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<title>Elvis-2.2_1 Tips</title>
<h1>16. TIPS</h1>
This section of the manual explains some of the more complex, obscure,
and useful features of Elvis (or larger subjects).
The following subjects are discussed:
<li><a href="#URLS">16.1 Information via the Web</a>
<li><a href="#WEB">16.2 Using Elvis as a Web browser</a>
<li><a href="#DEBUG">16.3 How to debug macros</a>
<li><a href="#MAKE">16.4 Running your compiler from within Elvis</a>
<li><a href="#INTER">16.5 Internationalization</a>
<li><a href="#ALIAS">16.6 Aliases</a>
<li><a href="#EXAMPLES">16.6.1 Some example aliases</a>
<li><a href="#PROTO">16.6.2 Using aliases to add network protocols</a>
<li><a href="#SPELL">16.7 The spell-checker</a>
<li><a href="#AUTOCMD">16.8 Auto commands</a>
<li><a href="#EVENTS">16.8.3 Events</a>
<li><a href="#PATTERNS">16.8.4 Patterns</a>
<li><a href="#SCRIPTS">16.9 Script library</a>
<li><a href="#FASTER">16.10 How to make Elvis run faster</a>
<h2><a name="URLS"></a>16.1 Information via the Web</h2>
Here are some URLs (World Wide Web links to other documents)
which are relevant to vi.
Each of these, in turn, has links to other sites.
Directly or indirectly, these links will lead you to a huge amount
of information about vi.
<p>I've tried to limit this list to advertised sites;
there are others that I run across occasionally, but their URLs
tend to vary over time, so it isn't a good idea to place them in a
static document such as this one.
It makes for a short list, though.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>The "home" site of Elvis.
This is where you can find the latest official release.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>Prerelease versions of Elvis can often be found here.
Prerelease versions are identified by a letter appended to the version number
they they're expected to be released as. For example, 2.2a is a prerelease
version of what will eventually be released as version 2.2. Also, I append
"-alpha" in the early stages when new features are still being added, or
"-beta" if no new features are expected before the release. Typically,
new versions are uploaded once a month or so; watch for announcements on
the <a href="news:comp.editors">comp.editors</a> newsgroup.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>This where Herbert
(a.k.a. Martin Dietze, who ported Elvis to <a href="elvisos.html#os2">OS/2</a>)
is putting an Elvis home page.
It has links to all relevant web pages, archives, and
people's email addresses.
The manual will also be available here.
He is also considering adding a searchable online database of
aliases and how-to articles.
This may also become the preferred way to submit bug reports, suggestions,
or any other contribution to the project.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>This is Georg Neis' web page for Elvis.
He's the maintainer of the Debian Elvis package.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>This is a Yahoo mailing group.
It is used mostly by Elvis' developers, but user questions are
welcome too.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>This is a Web page for Elvis, maintained by JaeSub Hong.
It has some screen shots, macros, and syntax-coloring definitions.
It also has the
<a href="">online manual</a>.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>"The VI lover's home page," by Thomer Gil.
This contains links to a wide variety of vi documentation, and practically all vi clones.
<em>A very good resource!</em>
This is a new location; previously it was located at
<a href=""></a>.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>Sven Guckes' generic vi page.
He and Thomer Gil seem to have a friendly competition going on to see who
can make the best vi page, and we are all beneficiaries.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>A compendium of text editors.
It describes all kinds of text editors, not just vi clones.
It lists the features and supported platforms for each editor.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>Another compendium of text editors.'
This one is oriented toward writing natural language text,
instead of computer source code.
The maintainer specifically mentions the
<a href=""></a> newsgroup.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>Home page for Darren Hiebert's <strong>exuberant ctags</strong> program.
It supports all features of Elvis' ctags, except for the "ln" attribute,
and the "-r" flag for generating a "refs" file.
Exuberant ctags has a smarter parsing algorithm, which causes it to generate
fewer bogus tags (i.e., tags for things that really shouldn't have tags).
It also adds the ability to generate tags for "enum" values and a few
other useful things.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>Home page of Claudio Fleiner's "jtags" program -- a tag file generator
for Java source.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>Home page for Shigio Yamaguchi's <strong>global</strong> function
reference utility. You can make Elvis use it instead of the normal built-in
tag searcher by giving Elvis the following command:
:se tagprg="global -t $1"</pre>
<p>Once you have run <strong>global</strong>'s
<code>gtags</code> utility, you can do some powerful things such as
search for each place where a function (e.g., m_front()) is called, like this:
:ta -r m_front</pre>
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>Home page for Adam Costello's <strong>par</strong> program, which is a much
more sophisticated text formatter than the <a href="">fmt</a> program
distributed with Elvis.
It even does a very good job of reformatting comments!
Sadly, it is one of those rare programs that doesn't handle tab characters
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>This is the home page for the <a name=cygwin>CygWin</a>
tools -- ports of GNU utilities to Microsoft Windows, by Cygnus and Red Hat.
If you're looking for more Unix utilities to go with Elvis, this is the place.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>An archive site containing many macro packages and other information about
vi. Nearly all of it should apply equally well to Elvis.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>This is the source code to the <em>real</em> vi!
<dt><a name="clones"></a><a href=""></a>
<br><a href=""></a>
<br><a href=""></a>
<br><a href=""></a>
<br><a href=""></a>
<br><a href=""></a>
<dd>These are the home pages for some other vi clones:
vim, vile, nvi, WinVi, pvic, and javi respectively.
The last one is interesting because it is written in Java!
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>The Vim utilities page.
Most of these also work with Elvis.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<br><a href=""></a>
<dd>These are old drafts of the POSIX standards for
ex and vi, respectively.
These URLs might not be valid very long.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>This is the official BSD documentation for vi.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>An HTML version of
<a href="">E. Larry Lidz</a>' "vi editor FAQ".
A plain-text version of this FAQ is occasionally posted in the
<a href="news:comp.editors">comp.editors</a> newsgroup.
(I think the official URL of the HTML version is
<a href=""></a>,
but that site seems to be unreachable now.)
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>This is a home page for the NANSI.SYS and NNANSI.SYS drivers, which
accelerate the screen updates under MS-DOS.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<br><a href=""></a>
<br><a href=""></a>
<dd><a name="emx"></a>
These are all places where you can find the EMX.DLL library for OS/2.
The first one is the "home" site, and the others are popular OS/2 archives.
You need EMX only if you want to run the "termcap" (<code>elvisemx.exe</code>)
or "x11" (<code>elvisx11.exe</code>) versions of Elvis under OS/2.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd><a name="os2x11"></a>
This is the home page for the OS/2 version of XFree86.
You need this (in addition to EMX)
if you want to run the graphical X11 version of Elvis.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>A collection of word lists, for a variety of languages.
This may be useful in conjunction with Elvis'
<a href="#SPELL">spell checker</a>.
The home page for these lists is
<a href=""></a>.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>OPTED is a public domain english-language dictionary,
distributed as a set of HTML files.
It is part of <a href="">Project Gutenburg</a>,
and is derived from an old Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
This is more than just a word list -- it includes definitions for the words.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>The Moby project -- a collection of word lists and similar resources.
<dt><a href=""></a>
<dd>This is an online HTML authoring site.
Despite the name, it works better as a reference than as a tutorial.
The above link is actually just a page within the larger site,
because the main page
(<a href=""></a>)
has a big nasty pop-up advertisement.
Sadly, their pages look ugly when viewed with Elvis because they depend
on JavaScript and forms.
<h2><a name="WEB"></a>16.2 Using Elvis as a Web browser</h2>
<strong>NOTE:</strong> The following information doesn't apply to the MS-DOS
version of Elvis, because that version doesn't support the <strong>ftp</strong>
and <strong>http</strong> protocols. But for Win32, Unix, and OS/2...
<p>You can use Elvis as a light-weight Web browser.
Surfing with Elvis isn't as much fun as surfing with a multimedia-capable
browser such as Netscape or MSIE, but Elvis does have some advantages:
it starts up much faster, it feels like vi, and you can edit whatever
you download.
<p>There's no special trick to loading a Web page.
Just give a URL where Elvis expects a filename, and Elvis will read the
Web page via the Internet.
You can follow links in Web pages just as you do in Elvis' online manual.
HTML pages are displayed in the "html" display mode, and anything else
uses the "hex" or "normal" display mode by default.
All data is fetched in binary so data files aren't mangled; however,
this also means that newlines aren't converted, which may make non-HTML
text files look ugly.
<p>Elvis has built-in support for the HTTP and FTP protocols.
Other protocols may be indirectly supported, via an HTTP proxy as indicated
by the <a href=""></a> configuration file.
<p>By default, FTP access is anonymous.
However, if you give a file name which starts with "/~/" then Elvis will
attempt to login to the FTP server using you own account, as described in the
<a href="elvisnet.html#elvis.ftp">elvis.ftp or ~/.netrc</a> configuration file.
