Difference between revisions of "Emacs Lisp Cookbook"

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This page contains snippets of code that demonstrate basic [[Emacs Lisp]]
 
This page contains snippets of code that demonstrate basic [[Emacs Lisp]]
programming operations in the spirit of the O'Reilly Cookbook
+
programming operations in the spirit of O'Reilly's Cookbook
 
series of books. For every task addressed, a worked-out solution
 
series of books. For every task addressed, a worked-out solution
 
is presented as a short, focused, directly usable piece of code.
 
is presented as a short, focused, directly usable piece of code.
  
 
All this stuff can be found elsewhere, but it is scattered about in
 
All this stuff can be found elsewhere, but it is scattered about in
libraries, manuals, etc.  It would be helpful to have here in one
+
libraries, manuals, etc.  It would be helpful to have it here in one
 
spot.
 
spot.
  
Line 49: Line 49:
 
work on strings in buffers. That's why the following contains examples
 
work on strings in buffers. That's why the following contains examples
 
of both.
 
of both.
 
=== Substrings ===
 
 
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
(substring "abcdefg" 0 3)
 
==> "abc"
 
(substring "abcdefg" -3 -1)
 
==> "ef"
 
</syntaxhighlight>
 
 
The TO argument is optional:
 
 
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
(substring "abcdefg" -3)
 
==> "efg"
 
</syntaxhighlight>
 
 
Buffers:
 
 
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
(with-temp-buffer
 
  (insert "abcdefg")
 
  (buffer-substring 2 4))
 
==> "bc"
 
</syntaxhighlight>
 
  
 
=== Processing characters ===
 
=== Processing characters ===
Line 88: Line 63:
 
</syntaxhighlight>
 
</syntaxhighlight>
  
See CharacterProcessing and StringModification. See [[tr]] for an example of you sometimes need to mix strings and characters.
+
See CharacterProcessing and StringModification. See [[tr]] for an example if you sometimes need to mix strings and characters.
  
 
Looking at characters in buffers:
 
Looking at characters in buffers:
Line 110: Line 85:
 
(when (string-match "[ \t]*$" test-str)
 
(when (string-match "[ \t]*$" test-str)
 
   (message (concat "[" (replace-match "" nil nil test-str) "]")))
 
   (message (concat "[" (replace-match "" nil nil test-str) "]")))
<syntaxhighlight>
+
</syntaxhighlight>
  
 
Trim whitespace from a string with a Perl-like chomp function:
 
Trim whitespace from a string with a Perl-like chomp function:
Line 121: Line 96:
 
     (setq str (replace-match "" t t str)))
 
     (setq str (replace-match "" t t str)))
 
   str)
 
   str)
</syntaxhighlight>
+
</syntaxhighlight>
  
 
=== Splitting strings ===
 
=== Splitting strings ===
  
See SplitString.
+
The 'split-string' function is defined in 'subr.el' as
 +
 
 +
<source lang="lisp">
 +
(defun split-string (string &optional separators omit-nulls)
 +
...)
 +
</source>
 +
 
 +
where 'separators' is a regular expression describing where to split the string. 'separators' defaults to white-space characters (spaces, form feeds, tabs, newlines, carriage returns, and vertical tabs). If 'omit-nulls' is set as 't' then zero-length strings are deleted from output.
 +
 
 +
<source lang="lisp">
 +
(split-string "1 thing 2 say 3 words 4 you" "[1-9]")
 +
==> ("" " thing " " say " " words " " you")
 +
</source>
 +
 
 +
Omitting nulls:
 +
<source lang="lisp">
 +
(split-string "1 thing 2 say 3 words 4 you" "[1-9]" t)
 +
(" thing " " say " " words " " you")
 +
</source>
  
 
=== Joining strings ===
 
=== Joining strings ===
Line 133: Line 126:
 
Example:
 
Example:
  
  (mapconcat 'identity '("" "home" "alex " "elisp" "erc") "/")
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
    ==> "/home/alex /elisp/erc"
+
(mapconcat 'identity '("" "home" "alex " "elisp" "erc") "/")
 +
==> "/home/alex /elisp/erc"
 +
</syntaxhighlight>
  
 
=== Serialization ===
 
=== Serialization ===
Line 140: Line 135:
 
The basic idea is to convert forms to strings with `prin1-to-string' and convert it back from a string with `read'.
 
The basic idea is to convert forms to strings with `prin1-to-string' and convert it back from a string with `read'.
  
  (length (read (prin1-to-string (make-list 1000000 '(x)))))
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
    ==> 1000000
+
(length (read (prin1-to-string (make-list 1000000 '(x)))))
 +
==> 1000000
  
  (read (prin1-to-string "Hello World!"))
+
(read (prin1-to-string "Hello World!"))
    ==> "Hello World!"
+
==> "Hello World!"
 +
</syntaxhighlight>
  
 
This only works in the simplest cases.  Unfortunately, this doesn't work for all Emacs data types for programming or the editor.
 
This only works in the simplest cases.  Unfortunately, this doesn't work for all Emacs data types for programming or the editor.
  
  (read (prin1-to-string (make-hash-table))) ;; Error before Emacs 23.
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
    ==> #s(hash-table size 65 test eql rehash-size 1.5 [...] data ())
+
(read (prin1-to-string (make-hash-table))) ;; Error before Emacs 23.
 +
==> #s(hash-table size 65 test eql rehash-size 1.5 [...] data ())
  
  (read (prin1-to-string (current-buffer)))
+
(read (prin1-to-string (current-buffer)))
    ==> Lisp error: (invalid-read-syntax "#")
+
==> Lisp error: (invalid-read-syntax "#")
 +
</syntaxhighlight>
  
 
=== Formatting ===
 
=== Formatting ===
Line 158: Line 157:
 
== Killing text ==
 
== Killing text ==
  
As the ElispManual says, "Most of the kill commands are primarily for
+
As the Emacs Lisp Manual says, "Most of the kill commands are primarily for
 
interactive use [...]  When you need to delete text for internal
 
interactive use [...]  When you need to delete text for internal
 
purposes within a Lisp function, you should normally use deletion
 
purposes within a Lisp function, you should normally use deletion
Line 169: Line 168:
 
The Lisp equivalent of `kill-region' (`C-w') but without kill ring side effects::
 
The Lisp equivalent of `kill-region' (`C-w') but without kill ring side effects::
  
  (delete-region (region-beginning)
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
                (region-end))
+
(delete-region (region-beginning) (region-end))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>               
  
 
According to the ElispManual, "Few programs need to use the
 
According to the ElispManual, "Few programs need to use the
Line 180: Line 180:
 
store it in a Lisp variable.  For example: [...]"
 
store it in a Lisp variable.  For example: [...]"
  
(let ((beg (point)))
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
  (forward-line 1)
+
(let ((beg (point)))
  (delete-region beg (point)))
+
  (forward-line 1)
 +
  (delete-region beg (point)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>
  
 
=== Delete line ===
 
=== Delete line ===
Line 188: Line 190:
 
The equivalent of `kill-line' (`C-k') but without kill ring side effects:
 
The equivalent of `kill-line' (`C-k') but without kill ring side effects:
  
(let ((beg (point)))
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
  (forward-line 1)
+
(let ((beg (point)))
  (forward-char -1)
+
  (forward-line 1)
  (delete-region beg (point)))
+
  (forward-char -1)
 +
  (delete-region beg (point)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>
  
 
Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.
 
Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.
  
  (delete-region (point)
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
                (save-excursion
+
(delete-region (point)
                  (forward-line 1)
+
              (save-excursion
                  (forward-char -1)
+
                (forward-line 1)
                  (point)))
+
                (forward-char -1)
 +
                (point)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>                 
  
 
Or simplest of all,
 
Or simplest of all,
  
  (delete-region (point) (line-end-position))
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 +
(delete-region (point) (line-end-position))
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
The examples with `forward-line' are shown because the paradigm is used later, see below.
 
