Supported Project Types

One of the main goals of Projectile is to operate on a wide range of project types without the need for any configuration. To achieve this it contains a lot of project detection logic and project type specific logic.

Version Control Systems

Projectile considers most version-controlled repos to be a project. Out of the box Projectile supports:

  • Git

  • Mercurial

  • Bazaar

  • Subversion

  • CVS

  • Fossil

  • Darcs

File markers

Projectile considers many files to denote the root of a project. Usually those files are the configuration files of various build tools. Out of the box the following are supported:

File Project Type


Rebar project file


Leiningen project file


Boot-clj project file


Clojure CLI project file


Scons project file


Maven project file


SBT project file

Mill project file


Gradle wrapper script


Gradle project file


Ensime configuration file


Bundler file


Pip file

Setuptools file


Tox file


Composer project file


Cargo project file


Elixir mix project file


Haskell’s stack tool based project


OCaml Dune project file


Racket package description file


R package description file


etags/ctags are usually in the root of project


GNU Global tags

autoconf old style

autoconf new style






Bazel workspace file

There’s also Projectile’s own .projectile which serves both as a project marker and a configuration file. We’ll talk more about later in this section.

Adding Custom Project Types

If a project you are working on is recognized incorrectly or you want to add your own type of projects you can add following to your Emacs initialization code

(projectile-register-project-type 'npm '("package.json")
                                  :project-file "package.json"
				  :compile "npm install"
				  :test "npm test"
				  :run "npm start"
				  :test-suffix ".spec")

What this does is:

  1. add your own type of project, in this case npm package.

  2. add a list of files and/or folders in a root of the project that helps to identify the type, in this case it is only package.json.

  3. add project-file, which is typically the primary project configuration file. In this case that’s package.json.

  4. add compile-command, in this case it is npm install.

  5. add test-command, in this case it is npm test.

  6. add run-command, in this case it is npm start.

  7. add test files suffix for toggling between implementation/test files, in this case it is .spec, so the implementation/test file pair could be service.js/service.spec.js for example.

Let’s see a couple of more complex examples.

;; Ruby + RSpec
(projectile-register-project-type 'ruby-rspec '("Gemfile" "lib" "spec")
                                  :project-file "Gemfile"
                                  :compile "bundle exec rake"
                                  :src-dir "lib/"
                                  :test "bundle exec rspec"
                                  :test-dir "spec/"
                                  :test-suffix "_spec")

;; Ruby + Minitest
(projectile-register-project-type 'ruby-test '("Gemfile" "lib" "test")
                                  :project-file "Gemfile"
                                  :compile"bundle exec rake"
                                  :src-dir "lib/"
                                  :test "bundle exec rake test"
                                  :test-suffix "_test")

;; Rails + Minitest
(projectile-register-project-type 'rails-test '("Gemfile" "app" "lib" "db" "config" "test")
                                  :project-file "Gemfile"
                                  :compile "bundle exec rails server"
                                  :src-dir "lib/"
                                  :test "bundle exec rake test"
                                  :test-suffix "_test")

;; Rails + RSpec
(projectile-register-project-type 'rails-rspec '("Gemfile" "app" "lib" "db" "config" "spec")
                                  :project-file "Gemfile"
                                  :compile "bundle exec rails server"
                                  :src-dir "lib/"
                                  :test "bundle exec rspec"
                                  :test-dir "spec/"
                                  :test-suffix "_spec")

All those projects are using Gemfile (`bundler’s project file), but they have different directory structures.

Bellow is a listing of all the available options for projectile-register-project-type:

Option Documentation


A file, relative to the project root, typically the main project file (e.g. pom.xml for Maven projects).


A path, relative to the project root, from where to run the tests and compilation commands.


A command to compile the project.


A command to configure the project. %s will be substituted with the project root.


A function to install the project.


A function to package the project.


A command to run the project.


A path, relative to the project root, where the source code lives.


A command to test the project.


A path, relative to the project root, where the test code lives.


A prefix to generate test files names.


A suffix to generate test files names.


A function to specify test/impl/other files in a more flexible way.