You can also use "/~username/" to use some other user account listed in
For example, "ftp://localhost/directory/file" uses anonymous FTP, but
"ftp://localhost/~/directory/file" uses your own account.
<p>Elvis can write via FTP as well as read; see the
<a href="elvisnet.html">Internet</a> chapter.
<p>Elvis also doesn't support inline graphic images, but that isn't as big
of a problem as you might think.
If you download an image, Elvis will simply load it into a buffer and then
display that buffer in the "hex" display mode.
You can then write that buffer's contents to a file, or in Unix you can send it
directly to an image viewer via a command such as "<code>:w !xv -</code>".
<p>The easiest way to save an image (or any other buffer) to a local file
is via the command "<code>:w&nbsp;(dirfile(filename))</code>".
In fact, you might want to add the following lines to your ~/.exrc file
to make the <kbd>(F2)</kbd> key save the current buffer to a file,
and the <kbd>(F3)</kbd> key send it to the <code>xv</code> image viewer:
map #2 :w (dirfile(filename))^M
map #3 :w !xv -^M</pre>
<p>To make images easier to fetch, any &lt;IMG SRC=<var>url</var>&gt; tag
which isn't already part of a hypertext link will be interpreted as a link to
the SRC <var>url</var>.
This allows you to download an image by moving the cursor onto it and hitting
the <kbd>(Enter)</kbd> key.
<p>Elvis doesn't support frames either, so a similar trick was used for
&lt;FRAME SRC=<var>url</var>&gt; tags.
Elvis displays the name of each frame;
those names serve as links to the contents of the frame.
<p>Because Elvis is primarily an editor, not a Web browser, I deliberately
made the "html" display mode rather picky, so that any questionable entities
in your own HTML documents will call attention to themselves.
When you're using Elvis to browse other peoples' documents, though, this
can be annoying, so I modified it slightly to be more forgiving when you're
viewing read-only documents.
(All Web pages are read-only.)
<p>And you already know that Elvis' support for the &lt;TABLE&gt; macros is
very poor, right?
If you encounter a Web page which looks really ugly in Elvis,
you can bet it uses tables.
<p>Elvis doesn't support forms, or secure connections.
Well, Elvis can display mock-ups of forms; they just don't work.
They probably never will.
You have to draw the line somewhere.
<p>Elvis doesn't always choose the best display mode for HTML pages.
It uses "html" if the file name ends with ".html" or ".htm", or if the
document's text begins with "&lt;!", "&lt;H", or "&lt;h".
For all other documents, it uses the "normal" or "hex" display mode by default.
If Elvis chooses the wrong display mode, you can use the
<a href="elvisex.html#display">:display</a> command to switch to a
different display mode.
<p>The command "<code>:e foo</code>" will always load the local file "foo" from
your current directory.
This is true of all commands which normally act on files -- unless you
give a complete URL, Elvis assumes it should work with local files.
However, while in the "html" display mode, the command "<code>:ta foo</code>"
will use the same protocol, site, and directory as the page you're already
viewing, because that's how the "html" display mode interprets tags.
<h2><a name="DEBUG"></a>16.3 How to debug macros</h2>
There are two ways to create a macro in Elvis:
You can either assign a series of commands to a keystroke (or series of
keystrokes) via the <a href="elvisex.html#map">:map</a> command, or you
can store a series of commands in a cut buffer and execute them via the
visual <a href="elvisvi.html#at">@x</a> command.
You will often use a combination of techniques, in which :map macro
constructs a customized @x macro and runs it.
<p>(<a href="elvistip.html#ALIAS">Aliases</a> are a separate issue,
discussed later in this chapter.
The information in this section does not apply to aliases.
Elvis does not yet offer any special tools for debugging aliases.)
<p>Elvis has several features that make debugging macros much easier.
For example, you can create a window which continuously displays the
contents of a given cut buffer, such as "m, via the command:
:(Elvis cut buffer m)split
or, more concisely:
<p>Note: The cut buffer must exist before you can display it.
Cut buffers are created the first time anything is yanked into them.
<p>The <a href="elvisopt.html#maptrace">maptrace</a> option allows you to
trace the execution of macros.
You can either allow it to run through the macro, or wait for a keypress
before each mapped command character.
You can also use the <a href="elvisex.html#break">:break</a> and
<a href="elvisex.html#unbreak">:unbreak</a> commands to set or clear a
breakpoint on a given :map macro.
Breakpoints cause the maptrace option to switch from "run" to "step" when
that macro is expanded.
<p>The <a href="elvisopt.html#maplog">maplog</a> option can be used to
log the trace information to a buffer named "Elvis map log".
The idea here is that you will give the command...
:se mt=r mlog=r
... (or its full-length form, <code>:set maptrace=run maplog=reset</code>)
before starting the macro, and then when the macro fails you can
give the command...
... (or its full-length form, <code>:(Elvis map log)split</code>)
to see what it was doing shortly before the failure.
Note that the maplog option has no effect if maptrace is "off".
<p><strong>Warning:</strong> Elvis has a single keystroke queue which is
shared by all windows.
Because of this, while Elvis is running a macro in one window you can't
switch to another window and type in commands.
Even if the GUI allows you to switch windows without using the keyboard,
doing so will simply force the macro to continue execution in the new window.
<em>So don't switch windows while a macro is running!</em>
<p>Here's a debugging methodology that works for me:
<li>Begin by loading the macro package and a test file.
<li>Give the command "<code>:se mt=r mlog=r</code>", and run the macro.
<li>If the macro fails, give the command "<code>:("Eml)sp</code>"
to find out what commands executed immediately before the failure.
In particular look for a :map macro that was expanded shortly before
the failure.
<li>Set a breakpoint on that macro with "<code>:bre</code> <var>macrokey</var>".
<li>Turn off logging, via "<code>:se mlog=o</code>".
<li>Reload the test file.
<li>Execute the macro again. When the macro with the breakpoint is encountered,
Elvis will switch to single-step mode. Step slowly through the next few
instructions, looking for one which does something unexpected.
<p>If your macro reveals a bug in Elvis, please let me know!
My email address is
<a href=""></a>.
Please tell me which version of Elvis you're using, as reported by the
<a href="elvisex.html#version">:version</a> command.
<h2><a name="MAKE"></a>16.4 Running your compiler from within Elvis</h2>
Elvis can parse most compilers' error messages.
When it parses an error message, Elvis loads the faulty file, moves the
cursor to the line where the error was reported, and shows the descriptive
portion of the error message on the bottom row of the window.
You can step through all reported errors very quickly, making changes
along the way.
<p>Usually, you will invoke your compiler or "make" utility via the
<a href="elvisex.html#cc">:cc</a> or <a href="elvisex.html#make">:make</a>
The only difference between these commands is that <code>:cc</code> invokes
the program named by the <a href="elvisopt.html#ccprg">ccprg</a> option,
and <code>:make</code> uses the <a href="elvisopt.html#makeprg">makeprg</a> option.
<p>Both of those options' values are evaluated using the
<a href="elvisexp.html#SIMPLER">simpler expression syntax,</a> with $1 set to
any extra command-line parameters, and $2 set to the current file name.
<p>You can also read error messages from some other program with the command
"<a href="elvisex.html#errlist">:errlist !<var>program</var></a>",
or read them from a file with the command
"<a href="elvisex.html#errlist">:errlist <var>filename</var></a>".
<p>I often invoke Elvis via the command "<code>elvis +make</code>" so
Elvis will attempt to compile the program, and move the cursor to the
first error (if there are any errors).
<p>All of the compiler's output text is collected into a buffer named
"Elvis error list".
If you wish, you can view this list in a separate window via this command:
:(Elvis error list)split</pre>
<p>Here's how Elvis parses each line of compiler output:
Starting from the left, it divides the line into "words", which are defined as
a series of letters, digits, and/or certain punctuation characters.
<p>If the word is the name of an existing directory, then Elvis remembers
that directory name.
In later lines, Elvis will allow file names to be given relative to that
directory, in addition to the current directory.
This particular feature is intended to work with the directory lines
generated by the GNU version of the "make" program.
<p>If the word looks like a number, and no line number has been seen yet,
then the word is taken to be a line number.
If the word is the name of an existing, writable file
(or any existing file if the <a href="elvisopt.html#anyerror">anyerror</a>
option is set) in either the current directory or the directory remembered
from a previous line as described above, then the word is taken to be a
file name.
Other words are ignored.
<p>When Elvis has found both a file name and a line number, then it skips
over any whitespace or punctuation immediately following them, and uses
the remainder of the line as the error's description.
<p>If Elvis fails to find a file name/line number pair, then it skips that
whole line of compiler output.
<p>Immediately after collecting compiler output, Elvis moves the cursor to
the source of the first error.
After that, you can use <a href="elvisex.html#errlist">:errlist</a>
(with no arguments) or the visual <a href="elvisvi.html#*">*</a> command
to step through each following error.
<p>Each time Elvis collects a new set of error messages, it remembers how many
lines are in each buffer.
