Cheat Sheets

A popular (and perfect) use of Goodies is to create cheat sheets which are available right from the DuckDuckGo search bar. To make adding a cheat sheet as quick as possible, we've brought all cheat sheets together under one Instant Answer, called the Cheat Sheets Goodie.

tmux cheat sheet

For detailed instructions on how to create a Cheat Sheet, follow any of the Cheat Sheet Walkthroughs.

Cheat Sheet Ideas

A cheat sheet is not always the best representation for your data. Sometimes, an Instant Answer is better built as a full Goodie or another type of Instant Answer. When thinking about your cheat sheet idea, think about what is useful to a searcher. Keyboard shortcuts, video game cheat codes, and similar data can be wonderfully useful as a cheat sheet.

Here are some other cheat sheet Instant Answers we love:

Regex cheatsheet Anniversary cheatsheet Cryptography cheatsheet Harry Potter cheatsheet Tennis cheatsheet

You can also check out all the Cheat Sheets that others have made to inspire you for another topic.

Finally, the community has worked together on a table showing programming-related IAs - some great opportunities for cheat sheets!

Creating a Cheat Sheet

For detailed instructions on how to create a Cheat Sheet, follow any of the Cheat Sheet Walkthroughs.

All DuckDuckGo cheat sheets actually fall under one single Instant Answer - the Cheat Sheet Goodie. Each cheat sheet is defined in its own JSON file, in the /json folder of the Cheat Sheet Goodie directory.

That means there's no need to create a new Instant Answer. There is also no need to edit the CheatSheets.pm file, cheat_sheets.js, or cheat_sheets.css. Simply save your new JSON file, and proceed to test your work.

Easily Generate a Cheat Sheet Boilerplate File

The duckpan tool helps make and test Instant Answers. To conveniently create the boilerplate specific to a cheatsheet, run duckpan new --cheatsheet:

[01:08 PM codio@border-carlo zeroclickinfo-goodies {master}]$ duckpan new --cheatsheet
Creating a new Cheat Sheet Instant Answer...
Please enter a name for your Instant Answer:

Type the name of your cheat sheet. The tool will do the rest:

Creating a new Cheat Sheet Instant Answer...
Please enter a name for your Instant Answer: regex1
Created files:
    share/goodie/cheat_sheets/json/regex1.json
Success!

That's convenient: The single file we need has been created, named, and located in the proper place in the repository. Internally, it contains correct boilerplate to save us time.

How Are Cheat Sheets Triggered?

The template type along with the name and aliases for your cheat sheet, determine how your cheat sheet can be triggered.

For example, the vim text editor cheat sheet uses the keyboard template type and can be triggered with the queries:

  • "vim cheatsheet"
  • "vim cheat sheet"
  • "vim shortcuts"
  • "vim key bindings"
  • ...and so on.

If you're curious you can view all terms listed in triggers.yaml.

If you'd like to add more names for the subject of your cheat sheet (in addition to the file name), you can specify them in the aliases property of your cheat sheet JSON file. For example, if your cheat sheet file is lord-of-the-rings.json, a natural alias is 'LOTR'. For details check out the Cheat Sheet JSON Reference.

Only use aliases to specify additional names for your topic (e.g. 'LOTR') and not trigger phrases (e.g. 'LOTR guide'). This is because any aliases will be automatically combined with the standard set of cheat sheet trigger words.

If the default configuration for your cheat sheet does not provide the required triggering, additional customizations can be made in the triggers file where it is further documented.

Not every cheat sheet will require this level of customization for the triggers. Please get in touch on Slack or raise an issue if you wish to discuss additional triggering.

Cheat Sheet JSON Reference

Below is a summary of the vim.json file, which displays a cheat sheet when searching for "vim cheat sheet".

vim cheat sheet

The above Instant Answer was created by simply adding vim.json, explained below.

For convenience, we encourage you to copy the vim.json code into your new file, as a starting point. Copy the raw file, as the JSON below won't work due to inline comments.

{
    // Must match the id of the cheat sheet's IA page (Required)
    // For example, https://duck.co/ia/view/vim_cheat_sheet
    "id": "vim_cheat_sheet",

    // Displayed as title of AnswerBar (Required)
    "name": "Vim",

    // Displayed as subtitle of AnswerBar (Optional)
    "description": "Text Editor",

    // Displayed at bottom of AnswerBar, favicon shown automatically
    // (Required if cheat sheet has a source; useful to link users to further information.)
    "metadata": {
        "sourceName": "VimCheatSheet",
        "sourceUrl": "https://..." // Should be SSL if possible
    },

    // Add additional names for your cheat sheet (Optional)
    // Only use for additional *names* for your topic, as these will be automatically
    // combined with the standard set of cheat sheet triggers
    "aliases": [
        "vim", "vi improved", "vi text editor"
    ],

    // Pick the cheat-sheet template - explained below (Required)
    "template_type": "keyboard",

    // Controls which sections appear and in what order (Required)
    "section_order": [
        "Cursor movement",
        "Insert mode - inserting/appending text",
        // ...additional sections
        "Tabs"
    ],

    // Section names must match those in section_order in order to appear (Required)
    "sections": {
        "Tabs": [ // Section names should be Title Cased
            {
                "key": "#gt",
                "val": "move to tab number #"
            },
            {
                "key": "[Ctrl] [wt]",
                "val": "move the current split window into its own tab"
            }
            //...
        ],
        //...
    }
}

Cheat Sheet Templates

We've seen a wonderfully wide variety of cheat sheets; we realized that one visual format doesn't fit all ideas. We've created a template_type property so you can pick the best display for your cheat sheet.