The examples with `forward-line' are shown because the paradigm is used later, see below.
Line 211: Line 219:
 
The equivalent of killing the line backwards (`C-0 C-k') but without kill ring side effects:
 
The equivalent of killing the line backwards (`C-0 C-k') but without kill ring side effects:
  
(let ((beg (point)))
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
  (forward-line 0)
+
(let ((beg (point)))
  (delete-region (point) beg))
+
  (forward-line 0)
 +
  (delete-region (point) beg))
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.
 
Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.
  
  (delete-region (save-excursion
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
                  (forward-line 0)
+
(delete-region (save-excursion
                  (point))
+
                (forward-line 0)
 
                 (point))
 
                 (point))
 +
              (point))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>               
  
 
Or simplest of all,
 
Or simplest of all,
  
  (delete-region (line-beginning-position) (point))
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 +
(delete-region (line-beginning-position) (point))
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
  
Line 231: Line 245:
 
The equivalent of killing the line and the newline (`C-1 C-k') but without kill ring side effects:
 
The equivalent of killing the line and the newline (`C-1 C-k') but without kill ring side effects:
  
(let ((beg (point)))
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
  (forward-line 1)
+
(let ((beg (point)))
  (delete-region beg (point)))
+
  (forward-line 1)
 +
  (delete-region beg (point)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.
 
Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.
  
  (delete-region (point)
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
                (save-excursion
+
(delete-region (point)
                  (forward-line 1)
+
              (save-excursion
                  (point)))
+
                (forward-line 1)
 +
                (point)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>                 
  
 
=== Delete whole line ===
 
=== Delete whole line ===
Line 246: Line 264:
 
The equivalent of `kill-whole-line' (`C-S-DEL') but without kill ring side effects:
 
The equivalent of `kill-whole-line' (`C-S-DEL') but without kill ring side effects:
  
(let ((beg (progn (forward-line 0)
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
                  (point))))
+
(let ((beg (progn (forward-line 0)
  (forward-line 1)
+
                  (point))))
  (delete-region beg (point)))
+
  (forward-line 1)
 +
  (delete-region beg (point)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.
 
Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.
  
  (delete-region (save-excursion
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
                  (forward-line 0)
+
(delete-region (save-excursion
                  (point))
+
                (forward-line 0)
                (save-excursion
+
                (point))
                  (forward-line 1)
+
              (save-excursion
                  (point)))
+
                (forward-line 1)
 +
                (point)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>                 
  
 
Or simplest of all,
 
Or simplest of all,
  
  (delete-region (line-beginning-position) (line-end-position))
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 +
(delete-region (line-beginning-position) (line-end-position))
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
=== Delete word ===
 
=== Delete word ===
Line 268: Line 292:
 
The equivalent of `kill-word' (`M-d') but without kill ring side effects:
 
The equivalent of `kill-word' (`M-d') but without kill ring side effects:
  
(let ((beg (point)))
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
  (forward-word 1)
+
(let ((beg (point)))
  (delete-region beg (point)))
+
  (forward-word 1)
 +
  (delete-region beg (point)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.
 
Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.
  
  (delete-region (point)
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
                (save-excursion
+
(delete-region (point)
                  (forward-word 1)
+
              (save-excursion
                  (point)))
+
                (forward-word 1)
 +
                (point)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>                 
  
 
=== Delete sentence ===
 
=== Delete sentence ===
Line 283: Line 311:
 
The equivalent of `kill-sentence' (`M-k') but without kill ring side effects:
 
The equivalent of `kill-sentence' (`M-k') but without kill ring side effects:
  
(let ((beg (point)))
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
  (forward-sentence 1)
+
(let ((beg (point)))
  (delete-region beg (point)))
+
  (forward-sentence 1)
 +
  (delete-region beg (point)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.
 
Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (delete-region (point)
 
   (delete-region (point)
 
                 (save-excursion
 
                 (save-excursion
 
                   (forward-sentence 1)
 
                   (forward-sentence 1)
 
                   (point)))
 
                   (point)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>
  
== Numbers ==
+
== Search and Replace ==
 +
Searching and replacing text is a fundamental editing need. Emacs has separate
 +
facilities for both interactive and scripted search and replace.
  
=== String a number? ===
+
=== Interactive Use ===
 +
The '''replace-regexp''' function provides a way to replace text interactively.
 +
This function supports embedded emacs lisp statements in the second arguement
 +
(the replacement expression). By default '''replace-regexp''' replaces
 +
every match after the cursor location until it reaches the end of the buffer.
 +
A more useful method is to mark a region for replacement.
  
(defun string-integer-p (string)
+
For example: calling
  (if (string-match "\\`[-+]?[0-9]+\\'" string)
+
      t
+
    nil))
+
  
(string-integer-p "1234")
+
{{Command|replace-regexp RET \([A-Z]\) RET \,(downcase \1)}}
  ==> t
+
  
(string-integer-p "x1234")
+
on the marked region '''AABBCC''' will convert it to '''aabbcc'''. The first
  ==> nil
+
arguement is a regular expression matching any capital letter and saving it
 +
as the first match, while the '''\,''' indicates embedded emacs lisp code
 +
(which calls the `downcase` function on the matched pattern).
  
(string-integer-p "3.141592653589793")
+
=== Scripted Use ===
  ==> nil
+
A cleaner solution while scripting is to combine '''search-forward-regexp'''
 
+
with '''replace-match'''. Every time the search is successful, the results
(defun string-float-p (string)
+
are implicitly saved in to '''match-string'''. This short function replaces
  (if (string-match "\\`[-+]?[0-9]+\\.[0-9]*\\'" string)
+
every pattern in a marked region with a new string drawn from its components:
      t
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
    nil))
+
(defun camelCase-to_underscores (start end)
 
+
  "Convert any string matching something like aBc to a_bc"
(string-float-p "1234")
+
   (interactive "r")
  ==> nil
+
   (save-restriction
 
+
    (narrow-to-region start end)
(string-float-p "3.141592653589793")
+
    (goto-char 1)
  ==> t
+
    (let ((case-fold-search nil))
 
+
      (while (search-forward-regexp "\\([a-z]\\)\\([A-Z]\\)\\([a-z]\\)" nil t)
(string-float-p ".1")
+
         (replace-match (concat (match-string 1)
  ==> nil
+
                              "_"
 
+
                              (downcase (match-string 2))
(string-float-p "1.")
+
                              (match-string 3))
  ==> t
+
                      t nil)))))
 
+
</syntaxhighlight>
=== String to number ===
+
 
+
  (defun decimal-number (string)
+
    (let ((n (string-to-number string)))
+
      (if (and (zerop n)
+
              (not (string-match "\\`\\s-*0+\\.?0*\\s-*\\'" string)))
+
          nil
+
        n)))
+
 
+
   (decimal-number "536870911")
+
  536870911
+
 
+
   (decimal-number "536870912")
+
  536870912.0
+
 
+
  (decimal-number "3.141592653589793")
+
  3.141592653589793
+
 
+
  (decimal-number "042")
+
  42
+
 
+
  (decimal-number " 0 ")
+
  0
+
 
+
  (decimal-number "000")
+
  0
+
 
+
  (decimal-number "0.0")
+
  0.0
+
 
+
 
+
=== Random numbers ===
+
 
+
  (random 2)  ;coin toss (0 or 1)
+
  (+ (random 6) 1)  ;dice
+
 
+
=== Put commas in numbers ===
+
 
+
  (defun group-number (num &optional size char)
+
    "Format NUM as string grouped to SIZE with CHAR."
+
    ;; Based on code for `math-group-float' in calc-ext.el
+
    (let* ((size (or size 3))
+
          (char (or char ","))
+
          (str (if (stringp num)
+
                    num
+
                  (number-to-string num)))
+
          (pt (or (string-match "[^0-9a-zA-Z]" str) (length str))))
+
      (while (> pt size)
+
         (setq str (concat (substring str 0 (- pt size))
+
                          char
+
                          (substring str (- pt size)))
+
              pt (- pt size)))
+
      str))
+
 