Later, when you insert or delete lines to correct an error, Elvis can
compare the current number of lines to original number of lines, and adjust
the reported line numbers accordingly.
<a name="perlerr"></a>
<p>Here's something that may be useful for PERL programmers.
PERL's error messages follow two distinct formats:
<var>description</var> <strong>in file</strong> <var>file</var> <strong>at line</strong> <var>line</var>
<br><var>description</var> <strong>at</strong> <var>file</var> <strong>line</strong> <var>line</var>
Neither of these looks like any recognizable compiler error message format;
consequently, Elvis can't parse PERL's error messages directly.
But here's a way around that.
The following PERL program is a filter that reformats PERL's error messages
to look like normal compiler error messages.
$\ = "\n";
while (&lt;&gt;) {
s/(.*) in file ([^ ]*) at line (\d*).*/$2($3): $1/;
s/(.*) at ([^ ]*) line (\d*)\.$/$2($3): $1/;
<p>To use this script, store it in a file named "perlerr" and turn on the file's "execute" permissions, and then set
Elvis' <a href="elvisopt.html#ccprg">ccprg</a> option as follows:
<tr><td><strong>For CSH:</strong></td>
<td><code>:set ccprg="perl -c ($1?$1:$2) |&amp; perlerr"</code></td></tr>
<tr><td><strong>Other shells:</strong></td>
<td><code>:set ccprg="perl -c ($1?$1:$2) 2&gt;&amp;1 | perlerr"</code></td></tr>
<p><strong>NOTE:</strong> You can't simply cut&amp;paste the above Perl script into a
file, because it contains some HTML code which Perl wouldn't understand.
(The diamond is written as "&amp;lt;&amp;gt;".) A better way
is to visually select those lines via the
<a href="elvisvi.html#V">shift-V</a> command, and then use the
<a href="#wascii">:wascii</a> alias to save the formatted
text to a file as plain ASCII text.
You'll still need to edit the text file to remove leading whitespace and possibly some blank lines, but that's pretty easy.
<h2><a name="INTER"></a>16.5 Internationalization</h2>
Elvis can be configured to translate its messages into different languages,
and to use different symbol sets.
These things are accomplished via the
<a href="elvismsg.html#elvis.msg">elvis.msg</a> file and
<a href="elvisex.html#digraph">:digraph</a> command, respectively.
<p>Elvis locates the <code>elvis.msg</code> file during initialization.
Ordinarily it searches through each directory named in the ELVISPATH
environment variable.
However, if there is an environment variable named LC_ALL, LC_MESSAGES,
or LANG (listed in order or precedence) which is set to a non-null value,
then Elvis will look for <code>elvis.msg</code> first in a subdirectory whose
name matches the environment variable's value.
For example, if LC_ALL is unset, LC_MESSAGES=german, and
ELVISPATH=~/.elvis:/usr/local/lib/elvis, then Elvis would try to load
its messages from...
<p>The digraph table tells Elvis which pairs of ASCII characters can be
combined to form a single non-ASCII character. This table is configured
via the <a href="elvisex.html#digraph">:digraph</a> command.
To enter a digraph, type <kbd>&lt;Ctrl-K&gt;</kbd> and then the two ASCII
characters. Elvis will store the corresponding non-ASCII character instead
of the two ASCII characters.
See the <a href="elvisinp.html#DIG">Input Mode</a> chapter for more information.
<p>The digraph table affects more than just keyboard input.
It also affects "html" mode, and character type classifications.
<p>Digraphs are used by the "html" display mode to translate
<a href="elvisdm.html#htmlentities">character entities</a> into characters.
For example, when Elvis encounters &amp;ntilde; in an HTML document,
it tries to find a digraph which combines 'n' with '~'.
If there is such a digraph, Elvis will use it to display an '&ntilde;';
if not, then Elvis will display a plain 'n' character.
<p>The digraph table affects the character classes, too.
This, in turn, affects the definition of a "word", as used by the visual
<a href="elvisvi.html#w">w</a> command, among others.
A non-ascii character is treated as an uppercase letter if, according
to the digraph table, it is the result of combining an ASCII uppercase letter
with either a punctuation character or a second uppercase letter.
A similar rule holds for lowercase letters.
<p>Also, Elvis tries to find uppercase/lowercase pairs through the digraph
This is used for case conversions, as performed by the visual <a href="elvisvi.html#~">~</a> command, or the <code>\U</code> metacharacter in the <a href="elvisex.html#substitute">:s/old/new</a> command.
<p>There is no way to specify a sorting order.
This means, in particular, that the
<a href="elvisre.html">regular expression</a>
<code>/[a-z]/</code> will only match the ASCII lowercase letters,
not the non-ASCII ones. However, the regular expression
<code>/[[:lower:]]/</code> <em>will</em> match all lowercase letters
including the non-ASCII ones.
<p>The default <a href="elvisses.html#elvis.ini">elvis.ini</a> file tries
to load digraphs by executing either
<a href="elvisses.html#elvis.pc8">elvis.pc8</a> for MS-DOS, OS/2, or text-mode Win32,
or <a href=""></a> for any other operating
<p>The "win32" version of the "termcap" user interface has a
<a href="elvisopt.html#codepage">codepage</a> option which determines
which symbol set is used for console output.
If you change codepage, you should also adjust your digraph table.
<h2><a name="ALIAS"></a>16.6 Aliases</h2>
Aliases provide a simple way to add a new name for an existing ex command,
or series of ex commands.
<p>The syntax of Elvis' <a href="elvisex.html#alias">:alias</a> command
is intended to resemble that of the <code>csh</code> Unix shell. The simplest
example of an alias is...
:alias save w
... which would allow you to write your file out by running ":save", as an
alternative to the standard ":w". If you pass any arguments to ":save" then
they'll be appended to the ":w" command. For example, ":save foo" would
be interpreted as ":w foo".
<p>Here's another example. On Unix systems, this will make ":ls" display
a directory listing.
:alias ls !!ls -C</pre>
<p>Note that the above example requires <em>two</em> exclamation marks.
This is because the "!" character is special in aliases --
Elvis' aliases allow you to use special symbols to indicate where arguments
belong in the command text, and all of those symbols begin with a "!" character.
When you invoke the alias, all of the symbols are replaced by argument values
before the command text is executed.
Here is a complete list of the replacement symbols:
<pre graphic>
| !&lt; | first address line, if any addresses given |
| !&gt; | last address line, if any addresses given |
| !% | address range, if any addresses given |
| !? | "!" if the alias is invoked with a "!" suffix |
| !* | the entire argument string except for "!" suffix|
| !^ | the first word from the argument string |
| !$ | the last word from the argument string |
| !$* | all but the last word from the argument string |
| !<var>n</var> | the <var>n</var>th word (where <var>n</var> is a single digit) |
| !<var>n</var>* | everything from the <var>n</var>th word to the end |
| !! | a single, literal "!" character |
| !<var>name</var>= | value from a <var>name</var>=<var>value</var> argument |
| !<var>name</var>&amp; | <a href="elvisdm.html#urlencoded">URL-encoded</a> version of !<var>name</var>= |
<p>Using any of the <strong>!*</strong>, <strong>!^</strong>,
<strong>!$</strong>, <strong>!</strong><var>name</var><strong>=</strong>,
<strong>!</strong><var>name</var><strong>&amp;</strong>, or
<strong>!1</strong> through <strong>!9</strong> symbols
in the command string has the side-effect of disabling the normal behavior of
appending the arguments to the command.
Or to phrase that another way: If the command text doesn't explicitly say
what to do with arguments, then Elvis will assume it should simply append them.
<p>The other symbols, such as <strong>!%</strong> and <strong>!?</strong>,
have no such default behavior. If your macro is going to use addresses or a
"!" suffix, then you must explicitly include <strong>!%</strong> or
<strong>!?</strong> (respectively) in the command string.
<p>Here's a simple alias for playing around with these:
:alias show echo !!&lt;=!&lt; !!%=!% !!?=!? !!*=!* !!^=!^ !!2=!2 !!$=!$</pre>
<p>The <strong>!</strong><var>name</var><strong>=</strong> and
<strong>!</strong><var>name</var><strong>&amp;</strong> symbols are intended
mostly for use in <a href="#PROTO">user defined protocols</a>, where
they offer an easy way to examine the values of URL form fields.
In any other type of alias, they search through the alias's arguments
for one of the form <var>name</var>=<var>value</var>, and return the
<var>value</var> portion of that arguments.
Note that "!=" (without a name) is not substituted, so you don't need
to do anything special to use the != operator in expressions within aliases.
<p>Here's a more sophisticated version of the ":save" alias. This version
allows you to use ":save!" as an alias for ":w!".
:alias save w!?</pre>
<p>Here's a macro that converts a range of lines to uppercase. If invoked
without any addresses, it will change only the current line, because that's
the default for the <a href="elvisex.html#substitute">:s</a> command.
:alias upper !%s/.*/\U&amp;/</pre>
<p>You can define multi-line aliases by enclosing the lines in curly braces.
