(or emacs irrelevant)

Orca - new package to improve org-capture from browser


Orca is a new Emacs package, an attempt to refactor my old org-fu into something that's much more re-usable and easier to get started with.

Orca functionality


When capturing from Firefox using org-protocol (together with this addon):

  • either I refile each time I capture, which is slow
  • or my captures pile up in one place, which is messy


  1. Define rules for where links from certain websites should be captured.
  2. Allow to capture directly into the current org-mode buffer, since it's likely related to what I'm working with on.

Part 1: Rules example

Here is my example list of configurations:

Corresponding code:

(setq orca-handler-list
         "~/Dropbox/org/wiki/emacs.org" "Reddit")
         "~/Dropbox/org/wiki/emacs.org" "\\* Questions")
         "~/Dropbox/org/ent.org" "\\* Articles")))

Part 2: Current buffer example

For example, I'm researching how to implement something with docker. This means that I have docker.org open, along with dozens of tabs in the browser.

I can configure to capture into the current org-mode buffer with a * Tasks heading like this:

(push '(orca-handler-current-buffer "\\* Tasks") orca-handler-list)

Since docker.org has * Tasks, I just click the capture button in Firefox and follow up with an immediate C-c C-c in Emacs. The link is already in the right position, no need for an extra refile step.

Using customize with orca

You can set up the capture rules using M-x customize-group RET orca RET.

Here's a screenshot: orca-customize

As you see, the customization is a list of an arbitrary length, with each element falling into one of three categories, each backed by an Elisp function (orca-handler-current-buffer, orca-handler-file, and orca-handler-match-url). Each function takes a different number of arguments (one, two, and three, respectively) - they are all annotated by the interface.

Here's the code that describes the expected :type to customize:

(defcustom orca-handler-list
  ;; ...
  :type '(repeat
            :tag "Current buffer"
            (const orca-handler-current-buffer)
            (string :tag "Heading"))
            :tag "URL matching regex"
            (const orca-handler-match-url)
            (string :tag "URL")
            (string :tag "File")
            (string :tag "Heading"))
            :tag "Default"
            (const orca-handler-file)
            (string :tag "File")
            (string :tag "Heading")))))

You can read more about the customization types in this manual section.


I hope you enjoy orca. I've submitted it to MELPA. Hopefully, it will be available for an easy install very soon.

Org-mode is a beautiful thing, but my previous attempts to configure it were huge config files of loosely related (i.e. the only thing in common was Org-mode) stuff spanning hundreds of lines. Orca is an improvement in this respect, since it focuses on a very narrow domain. It still tries to be flexible (just like org-capture) - you can plug in your own functions into orca-handler-list. But initially, the flexibility can be constrained into the customize-group interface, to allow for a self-documenting solution that's easy to get started with. Happy hacking!

PS. Thanks to all my patrons for advancing my Patreon campaign! As of this writing, we're almost at the 25% mark with 61 contributors.