Returning Projectile Commands from a function

You can also pass a symbolic reference to a function into your project type definition if you wish to define the compile command dynamically:

(defun my/compile-command ()
  "Returns a String representing the compile command to run for the given context"
   ((and (eq major-mode 'java-mode)
         (not (string-match-p (regexp-quote "\\.*/test/\\.*") (buffer-file-name (current-buffer)))))
    "./gradlew build")
   ((eq major-mode 'web-mode)
    "./gradlew compile-templates")

(defun my/test-command ()
  "Returns a String representing the test command to run for the given context"
   ((eq major-mode 'js-mode) "grunt test") ;; Test the JS of the project
   ((eq major-mode 'java-mode) "./gradlew test") ;; Test the Java code of the project
   ((eq major-mode 'my-mode) "") ;; Even Special conditions/test-sets can be covered

(projectile-register-project-type 'has-command-at-point '("file.txt")
                                  :compile 'my/compile-command
                                  :test 'my/test-command)

If you would now navigate to a file that has the *.java extension under the ./tests/ directory and hit C-c c p you will see ./gradlew build as the suggestion. If you were to navigate to a HTML file the compile command will have switched to ./gradlew compile-templates.

This works for:

  • :configure

  • :compile

  • :compilation-dir

  • :run

Note that your function has to return a string to work properly.

For simple projects, :test-prefix and :test-suffix option with string will be enough to specify test prefix/suffix applicable regardless of file extensions on any directory path. projectile-other-file-alist variable can be also set to find other files based on the extension.

For the full control of finding related files, :related-files-fn option with a custom function or a list of custom functions can be used. The custom function accepts the relative file name from the project root and it should return the related file information as plist with the following optional key/value pairs:

Key Value Command applicable


matching implementation file if the given file is a test file

projectile-toggle-between-implementation-and-test, projectile-find-related-file


matching test file if the given file has test files.

projectile-toggle-between-implementation-and-test, projectile-find-related-file


any other files if the given file has them.

projectile-find-other-file, projectile-find-related-file


any key other than above


For each value, following type can be used:

Type Meaning

string / a list of strings

Relative paths from the project root. The paths which actually exist on the file system will be matched.

a function

A predicate which accepts a relative path as the input and return t if it matches.


No match exists.


  1. For a big project consisting of many source files, returning strings instead of a function can be fast as it does not iterate over each source file.

  2. There is a difference in behaviour between no key and nil value for the key. Only when the key does not exist, other project options such as :test_prefix or projectile-other-file-alist mechanism is tried.

Example - Same source file name for test and impl

(defun my/related-files (path)
  (if (string-match (rx (group (or "src" "test")) (group "/" (1+ anything) ".cpp")) path)
      (let ((dir (match-string 1 path))
            (file-name (match-string 2 path)))
        (if (equal dir "test")
            (list :impl (concat "src" file-name))
          (list :test (concat "test" file-name)
                :other (concat "src" file-name ".def"))))))

   ;; ...
   :related-files-fn #'my/related-files)

With the above example, src/test directory can contain the same name file for test and its implementation file. For example, "src/foo/abc.cpp" will match to "test/foo/abc.cpp" as test file and "src/foo/abc.cpp.def" as other file.

Example - Different test prefix per extension

A custom function for the project using multiple programming languages with different test prefixes.

(defun my/related-files(file)
  (let ((ext-to-test-prefix '(("cpp" . "Test")
                              ("py" . "test_"))))
    (if-let ((ext (file-name-extension file))
             (test-prefix (assoc-default ext ext-to-test-prefix))
             (file-name (file-name-nondirectory file)))
        (if (string-prefix-p test-prefix file-name)
            (let ((suffix (concat "/" (substring file-name (length test-prefix)))))
              (list :impl (lambda (other-file)
                            (string-suffix-p suffix other-file))))
          (let ((suffix (concat "/" test-prefix file-name)))
            (list :test (lambda (other-file)
                          (string-suffix-p suffix other-file))))))))

projectile-find-related-file command is also available to find and choose related files of any kinds. For example, the custom function can specify the related documents with ':doc' key. Note that projectile-find-related-file only relies on :related-files-fn for now.

:related-files-fn can accept a list of custom functions to combine the result of each custom function. This allows users to write several custom functions and apply them differently to projects.

Projectile includes a couple of helpers to generate commonly used custom functions.

Helper name and params Purpose


Relates files in each group as the specified kind.


Relates files with extensions as the specified kind.

tests-with-prefix EXTENSION PREFIX

Relates files with prefix and extension as :test and :impl.

tests-with-suffix EXTENSION SUFFIX

Relates files with suffix and extension as :test and :impl.