The following example uses this technique to make a slightly smarter version
of the "save" alias:
:alias save {
"Write a file, but only if it has been modified
if modified
then w!? !*
<p>Note that the first line of the alias's body is a comment.
(Comments start with a <a href="elvisex.html#QUOTE">"</a> character.)
This is a good idea because when the <a href="elvisex.html#alias">:alias</a>
command is invoked with no arguments, it lists the names and first lines of
all aliases.
Putting a descriptive comment in the first line allows you to see what each
alias does simply by examining that list.
<p>If a multi-line alias is going to use arguments, then it must include
<strong>!*</strong>, <strong>!^</strong>, <strong>!$</strong>, or
<strong>!</strong><var>n</var> symbols. Elvis does <em>not</em>, by default,
append arguments to the end of a multi-line alias; it only does that for
single-line aliases.
<p>An alias can have the same name as a built-in command, but aliases can't
be recursive. Together, these two rules mean that you can use an alias to
change the behavior of a built-in command. For example, the following alias
makes the <a href="elvisex.html#write">:w</a> command perform an RCS checkout
operation if you don't already have write permission for a file.
The "w" command inside the command text refers to the normal
<a href="elvisex.html#write">:write</a> command since it isn't allowed to be
a recursive call to the "w" alias.
:alias w {
"Write a file, checking it out first if necessary
if readonly &amp;&amp; "!%!?!*" == ""
then !!co -l %
then w!!
else !%w!? !*
You can optionally insert a ':' character between the '!' and the second
character of any of these symbols.
This has no effect; it is allowed simply to remain a little closer to CSH's
alias syntax.
<p>You can also optionally insert a '\' character between the '!' and the
second character.
This <em>does</em> have an effect:
It causes a backslash to be inserted before any characters which would
otherwise receive special treatment if they appeared in a regular expression.
Specifically, it will always insert a backslash before '\', '/', '^', '$',
'.', '[', or '*'.
Note that this is <em>not</em> sensitive to the
<a href="elvisopt.html#magic">magic</a> or
<a href="elvisopt.html#magicchar">magicchar</a> options;
in effect, it assumes that <code>magic</code> and <code>magicchar</code>
are set to their default values.
Also, it never inserts a backslash before a '?' character even if it is used
in a regular expression which is delimited by '?' characters.
The following "find" alias will search for literal text:
:alias find /!\*
In addition, you can optionally specify a default value for an argument,
by placing the value in parentheses between the '!' and the second character.
Here's an example which acts like echo, except that if you don't tell it what
to echo then it will echo "Howdy!":
:alias greet echo !(Howdy!)*
If necessary, you can insert both a backslash and a parenthesized default value.
The backslash quoting will be applied to the given argument value, but not the
parenthesized default value.
Here's a variation of the "find" alias which searches for literal text, or
if you don't specify any text to find then it searches for a { character at
the front of a line.
:alias find /!(^{)\*
Some vi commands are implemented via ex commands. If you create an alias
with the same name as a built-in ex command, then the corresponding visual
command will be affected. For example, the <a href="elvisvi.html#Z">ZZ</a>
visual command runs <a href="elvisex.html#xit">:x</a>,
so the following alias would break the <code>ZZ</code> command...
:alias x echo Winners never quit, and quitters never win
<h3><a name="EXAMPLES"></a>16.6.1 Some example aliases</h3>
The distribution comes with some handy aliases in a file named
I suggest you look at them.
The simple ones should give you some ideas of how to structure your own aliases,
and the complex examples will give you a feel of what can be accomplished.
<p>Remember that the names of aliases must be spelled out in full;
you can't abbreviate alias names the way can for built-ins.
Also, you can display the definition of any alias by running
"<code>:alias</code> <var>aliasname</var>".
<p>These examples are intended to be useful as well as instructive.
They are loaded automatically when Elvis starts.
The aliases in that file include:
<dt>:<a name="lf">lf</a> <code>[</code><var>directory</var><code>]</code>
<dd>List the contents of the current directory, or of a named directory.
On Unix systems this works by invoking "ls -CF" on the arguments;
on other systems it invokes "dir/w".
<dt>:<a name="pwd">pwd</a>
<dd>Display the name of the current directory.
<dt>:<a name="howto">howto</a><code>[</code>!<code>]</code> <var>word</var> <code>[</code><var>word2</var><code>]</code>
<dd>Load the "How To" appendix in a separate window, and search for a topic
containing the given word or words.
The words should be typed in lowercase.
If you want to search all lines (not just topic lines) then run
<code>:howto!</code> (with a ! suffix).
<dt>:<a name="kwic">kwic</a> <var>word</var>
<dd>Build a table showing all occurrences of <var>word</var> in Elvis' online manual.
This macro depends on the "grep" program to do the actual searching; if your
system lacks "grep" then this won't work correctly.
(Windows users should consider using the <a href="#cygwin">CygWin</a> tools.)
<dt>:<a name="man">man</a> <code>[</code><var>section</var><code>]</code> <var>topic</var>
<dd>Unix only. Read a man-page and display it in a new window.
<dt>:<a name="save">save</a> <code>[</code><var>filename</var><code>]</code>
<dd>Write this file, but only if it has been modified.
<dt>:<code>[</code><var>range</var><code>]</code><a name="ww">ww</a><code>[</code>!<code>]</code> <code>[</code><var>filename</var><code>]</code>
<dd>Like the normal <a href="elvisex.html#write">:w</a> command, except that
if you try to write a whole file back over itself, and that file is readonly,
then the <code>:ww</code> alias will attempt to perform an RCS "checkout"
operation on that file by running "<code>!co -l</code> <var>filename</var>".
<dt>:<a name="courier">courier</a> <code>[</code><var>size</var><code>]</code> <code>["</code><b>bold</b><code>"]</code>
<br>:<a name="luxi">luxi</a> <code>[</code><var>size</var><code>]</code> <code>["</code><b>bold</b><code>"]</code>
<br>:<a name="andale">andale</a> <code>[</code><var>size</var><code>]</code>
<dd>X11 only. Select the Courier, Luxi mono, or Andale fonts of the given size.
If no size is specified, then it uses the default size, which is 14-point.
<dt>:<a name="fork">fork</a> <var>program</var>
<dd>X11 only. Start running <var>program</var> in parallel with Elvis, with
its stdio disconnected from Elvis.
This is necessary because if you just ran
"<code>:!</code><var>program</var> <code>&amp;</code>" Elvis would wait
for the program to exit, so it could display the program's output in the
Elvis window.
<dt>:<a name="copying">copying</a>
<dd>Display the license.
<dt>:<a name="features">features</a>
<dd>Report the configuration of your copy of Elvis.
I.e., list the features which were enabled when Elvis was compiled.
<dt>:<a name="customize">customize</a> <var>filename</var>
<dd>Create a personal copy of one of Elvis' configuration files
(unless you already have a personal copy of it),
and start editing it.
A typical example would be "<code>:customize&nbsp;elvis.syn</code>"
to edit the syntax coloring rules.
<dt>:<code>[</code><var>range</var><code>]</code><a name="left">left</a>
<br>:<code>[</code><var>range</var><code>]</code><a name="right">right</a>
<br>:<code>[</code><var>range</var><code>]</code><a name="center">center</a>
<dd>For each line in the given range (or only the current line if no
addresses are given), adjust the indentation so that its text is
moved to the left, right, or center of the line.
<dt>:<code>[</code><var>range</var><code>]</code><a name="wascii">wascii</a><code>[</code>!<code>]</code> <var>file</var>
<dd>Write WYSIWYG formatted text out to a file as plain ASCII text.
This is intended to make it easy to save ex scripts (or other source code)
that are embedded within HTML pages such as this manual.
It works by temporarily setting <a href="elvisopt.html#lptype">lptype</a>
to "dumb", and then writing the text via <a href="elvisex.html#lpr">:lp</a>.
<dt>:<code>[</code><var>range</var><code>]</code><a name="lpd">lpd</a><code>[</code>!<code>]</code> <var>file</var>
<dd>Print text, formatting it in the current display mode, regardless of the
buffer's usual display mode.
It works by temporarily setting the buffer's
<a href="elvisopt.html#bufdisplay">bufdisplay</a> option to the value of the
window's <a href="elvisopt.html#display">display</a> option.
<dt>:<code>[</code><var>range</var><code>]</code><a name="cfmt">cfmt</a>
<dd>Adjust the line breaks in a C or C++ comment block.
<dt>:<a name="wrapset">wrapset</a> <code>[</code><var>label</var><code>]</code> <var>optionname</var>
<dd>Display the value of an option, inserting spaces after each comma and
wrapping it to fit the width of the screen.
The optional label may contain multiple words, and causes the option's value
to be neatly indented.
<dt>:<a name="text">text</a> <var>words</var>
<br>:<a name="btext">btext</a> <var>words</var>
<dd>Search through all the <code>*.c</code> or <code>*.h</code> files in the
current directory for the given <var>words</var>, and treat the found
locations as a series of matching tags.
