Next: , Previous: , Up: Documentation   [Contents][Index]

34.5 Help Functions

SXEmacs provides a variety of on-line help functions, all accessible to the user as subcommands of the prefix C-h, or on some keyboards, help. For more information about them, see Help in The SXEmacs Lisp Reference Manual. Here we describe some program-level interfaces to the same information.

Command: apropos regexp &optional do-all predicate

This function finds all symbols whose names contain a match for the regular expression regexp, and returns a list of them (see Regular Expressions). It also displays the symbols in a buffer named ‘*Help*’, each with a one-line description.

If do-all is non-nil, then apropos also shows key bindings for the functions that are found.

If predicate is non-nil, it should be a function to be called on each symbol that has matched regexp. Only symbols for which predicate returns a non-nil value are listed or displayed.

In the first of the following examples, apropos finds all the symbols with names containing ‘exec’. In the second example, it finds and returns only those symbols that are also commands. (We don’t show the output that results in the ‘*Help*’ buffer.)

(apropos "exec")
     ⇒ (Buffer-menu-execute command-execute exec-directory
    exec-path execute-extended-command execute-kbd-macro
    executing-kbd-macro executing-macro)
(apropos "exec" nil 'commandp)
     ⇒ (Buffer-menu-execute execute-extended-command)

apropos is used by various user-level commands, such as C-h a (hyper-apropos), a graphical front-end to apropos; and C-h A (command-apropos), which does an apropos over only those functions which are user commands. command-apropos calls apropos, specifying a predicate to restrict the output to symbols that are commands. The call to apropos looks like this:

(apropos string t 'commandp)
Variable: help-map

The value of this variable is a local keymap for characters following the Help key, C-h.

Prefix Command: help-command

This symbol is not a function; its function definition is actually the keymap known as help-map. It is defined in help.el as follows:

(define-key global-map "\C-h" 'help-command)
(fset 'help-command help-map)
Function: print-help-return-message &optional function

This function builds a string that explains how to restore the previous state of the windows after a help command. After building the message, it applies function to it if function is non-nil. Otherwise it calls message to display it in the echo area.

This function expects to be called inside a with-output-to-temp-buffer special form, and expects standard-output to have the value bound by that special form. For an example of its use, see the long example in Accessing Documentation.

Variable: help-char

The value of this variable is the help character—the character that SXEmacs recognizes as meaning Help. By default, it is the character ‘?\^H’ (ASCII 8), which is C-h. When SXEmacs reads this character, if help-form is non-nil Lisp expression, it evaluates that expression, and displays the result in a window if it is a string.

help-char can be a character or a key description such as help or (meta h).

Usually the value of help-form’s value is nil. Then the help character has no special meaning at the level of command input, and it becomes part of a key sequence in the normal way. The standard key binding of C-h is a prefix key for several general-purpose help features.

The help character is special after prefix keys, too. If it has no binding as a subcommand of the prefix key, it runs describe-prefix-bindings, which displays a list of all the subcommands of the prefix key.

Variable: help-form

If this variable is non-nil, its value is a form to evaluate whenever the character help-char is read. If evaluating the form produces a string, that string is displayed.

A command that calls next-command-event or next-event probably should bind help-form to a non-nil expression while it does input. (The exception is when C-h is meaningful input.) Evaluating this expression should result in a string that explains what the input is for and how to enter it properly.

Entry to the minibuffer binds this variable to the value of minibuffer-help-form (see Minibuffer Misc).

Variable: prefix-help-command

This variable holds a function to print help for a prefix character. The function is called when the user types a prefix key followed by the help character, and the help character has no binding after that prefix. The variable’s default value is describe-prefix-bindings.

Command: describe-prefix-bindings

This function calls describe-bindings to display a list of all the subcommands of the prefix key of the most recent key sequence. The prefix described consists of all but the last event of that key sequence. (The last event is, presumably, the help character.)

The following two functions are found in the library helper. They are for modes that want to provide help without relinquishing control, such as the “electric” modes. You must load that library with (require 'helper) in order to use them. Their names begin with ‘Helper’ to distinguish them from the ordinary help functions.

Command: Helper-describe-bindings

This command pops up a window displaying a help buffer containing a listing of all of the key bindings from both the local and global keymaps. It works by calling describe-bindings.

Command: Helper-help

This command provides help for the current mode. It prompts the user in the minibuffer with the message ‘Help (Type ? for further options)’, and then provides assistance in finding out what the key bindings are, and what the mode is intended for. It returns nil.

This can be customized by changing the map Helper-help-map.

Next: , Previous: , Up: Documentation   [Contents][Index]