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23.1 Introduction to Extents

Extents are regions over a buffer, with a start and an end position denoting the region of the buffer included in the extent. In addition, either end can be closed or open, meaning that the endpoint is or is not logically included in the extent. Insertion of a character at a closed endpoint causes the character to go inside the extent; insertion at an open endpoint causes the character to go outside.

Extent endpoints are stored using memory indices (see insdel.c), to minimize the amount of adjusting that needs to be done when characters are inserted or deleted.

(Formerly, extent endpoints at the gap could be either before or after the gap, depending on the open/closedness of the endpoint. The intent of this was to make it so that insertions would automatically go inside or out of extents as necessary with no further work needing to be done. It didn’t work out that way, however, and just ended up complexifying and buggifying all the rest of the code.)