The <code>:text</code> alias moves the cursor to the first location; you
can use an argumentless <a href="elvisex.html#tag">:tag</a> command to move'
the each successive location.
The <code>:btext</code> alias browses the matches, similar to the
<a href="elvisex.html#browse">:browse</a> command.
<dt>:<a name="load">load</a> <code>[</code><var>name</var><code>]</code>
<dd>List the installed scripts, or run the script with a given <var>name</var>.
The scripts reside in a "scripts/" subdirectory inside any of the directories
listed in <a href="elvisopt.html#elvispath">elvispath</a>.
Elvis comes with a variety of scripts to configure Elvis for various purposes.
In most cases, if you run <a href="elvisex.html#mkexrc">:mkexrc</a> after
running a script, then the effects of the script become permanent.
The scripts are described in the <a href="#SCRIPTS">Script Library</a>
section, below.
<dt>:<a name="gdb">gdb</a> <code>[</code><var>gdboptions</var><code>]</code> <var>program</var> <code>[</code><var>core</var><code>|</code><var>pid</var><code>]</code>
<dd>For "<a href="elvisgui.html#x11">x11</a>" only.
This starts the <strong>gdb</strong> debugger inside an <strong>xterm</strong>
window, and connects it to elvis via the <a href="">elvgdb</a>
It also uses the <a href="#load">:load</a> alias to load some other GDB-related
toolbar buttons and aliases.
<dt>:<a name="theme">theme</a> <code>[</code><var>name</var><code>]</code>
<dd>List all installed themes, or load the theme with a given <var>name</var>.
All of the themes use background images, and only the
"<a href="elvisgui.html#x11">x11</a>" and
"<a href="elvisgui.html#windows">windows</a>" interfaces
currently support images,
so this alias is only defined if you're using one of those.
<p>Themes are basically the same as <a href="#load">:load</a> scripts.
They just reside in a different subdirectory, and are intended to
configure colors instead of aliases and options.
<dt>:<a name="mktheme">mktheme</a> <var>name</var>
<dd>For "<a href="elvisgui.html#x11">x11</a>" and
"<a href="elvisgui.html#windows">windows</a>" only.
Create a theme by bundling up the current color configuration and the
images it uses.
You only need to do this if you want to share the theme;
the <a href="elvisex.html#mkexrc">:mkexrc</a> command is perfectly capable
of storing your color settings for your own use.
You should give this command in an empty edit buffer, with Elvis configured
the way you want it to look, and any background images located in the
<em>current</em> directory.
After you run this alias, the edit buffer will be filled with an ex script and
the images.
You'll want to edit it to add a description, add your name to it, and maybe
tweak the settings.
Then save it to a file, and send file to me at
<a href=""></a>.
The theme should set the foreground &amp; background for "normal", "idle",
and the widgets and cursor.
It may also set the background only of highlight faces such as "selection",
"hlsearch", and "spell".
Other faces, such as "comment", should not be set in the theme; instead,
users are responsible for setting up their own favorite colors using the
<a href="elvisex.html#color">:color</a> command's "or <var>colorname</var>"
clauses to supply a variety of colors to choose from.
<dd>For "<a href="elvisgui.html#x11">x11</a>" and
"<a href="elvisgui.html#windows">windows</a>" only.
This alias isn't intended to be run by the user directly.
Instead, it implements the "theme:" network protocol, using the
techniques described in the next section.
You can run "<code>:e theme:/</code>" to see a web page of downloadable themes.
<h3><a name="PROTO"></a>16.6.2 Using aliases to add network protocols</h3>
Elvis has built-in support for URLs that use the
"<a href="elvisnet.html#FTP">ftp:</a>" and
"<a href="elvisnet.html#HTTP">http:</a>" protocols,
as well as the "file:" and "buffer:" pseudo-protocols that access local
files or buffers.
<p>Most Elvis versions also allow you to add support for new protocols
by defining aliases that handle reading and writing via that protocol.
(Expressions can use the <a href="elvisexp.html#feature">feature("proto")</a>
function to test for this feature.)
The aliases must have the names "read<var>XXX</var>" and "write<var>XXX</var>",
where "<var>XXX</var>" is the uppercase name of the protocol.
<p>The following example supports the "mailto:" protocol, on Unix/Linux systems:
alias readMAILTO {
"initialize a mailto: message
se noro reol=text
if exists($HOME/".signature")
read ~/.signature
1 i --
alias writeMAILTO {
"send a mailto: message
w !!mail -s"!(no subject)subject=" !2 &gt;/dev/null 2&gt;&amp;1
se nomod
<p>After loading these aliases, the command
"<code>:e</code>" will create an empty buffer named
"", and then run the <code>readMAILTO</code> alias
with the cursor located in that buffer.
<p>The first thing that <code>readMAILTO</code> does is turn off the
<a href="elvisopt.html#readonly">readonly</a> option, and set the
<a href="elvisopt.html#readeol">readeol</a> option to "text".
Elvis normally sets these to <code>readonly</code> and <code>reol=binary</code>
because that's safest when downloading files via FTP or HTTP.
Since the whole point of the "mailto:" protocol is to write text, though,
those settings are inappropriate, so <code>readMAILTO</code> changes them.
<p>Other than that, <code>readMAILTO</code> merely needs to insert a copy
of the ~/.signature file, if one exists.
<p>You can then edit the message however you like, interactively.
When you want to send the message,
give the <a href="elvisex.html#write">:w</a> command.
Because the buffer's name
(actually the <a href="elvisopt.html#filename">filename</a> option)
starts with "mailto:", Elvis knows it should use the <code>writeMAILTO</code>
alias to write it.
<p>The <code>writeMAILTO</code> alias pipes the message out to the
standard Unix "mail" program.
This is a little trickier than it should be, because "mail" can fork off
a spooler process which can run for several minutes.
This could make Elvis' <a href="elvisgui.html#x11">x11</a> user interface hang,
because it waits for stdout/stderr to close before resuming its normal activity,
and the spooler process inherits the stdout/stderr from the mail process.
The solution is to redirect the mail process' stdout/stderr to
<p>After that, it turns off the buffer's
<a href="elvisopt.html#modified">modified</a> option, so that other commands
will know it is safe to delete that buffer.
<p>Both the <code>read</code><var>XXX</var> and <code>write</code><var>XXX</var>
aliases are invoked with arguments derived from the URL.
The arguments contain pieces of the URL, as follows:
<pre graphic>
| !* | Whole URL - protocol://sitename/resource#anchor?args |
| !1 | Site name, if the URL contained one. |
| !2 | Resource name |
| !3 | The anchor name, if the URL contained one. |
| !4 - !9| Form fields, if any (<var>name</var>=<var>value</var>, URL-decoded) |
| !<var>name</var>= | Value of the form field named <var>name</var>, URL-decoded |
| !<var>name</var>&amp; | Value of the form field named <var>name</var>, URL-encoded |
<strong>Example:</strong> !term&amp;
^------!1-----^^----------!2-------------^ ^-----!4----^</pre>
<p>In the "mailto:" example above, <code>writeMAILTO</code> used !2 as the
email address of the person being mailed to.
It also used the subject field value, if one was supplied, but instead of
trying to locate it by searching through !4 - !9, it searched by name
using the <code>!</code><var>name</var><code>=</code> notation.
Specifically, it used <code>"!(no subject)subject=</code>" to find the
value of the <code>subject</code> field, or use "no subject" by default.
<p>The difference between the <code>!</code><var>name</var><code>=</code> and
<code>!</code><var>name</var><code>&amp;</code> notations is that
<code>!</code><var>name</var><code>&amp;</code> is replaced with
<a href="elvisdm.html#urlencoded">URL-encoding</a> intact, while
<code>!</code><var>name</var><code>=</code> is replaced with the
plain-text form of the parameter.
So <code>!</code><var>name</var><code>&amp;</code> works better for
plugging a parameter into a newly constructed URL, while
<code>!</code><var>name</var><code>=</code> works better for most other
<p>The <a href="elvisopt.html#userprotocol">userprotocol</a> option is turned
on for buffers loaded via a <code>read<var>PROTOCOL</var></code> alias.
The default <code>elvis.arf</code> script is sensitive to this; it skips
certain setup steps, since the default setup steps might not be appropriate
for a user-defined protocol.
If you don't like this behavior,
then simply add a "<code>set nouserprotocol</code>" command
to your <code>read<var>PROTOCOL</var></code> alias.
<h2><a name="SPELL"></a>16.7 The spell-checker</h2>
Elvis can be compiled with a built-in spell checker.
To find out if your version of Elvis includes the spell-check feature,
run the following:
:calc feature("spell")</pre>
<p>If it says <code>True</code> then you're all set.
You should be able to enable spell-checking via the command:
:set spell</pre>
<p>After that, any suspected misspellings will be highlighted.
You can change the highlighting style via
"<a href="elvisex.html#color">:color</a> spell ..."
