Crate reedline

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reedline \|/

A readline replacement written in Rust

Reedline is a project to create a line editor (like bash’s readline or zsh’s zle) that supports many of the modern conveniences of CLIs, including syntax highlighting, completions, multiline support, Unicode support, and more. It is currently primarily developed as the interactive editor for nushell (starting with v0.60) striving to provide a pleasant interactive experience.

Basic example

// Create a default reedline object to handle user input

use reedline::{DefaultPrompt, Reedline, Signal};

let mut line_editor = Reedline::create();
let prompt = DefaultPrompt::default();

loop {
    let sig = line_editor.read_line(&prompt);
    match sig {
        Ok(Signal::Success(buffer)) => {
            println!("We processed: {}", buffer);
        Ok(Signal::CtrlD) | Ok(Signal::CtrlC) => {
        x => {
            println!("Event: {:?}", x);

Integrate with custom keybindings

// Configure reedline with custom keybindings

//    [dependencies]
//    crossterm = "*"

use {
  crossterm::event::{KeyCode, KeyModifiers},
  reedline::{default_emacs_keybindings, EditCommand, Reedline, Emacs, ReedlineEvent},

let mut keybindings = default_emacs_keybindings();
let edit_mode = Box::new(Emacs::new(keybindings));

let mut line_editor = Reedline::create().with_edit_mode(edit_mode);

Integrate with History

// Create a reedline object with history support, including history size limits

use reedline::{FileBackedHistory, Reedline};

let history = Box::new(
    FileBackedHistory::with_file(5, "history.txt".into())
        .expect("Error configuring history with file"),
let mut line_editor = Reedline::create()

Integrate with custom syntax Highlighter

// Create a reedline object with highlighter support

use reedline::{ExampleHighlighter, Reedline};

let commands = vec![
  "hello world".into(),
  "hello world reedline".into(),
  "this is the reedline crate".into(),
let mut line_editor =

Integrate with custom tab completion

// Create a reedline object with tab completions support

use reedline::{default_emacs_keybindings, ColumnarMenu, DefaultCompleter, Emacs, KeyCode, KeyModifiers, Reedline, ReedlineEvent, ReedlineMenu};

let commands = vec![
  "hello world".into(),
  "hello world reedline".into(),
  "this is the reedline crate".into(),
let completer = Box::new(DefaultCompleter::new_with_wordlen(commands.clone(), 2));
// Use the interactive menu to select options from the completer
let completion_menu = Box::new(ColumnarMenu::default().with_name("completion_menu"));
// Set up the required keybindings
let mut keybindings = default_emacs_keybindings();

let edit_mode = Box::new(Emacs::new(keybindings));

let mut line_editor = Reedline::create()

Integrate with Hinter for fish-style history autosuggestions

// Create a reedline object with in-line hint support

//    [dependencies]
//    nu-ansi-term = "*"

use {
  nu_ansi_term::{Color, Style},
  reedline::{DefaultHinter, Reedline},

let mut line_editor = Reedline::create().with_hinter(Box::new(

Integrate with custom line completion Validator

// Create a reedline object with line completion validation support

use reedline::{DefaultValidator, Reedline};

let validator = Box::new(DefaultValidator);

let mut line_editor = Reedline::create().with_validator(validator);

Use custom EditMode

// Create a reedline object with custom edit mode
// This can define a keybinding setting or enable vi-emulation
use reedline::{
    default_vi_insert_keybindings, default_vi_normal_keybindings, EditMode, Reedline, Vi,

let mut line_editor = Reedline::create().with_edit_mode(Box::new(Vi::new(

Crate features

  • clipboard: Enable support to use the SystemClipboard. Enabling this feature will return a SystemClipboard instead of a local clipboard when calling get_default_clipboard().
  • bashisms: Enable support for special text sequences that recall components from the history. e.g. !! and !$. For use in shells like bash or nushell.
  • sqlite: Provides the SqliteBackedHistory to store richer information in the history. Statically links the required sqlite version.
  • sqlite-dynlib: Alternative to the feature sqlite. Will not statically link. Requires sqlite >= 3.38 to link dynamically!
  • external_printer: Experimental: Thread-safe ExternalPrinter handle to print lines from concurrently running threads.

