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Level up with a shiny shell

Level up your dev environment
An article from ComputerMinds - Building with Drupal in the UK since 2005.
13th Nov 2018

Nathan Page

Series summary

Ever wondered if you truly have the perfect setup going on your development PC (or mac!)? There are so many tools out there to make development life easier, but it can be hard to know what's out there. Follow along to hear our top tools and tips, see if there's something missing from your world - and let us know your best tools and tips too!

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Everyone has their preferred command shell. The bravest amongst us probably has some highly customised craziness, and the more unsure probably are using the plain mac Terminal. Somewhere in between, though, lies a world of fun that really should be explored. There are some great tools out there, and one of our favourites is Zsh.

Zsh is a shell that encapsulates all of BASH, and then a whole load of useful, 'standard' and 'other' features. Generally it's been nice to work with, though I must confess I've not by any means plumbed the depths of what it's capable of.

What I really like about Zsh is that there are some great tools that try to make it easy to use and configure Zsh. One of the scariest things as a young developer is the moment where you break your shell by doing something wrong in one of the configuration files, but Oh My Zsh hides a load of that away from you. Another plugin manger Antigen also tries to make plugins really easy to access.


Oh My Zsh has a huge range of themes bundled ready for instant use, and their wiki page makes using them really clear. Don't be stuck with a black and white shell, get some colour in your life! :)

James has set up his Zsh prompt to show the timestamp, git status, drush alias and xdebug status . Check out his theme on GitHub (which will also require his Drush plugin)


Oh My Zsh has an extensive selection of plugins available, ready to make a whole host of things significantly quicker and easier.

Some particularly useful plugins that we recommend you try include:

  • bgnotify - Get told when long-running terminal commands finish with a native OS notification. (This is a ComputerMinds favourite)
  • history-substring-search - Search previous commands by typing just a few characters and pressing up/down. (This is a ComputerMinds necessity!)
  • git-flow - Have git-flow commands right at your fingertips


Hi, thanks for reading

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