+
  (group-number 299792458)
+
  ==> "299,792,458"
+
  (group-number "149597870691" 4 " ")
+
  ==> "1495 9787 0691"
+
 
+
=== Incrementing numbers ===
+
 
+
See IncrementNumber.
+
  
 
== Dates and times ==
 
== Dates and times ==
Line 396: Line 371:
 
=== Get today's date ===
 
=== Get today's date ===
  
See InsertingTodaysDate.
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 +
(format-time-string "%d %B %Y")
 +
</syntaxhighlight>
  
=== Formatting dates ===
+
or
  
Use the function `format-time-string' which is a build in function in both Emacsen and works like `strftime':
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
+
(eshell/date)
    ;; Year-Month-Day:
+
</syntaxhighlight>
    (insert (format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d"))
+
    ;; Hour:Minutes:Seconds
+
    (insert (format-time-string "%H-%M-%S"))
+
  
 
=== Conversions ===
 
=== Conversions ===
Line 411: Line 385:
 
Read a date from a string.
 
Read a date from a string.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (let ((time (date-to-time "Tue, 27-Sep-83 12:35:59 EST")))
 
   (let ((time (date-to-time "Tue, 27-Sep-83 12:35:59 EST")))
 
     (set-time-zone-rule t) ;; Use Universal time.
 
     (set-time-zone-rule t) ;; Use Universal time.
Line 416: Line 391:
 
       (set-time-zone-rule nil))) ;; Reset to default time zone.
 
       (set-time-zone-rule nil))) ;; Reset to default time zone.
 
   ==> "1983-09-27 17:35:59 UTC"
 
   ==> "1983-09-27 17:35:59 UTC"
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Decode a time object.
 
Decode a time object.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (decode-time (date-to-time "Tue, 27-Sep-83 12:35:59 EST"))
 
   (decode-time (date-to-time "Tue, 27-Sep-83 12:35:59 EST"))
 
   ==> (59 35 13 27 9 1983 2 t -14400)
 
   ==> (59 35 13 27 9 1983 2 t -14400)
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Get the seconds from the unix epoch.
 
Get the seconds from the unix epoch.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (let ((time (date-to-time "13 Feb 2009 23:31:30 UTC")))
 
   (let ((time (date-to-time "13 Feb 2009 23:31:30 UTC")))
 
     (float-time time))
 
     (float-time time))
 
   ==> 1234585890.0
 
   ==> 1234585890.0
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Find the date for seconds from the unix epoch.
 
Find the date for seconds from the unix epoch.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d %T UTC" (seconds-to-time 1234585890))
 
   (format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d %T UTC" (seconds-to-time 1234585890))
 
   ==> "2009-02-13 23:31:30 UTC"
 
   ==> "2009-02-13 23:31:30 UTC"
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Find the date 30 seconds in the future.
 
Find the date 30 seconds in the future.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d %T UTC" (time-add (current-time)
 
   (format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d %T UTC" (time-add (current-time)
 
                                                   (seconds-to-time 30)))
 
                                                   (seconds-to-time 30)))
 
   ==> "2012-02-13 10:07:11 UTC"
 
   ==> "2012-02-13 10:07:11 UTC"
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Formatting elapsed time in years, days, hours, minutes and seconds.
 
Formatting elapsed time in years, days, hours, minutes and seconds.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (format-seconds "%Y %D %h:%m:%s" (1- (* 367 24 3600)))
 
   (format-seconds "%Y %D %h:%m:%s" (1- (* 367 24 3600)))
 
   ==> "1 year 1 day 23:59:59"
 
   ==> "1 year 1 day 23:59:59"
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Find the days between two dates.
 
Find the days between two dates.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (let ((days1 (time-to-days (date-to-time "Tue, 27-Sep-83 12:35:59 EST")))
 
   (let ((days1 (time-to-days (date-to-time "Tue, 27-Sep-83 12:35:59 EST")))
 
         (days2 (time-to-days (date-to-time "2009-02-13 23:31:30 UTC"))))
 
         (days2 (time-to-days (date-to-time "2009-02-13 23:31:30 UTC"))))
 
     (- days2 days1))
 
     (- days2 days1))
 
   ==> 9271
 
   ==> 9271
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Getting the day in the year.
 
Getting the day in the year.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (time-to-day-in-year (current-time))
 
   (time-to-day-in-year (current-time))
 
   ==> 44
 
   ==> 44
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Build a date based on the day of the year.
 
Build a date based on the day of the year.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (format-time-string "%j"
 
   (format-time-string "%j"
 
                       (encode-time 0 0 0 44 1 2012))
 
                       (encode-time 0 0 0 44 1 2012))
 
   ==> "044"
 
   ==> "044"
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
=== Timers ===
 
=== Timers ===
  
See IdleTimers
+
TODO
 
+
== Pattern matching ==
+
 
+
"Patterns" refers to RegularExpression""s.
+
 
+
There's a set of functions that work in strings, and a set that work in buffers.
+
 
+
=== Finding ===
+
 
+
    (string-match "foo*" "Fight foo for food!")
+
    ==> 6
+
 
+
Buffers:
+
 
+
    (with-temp-buffer
+
      (insert "Fight foo for food!")
+
      (goto-char (point-min))
+
      (re-search-forward "foo*")
+
      (point))
+
    ==> 10
+
 
+
Alternative without regular expressions: `search-forward'.
+
 
+
Note that the functions working on buffers move point to the end of the occurrence found and return it.
+
That's why the result is 10 instead of 6!
+
 
+
=== Comments ===
+
 
+
Move to the beginning of the current comment:
+
 
+
    (require 'newcomment)
+
    (comment-beginning)
+
 
+
Move to the text after a comment:
+
 
+
    (comment-search-forward (line-end-position) t)
+
 
+
See also EndOfLineNoComments.
+
 
+
=== Search and replace ===
+
 
+
    (replace-regexp-in-string "foo*" "fu" "Fight foo for food!")
+
    ==> "Fight fu fur fud!"
+
 
+
Buffers:
+
 
+
    (with-temp-buffer
+
      (insert "Fight foo for food!")
+
      (goto-char (point-min))
+
      (while (re-search-forward "foo*" nil t)
+
        (replace-match "fu"))
+
      (buffer-string))
+
    ==> "Fight fu fur fud!"
+
 
+
Alternative without regular expressions: `search-forward'.
+
 
+
See also StringSearchAndReplace.
+
 
+
=== Verifying ===
+
 
+
Sometimes you just want to check whether you're at the right place:
+
 
+
    (with-temp-buffer
+
      (insert "Fight foo for food!")
+
      (goto-char (point-min))
+
      (looking-at "fight"))
+
    ==> t
+
  
 
== Sequences ==
 
== Sequences ==
Line 563: Line 488:
 
Use `nth' to access an element of the list.
 
Use `nth' to access an element of the list.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
     (let ((words '("fight" "foo" "for" "food!")))
 
     (let ((words '("fight" "foo" "for" "food!")))
 
       (when (string= "foo" (nth 1 words))
 
       (when (string= "foo" (nth 1 words))
Line 568: Line 494:
 
       words)
 
       words)
 
     ==> ("bar" "fight" "foo" "for" "food!")
 