Each helper means projectile-related-files-fn-helper-name function.

(setq my/related-files
       (projectile-related-files-fn-extensions :other '("cpp" "h" "hpp"))
       (projectile-related-files-fn-test-with-prefix "cpp" "Test")
       (projectile-related-files-fn-test-with-suffix "el" "_test")

   ;; ...
   :related-files-fn #'my/related-files)

Customizing project root files

You can set the values of projectile-project-root-files, projectile-project-root-files-top-down-recurring, projectile-project-root-files-bottom-up and projectile-project-root-files-functions to customize how project roots are identified.

To customize project root files settings:

M-x customize-group RET projectile RET

Ignoring files

The contents of .projectile are ignored when using the alien project indexing method.

If you’d like to instruct Projectile to ignore certain files in a project, when indexing it you can do so in the .projectile file by adding each path to ignore, where the paths all are relative to the root directory and start with a slash. Everything ignored should be preceded with a - sign. Alternatively, not having any prefix at all also means to ignore the directory or file pattern that follows. Here’s an example for a typical Rails application:


This would ignore the folders only at the root of the project. Projectile also supports relative pathname ignores:


You can also ignore everything except certain subdirectories. This is useful when selecting the directories to keep is easier than selecting the directories to ignore, although you can do both. To select directories to keep, that means everything else will be ignored.



Keep in mind that you can only include subdirectories, not file patterns.

If both directories to keep and ignore are specified, the directories to keep first apply, restricting what files are considered. The paths and patterns to ignore are then applied to that set.

Finally, you can override ignored files. This is especially useful when some files ignored by your VCS should be considered as part of your project by projectile:


When a path is overridden, its contents are still subject to ignore patterns. To override those files as well, specify their full path with a bang prefix.

If you would like to include comment lines in your .projectile file, you can customize the variable projectile-dirconfig-comment-prefix. Assigning it a non-nil character value, e.g. #, will cause lines in the .projectile file starting with that character to be treated as comments instead of patterns.

File-local project root definitions

If you want to override the projectile project root for a specific file, you can set the file-local variable projectile-project-root. This can be useful if you have files within one project that are related to a different project (for instance, Org files in one git repo that correspond to other projects).

Storing project settings

From project to project, some things may differ even in the same language - coding styles, auto-completion sources, etc. If you need to set some variables according to the selected project, you can use a standard Emacs feature called Per-directory Local Variables. To use it you must create a file named .dir-locals.el (as specified by the constant dir-locals-file) inside the project directory. This file should contain something like this:

((nil . ((secret-ftp-password . "secret")
         (compile-command . "make target-x")
         (eval . (progn
                   (defun my-project-specific-function ()
                     ;; ...
 (c-mode . ((c-file-style . "BSD"))))

The top-level alist member referenced with the key nil applies to the entire project. A key with the name eval will evaluate its corresponding value. In the example above, this is used to create a function. It could also be used to e.g. add such a function to a key map.

You can also quickly visit or create the dir-locals-file with s-p E (M-x projectile-edit-dir-locals RET).

Here are a few examples of how to use this feature with Projectile.

Configuring Projectile’s Behavior

Projectile exposes many variables (via defcustom) which allow users to customize its behavior. Directory variables can be used to set these customizations on a per-project basis.

You could enable caching for a project in this way:

((nil . ((projectile-enable-caching . t))))

If one of your projects had a file that you wanted Projectile to ignore, you would customize Projectile by:

((nil . ((projectile-globally-ignored-files . ("MyBinaryFile")))))

If you wanted to wrap the git command that Projectile uses to list the files in you repository, you could do:

((nil . ((projectile-git-command . "/path/to/other/git ls-files -zco --exclude-standard"))))

If you want to use a different project name than how Projectile named your project, you could customize it with the following:

((nil . ((projectile-project-name . "your-project-name-here"))))

Configure a Project’s Compilation, Test and Run commands

There are a few variables that are intended to be customized via .dir-locals.el.

  • for compilation - projectile-project-compilation-cmd

  • for testing - projectile-project-test-cmd

  • for running - projectile-project-run-cmd

When these variables have their default value of nil, Projectile runs the default command for the current project type. You can override this behavior by setting them to either a string to run an external command or an Emacs Lisp function:

(setq projectile-test-cmd #'custom-test-function)