Are we prompt yet? (Development status)

Nushell has now all the basic features to become the primary line editor for nushell

  • General editing functionality, that should feel familiar coming from other shells (e.g. bash, fish, zsh).
  • Configurable keybindings (emacs-style bindings and basic vi-style).
  • Configurable prompt
  • Content-aware syntax highlighting.
  • Autocompletion (With graphical selection menu or simple cycling inline).
  • History with interactive search options (optionally persists to file, can support multilple sessions accessing the same file)
  • Fish-style history autosuggestion hints
  • Undo support.
  • Clipboard integration
  • Line completeness validation for seamless entry of multiline command sequences.

Areas for future improvements

  • Support for Unicode beyond simple left-to-right scripts
  • Easier keybinding configuration
  • Support for more advanced vi commands
  • Visual selection
  • Smooth experience if completion or prompt content takes long to compute
  • Support for a concurrent output stream from background tasks to be displayed, while the input prompt is active. (“Full duplex” mode)

For more ideas check out the feature discussion or hop on the #reedline channel of the nushell discord.

Development history

If you want to follow along with the history how reedline got started, you can watch the recordings of JT’s live-coding streams.

Playlist: Creating a line editor in Rust


For currently more mature Rust line editing check out:


Collection of common functions that can be used to create menus


Menu to present suggestions in a columnar fashion It presents a description of the suggestion if available
Maps cursor shapes to each edit mode (emacs, vi normal & vi insert). If any of the fields is None, the cursor won’t get changed by Reedline for that mode.
A default completer that can detect keywords
A hinter that use the completions or the history to show a hint to the user
Simple Prompt displaying a configurable left and a right prompt. For more fine-tuned configuration, implement the Prompt trait. For the default configuration, use DefaultPrompt::default()
A default validator which checks for mismatched quotes and brackets
Stateful editor executing changes to the underlying LineBuffer
This parses the incoming Events like a emacs style-editor
A simple, example highlighter that shows how to highlight keywords
Stateful history that allows up/down-arrow browsing with an internal cursor.
Represents one run command with some optional additional context
Unique ID for the HistoryItem
Unique ID for the session in which reedline was run to disambiguate different sessions
Represents key modifiers (shift, control, alt).
Main definition of editor keybindings
In memory representation of the entered line(s) including a cursor position to facilitate cursor based editing.
Struct to store the menu style Context menu definition
Struct to store the menu style
Implementation of the output to the terminal
A representation of the history search
Line editor engine
Defines additional filters for querying the History
Query for search in the potentially rich History
Highlight all matches for a given search string in a line
A span of source code, with positions in bytes
A representation of a buffer with styling, used for doing syntax highlighting
Suggestion returned by the Completer
This parses incoming input Events like a Vi-Style editor


Ways to search for a particular command line in the History
A struct to control the appearance of the left or right prompt in a DefaultPrompt
Editing actions which can be mapped to key bindings.
Browsing modes for a History
Represents a key.
Defines all possible events that could happen with a menu.
Modes that the prompt can be in
The current success/failure of the history search
The vi-specific modes that the prompt can be in
Reedline supported actions.
Allowed menus in Reedline
Defines how to traverse the history when executing a SearchQuery
Valid ways how Reedline::read_line() can return
Every line change should come with an UndoBehavior tag, which can be used to calculate how the change should be reflected on the undo stack
Whether or not the validation shows the input was complete


Default size of the FileBackedHistory used when calling FileBackedHistory::default()


A trait that defines how to convert a line and position to a list of potential completions in that position.
Define the style of parsing for the edit events Available default options:
The syntax highlighting trait. Implementers of this trait will take in the current string and then return a StyledText object, which represents the contents of the original line as styled strings
A trait that’s responsible for returning the hint for the current line and position Hints are often shown in-line as part of the buffer, showing the user text they can accept or ignore
Represents a history file or database Data could be stored e.g. in a plain text file, in a JSONL file, in a SQLite database
Trait that defines how a menu will be printed by the painter
API to provide a custom prompt.
The syntax validation trait. Implementers of this trait will check to see if the current input is incomplete and spans multiple lines


Returns the current default emacs keybindings
Default Vi insert keybindings
Default Vi normal keybindings
Get the default keybindings and return a Vec<(String, String, String, String)> where String 1 is mode, String 2 is key_modifiers, String 3 is key_code, and Sting 4 is event
Return a Vec<String> of the Reedline EditCommands
Return a Vec of the Reedline Keybinding Modifiers
Return a Vec<String> of the Reedline KeyCodes
Return a Vec<String> of the Reedline PromptEditModes
Return a Vec<String> of the Reedline ReedlineEvents