     ==> ("bar" "fight" "foo" "for" "food!")
 +
</syntaxhighlight>   
  
 
See ListModification for more ways of changing a list.
 
See ListModification for more ways of changing a list.
Line 573: Line 500:
 
Iteration:
 
Iteration:
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
     (let ((result))
 
     (let ((result))
 
       (dolist (word '("fight" "foo" "for" "food!"))
 
       (dolist (word '("fight" "foo" "for" "food!"))
Line 579: Line 507:
 
       (nreverse result))
 
       (nreverse result))
 
     ==> ("foo" "for" "food!")
 
     ==> ("foo" "for" "food!")
 +
</syntaxhighlight>   
  
 
Note how `cons' adds an element to the front of the list,
 
Note how `cons' adds an element to the front of the list,
Line 591: Line 520:
 
elements of the original.
 
elements of the original.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
     (let* ((orig '((1 2) (3 4)))
 
     (let* ((orig '((1 2) (3 4)))
 
           (copy (copy-sequence orig)))
 
           (copy (copy-sequence orig)))
Line 596: Line 526:
 
       (list orig copy))
 
       (list orig copy))
 
     ==> (((1 2) (3 4)) ((1 2) (5 6)))
 
     ==> (((1 2) (3 4)) ((1 2) (5 6)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>   
  
 
However, the elements in the copy are still from the original.
 
However, the elements in the copy are still from the original.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
     (let* ((orig '((1 2) (3 4)))
 
     (let* ((orig '((1 2) (3 4)))
 
           (copy (copy-sequence orig)))
 
           (copy (copy-sequence orig)))
Line 604: Line 536:
 
       (list orig copy))
 
       (list orig copy))
 
     ==> (((1 2) (3 0)) ((1 2) (3 0)))
 
     ==> (((1 2) (3 0)) ((1 2) (3 0)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>   
  
 
The function `copy-tree' is the recursive version of `copy-sequence'.
 
The function `copy-tree' is the recursive version of `copy-sequence'.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
     (let* ((orig '((1 2) (3 4)))
 
     (let* ((orig '((1 2) (3 4)))
 
           (copy (copy-tree orig)))
 
           (copy (copy-tree orig)))
Line 612: Line 546:
 
       (list orig copy))
 
       (list orig copy))
 
     ==> (((1 2) (3 4)) ((1 2) (3 0)))
 
     ==> (((1 2) (3 4)) ((1 2) (3 0)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>   
  
 
Filtering:
 
Filtering:
Line 617: Line 552:
 
Emacs Lisp doesn't come with a `filter' function to keep elements that satisfy a conditional and excise the elements that do not satisfy it.  One can use `mapcar' to iterate over a list with a conditional, and then use `delq' to remove the `nil' values.
 
Emacs Lisp doesn't come with a `filter' function to keep elements that satisfy a conditional and excise the elements that do not satisfy it.  One can use `mapcar' to iterate over a list with a conditional, and then use `delq' to remove the `nil' values.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (defun my-filter (condp lst)
 
   (defun my-filter (condp lst)
 
     (delq nil
 
     (delq nil
 
           (mapcar (lambda (x) (and (funcall condp x) x)) lst)))
 
           (mapcar (lambda (x) (and (funcall condp x) x)) lst)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>         
  
 
Therefore,
 
Therefore,
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (my-filter 'identity my-list)
 
   (my-filter 'identity my-list)
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
is equivalent to
 
is equivalent to
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (delq nil my-list)
 
   (delq nil my-list)
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
For example:
 
For example:
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (let ((num-list '(1 'a 2 "nil" 3 nil 4)))
 
   (let ((num-list '(1 'a 2 "nil" 3 nil 4)))
 
     (my-filter 'numberp num-list))
 
     (my-filter 'numberp num-list))
 
   ==> (1 2 3 4)
 
   ==> (1 2 3 4)
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Actually the package cl-seq contains the functions `remove-if' and `remove-if-not'.  The latter can be used instead of `my-filter'.
 
Actually the package cl-seq contains the functions `remove-if' and `remove-if-not'.  The latter can be used instead of `my-filter'.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (let ((num-list '(1 'a 2 "nil" 3 nil 4)))
 
   (let ((num-list '(1 'a 2 "nil" 3 nil 4)))
 
     (remove-if-not 'numberp num-list))
 
     (remove-if-not 'numberp num-list))
Line 644: Line 588:
 
     (remove-if 'numberp num-list))
 
     (remove-if 'numberp num-list))
 
   ==> ((quote a) "nil" nil)
 
   ==> ((quote a) "nil" nil)
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
As an example here is the quick sort algorithm:
 
As an example here is the quick sort algorithm:
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (defun quicksort (lst)
 
   (defun quicksort (lst)
 
     "Implement the quicksort algorithm."
 
     "Implement the quicksort algorithm."
Line 660: Line 606:
 
   (quicksort '(5 7 1 3 -9 8 7 -4 0))
 
   (quicksort '(5 7 1 3 -9 8 7 -4 0))
 
   ==> (-9 -4 0 1 3 5 7 7 8)
 
   ==> (-9 -4 0 1 3 5 7 7 8)
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Tranposing:
 
Tranposing:
Line 665: Line 612:
 
Convert multiple lists into a list  
 
Convert multiple lists into a list  
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
  ((lambda (&rest args)
 
  ((lambda (&rest args)
 
     (mapcar (lambda (n)
 
     (mapcar (lambda (n)
Line 671: Line 619:
 
   '(1 2 3) '(a b c) '(A B C))
 
   '(1 2 3) '(a b c) '(A B C))
 
   ==> ((1 a A) (2 b B) (3 c C))
 
   ==> ((1 a A) (2 b B) (3 c C))
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
A more concise version is possible with the the higher-arity version of mapcar available with the `cl' library.
 
A more concise version is possible with the the higher-arity version of mapcar available with the `cl' library.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   ((lambda (&rest args)
 
   ((lambda (&rest args)
 
     (apply (function mapcar*) (function list) args))
 
     (apply (function mapcar*) (function list) args))
 
   '(1 2 3) '(a b c) '(A B C))
 
   '(1 2 3) '(a b c) '(A B C))
 
   ==> ((1 a A) (2 b B) (3 c C))
 
   ==> ((1 a A) (2 b B) (3 c C))
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Searching:
 
Searching:
Line 684: Line 635:
 
`member' or `memq'.
 
`member' or `memq'.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (let ((words '("fight" "foo" "for" "food!")))
 
   (let ((words '("fight" "foo" "for" "food!")))
 
     (car (member "for" words)))
 
     (car (member "for" words)))
Line 693: Line 645:
 
             (mapcar (lambda (s) (numberp (string-match re s))) words))))
 
             (mapcar (lambda (s) (numberp (string-match re s))) words))))
 
   ==> t
 
   ==> t
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
In the latter, a more efficient algorithm would use a loop (a non-local exit).
 
In the latter, a more efficient algorithm would use a loop (a non-local exit).
 
=== Association lists ===
 
 
The ElispManual has examples of finding and deleting values in an
 
association list.  Here are cases when the car values are strings.
 
 
  (assoc "2" '(("2" . 2) ("1" . 1) ("2") ("3" . 3)))
 
  ==> ("2" . 2)
 
 
Deleting:
 
 
  (let ((alist '(("a" . 1) ("b" . 2))))
 
    (delq (assoc "a" alist) alist))
 
  ==> (("b" . 2))
 
 
Matches with a test function other than `equal':
 
 
  (let ((alist '(("ab" . 1) ("bc" . 2) ("cd" . 3))))
 
    (assoc-default "c" alist (lambda (x y) (string-match y x))))
 
  ==> 2
 
  
 
=== Vectors ===
 
=== Vectors ===
Line 720: Line 653:
 
Vectors are fixed in size but elements can be accessed in constant time.
 
