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Emacs 18 Antinews
(Not updated for Lucid Emacs)
For those users who live backwards in time, here is information about
downgrading to Emacs version 18. We hope you will enjoy the greater
simplicity that results from the absence of many Emacs 19 features.
Old Features in the Lisp Language
The following functions are missing or different in Emacs version 18.
* The functions `delete', `member', `indirect-function',
`map-y-or-n-p', and `invocation-name' have been removed.
* The function `read' now skips a terminator character that
terminates a symbol when reading from a buffer. Thus, if you use
`read' on a buffer containing `foo(bar)' following point, it
returns `foo' and leaves point after the open-parenthesis. This
means there's no way you can properly read the list `(bar)', but
that's the way the cookie crumbles.
Because of this simplification, it's no longer necessary for an
input stream function to accept an optional argument. In Emacs
18, an input stream is always called with no arguments, and should
always return the next character of input.
* The function `documentation' takes just one argument;
`documentation-property' takes just two.
* `random' no longer has the optional argument N.
* You can no longer arrange to run a hook if a particular Lisp
library is loaded. The variable `after-load-alist' and the
function `eval-after-load' have been removed.
* The function `autoload' no longer supports autoloading a keymap.
* "Magic" comments of the form `;;;###autoload' are now just
comments. They don't do anything in particular except look pretty.
If you want a function to be autoloaded by default, edit
`loaddefs.h' by hand. What do you think editors are for?
* We took out the `%S' from the `format' function, and the optional
argument NOESCAP from `prin1-to-string'. We removed the
* Inline functions are nonexistent in Emacs 18. We find they make
the calling function unnecessarily large. (Small size is one of
the features of Emacs 18.)
* We eliminated the two special forms, `eval-when-compile' and
`eval-and-compile', as well as the `compile-defun' command.
* When you load a Lisp file or library, you will no longer receive a
warning if the directory contains both a `.elc' file and a new
`.el' file that is newer. So be on your toes.
* We removed the special data type for byte-code functions. Compiled
functions now work by means of an interpreted function which calls
the function `bytecode'. That function runs the byte code
Floating Point Numbers
Emacs 18 doesn't have or need floating point arithmetic built in.
It has a handy Lisp program that allows you to emulate floating point.
You'll have to write programs specially to use it, though.
As a result, certain macros, functions, and predicates no longer
handle specifications for floating point numbers.
The function `string-to-number', the predicate `floatp', and the
variable `float-output-format' have all been eliminated.
The functions `float', `truncate', `floor', `ceil', `round', and
`logb' do not exist; neither do the functions `abs', `cos', `sin',
`tan', `acos', `asin', `atan', `exp', `expt', `log10', `log', or `sqrt'.
The `format' function no longer handles the specifications `%e',
`%f' and `%g' for printing floating point numbers; likewise for
Changes in Basic Editing Functions
* `kill-new' and `kill-append', the primitives for putting text in
the kill ring, have been eliminated.
* The variables `interprogram-paste-function' and
`interprogram-cut-function' have been removed in Emacs 18.
In addition, there's no need for `mark-active' and
`deactivate-mark' because there is no Transient Mark mode. We also
removed the hooks `activate-mark-hook' and `deactivate-mark-hook'.
* The `kill-region' function can no longer be used in read-only
buffers. The `compare-buffer-substrings' and `current-kill'
functions have been removed.
* The variable `overwrite-mode-binary' has been removed.
* The function `move-to-column' allows just one argument, COLUMN.
* The search functions now just return `t' when successful. This
affects the functions `search-forward', `search-backward',
`re-search-forward', and `re-search-backward'.
* When you do regular expression searching or matching, there is a
fixed limit of ten `\(...\)' pairs that you can get information
about with `match-beginning' and `match-end'. Moreover,
`save-match-data' does not exist; you must use an explicit
`unwind-protect' to save the match data.
* `translate-region' is gone.
* The variables `before-change-function', `after-change-function',
and `first-change-hook' have been eliminated.
* The second argument to `insert-abbrev-table-description' is no
We eliminated text properties.
Features for Files
Many file-related functions have been eliminated or simplified.
Here is a basic listing of these functions.
The functions `file-accessible-directory-p', `file-truename',
`make-directory', `delete-directory', `set-visited-file-modtime',
`directory-abbrev-alist', `abbreviate-file-name', `write-region',
`write-contents-hooks', `after-save-hook', `set-default-file-modes',
`default-file-modes', and `unix-sync' have been eliminated.
