(lispref.info)Recursive Editing

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Recursive Editing

   The Emacs command loop is entered automatically when Emacs starts up.
This top-level invocation of the command loop is never exited until the
Emacs is killed.  Lisp programs can also invoke the command loop.  Since
this makes more than one activation of the command loop, we call it
"recursive editing".  A recursive editing level has the effect of
suspending whatever command invoked it and permitting the user to do
arbitrary editing before resuming that command.

   The commands available during recursive editing are the same ones
available in the top-level editing loop and defined in the keymaps.
Only a few special commands exit the recursive editing level; the others
return to the recursive editing level when finished.  (The special
commands for exiting are always available, but do nothing when recursive
editing is not in progress.)

   All command loops, including recursive ones, set up all-purpose error
handlers so that an error in a command run from the command loop will
not exit the loop.

   Minibuffer input is a special kind of recursive editing.  It has a
few special wrinkles, such as enabling display of the minibuffer and the
minibuffer window, but fewer than you might suppose.  Certain keys
behave differently in the minibuffer, but that is only because of the
minibuffer's local map; if you switch windows, you get the usual Emacs

   To invoke a recursive editing level, call the function
`recursive-edit'.  This function contains the command loop; it also
contains a call to `catch' with tag `exit', which makes it possible to
exit the recursive editing level by throwing to `exit' (Note: Catch and
Throw.).  If you throw a value other than `t', then `recursive-edit'
returns normally to the function that called it.  The command `C-M-c'
(`exit-recursive-edit') does this.  Throwing a `t' value causes
`recursive-edit' to quit, so that control returns to the command loop
one level up.  This is called "aborting", and is done by `C-]'

   Most applications should not use recursive editing, except as part of
using the minibuffer.  Usually it is more convenient for the user if you
change the major mode of the current buffer temporarily to a special
major mode, which has a command to go back to the previous mode.  (This
technique is used by the `w' command in Rmail.)  Or, if you wish to
give the user different text to edit "recursively", create and select a
new buffer in a special mode.  In this mode, define a command to
complete the processing and go back to the previous buffer.  (The `m'
command in Rmail does this.)

   Recursive edits are useful in debugging.  You can insert a call to
`debug' into a function definition as a sort of breakpoint, so that you
can look around when the function gets there.  `debug' invokes a
recursive edit but also provides the other features of the debugger.

   Recursive editing levels are also used when you type `C-r' in
`query-replace' or use `C-x q' (`kbd-macro-query').

 - Function: recursive-edit
     This function invokes the editor command loop.  It is called
     automatically by the initialization of Emacs, to let the user begin
     editing.  When called from a Lisp program, it enters a recursive
     editing level.

     In the following example, the function `simple-rec' first advances
     point one word, then enters a recursive edit, printing out a
     message in the echo area.  The user can then do any editing
     desired, and then type `C-M-c' to exit and continue executing

          (defun simple-rec ()
            (forward-word 1)
            (message "Recursive edit in progress.")
            (forward-word 1))
               => simple-rec
               => nil

 - Command: exit-recursive-edit
     This function exits from the innermost recursive edit (including
     minibuffer input).  Its definition is effectively `(throw 'exit

 - Command: abort-recursive-edit
     This function aborts the command that requested the innermost
     recursive edit (including minibuffer input), by signaling `quit'
     after exiting the recursive edit.  Its definition is effectively
     `(throw 'exit t)'.  Note: Quitting.

 - Command: top-level
     This function exits all recursive editing levels; it does not
     return a value, as it jumps completely out of any computation
     directly back to the main command loop.

 - Function: recursion-depth
     This function returns the current depth of recursive edits.  When
     no recursive edit is active, it returns 0.

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