Vectors are fixed in size but elements can be accessed in constant time.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
     (let ((words ["fight" "foo" "for" "food!"]))
 
     (let ((words ["fight" "foo" "for" "food!"]))
 
       (when (string= "foo" (aref words 1))
 
       (when (string= "foo" (aref words 1))
Line 725: Line 659:
 
       words)
 
       words)
 
     ==> ["fight" "bar" "for" "food!"]
 
     ==> ["fight" "bar" "for" "food!"]
 +
</syntaxhighlight>   
  
 
== Hashes ==
 
== Hashes ==
Line 738: Line 673:
 
for strings: ##(eql "alex" "alex")## ==> nil. Thus, use `equal' in these cases:
 
for strings: ##(eql "alex" "alex")## ==> nil. Thus, use `equal' in these cases:
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
     (let ((nick-table (make-hash-table :test 'equal)))
 
     (let ((nick-table (make-hash-table :test 'equal)))
 
       (puthash "kensanata" "Alex Schroeder" nick-table)
 
       (puthash "kensanata" "Alex Schroeder" nick-table)
 
       (gethash "kensanata" nick-table))
 
       (gethash "kensanata" nick-table))
 
     ==> "Alex Schroeder"
 
     ==> "Alex Schroeder"
 +
</syntaxhighlight>   
  
 
Iterate:
 
Iterate:
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
     (let ((nick-table (make-hash-table :test 'equal))
 
     (let ((nick-table (make-hash-table :test 'equal))
 
           nicks)
 
           nicks)
Line 755: Line 693:
 
       nicks)
 
       nicks)
 
       ==> ("pjb" "e1f" "kensanata")
 
       ==> ("pjb" "e1f" "kensanata")
 +
</syntaxhighlight>     
  
 
=== Sorting keys  ===
 
=== Sorting keys  ===
Line 761: Line 700:
 
the list:
 
the list:
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
     (let ((nick-table (make-hash-table :test 'equal))
 
     (let ((nick-table (make-hash-table :test 'equal))
 
           nicks)
 
           nicks)
Line 775: Line 715:
 
           "kensanata => Alex Schroeder"
 
           "kensanata => Alex Schroeder"
 
           "pjb => Pascal J. Bourguignon")
 
           "pjb => Pascal J. Bourguignon")
 +
</syntaxhighlight>         
  
 
== Files ==
 
== Files ==
Line 782: Line 723:
 
Processing a file is usually done with a temporary buffer:
 
Processing a file is usually done with a temporary buffer:
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
  (defun process-file (file)
 
  (defun process-file (file)
 
   "Read the contents of a file into a temp buffer and then do
 
   "Read the contents of a file into a temp buffer and then do
Line 792: Line 734:
 
       ;; do something here with buffer content
 
       ;; do something here with buffer content
 
         (forward-line)))))
 
         (forward-line)))))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>       
  
 
On the chance that a buffer may already be actively visiting the file,
 
On the chance that a buffer may already be actively visiting the file,
 
consider using `find-file-noselect'
 
consider using `find-file-noselect'
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (defun file-string (file)
 
   (defun file-string (file)
 
     "Read the contents of a file and return as a string."
 
     "Read the contents of a file and return as a string."
 
     (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect file)
 
     (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect file)
 
       (buffer-string)))
 
       (buffer-string)))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>     
  
 
=== Write ===
 
=== Write ===
Line 805: Line 750:
 
To write something to a file you can create a temporary buffer, insert the things to write there and write the buffer contents to a file.  The following example read a string and a filename (with completion, but doesn't need to exist, see InteractiveCodeChar F) and write the string to that file.
 
To write something to a file you can create a temporary buffer, insert the things to write there and write the buffer contents to a file.  The following example read a string and a filename (with completion, but doesn't need to exist, see InteractiveCodeChar F) and write the string to that file.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
  (defun write-string-to-file (string file)
 
  (defun write-string-to-file (string file)
 
   (interactive "sEnter the string: \nFFile to save to: ")
 
   (interactive "sEnter the string: \nFFile to save to: ")
Line 813: Line 759:
 
                     (point-max)
 
                     (point-max)
 
                     file))))
 
                     file))))
 
+
</syntaxhighlight>
=== Input and output (I/O) ===
+
 
+
This is a nice and simple way to edit a file with Emacs Lisp,
+
especially when there's a chance the file might be already be visited
+
in Emacs and its ok to edit the existing buffer.
+
 
+
  (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect "~/logfile")
+
    (goto-char (point-max))
+
    (insert (format "Hash of last line: %s"
+
            (md5
+
              (save-excursion
+
                (forward-line -1)
+
                (buffer-substring-no-properties (point)
+
                                                (line-end-position))))))
+
    (newline)
+
    (with-temp-message "Writing file..."
+
      (save-buffer))
+
    (message "Writing file...done"))
+
  
 
=== Searching ===
 
=== Searching ===
Line 837: Line 765:
 
If you don't have grep, then you may need to write some Lisp which can find a match in a file.
 
If you don't have grep, then you may need to write some Lisp which can find a match in a file.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   ;; Visit file unless its already open.
 
   ;; Visit file unless its already open.
 
   (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect "~/.emacs")
 
   (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect "~/.emacs")
Line 845: Line 774:
 
         (error "Search failed"))))
 
         (error "Search failed"))))
 
   ==> "(add-to-list 'load-path \"/usr/share/emacs/site-lisp/\")"
 
   ==> "(add-to-list 'load-path \"/usr/share/emacs/site-lisp/\")"
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
=== Filter ===
 
=== Filter ===
Line 856: Line 786:
 
=== Deleting ===
 
=== Deleting ===
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (if (file-exists-p filename)
 
   (if (file-exists-p filename)
 
       (delete-file filename))
 
       (delete-file filename))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>     
  
 
=== Copy, move and rename ===
 
=== Copy, move and rename ===
Line 865: Line 797:
 
=== Traversing ===
 
=== Traversing ===
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
     (defun walk-path (dir action)
 
     (defun walk-path (dir action)
 
       "walk DIR executing ACTION with (dir file)"
 
       "walk DIR executing ACTION with (dir file)"
Line 891: Line 824:
  
 
     (walk-path "~/" 'walk-path-visitor)
 
     (walk-path "~/" 'walk-path-visitor)
 +
</syntaxhighlight>   
  
 
=== Path splitting ===
 
=== Path splitting ===
Line 896: Line 830:
 
Splitting the path can be done with `split-string' and with the slash. Previously, Emacs would determine the character separating directory names with `directory-sep-char'.  However, the variable is obselete with Emacs 21.1.
 
Splitting the path can be done with `split-string' and with the slash. Previously, Emacs would determine the character separating directory names with `directory-sep-char'.  However, the variable is obselete with Emacs 21.1.
  
  (split-string default-directory "/")
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
  ==> ("" "usr" "share" "emacs" "22.2" "lisp" "")
+
(split-string default-directory "/")
 +
==> ("" "usr" "share" "emacs" "22.2" "lisp" "")
 +
</syntaxhighlight>
  
 
For splitting a path variable, Emacs already has the `parse-colon-path' function.
 
For splitting a path variable, Emacs already has the `parse-colon-path' function.
  
  (parse-colon-path (getenv "PATH"))
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
  ==> ("/usr/lib/qt-3.3/bin/" "/usr/kerberos/bin/" "/usr/local/bin/" "/usr/bin/" "/bin/" "/usr/local/sbin/" "/usr/sbin/" "/sbin/")
+
(parse-colon-path (getenv "PATH"))
 +
==> ("/usr/lib/qt-3.3/bin/" "/usr/kerberos/bin/" "/usr/local/bin/"
 +
"/usr/bin/" "/bin/" "/usr/local/sbin/" "/usr/sbin/" "/sbin/")
 +
</syntaxhighlight>
  
 
== Processes ==
 
== Processes ==
Line 910: Line 849:
 
Run a command without caring about its output.
 