We got rid of the "initial file name" argument to `read-file-name'.
Additionally, we removed the 12th element from the list returned by
`directory-files' always sorts the list of files. It's not user
friendly to process the files in any haphazard order.
We eliminated the variables `write-contents-hooks' and
Making Certain File Names "Magic"
There are no more magic filenames. Sorry, but all the manna has been
There is only one screen in Emacs 18, so all of the screen functions
have been eliminated.
X Window System Features
We have simplified the way Emacs and X interact by removing a great
deal of creeping featurism.
* The functions `mouse-position' and `set-mouse-position', and the
special form `track-mouse' have been eliminated.
* Likewise, the functions `x-set-selection', `x-set-cut-buffer',
`x-close-current-connection', and `x-open-connection' have all
been removed from Emacs Lisp 18.
* We removed a series of functions that gave information about the X
server and the screen you were using; after all, the whole point
of X is that all servers are equivalent. The names of the removed
functions are: `x-display-screens', `x-server-version',
`x-display-visual-class', `x-display-color-p', and
Additionally, we removed the variable `x-no-window-manager' and the
functions `x-synchronize' and `x-get-resource'.
We didn't abolish `x-display-color-p', but we renamed it to
`x-color-display-p'. We did abolish `x-color-defined-p'.
* `x-popup-menu' no longer accepts a keymap for its first argument.
* We removed both the function `x-rebind-key' and the related
* We abolished `x-parse-geometry'.
Window Actions that Were No Longer Useful
Various behaviors of windows in Emacs 19 were obsolete by the time
Emacs 18 was due to come out. We have removed them. These changes are
* We removed the functions `window-at', `window-minibuffer-p',
`walk-windows', `window-dedicated-p', and `window-end'.
* We removed the variables `pop-up-screens',
`pop-up-screen-function', `display-buffer-function', and
* The function `minibuffer-window' no longer accepts a screen as
argument, since screens as objects do not exist in Emacs version
18. It returns the window used for minibuffers.
* The functions `next-window' and `previous-window' no longer accept
the ALL-SCREENS argument since there is just one screen.
* The functions `get-lru-window', `get-largest-window',
`get-buffer-window', and `get-buffer-window' also no longer take
the optional argument ALL-SCREENS because there is just one screen
* There are no extents, and no faces.
* We eliminated the mode line spec `%l' that in later versions used
to display the current line number. We removed the variables
`line-number-mode' and `line-number-display-limit'.
* `baud-rate' is now a function rather than a variable.
* You can no longer call `message' with `nil' as the only argument;
therefore, you can not reliably make the contents of the
* The variable `temp-buffer-show-function' has been renamed
* We removed the function `force-mode-line-update'. Use the
following idiom instead:
* Display tables no longer exist. We know what the ASCII characters
should look like, and we made them look that way.
Working with Input Events
The big news about input events is that we got rid of function key
and mouse events. Now the only input events are characters. What's
more, these characters now have to be in the range of 0 to 127,
optionally with a meta bit. This makes for big simplifications.
* Functions like `define-key', `global-set-key',
`read-key-sequence', and `local-set-key' used to accept strings or
vectors in Emacs 19; now they only accept strings.
* The documentation functions (`single-key-description',
`key-description', etc.) also no longer accept vectors, but they do
* We removed the `read-event', `event-start', `posn-window',
`posn-point', `posn-col-row', `posn-timestamp',
`scroll-bar-scale', and `event-end' functions, since they were
only useful for non-character events.
* We removed the `unread-command-events' and `last-event-screen'
* The functions `this-command-keys' and `recent-keys' now always
return a string. Likewise, a keyboard macro's definition can only
be a string, not a vector.
* We eliminated `e' as an interactive specification since it was
useful only with non-character events.
* In Emacs 18, we represent Meta characters as character objects
with the same encoding used in strings: 128 plus the corresponding
non-Meta ASCII character.
You can no longer define menus as keymaps; good system design
requires crafting a special-purpose interface for each facility, so it
can precisely fit the requirements of that facility. We decided that
unifying keymaps and menus was simply too much of a strain.
In Emacs 18, you can only activate menus with the mouse. Using them
with a keyboard was too confusing for too many users.
Emacs 18 has no menu bars. All functions and variables related to
the menu bar have been eliminated.
