1.2 The Echo Area
The line at the bottom of the frame (below the mode line) is the
echo area. SXEmacs uses this area to communicate with the user:
- Echoing means printing out the characters that the user types. SXEmacs
never echoes single-character commands. Multi-character commands are
echoed only if you pause while typing them: As soon as you pause for more
than one second in the middle of a command, all the characters of the command
so far are echoed. This is intended to prompt you for the rest of
the command. Once echoing has started, the rest of the command is echoed
immediately as you type it. This behavior is designed to give confident
users fast response, while giving hesitant users maximum feedback. You
can change this behavior by setting a variable (see Display Vars).
- If you issue a command that cannot be executed, SXEmacs may print an
error message in the echo area. Error messages are accompanied by
a beep or by flashing the frame. Any input you have typed ahead is
thrown away when an error happens.
- Some commands print informative messages in the echo area. These
messages look similar to error messages, but are not announced with a
beep and do not throw away input. Sometimes a message tells you what the
command has done, when this is not obvious from looking at the text being
edited. Sometimes the sole purpose of a command is to print a message
giving you specific information. For example, the command C-x = is
used to print a message describing the character position of point in the
text and its current column in the window. Commands that take a long time
often display messages ending in ‘...’ while they are working, and
add ‘done’ at the end when they are finished.
- The echo area is also used to display the minibuffer, a window
that is used for reading arguments to commands, such as the name of a
file to be edited. When the minibuffer is in use, the echo area displays
with a prompt string that usually ends with a colon. The cursor
appears after the prompt. You can always get out of the minibuffer by
typing C-g. See Minibuffer.