Run a command without caring about its output.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (async-shell-command "emacs")
 
   (async-shell-command "emacs")
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Run a command and put its output in the current buffer.
 
Run a command and put its output in the current buffer.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (shell-command "seq 8 12 | sort" t)
 
   (shell-command "seq 8 12 | sort" t)
 
   10
 
   10
Line 920: Line 862:
 
   8
 
   8
 
   9
 
   9
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
Run a command and put its output in a new buffer.
 
Run a command and put its output in a new buffer.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (shell-command "seq 8 12 | sort"
 
   (shell-command "seq 8 12 | sort"
 
                 (get-buffer-create "*Standard output*"))
 
                 (get-buffer-create "*Standard output*"))
 +
</syntaxhighlight>               
  
 
Run a command return its output as a string.
 
Run a command return its output as a string.
  
 +
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 
   (shell-command-to-string "seq 8 12 | sort")
 
   (shell-command-to-string "seq 8 12 | sort")
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
XEmacs also comes with `exec-to-string'.
 
XEmacs also comes with `exec-to-string'.
Line 946: Line 893:
 
* Call function bound to key
 
* Call function bound to key
  
  (funcall (key-binding (kbd "M-TAB")))
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 +
(funcall (key-binding (kbd "M-TAB")))
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
 
or
 
or
  
  (call-interactively (key-binding (kbd "M-TAB")))
+
<syntaxhighlight lang="lisp">
 +
(call-interactively (key-binding (kbd "M-TAB")))
 +
</syntaxhighlight> 
  
----
+
[[Category:Customization]]
CategoryCode
+
[[Category:Intermediate]]
 +
[[Category:Emacs Lisp]]
 +
[[Category:Lisp]]
 +
[[Category:Programming]]
 +
[[Category:Tutorial]]

Revision as of 08:46, 26 March 2014

This page contains snippets of code that demonstrate basic Emacs Lisp programming operations in the spirit of O'Reilly's Cookbook series of books. For every task addressed, a worked-out solution is presented as a short, focused, directly usable piece of code.

All this stuff can be found elsewhere, but it is scattered about in libraries, manuals, etc. It would be helpful to have it here in one spot.

These recipes should be pastable into the *scratch* buffer so that users can hit C-j and evaluate them step by step.

Strings

The empty string (zero-length string, null string, ...):

(zerop (string-match "" "")) ;; O(n)
==> t
 
(string-equal "" "") ;; O(n)?
==> t
 
(equal "" "") ;; O(n)?
==> t
 
(zerop (length "")) ;; O(1)
==> t
 
(eq "" "") ;; O(1)
==> t

As a space and performance optimization, Emacs keeps an intern-ed copy of the empty string as a single object

(eq "" (purecopy ""))
==> t
 
(eq "" (propertize "" 'face 'italic))
==> t

Strings vs buffer content

While it is quite common in other programming languages to work on strings contained in variables in Emacs it is even more idiomatic to work on strings in buffers. That's why the following contains examples of both.

Processing characters

Reversing a string:

(string-to-list "foo")
==> (102 111 111)
(reverse (string-to-list "foo"))
==> (111 111 102)
(apply 'string (reverse (string-to-list "foo")))
==> "oof"

See CharacterProcessing and StringModification. See tr for an example if you sometimes need to mix strings and characters.

Looking at characters in buffers:

(with-temp-buffer
  (insert "abcdefg")
  (goto-char (point-min))
  (while (not (= (char-after) ?b))
    (forward-char))
  (point))
==> 2

Trim whitespace

Trim whitespace from the end of a string:

(setq test-str "abcdefg  ")
(when (string-match "[ \t]*$" test-str)
  (message (concat "[" (replace-match "" nil nil test-str) "]")))

Trim whitespace from a string with a Perl-like chomp function:

(defun chomp (str)
  "Chomp leading and tailing whitespace from STR."
  (while (string-match "\\`\n+\\|^\\s-+\\|\\s-+$\\|\n+\\'"
                       str)
    (setq str (replace-match "" t t str)))
  str)

Splitting strings

The 'split-string' function is defined in 'subr.el' as

(defun split-string (string &optional separators omit-nulls)
 ...)

where 'separators' is a regular expression describing where to split the string. 'separators' defaults to white-space characters (spaces, form feeds, tabs, newlines, carriage returns, and vertical tabs). If 'omit-nulls' is set as 't' then zero-length strings are deleted from output.

(split-string "1 thing 2 say 3 words 4 you" "[1-9]")
==> ("" " thing " " say " " words " " you")

Omitting nulls:

(split-string "1 thing 2 say 3 words 4 you" "[1-9]" t)
(" thing " " say " " words " " you")

Joining strings

Use `mapconcat' to join a list into a string using a separator ("glue") between elements in the string.

Example:

(mapconcat 'identity '("" "home" "alex " "elisp" "erc") "/")
==> "/home/alex /elisp/erc"

Serialization

The basic idea is to convert forms to strings with `prin1-to-string' and convert it back from a string with `read'.

(length (read (prin1-to-string (make-list 1000000 '(x)))))
==> 1000000
 
(read (prin1-to-string "Hello World!"))
==> "Hello World!"

This only works in the simplest cases. Unfortunately, this doesn't work for all Emacs data types for programming or the editor.

(read (prin1-to-string (make-hash-table))) ;; Error before Emacs 23.
==> #s(hash-table size 65 test eql rehash-size 1.5 [...] data ())
 
(read (prin1-to-string (current-buffer)))
==> Lisp error: (invalid-read-syntax "#")

Formatting

Killing text

As the Emacs Lisp Manual says, "Most of the kill commands are primarily for interactive use [...] When you need to delete text for internal purposes within a Lisp function, you should normally use deletion functions, so as not to disturb the kill ring contents."

The following mimic the `kill-' commands but without disturbing the kill ring.

Delete region

The Lisp equivalent of `kill-region' (`C-w') but without kill ring side effects::

(delete-region (region-beginning) (region-end))

According to the ElispManual, "Few programs need to use the `region-beginning' and `region-end' functions." This is because Lisp code should not rely on nor "alter the mark unless altering the mark is part of the user-level functionality of the command. (And, in that case, this effect should be documented.) To remember a location for internal use in the Lisp program, store it in a Lisp variable. For example: [...]"

(let ((beg (point)))
  (forward-line 1)
  (delete-region beg (point)))

Delete line

The equivalent of `kill-line' (`C-k') but without kill ring side effects:

(let ((beg (point)))
  (forward-line 1)
  (forward-char -1)
  (delete-region beg (point)))

Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.

(delete-region (point)
               (save-excursion
                 (forward-line 1)
                 (forward-char -1)
                 (point)))

Or simplest of all,

(delete-region (point) (line-end-position))

The examples with `forward-line' are shown because the paradigm is used later, see below.

Delete line backwards

The equivalent of killing the line backwards (`C-0 C-k') but without kill ring side effects:

(let ((beg (point)))
  (forward-line 0)
  (delete-region (point) beg))

Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.

(delete-region (save-excursion
                 (forward-line 0)
                 (point))
               (point))

Or simplest of all,

(delete-region (line-beginning-position) (point))


Delete line to next line

The equivalent of killing the line and the newline (`C-1 C-k') but without kill ring side effects:

(let ((beg (point)))
  (forward-line 1)
  (delete-region beg (point)))

Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.