<h3>16.7.1 Dictionaries</h3>
Elvis has two spelling dictionaries:
One loaded from "tags" files, which is useful mostly for detecting misspelled
function names while you're editing source code; and
one for natural-language words, which can be loaded from a large sorted
file, or configured via the <a href="elvisex.html#words">:words</a> command.
<p>Elvis is intended primarily for editing the source code of programs.
In source code, some words should be checked only against the "tags"
dictionary (function names and data types), some should be checked against
both dictionaries (comments, mostly), and some should be unchecked
(variables, since they often are not listed in the "tags" file).
Elvis' spell checker can do that!
<p>The spell-checking rules are oriented around faces.
Faces are also used to control the font &amp; color attributes of text,
as configured via the <a href="elvisex.html#color">:color</a> command.
Each face has a name, such as "comment" or "function".
The spell checker doesn't care about the appearance of a face, but it
cares a great deal about its name.
<p>For each face, Elvis allows you to specify one of three levels of
<pre graphic>
| * | Check against both dictionaries |
| + | Check against only the tags dictionary |
| - | Don't perform any spell checking |
<p>By default, most faces check against both dictionaries.
The <a href="elvisses.html#elvis.spe">elvis.spe</a> initialization file
configures some faces to check against only the tags dictionary,
or skip checking entirely.
<p>If the defaults don't meet your needs, you can use the
<a href="elvisex.html#check">:check</a> command to change the rules for
any face.
For example, the "variable" face isn't normally subjected to any type
of spell checking.
It would be nice if this could be checked against the tags dictionary,
but most tags generators don't generate tags for all variables, so
many valid variable names would be marked as misspelled.
However, if you have a tags generator that does a thorough job on variables
then you might want to enable spell-checking of variables against the tags
You probably wouldn't want to check variable names against the
natural-language dictionary, though.
The following command configures variable checking this way:
:check variable</pre>
<p>Similarly, the "string" face isn't normally checked because
strings tend to contain non-human text such as "\n" or "%d".
If you want to enable checking against both dictionaries, you can
use the following command:
:check *string</pre>
<p>The "*" causes Elvis to use both dictionaries.
In the earlier "variable" example, we could also have used a "+" flag to select
just the tags dictionary, but that's the default so we omitted it.
The "-" flag disables spell-checking:
:check -variable string</pre>
<p>By the way, the <a href="elvisex.html#check">:check</a> command supports
name completion, so you can use the <kbd>&lt;Tab&gt;</kbd> key to see what
faces are available.
<h3>16.7.2 Configuring the tags dictionary</h3>
If any buffer has its <a href="elvisopt.html#spell">spell</a> option
turned on, then Elvis will automatically load the tags dictionary from any
"tags" files that it finds.
(For a discussion of tags, see the <a href="elvistag.html">Tags</a> chapter,
and the <a href="">ctags man-page</a>.)
<p>When loading tags, Elvis searches through all of the file names in the
<a href="elvisopt.html#tags">tags</a> and
<a href="elvisopt.html#elvispath">elvispath</a> options.
If any of those names is a directory, then Elvis looks for a file named
"tags" in that directory.
<p>Elvis loads every tag from every file that it finds this way.
All of these tag names are combined in RAM to form a single tags directory.
Other tag information is ignored; Elvis only stores the names.
<p>As long as you generate tags files in the usual way,
Elvis should be able to find them without any trouble.
<p>To make it even easier, if the "tags" file in the current directory
is altered then Elvis will reload the tags dictionary automatically.
(It doesn't check the "tags" files in other directories, though.)
<p>All words in the tags dictionary are considered to be case-sensitive.
<h3>16.7.3 Configuring the natural-language dictionary</h3>
There are three ways to load words into the natural-language dictionary:
the <a href="elvisopt.html#spelldict">spelldict</a> option, and the
<a href="elvisex.html#words">:words</a> and
<a href="elvisex.html#wordfile">:wordfile</a> commands.
<p>The way Elvis uses this dictionary is a bit tricky.
The first thing you must realize is that the dictionary is maintained in RAM.
It can pull words from the <a href="elvisopt.html#spelldict">spelldict</a> file
as needed, but that file isn't the dictionary -- the in-memory data structure
<p>The next big quirk is that the dictionary contains both correct and
misspelled words.
Elvis must remember misspelled words so that it can recognize them again
quickly, without having to look them up in the
<a href="elvisopt.html#spelldict">spelldict</a> file every time.
This is very important because Elvis spell-checks every word on the screen,
after every keystroke.
Elvis can check any word against its in-memory dictionary in a fraction of
a microsecond, but file searches are far slower.
<p>You can use the <a href="elvisex.html#word">:words</a> command to add words
to the natural-language dictionary.
If you precede the words with a "-" then they'll be flagged as being incorrect.
Any time Elvis displays that word on the screen, it'll be shown highlighted
as an error.
Words added without a "-" flag will be added as correct words.
<p>If Elvis looks for a word in its dictionary, and doesn't find it, then
it will try to find the word in the
<a href="elvisopt.html#spelldict">spelldict</a> file.
If Elvis finds it, great!
Elvis will add it to its dictionary as a correct word.
Otherwise, Elvis will try suffix substitution, as specified via the
<a href="elvisopt.html#spellsuffix">spellsuffix</a> option, and check the
resulting word against the
<a href="elvisopt.html#spelldict">spelldict</a> file again.
If Elvis finds that word, then it will add both the found word and the original
word, both flagged as correct words.
Otherwise, Elvis will add the original word, flagged as incorrect.
<p>Words pulled from the <a href="elvisopt.html#spelldict">spelldict</a> file
are always considered to be case-insensitive, even if they're capitalized in
that file.
Words added via <a href="elvisex.html#wordfile">:wordfile</a> are also
However, words added via the <a href="elvisex.html#word">:words</a> command are
considered to be case-insensitive only when they're given in lowercase;
if the a word contains any uppercase letters then it will be case-sensitive.
<p>Words added via <a href="elvisex.html#word">:word</a> or
<a href="elvisex.html#wordfile">:wordfile</a> are flagged as being personal,
unless you append a "!" suffix to the command name.
The distinction between personal words and other natural-language words
is important, because <a href="elvisex.html#mkexrc">:mkexrc</a> will store any
personal words in your <code>.exrc</code> file.
<h3>16.7.4 Correcting errors</h3>
Elvis has no built-in command for finding and correcting all of the spelling
errors in a file.
For that, I recommend an external program such as <code>ispell</code>.
<p>However, Elvis does have an <a href="elvisopt.html#spell">spell</a>
option for highlighting misspelled words, and the
<a href="elvisopt.html#show">show</a> option supports a "spell" keyword
which displays suggested corrections at the bottom of the screen.
It also has a <a href="elvisvi.html#gs">gs</a> command for
moving to the next misspelled word.
If the cursor is already on a misspelled word before <kbd>gs</kbd>,
and the <code>show</code> option is presenting a list of suggestions,
then you can invoke <kbd>gs</kbd> with a "count" argument to fix the current
word before moving to the next word.
If none of the suggested alternative spellings are correct, you can use
<a href="elvisvi.html#c">c</a>
<a href="elvisvi.html#gS">gS</a> (with an uppercase "S")
to replace the word manually.
<p>Elvis' built in calculator has functions named <a href="elvisexp.html#spell">spell()</a> and
<a href="elvisexp.html#spelltag">spelltag()</a>, which offer a way to access the
spelling suggestions in your own aliases or scripts.
<p>The <code>spell()</code> function only checks the in-memory dictionary;
it doesn't scan the <a href="elvisopt.html#spelldict">spelldict</a> file.
Because of this, you'll probably want to load all words from that file into
There are two ways to do that:
either invoke the <a href="elvisex.html#wordfile">:wordfile</a> command
or set the <a href="elvisopt.html#spellautoload">spellautoload</a> option
to have it be loaded automatically the first time you need it.
<h2><a name="AUTOCMD"></a>16.8 Auto commands</h2>
<h3>16.8.1 Overview of Auto Commands</h3>
Auto commands give you a way to cause commands to be executed automatically
whenever a certain event occurs.
This is sort of like hardware interrupts.
Many of the events resemble GUI events.
<p>Elvis maintains a list of auto commands.
Each auto command contains:
<li>A group name, which makes it easier to list or edit related auto commands.
<li>A set of <a href="#EVENTS">events</a> which trigger the auto command.
<li>A set of <a href="#PATTERNS">patterns</a>. Most events have a file name
associated with them; patterns allow you to selectively apply a given
auto command to only certain types of files. Also, some events use names
of things other than files.
<li>An <a href="elvisex.html">ex command line</a> to run.
<p>The whole auto command feature is omitted from the MS-DOS version of
Elvis, for the sake of compactness.
Under MS-DOS, Elvis will continue to depend on
<a href="elvisses.html#elvis.arf">elvis.arf</a> and the related files.
<h3>16.8.2 Groups</h3>
For ease of editing, auto commands may be divided into groups.
Each group has a name.
The default group is named "END", but other groups have no preset names;
you can choose your own names.
<p>To select a group for editing
(and to create the group if it didn't exist before),
use the <a href="elvisex.html#augroup">:augroup</a> command.
Typically, you'll begin by using
"<a href="elvisex.html#augroup">:aug</a>&nbsp;<var>groupname</var>" to select
a group to edit, then wipe out any existing auto commands in that group and
define new ones, and then use
"<a href="elvisex.html#augroup">:aug</a>&nbsp;<code>END</code>"
to mark the end of the group.
:aug buflist
:au BufNewFile,BufReadPost * morebuffers
:au BufDelete * lessbuffers
:aug END</pre>
<p>Note that the <a href="elvisex.html#augroup">:augroup</a> command
only affects the behavior of later <a href="elvisex.html#autocmd">:autocmd</a>
Afterward, when events occur, they will trigger all appropriate auto commands
regardless of the group name.
I.e., groups are useful for editing the auto command list, but have no
effect on its actions.
<p>Well, actually there is one exception:
The <a href="elvisex.html#doautocmd">:doau</a> command can optionally be told
a specific group name to run.
If you don't specify the group name, then it will trigger all appropriate
events in all groups, just like a real
(non-<a href="elvisex.html#doautocmd">:doau</a>) event.
<p>Elvis' version of <a href="elvisex.html#augroup">:aug</a> has a minor
extension beyond vim's capabilities:
when invoked with <code>!</code> suffix
("<code>:aug!</code> <var>groupname</var>")
it marks that group as being a "system" group.
Elvis' standard configuration scripts may use this notation to mark its own
The significance of this is, "system" groups aren't saved by the
<a href="elvisex.html#mkexrc">:mkexrc</a> command --
they don't need to be stored in your custom initialization file since they're
created by a standard script.
<h3><a name="EVENTS">16.8.3 Events</a></h3>
<p>Event names are case-insensitive, so "BufCreate" can be written as
"bufcreate", or even "BuFcReAtE".
<p>The <a href="elvisex.html#doautocmd">:doau</a> command only accepts
a single event name -- the one that it is supposed to simulate.
However, the <a href="elvisex.html#autocmd">:au</a> command accepts a
comma-delimited list of event names (without any whitespace between them),
or <code>*</code> to represent all events.
<p>When deleting/replacing events, if an auto command has been created with
multiple events and you only delete/replace some of them, then the remaining
ones will still be in effect.
In other words, Elvis will remove the given events from each auto command's
set of matching events, and will only completely delete an auto command if
the remaining set of events is empty.
(When deleting/replacing, it only effects auto commands where at least one
of the new <a href="#PATTERNS">patterns</a> is identical to one of the
existing <a href="#PATTERNS">patterns</a>.)
<p>Here's a list of built-in events, and what they mean in Elvis.
Note that even "Not implemented" events can be triggered explicitly by
<a href="elvisex.html#doautocmd">:doau</a>, so they aren't totally useless.
You can also create new events with the
<a href="elvisex.html#auevent">:auevent</a> command.
<dt><strong><a name="AliasEnter">AliasEnter</a></strong> <em>(not in vim)</em><dd>
<em>At the start of an alias.</em>
The pattern is compared to the name of the alias, not a file, but you can
still use the "*" wildcard.
One common use for this is to set local options.
For example, if you like to use Perl-ish regular expressions for interactive
commands but still want to use traditional regular expression syntax inside
aliases, you could use the following to temporarily reset the
<a href="elvisopt.html#magicchar">magicchar</a> and
<a href="elvisopt.html#magicperl">magicperl</a> options while running aliases:
:au AliasEnter * local magicchar=^$.*[ nomagicperl</pre>
<dt><strong><a name="AliasLeave">AliasLeave</a></strong> <em>(not in vim)</em><dd>
<em>At the end of an alias.</em>
The opposite of <a href="#AliasEnter">AliasEnter</a>, and not nearly as useful.
Maybe good for tracing execution?
<dt><strong><a name="BgChanged">BgChanged</a></strong> <em>(not in vim)</em><dd>
<em>The normal background color is changed.</em>
The <a href="elvisex.html#color">:color</a> command is used to change the
normal background color.
The pattern is compared to "light" or "dark", depending on the chosen color.
You can use this to adjust other backgrounds:
:au BgChanged light color x11.spell on pink
:au BgChanged dark color x11.spell on red</pre>
<dt><strong><a name="BufCreate">BufCreate</a></strong><dd>
<em>A user buffer is created.</em>
A user buffer is one in which the <a href="elvisopt.html#internal">internal</a>
option is off.
All buffers that contain your text files are user buffers.
<p>Vim also sends this event after a buffer is renamed, but Elvis doesn't
If you want to make Elvis perform <code>BufCreate</code> when a buffer is
renamed, then make the <a href="#BufFilePost">BufFilePost</a> event run
<br>"<a href="elvisex.html#doautocmd">:doau</a>&nbsp;<code>BufCreate</code>",
like this:
:au BufFilePost * doau BufCreate</pre>
<dt><strong><a name="BufDelete">BufDelete</a></strong><dd>
<em>A user buffer is destroyed.</em>
Note that Elvis has no explicit command for freeing buffers.
It chooses when to free them automatically, if they aren't being used and
haven't been modified.
You can prevent Elvis from destroying a buffer by settings its
<a href="elvisopt.html#retain">retain</a> option.
<p>You could use this event with <a href="#BufCreate">BufCreate</a> to maintain
a list of open buffers.
The <code>data/scripts/xbuf.ex</code> file, distributed with Elvis, contains an example
of how this might be done in Elvis' <a href="elvisgui.html#x11">x11</a>
user interface.
<dt><strong><a name="BufEnter">BufEnter</a></strong><dd>
<em>A buffer becomes the "current" buffer.</em>
Specifically, this event is triggered when the buffer-specific options
are swapped in, to be accessible via commands such as
<a href="elvisex.html#set">:set</a>, or in
<a href="elvisexp.htm">expressions</a>.
See also the <a href="#BufLeave">BufLeave</a> event.
Elvis can switch buffers extremely often.
For example, if you're using the "<a href="elvisgui.html#x11">x11</a>" user
interface with multiple windows and toolbars, then Elvis will make each
window's buffer be the "current" buffer while it is evaluating the states
of each toolbar button, after each keystroke.
<dt><strong><a name="BufFilePost">BufFilePost</a></strong><dd>
<em>After changing a buffer's name.</em>
A buffer's name can be changed two ways:
explicitly via the <a href="elvisex.html#file">:file</a> command, or
implicitly by saving an anonymous buffer out to a file.
<dt><strong><a name="BufFilePre">BufFilePre</a></strong><dd>
<em>Before changing a buffer's name.</em>
See also the <a href="#BufFilePost">BufFilePost</a> event.
<dt><strong><a name="BufHidden">BufHidden</a></strong><dd>
<em>Not implemented.</em>
<dt><strong><a name="BufLeave">BufLeave</a></strong><dd>
<em>A buffer will no longer be the "current" buffer.</em>
This is the other half of <a href="#BufEnter">BufEnter</a> event.
When Elvis is switching buffers, it triggers a <code>BufLeave</code>
event (with the old buffer) before switching, and a
<a href="#BufEnter">BufEnter</a> event (with the new buffer) afterward.
<dt><strong><a name="BufNewFile">BufNewFile</a></strong><dd>
<em>A buffer is created for a file that doesn't exist yet.</em>
This is similar to <a href="#BufReadPost">BufReadPost</a>, except that
<code>BufNewFile</code> is triggered only when there is no file to be read.
You can use this to create a skeleton version of a file.
<dt><strong><a name="BufReadPost">BufReadPost</a></strong><dd>
<em>After loading a file's contents.</em>
See also <a href="#BufReadPre">BufReadPre</a> for before it has loaded,
<a href="#FileReadPost">FileReadPost</a> for inserting text from another file
into an existing file's buffer,
and <a href="#FilterReadPost">FilterReadPost</a> for inserting from a filter.
<dt><strong><a name="BufReadPre">BufReadPre</a></strong><dd>
<em>Before loading a file's contents.</em>
This is useful for setting the <a href="elvisopt.html#readeol">readeol</a>
See also <a href="#BufReadPost">BufReadPost</a> for after it has loaded,
<a href="#FileReadPre">FileReadPre</a> for inserting text from another file
into an existing file's buffer,
and <a href="#FilterReadPre">FilterReadPre</a> for inserting from a filter.
<dt><strong><a name="BufRead">BufRead</a></strong><dd>
<em>Synonym for <a href="#BufReadPost">BufReadPost</a> </em>
<dt><strong><a name="BufUnload">BufUnload</a></strong><dd>
<em>Immediately before</em> <a href="#BufDelete">BufDelete</a> <em>events,</em>
for Elvis.
Vim has an extra level of decrepitude for buffers, where the text has been
discarded but the name and options have not yet been forgotten;
vim performs BufUnload when a buffer enters this state, and <a href="#BufDelete">BufDelete</a>
when it discards the rest of the buffer.
