I am working with prolog in emacs and using prolog-inferior-mode which has comint-mode as a parent mode.

The default completion in comint-modes is rather terrible, and I was hoping to be able to use helm to do tab completion on the history. I discovered tab-always-indent and set it to complete, which triggers completion when appropriate upon hitting the tab key. I also discovered completion-at-point-functions and wrote a helm source that grabs the previous comint history, which is stored in comint-input-ring. This variable only exists locally in comint buffers, it seems.

I wrote the following code:

(defun get-comint-candidates ()
  (let ((start (car comint-input-ring)) 
        (end (car (cdr comint-input-ring)))
        (completed (append (nthcdr 2 comint-input-ring) nil)))
    (butlast (nthcdr start completed) (- (length completed) end)))

(defun comint-completion-source ()
  (helm :sources '((name . "helm comint-mode")
                   (candidates . get-comint-candidates)
                   (action . (lambda (cand) (insert cand)))
        :input (thing-at-point 'word)

(add-hook 'comint-mode-hook (lambda () (setq completion-at-point-functions 'comint-completion-source)))
(setq tab-always-indent 'complete)

The problem

If I am inside the prolog comint buffer and call get-comint-candidates, it returns the candidates as it should. However, whenever I call comint-completion-source either manually or using the tab key, the completion buffer is empty. Moreover, I'm not sure if this is the right solution. I would prefer to be able to basically tell helm that it's supposed to complete from my source and use the default helm completion-at-point functionality, such that I don't have to manually take care of inserting only the parts of the chosen completion that I haven't already typed(that is to say, if I have typed fo and complete foobar, I want it to result in foobar, not fofoobar).

I would be very grateful for any hints or tips on how to solve this, as well as any on working with comint-mode and its children modes in general.

1 Answer 1


I write tcl code rather than prolog, so I tried your idea on inferior-tcl-mode and it works as expected:

(defun helm-inferior-tcl-complete ()
  (helm :sources (helm-build-sync-source "inferior tcl completion"
                   :candidates (ring-elements comint-input-ring))))

(add-hook 'inferior-tcl-mode-hook
          (lambda ()
            (define-key inferior-tcl-mode-map
              [remap completion-at-point] #'helm-inferior-tcl-complete)))

PS. Building helm source manually is the old way, nowadays, you might want to use the built-in macro/function/class provided by helm since it is easier to write and more readable. (related doc https://github.com/emacs-helm/helm/wiki#254-building-sources)

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