(delete-region (point)
               (save-excursion
                 (forward-line 1)
                 (point)))

Delete whole line

The equivalent of `kill-whole-line' (`C-S-DEL') but without kill ring side effects:

(let ((beg (progn (forward-line 0)
                  (point))))
  (forward-line 1)
  (delete-region beg (point)))

Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.

(delete-region (save-excursion
                 (forward-line 0)
                 (point))
               (save-excursion
                 (forward-line 1)
                 (point)))

Or simplest of all,

(delete-region (line-beginning-position) (line-end-position))

Delete word

The equivalent of `kill-word' (`M-d') but without kill ring side effects:

(let ((beg (point)))
  (forward-word 1)
  (delete-region beg (point)))

Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.

(delete-region (point)
               (save-excursion
                 (forward-word 1)
                 (point)))

Delete sentence

The equivalent of `kill-sentence' (`M-k') but without kill ring side effects:

(let ((beg (point)))
  (forward-sentence 1)
  (delete-region beg (point)))

Alternatively, replacing the `let' with `save-excursion'.

  (delete-region (point)
                 (save-excursion
                   (forward-sentence 1)
                   (point)))

Search and Replace

Searching and replacing text is a fundamental editing need. Emacs has separate facilities for both interactive and scripted search and replace.

Interactive Use

The replace-regexp function provides a way to replace text interactively. This function supports embedded emacs lisp statements in the second arguement (the replacement expression). By default replace-regexp replaces every match after the cursor location until it reaches the end of the buffer. A more useful method is to mark a region for replacement.

For example: calling

M-x replace-regexp RET \([A-Z]\) RET \,(downcase \1)

on the marked region AABBCC will convert it to aabbcc. The first arguement is a regular expression matching any capital letter and saving it as the first match, while the \, indicates embedded emacs lisp code (which calls the `downcase` function on the matched pattern).

Scripted Use

A cleaner solution while scripting is to combine search-forward-regexp with replace-match. Every time the search is successful, the results are implicitly saved in to match-string. This short function replaces every pattern in a marked region with a new string drawn from its components:

(defun camelCase-to_underscores (start end)
  "Convert any string matching something like aBc to a_bc"
  (interactive "r")
  (save-restriction
    (narrow-to-region start end)
    (goto-char 1)
    (let ((case-fold-search nil))
      (while (search-forward-regexp "\\([a-z]\\)\\([A-Z]\\)\\([a-z]\\)" nil t)
        (replace-match (concat (match-string 1)
                               "_"
                               (downcase (match-string 2))
                               (match-string 3))
                       t nil)))))

Dates and times

Get today's date

(format-time-string "%d %B %Y")

or

(eshell/date)

Conversions

Read a date from a string.

  (let ((time (date-to-time "Tue, 27-Sep-83 12:35:59 EST")))
    (set-time-zone-rule t) ;; Use Universal time.
    (prog1 (format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d %T UTC" time)
      (set-time-zone-rule nil))) ;; Reset to default time zone.
  ==> "1983-09-27 17:35:59 UTC"

Decode a time object.

  (decode-time (date-to-time "Tue, 27-Sep-83 12:35:59 EST"))
  ==> (59 35 13 27 9 1983 2 t -14400)

Get the seconds from the unix epoch.

  (let ((time (date-to-time "13 Feb 2009 23:31:30 UTC")))
    (float-time time))
  ==> 1234585890.0

Find the date for seconds from the unix epoch.

  (format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d %T UTC" (seconds-to-time 1234585890))
  ==> "2009-02-13 23:31:30 UTC"

Find the date 30 seconds in the future.

  (format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d %T UTC" (time-add (current-time)
                                                  (seconds-to-time 30)))
  ==> "2012-02-13 10:07:11 UTC"

Formatting elapsed time in years, days, hours, minutes and seconds.

  (format-seconds "%Y %D %h:%m:%s" (1- (* 367 24 3600)))
  ==> "1 year 1 day 23:59:59"

Find the days between two dates.

  (let ((days1 (time-to-days (date-to-time "Tue, 27-Sep-83 12:35:59 EST")))
        (days2 (time-to-days (date-to-time "2009-02-13 23:31:30 UTC"))))
    (- days2 days1))
  ==> 9271

Getting the day in the year.

  (time-to-day-in-year (current-time))
  ==> 44

Build a date based on the day of the year.

  (format-time-string "%j"
                      (encode-time 0 0 0 44 1 2012))
  ==> "044"

Timers

TODO

Sequences

Datatypes used to represent sequences of things:

    _____________________________________________
   |                                             |
   |          Sequence                           |
   |  ______   ________________________________  |
   | |      | |                                | |
   | | List | |             Array              | |
   | |      | |    ________       ________     | |
   | |______| |   |        |     |        |    | |
   |          |   | Vector |     | String |    | |
   |          |   |________|     |________|    | |
   |          |  ____________   _____________  | |
   |          | |            | |             | | |
   |          | | Char-table | | Bool-vector | | |
   |          | |____________| |_____________| | |
   |          |________________________________| |
   |_____________________________________________|


Lists

List basics are explained on ListStructure. Lists can shrink and grow, but access to elements towards the end of the list is slow if the list is long.

Use `cons' to append a new element to the front of a list. Use `nth' to access an element of the list.

    (let ((words '("fight" "foo" "for" "food!")))
      (when (string= "foo" (nth 1 words))
        (setq words (cons "bar" words)))
      words)
    ==> ("bar" "fight" "foo" "for" "food!")

See ListModification for more ways of changing a list.

Iteration:

    (let ((result))
      (dolist (word '("fight" "foo" "for" "food!"))
        (when (string-match "o" word)
          (setq result (cons word result))))
      (nreverse result))
    ==> ("foo" "for" "food!")

Note how `cons' adds an element to the front of the list, so that usually the list has to be reversed after the loop. `nreverse' is particularly efficient because it does this destructively by swiveling pointers around. See DestructiveOperations for more about this.

Copying:

Use `copy-sequence' to make a copy of a list that won't change the elements of the original.

    (let* ((orig '((1 2) (3 4)))
           (copy (copy-sequence orig)))
      (setcdr copy '((5 6)))
      (list orig copy))
    ==> (((1 2) (3 4)) ((1 2) (5 6)))

However, the elements in the copy are still from the original.

    (let* ((orig '((1 2) (3 4)))
           (copy (copy-sequence orig)))
      (setcdr (cadr copy) '(0))
      (list orig copy))
    ==> (((1 2) (3 0)) ((1 2) (3 0)))

The function `copy-tree' is the recursive version of `copy-sequence'.

    (let* ((orig '((1 2) (3 4)))
           (copy (copy-tree orig)))
      (setcdr (cadr copy) '(0))
      (list orig copy))
    ==> (((1 2) (3 4)) ((1 2) (3 0)))

Filtering:

Emacs Lisp doesn't come with a `filter' function to keep elements that satisfy a conditional and excise the elements that do not satisfy it. One can use `mapcar' to iterate over a list with a conditional, and then use `delq' to remove the `nil' values.

  (defun my-filter (condp lst)
    (delq nil
          (mapcar (lambda (x) (and (funcall condp x) x)) lst)))

Therefore,

  (my-filter 'identity my-list)

is equivalent to

  (delq nil my-list)

For example:

  (let ((num-list '(1 'a 2 "nil" 3 nil 4)))
    (my-filter 'numberp num-list))
  ==> (1 2 3 4)

Actually the package cl-seq contains the functions `remove-if' and `remove-if-not'. The latter can be used instead of `my-filter'.