The template_type property also determines the trigger terms for your cheat sheet topic. These are in addition to several terms which trigger all cheat sheets (e.g. "cheat sheet").

Here are the available template_type values:

  • keyboard - (see it live at "vim cheatsheet")

    • Example Triggers: "keyboard shortcuts", "key bindings", etc.

  • terminal - (see it live at "git cheatsheet")

    • Example triggers: "characters", "commands", etc.

  • code - (see it live at "regex cheatsheet")

    • Example triggers: "syntax", "code snippets", etc.

  • reference - (see it live at "wu-tang cheatsheet")

    • Example triggers: "quick reference", "reference", etc.

  • language - similar to reference, but with transliteration (trn) property (see it live at "malayalam cheat sheet").

    • Example triggers: "phrases", "translations", etc.

  • link - similar to reference, but with link URL property instead of val, which turns the key into a link (see it live at "node tutorials cheat sheet").

    • Example triggers: "links", "sites", etc.

The triggers given above are only a representative sample of the actual triggers that are applied by each template. To see more of the triggers, check out the triggers file.

The Language Template Transliteration (trn) Property

In addition to key and val, the Language template allows you to specify a third property: trn. This is intended for transliterations (see full code and live example):

{
    "key" : "I'm sorry",
    "val" : "എന്നോട് ക്ഷമിക്കൂ",
    "trn" : "Ennod kshamiku"
},

The Link template allows you to specify a link URL property instead of val. This turns the text in the key into a link (see full code and live example):

{
    "link": "http://nodeschool.io/",
    "key": "NodeSchool.io"
},

Special Characters

Escaping JSON Syntax Characters

Your cheat sheet might include characters which are themselves part of JSON syntax. To express these literally, escape them using backslashes, like standard JSON:

  • To express a double quote, use a single backslash: \"
  • To express a forward slash, use a single backslash: \/
  • To express a backslash, use a double backslash: \\
  • For full list of characters, see the diagram on the right on the official JSON documentation.

See this live example of common escape sequences and its corresponding code.

Code Blocks in the key Property

Cheat sheets display brackets [ ] and braces { } as code blocks when they are used in the key property. To express those characters literally in the key property, using a double backslash:

  • If you want to express a literal bracket, use a double backslash [Ctrl] {\\[}.
  • If you want to express a literal brace, use a double backslash [Ctrl] [\\{].
  • To express a single literal backslash within a code block, type four backslashes in a row: [Ctrl] [\\\\].

Note: It does not matter whether you use brackets or braces - they both wrap text in code blocks.

Note that an odd number of sequential backslashes will throw a parsing error, causing your cheat sheet not to display.

Line Breaks and Tabs in the key Property

Newlines and tabs can be useful in many cases, including code blocks. The following work when used in the key property:

  • Any literal \n in the JSON will be converted to a <br> in the generated HTML
  • Any literal \t in the JSON will be converted to &nbsp;&nbsp; in the generated HTML

To display a literal \n or \t in your JSON, you need to escape the slash: \\n or \\t.

See this live example of common escape sequences and its corresponding code.

Arrow Keys

We've found the best way to express arrow keys is directly using ASCII characters (←, ↑, →, ↓). Feel free to copy and paste the characters from here.

For example, instead of [Shift] [Up] we recommend [Shift] [↑].

Key Press Style Suggestions

Cheat sheets often list key combinations, which you can express in any way you choose. The following are only suggestions; choose the appropriate convention for your subject.

Single Keys or Commands

There is no special syntax required for the string - for example, "x" or ":set color". The entire string will be shown in one code block.

Simultaneous Keys (e.g., pressing A and B together)

We recommend expressing simultaneous key presses as follows:

  • As adjacent code blocks, e.g. "[Ctrl] [v]"
  • For "*nix-style" cheat sheets (like Emacs), as a single code block with a dash, e.g. "[C-v]"

Consecutive Keys (e.g., pressing Ctrl+A, then pressing B)

We recommend expressing consecutive key presses as separate code blocks separated by a comma, e.g. "[Ctrl] [A], [B]"

Alternative Keys (e.g., pressing either A or B)

We recommend displaying alternatives as follows:

  • For single-key alternatives, wrap in parentheses, e.g. [Ctrl] ( [L] / [P] )
  • For complete alternatives, we recommend replicating the key-value pair. Make an indication in the val that it's an alternative:

      {
          "key": "[Ctrl] [j]",
          "val": "Jump"
      },
      {
          "key": "[Ctrl] [Spacebar]",
          "val": "Jump (alternative)"
      },
    

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