Announcing swork - Simplify your Shell Configuration

by  Tim Henderson

If you are like me, and if you are reading this you may very well be, you spend an inordinate amount of time juggling inane details, like shell environment variables, while programming. Now there is nothing wrong with setting, exporting, and then unsetting variables, mounting and unmounting FUSE partitions, starting routine backups, and so on but it does get tedious after a while. Eventually, you may have written a host of scripts to solve these various problems. Today I present swork (or start work) a command line utility to help manage these little one off scripts with ease.

Don't Repeat Yourself

A typical pattern seen in scripts, such as virtualenv's activate script, is the storing of old environment variables such that the changes made by the script can be easily undone. Every non-trivial script I write seems to include this detail, and I am tired of it. It is boring, it is simple, and it is abstract-able. So I have abstracted. swork frees you from needing to write this code. When you want to go back the original state of the shell, you simply type:

$ swork restore

As long as you have run swork at some point in the past on the current shell (or rather the current bash process) swork will restore environment of the shell to the state it originally found it.

Writing Configuration Scripts

While, swork saves you the trouble of saving and restoring variables, you still have to write the scripts to run. Fortunately, this is very easy. You simply write a bash script (or any executable) then you add it to the \~/.sworkrc (located conveniently in your home directory).

Example setenv file:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

source env/bin/activate # activate a virtualenv
export SOMEVAR="new value"
export PATH="some/new/stuff":$PATH
export PYTHONPATH="more/new/stuff":$PYTHONPATH

example .sworkrc file:

    "project1" : {
        "start_cmd":"source /path/to/project1/root/then/setenv"
        "teardown_cmd":"echo 'project1 teardown'"
    "project2" : {
        "start_cmd":"source /path/to/scripts/project2_setenv"
        "teardown_cmd":"echo 'project2 teardown'"

Wrapping Up

swork makes it easy for you to manage the environment on you shell allowing you to switch contexts with minimum fuss. It currently implements the minimum functionality to be useful, but is just waiting for your feature request!

check it out on github: