misstatement.
Increase the version of something e.g. dependency.
Change the build process, or tooling, or infra.
Begin doing something; e.g. create a feature flag.
End doing something; e.g. remove a feature flag.
A code change that MUST be just a refactoring.
Refactor of formatting, e.g. omit whitespace.
Refactor of performance, e.g. speed up code.
Refactor of documentation, e.g. help files.


  1. Commit leader examples taken from from ^
comments powered by Disqus