Many modern editors and IDEs can graphically indicate the location of the fill column by drawing a thin line (in design parlance, a "rule") down the length of the editing window. Fill-column-indicator implements this facility in Emacs:
Installation and Usage
Put the package file in your load path and put
in your .emacs.
To toggle graphical indication of the fill column in a buffer, use the
By default fci-mode draws a vertical line at the fill column. If you'd like it to be drawn at a different location, set
fci-rule-columnto the desired column number. (A case in which this might be useful is when you want to fill comments at, for example, column 70, but want a vertical rule at column 80 or 100 to indicate the maximum line length for code.) The default behavior (showing the indicator at the fill column) is specified by setting fci-rule-column to nil. Note that this is a buffer-local variable, so you can have different values for different modes.
On graphical displays the fill-column rule is drawn using a bitmap image. Its color is controlled by the variable
fci-rule-color, whose value can be any valid color name. The rule's width in pixels is determined by the variable
fci-rule-width; the default value is 1.
The rule can be drawn as a solid or dashed line, controlled by the variable
fci-rule-use-dashes; the default is nil. The length of dashes is controlled by
fci-dash-pattern, which is the ratio of dash length to line height; the default value is 0.75. (The value should be a number between 0 and 1; values outside that interval are coerced to the nearest endpoint.)
The image formats fci-mode can use are XPM, PBM, and XBM. If Emacs has been compiled with the appropriate library it uses XPM images by default; if not it uses PBM images, which are natively supported. You can specify a particular format by setting
fci-rule-image-formatto either xpm, xpm, or xbm.
On character terminals the rule is drawn using the character specified by
fci-rule-character; the default is `|' (ascii 124). If
fci-rule-character-coloris nil, then it is drawn using fci-rule-color (or the closest approximation thereto that the terminal is capable of); if it is a color name, then that color is used instead.
If you'd like the rule to be drawn using fci-rule-character even on graphical displays, set
fci-always-use-textual-ruleto a non-nil value.
These variables (as well as those in the next section) can be given buffer-local bindings.
truncate-lines is nil, the effect of drawing a fill-column rule is
very odd looking. Indeed, it makes little sense to use a rule to indicate
the position of the fill column in that case (the positions at which the
fill column falls in the visual display space won't in general be
collinear). For this reason, fci-mode sets truncate-lines to t in buffers
in which it is enabled and restores it to its previous value when
disabled. You can turn this feature off by setting
fci-handle-truncate-lines to nil.
line-move-visual is t, then vertical navigation can behave oddly in
several edge cases while fci-mode is enabled (this is due to a bug in C
code). Accordingly, fci-mode sets line-move-visual to nil in buffers in
which it is enabled and restores it to its previous value when
disabled. This can be suppressed by setting
to nil. (But you shouldn't want to do this. There's no reason to use
line-move-visual if truncate-lines is t, and it doesn't make sense to use
something like fci-mode when truncate-lines is nil.)
Fci-mode needs free use of two characters (specifically, it needs the use
of two characters whose display table entries it can change
arbitrarily). By default, it uses the first two characters of the Private
Use Area of the Unicode BMP, viz. U+E000 and U+E001. If you need to use
those characters for some other purpose, set
fci-blank-char to different values.
Fci-mode in not currently compatible with Emacs's
show-trailing-whitespacefeature (given the way the latter is implemented, such compatilibility is going to be hard to achieve). A workaround is to use
whitespace-modewith an appropriate configuration. This will provide the same functionality as show-trailing-whitespace while remaning compatible with fci-mode. The appropriate whitespace setting is:
(setq whitespace-style '(face trailing))
Fci-mode is intended to be used with monospaced fonts. If you're using a monospaced font and the fill-column rule is missing or misaligned on a few lines but otherwise appears normal, then most likely (a) there are non-ascii characters on those lines that are being displayed using a non-monospaced font, or (b) your font-lock settings use bold or italics and those font variants aren't monospaced.
Although the XBM and PBM formats are natively supported by Emacs, the implementations are different in different ports and sometimes incomplete; for example, on some ports XBM images are always drawn in black. Explicitly setting
fci-rule-image-formatto a different value will usually resolve such issues.
The indicator extends only to end of the buffer contents (as opposed to running the full length of the editing window).
When portions of a buffer are invisible, such as when outline mode is used to hide certain lines, the fill-column rule is hidden as well.
Fci-mode should work smoothly when simultaneously displaying the same buffer on both a graphical display and on a character terminal. It does not currently support simultaneous display of the same buffer on window frames with different default font sizes. (It would be feasible to support this use case, but thus far there seems to be no demand for it.)
An issue specific to the Mac OS X (NextStep) port, versions 23.0-23.2: Emacs won't, in these particular versions, draw a cursor on top of an image. Thus on graphical displays the cursor will disappear when positioned directly on top of the fill-column rule. The best way to deal with this is to upgrade to v23.3 or v24 (or downgrade to v22). If that isn't practical, a fix is available via the mini-package
fci-osx-23-fix.el, which can be downloaded from this page. Directions for its use are given in the file header.
Accommodate non-nil values of
hl-line-sticky-flagand similar cases.
Accommodate linum-mode more robustly.
Compatibility with non-nil
Thanks to Ami Fischman, Christopher Genovese, Michael Hoffman, José Alfredo Romero L., José Lombera, R. Lange, Joe Lisee, Frank Meffert, sheijk, and an anonymous BT subscriber for bug reports and suggestions. Special thanks to lomew and Pär Wieslander for code contributions.