Changes in Minibuffer Features
The minibuffer history feature has been eliminated. Thus, we removed
the optional argument HIST from the minibuffer input functions
`read-from-minibuffer' and `completing-read'.
The INITIAL argument to `read-from-minibuffer' and other minibuffer
input functions can no longer be a cons cell `(STRING . POSITION)'.
In the function `read-no-blanks-input', the INITIAL argument is no
New Features for Defining Commands
* The special meaning of `@' in an interactive specification has
* Emacs 18 does not support use of format-style `%'-sequences in the
prompt strings in interactive specifications.
* The property `enable-recursive-minibuffers' no longer has any
Removed Features for Reading Input
We removed the third argument (META) from the function
`set-input-mode'. Consequently, we added the variable `meta-flag'; set
it to `t' to enable use of a Meta key, and to `nil' to disable it.
(Those are the only two alternatives.)
We also removed the variable `extra-keyboard-modifiers'.
We removed the function `keyboard-translate' and the variables
`num-input-keys' and `function-key-map'.
Removed Syntax Table Features
* We eliminated the functions `skip-syntax-forward',
* We removed the syntax flag for "prefix syntax" and the flag for the
alternate comment style. Emacs 18 supports only one style of
comment in any given syntax table.
* We abolished the variable `words-include-escapes'.
The Case Table
Case tables do not exist in Emacs 18. Due to this change, we have
removed the associated functions `set-standard-case-table',
`standard-case-table', `current-case-table', `set-case-table', and
Features for Dealing with Buffers
* We eliminated several functions for dealing with buffers:
`buffer-modified-tick' and `generate-new-buffer-name'.
* We renamed `buffer-disable-undo' to `buffer-flush-undo'--a more
picturesque name, you will agree.
* The function `other-buffer' takes just one argument in Emacs 18.
* The function `rename-buffer' now requires you to specify precisely
the new name you want.
* We removed the local variable `list-buffers-directory'.
* We got rid of the hook `kill-buffer-hook'.
Local Variables Features
* The function `kill-all-local-variables' always eliminates all
buffer-local variables of the current buffer. No more exceptions.
* Making a variable buffer-local when it is void now sets it to
* We eliminated the functions `default-boundp', because it is no
longer possible for the default binding of a variable to be void.
* The special forms `defconst' and `defvar' now set the variable's
local value rather than its default value when the variable is
local in the current buffer.
Features for Subprocesses
`call-process' and `call-process-region' no longer indicate the
termination status of the subprocess. We call on users to have faith
that the subprocess executed properly.
* The standard asynchronous subprocess features do not work on VMS;
instead, special VMS asynchronous subprocess functions have been
added. Since they are only for VMS, we can't be bothered
documenting them; sorry. Use the source, Luke!
* The function `signal-process' has been removed.
* We eliminated the transaction queue feature, and the associated
functions `tq-create', `tq-enqueue', and `tq-close'.
Dealing with Times And Time Delays
* We removed the functions `current-time', `current-time-zone',
`run-at-time', and `cancel-timer'.
* The function `current-time-string' no longer accepts any optional
* The functions `sit-for' and `sleep-for' no longer allow an
optional argument to let you specify the time period in
milliseconds; just in seconds. Additionally, we took out the
optional third argument NODISP from `sit-for'.
* We removed the optional second and third arguments from the
`accept-process-output' function. It accepts just one argument,
Features not Available for Lisp Debuggers
* In Emacs 18, you can no longer specify to invoke the Lisp debugger
only upon encountering certain types of errors. Any non-`nil'
value for the variable `debug-on-error' says to invoke the
debugger for any error whatever.
* We removed the variable `command-debug-status' and the function
Memory Allocation Changes
We removed the function `memory-limit'.
The list returned by `garbage-collect' no longer contains an element
to describe floating point numbers, since there aren't any floating
point numbers in Emacs 18.
* We removed the hooks `pre-abbrev-expand-hook', `pre-command-hook',
`post-command-hook', and `auto-save-hook'.
* We removed the variable
* We also removed the new function `add-hook'; you will have to set
your hooks by hand. If you want to get really into the swing of
things, set your hook variables the archaic way: store just one
function rather than a list of functions. But that is optional.
* The variable `lisp-indent-hook' has been renamed to
* The variable `auto-fill-function' has been renamed to
* The `blink-paren-function' has been renamed to `blink-paren-hook'.
* The variable `temp-buffer-show-function' has been renamed to
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