  (let ((num-list '(1 'a 2 "nil" 3 nil 4)))
    (remove-if-not 'numberp num-list))
  ==> (1 2 3 4)
 
  (let ((num-list '(1 'a 2 "nil" 3 nil 4)))
    (remove-if 'numberp num-list))
  ==> ((quote a) "nil" nil)

As an example here is the quick sort algorithm:

  (defun quicksort (lst)
    "Implement the quicksort algorithm."
    (if (null lst) nil
      (let* ((spl (car lst))
             (rst (cdr lst))
             (smalp (lambda (x)
                   (< x spl))))
        (append (quicksort (remove-if-not smalp rst))
                (list spl)
                (quicksort (remove-if smalp rst))))))
 
  (quicksort '(5 7 1 3 -9 8 7 -4 0))
  ==> (-9 -4 0 1 3 5 7 7 8)

Tranposing:

Convert multiple lists into a list

 ((lambda (&rest args)
    (mapcar (lambda (n)
              (delq nil (mapcar (lambda (arg) (nth n arg)) args)))
            (number-sequence 0 (1- (apply 'max (mapcar 'length args))))))
  '(1 2 3) '(a b c) '(A B C))
  ==> ((1 a A) (2 b B) (3 c C))

A more concise version is possible with the the higher-arity version of mapcar available with the `cl' library.

  ((lambda (&rest args)
     (apply (function mapcar*) (function list) args))
   '(1 2 3) '(a b c) '(A B C))
  ==> ((1 a A) (2 b B) (3 c C))

Searching:

Simply checking for existence of a value in a list can be done with `member' or `memq'.

  (let ((words '("fight" "foo" "for" "food!")))
    (car (member "for" words)))
  ==> "for"
 
  (let ((re "\\wo\\b")
        (words '("fight" "foo" "for" "food!")))
    (consp (memq t
             (mapcar (lambda (s) (numberp (string-match re s))) words))))
  ==> t

In the latter, a more efficient algorithm would use a loop (a non-local exit).

Vectors

Vectors are fixed in size but elements can be accessed in constant time.

    (let ((words ["fight" "foo" "for" "food!"]))
      (when (string= "foo" (aref words 1))
        (aset words 1 "bar"))
      words)
    ==> ["fight" "bar" "for" "food!"]

Hashes

Hashes map keys to values. In a way they are similar to alists, except they are more efficient for a large number of keys.

More info is available on the HashMap page.

Storing and retrieving keys and values

By default, hash tables use `eql' to compare keys. This is not appropriate for strings: ##(eql "alex" "alex")## ==> nil. Thus, use `equal' in these cases:

    (let ((nick-table (make-hash-table :test 'equal)))
      (puthash "kensanata" "Alex Schroeder" nick-table)
      (gethash "kensanata" nick-table))
    ==> "Alex Schroeder"

Iterate:

    (let ((nick-table (make-hash-table :test 'equal))
          nicks)
      (puthash "kensanata" "Alex Schroeder" nick-table)
      (puthash "e1f" "Luis Fernandes" nick-table)
      (puthash "pjb" "Pascal J. Bourguignon" nick-table)
      (maphash (lambda (nick real-name)
                 (setq nicks (cons nick nicks)))
               nick-table)
      nicks)
      ==> ("pjb" "e1f" "kensanata")

Sorting keys

Use `maphash' to build up a list of keys, sort it, and then loop through the list:

    (let ((nick-table (make-hash-table :test 'equal))
          nicks)
      (puthash "kensanata" "Alex Schroeder" nick-table)
      (puthash "e1f" "Luis Fernandes" nick-table)
      (puthash "pjb" "Pascal J. Bourguignon" nick-table)
      (maphash (lambda (nick real-name)
                 (setq nicks (cons nick nicks)))
               nick-table)
      (mapcar (lambda (nick)
                (concat nick " => " (gethash nick nick-table)))
              (sort nicks 'string<)))
      ==> ("e1f => Luis Fernandes"
           "kensanata => Alex Schroeder"
           "pjb => Pascal J. Bourguignon")

Files

Read

Processing a file is usually done with a temporary buffer:

 (defun process-file (file)
   "Read the contents of a file into a temp buffer and then do
 something there."
   (when (file-readable-p file)
     (with-temp-buffer
       (insert-file-contents file)
       (goto-char (point-min))
       (while (not (eobp))
       ;; do something here with buffer content
         (forward-line)))))

On the chance that a buffer may already be actively visiting the file, consider using `find-file-noselect'

  (defun file-string (file)
    "Read the contents of a file and return as a string."
    (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect file)
      (buffer-string)))

Write

To write something to a file you can create a temporary buffer, insert the things to write there and write the buffer contents to a file. The following example read a string and a filename (with completion, but doesn't need to exist, see InteractiveCodeChar F) and write the string to that file.

 (defun write-string-to-file (string file)
   (interactive "sEnter the string: \nFFile to save to: ")
   (with-temp-buffer
     (insert string)
     (when (file-writable-p file)
       (write-region (point-min)
                     (point-max)
                     file))))

Searching

If you don't have grep, then you may need to write some Lisp which can find a match in a file.

  ;; Visit file unless its already open.
  (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect "~/.emacs")
    (save-excursion ;; Don't change location of point.
      (goto-char (point-min)) ;; From the beginning...
      (if (re-search-forward ".*load-path.*" nil t 1)
          (match-string-no-properties 0)
        (error "Search failed"))))
  ==> "(add-to-list 'load-path \"/usr/share/emacs/site-lisp/\")"

Filter

Locking

Stat

An interface to the kernel's stat(2) is provided by the function file-attributes. The way times are represented may be a bit unexpected, though.

Deleting

  (if (file-exists-p filename)
      (delete-file filename))

Copy, move and rename

Directories

Traversing

    (defun walk-path (dir action)
       "walk DIR executing ACTION with (dir file)"
       (cond ((file-directory-p dir)
              (or (char-equal ?/ (aref dir(1- (length dir))))
                  (setq dir (file-name-as-directory dir)))
              (let ((lst (directory-files dir nil nil t))
                     fullname file)
                (while lst
                  (setq file (car lst))
                  (setq lst (cdr lst))
                  (cond ((member file '("." "..")))
                        (t
                         (and (funcall action dir file)
                              (setq fullname (concat dir file))
                              (file-directory-p fullname)
                              (walk-path fullname action)))))))
             (t
              (funcall action
                       (file-name-directory dir)
                       (file-name-nondirectory dir)))))
 
    (defun walk-path-visitor (dir file)
       "Called by walk-path for each file found"
       (message (concat  dir file)))
 
    (walk-path "~/" 'walk-path-visitor)

Path splitting

Splitting the path can be done with `split-string' and with the slash. Previously, Emacs would determine the character separating directory names with `directory-sep-char'. However, the variable is obselete with Emacs 21.1.

(split-string default-directory "/")
==> ("" "usr" "share" "emacs" "22.2" "lisp" "")

For splitting a path variable, Emacs already has the `parse-colon-path' function.

(parse-colon-path (getenv "PATH"))
==> ("/usr/lib/qt-3.3/bin/" "/usr/kerberos/bin/" "/usr/local/bin/"
"/usr/bin/" "/bin/" "/usr/local/sbin/" "/usr/sbin/" "/sbin/")

Processes

Running a program

Run a command without caring about its output.

  (async-shell-command "emacs")

Run a command and put its output in the current buffer.

  (shell-command "seq 8 12 | sort" t)
  10
  11
  12
  8
  9

Run a command and put its output in a new buffer.

  (shell-command "seq 8 12 | sort"
                 (get-buffer-create "*Standard output*"))

Run a command return its output as a string.

  (shell-command-to-string "seq 8 12 | sort")

XEmacs also comes with `exec-to-string'.

Handling signals

Sockets

Tcp client

Tcp server

Perhaps EmacsEchoServer and EmacsDaytimeServer can be useful here.

Keyboard events

  • Call function bound to key
(funcall (key-binding (kbd "M-TAB")))

or

(call-interactively (key-binding (kbd "M-TAB")))