Elvis doesn't have that intermediate step, so <code>BufUnload</code> and
<a href="#BufDelete">BufDelete</a> are effectively the same thing.
<dt><strong><a name="BufWritePost">BufWritePost</a></strong><dd>
<em>After a buffer has been saved to its file.</em>
<dt><strong><a name="BufWritePre">BufWritePre</a></strong><dd>
<em>Before a buffer will be saved to its file.</em>
If any auto command triggered by this event causes an error and the
<a href="elvisopt.html#eventerrors">eventerrors</a> option is set,
then the text will not be written.
<dt><strong><a name="BufWrite">BufWrite</a></strong><dd>
<em>Synonym for <a href="#BufWritePre">BufWritePre</a>.</em>
<dt><strong><a name="CursorHold">CursorHold</a></strong><dd>
<em>Not implemented.</em>
<dt><strong><a name="DisplayEnter">DisplayEnter</a></strong> <em>(not in vim)</em><dd>
<em>A window's display mode has changed.</em>
This is useful for changing options in a display-mode dependent way.
The pattern is compared to the name of the new display mode, not the
file name.
See <a href="#DisplayLeave">DisplayLeave</a> for a way to change them back
afterward, or <a href="#DispMapEnter">DispMapEnter</a> for a way to adjust
the map table.
<dt><strong><a name="DisplayLeave">DisplayLeave</a></strong> <em>(not in vim)</em><dd>
<em>A window's display mode is about to change.</em>
This is useful for reverting options that were changed via a
<a href="#DisplayEnter">DisplayEnter</a> event.
The pattern is compared to the name of the old display mode, not the
file name.
<dt><strong><a name="DispMapEnter">DispMapEnter</a></strong> <em>(not in vim)</em><dd>
<em>Keystrokes are received in a different display mode.</em>
This is useful for installing <a href="elvisex.html#map">map</a>s that are
only intended to be used in specific display modes.
The pattern is compared against the name of the new display mode, not the
file name.
Note that this event can be triggered simply by switching windows, if the
two windows are using different display modes.
<p>Generally, Elvis will trigger a <a href="#DispMapLeave">DispMapLeave</a>
event on the old mode before triggering the
<code>DispMapEnter</code> event on the new mode.
Both of these events will be triggered before the newly received keystrokes
are subjected to maps.
<dt><strong><a name="DispMapLeave">DispMapLeave</a></strong> <em>(not in vim)</em><dd>
<em>Keystrokes are received after an old display mode is abandoned.</em>
This is useful for removing display-sensitive
<a href="elvisex.html#map">map</a>s that were installed via
<a href="#DispMapEnter">DispMapEnter</a>.
The pattern is compared against the name of the old display mode, not the
file name.
Note that this event can be triggered simply by switching windows, if the
two windows are using different display modes.
<dt><strong><a name="Edit">Edit</a></strong> <em>(Not in vim)</em><dd>
<em>Text is changed.</em>
While the event's auto commands are running, the <code>'[</code> and
<code>']</code> marks indicate the changed region.
<p>The Edit event is triggered every time the buffer is changed.
If you want to trigger an event for only the <em>first</em>
change to a buffer, then you can use the <a href="#OptSet">OptSet</a> event to
watch for changes to the <a href="elvisopt.html#modified">modified</a> option.
(However, <code>OptSet</code> doesn't set the
<code>'[</code> and <code>']</code> marks.)
<dt><strong><a name="FileAppendPost">FileAppendPost</a></strong><dd>
<em>After appending all or part of the buffer onto a file.</em>
<dt><strong><a name="FileAppendPre">FileAppendPre</a></strong><dd>
<em>Before appending all or part of the buffer onto a file.</em>
While the event's auto commands are running, the <code>'[</code> and
<code>']</code> marks indicate the region to be written, and the
<a href="elvisopt.html#aufilename">aufilename</a> option indicates the name
of the file that it'll be written to.
If any auto command triggered by this event causes an error and the
<a href="elvisopt.html#eventerrors">eventerrors</a> option is set,
then the text will not be written.
<dt><strong><a name="FileChangedShell">FileChangedShell</a></strong><dd>
<em>Not implemented.</em>
<dt><strong><a name="FileEncoding">FileEncoding</a></strong><dd>
<em>Not implemented.</em>
<dt><strong><a name="FileReadPost">FileReadPost</a></strong><dd>
<em>After inserting from a file.</em>
This is different from <a href="#BufReadPost">BufReadPost</a>,
which loads a file into a buffer.
<code>FileReadPost</code> is triggered by the <a href="elvisex.html#read">:r</a>
command, but not the <a href="elvisex.html#edit">:e</a> command.
The auto command can use <code>'[</code> and <code>']</code> marks to
determine which lines are new.
See also <a href="#FileReadPre">FileReadPre</a> for before the text has been
inserted, and <a href="#FilterReadPre">FilterReadPost</a> for reading from a
filter program.
<dt><strong><a name="FileReadPre">FileReadPre</a></strong><dd>
<em>Before inserting from a file.</em>
This is different from <a href="#BufReadPre">BufReadPre</a>,
which loads a file into a buffer.
<code>FileReadPre</code> is triggered by the <a href="elvisex.html#read">:r</a>
command, but not the <a href="elvisex.html#edit">:e</a> command.
See also <a href="#FileReadPost">FileReadPost</a> for after the text has been
inserted, and <a href="#FilterReadPre">FilterReadPre</a> for reading from a
filter program.
<dt><strong><a name="FileType">FileType</a></strong><dd>
<em>Not implemented.</em>
Elvis doesn't have a "filetype" option, though I may add one later.
The <a href="elvisopt.html#mapmode">mapmode</a>
and <a href="elvisopt.html#bufdisplay">bufdisplay</a>
options serve a similar purpose.
<dt><strong><a name="FileWritePost">FileWritePost</a></strong><dd>
<em>After writing all or part of the buffer out to a different file.</em>
While the event's auto commands are running, the
<a href="elvisopt.html#aufilename">aufilename</a> option indicates the name
of the file that was written.
<dt><strong><a name="FileWritePre">FileWritePre</a></strong><dd>
<em>Before writing all or part of the buffer out to a different file.</em>
While the event's auto commands are running, the <code>'[</code> and
<code>']</code> marks indicate the region to be written, and the
<a href="elvisopt.html#aufilename">aufilename</a> option indicates the name
of the file that it'll be written to.
If any auto command triggered by this event causes an error and the
<a href="elvisopt.html#eventerrors">eventerrors</a> option is set,
then the text will not be written.
<dt><strong><a name="FilterReadPost">FilterReadPost</a></strong><dd>
<em>After reading from a filter program.</em>
The auto command can use <code>'[</code> and <code>']</code> marks to
determine which lines are new.
See also <a href="#FilterReadPre">FilterReadPre</a> for before the text has been
inserted, and <a href="#FileReadPost">FileReadPost</a> for reading from a file.
<dt><strong><a name="FilterReadPre">FilterReadPre</a></strong><dd>
<em>Before reading from a filter program.</em>
See also <a href="#FilterReadPost">FilterReadPost</a> for after the text has
been inserted, and <a href="#FileReadPre">FileReadPre</a> for reading from a
<dt><strong><a name="FilterWritePost">FilterWritePost</a></strong><dd>
<em>After writing all or part of the buffer out to a filter program.</em>
While the event's auto commands are running, the
<a href="elvisopt.html#aufilename">aufilename</a> option sores a copy of
the name stores a copy of the command that it is writing to.
<dt><strong><a name="FilterWritePre">FilterWritePre</a></strong><dd>
<em>Before writing all or part of the buffer out to a filter program.</em>
While the event's auto commands are running, the <code>'[</code> and
<code>']</code> marks indicate the region to be written, and the
<a href="elvisopt.html#aufilename">aufilename</a> option stores a copy of
the command that it is writing to.
If any auto command triggered by this event causes an error and the
<a href="elvisopt.html#eventerrors">eventerrors</a> option is set,
then the text will not be written.
<dt><strong><a name="FocusGained">FocusGained</a></strong><dd>
<em>Not implemented.</em>
<dt><strong><a name="FocusLost">FocusLost</a></strong><dd>
<em>Not implemented.</em>
<dt><strong><a name="GUIEnter">GUIEnter</a></strong><dd>
<em>A graphical user interface is started.</em>
This event is
generated after the first file is loaded the first window is created,
but only for true graphical user interfaces such as
<a href="elvisgui.html#x11">x11</a> and
<a href="elvisgui.html#windows">windows</a>.
It is <strong>not</strong> generated for the
<a href="elvisgui.html#termcap">termcap</a> interface.
Note that there is no "GuiLeave" event.
<dt><strong><a name="OptChanged">OptChanged</a></strong> <em>(not in vim)</em><dd>
<em>A particular option's value is changed.</em>
The <a href="#PATTERNS">pattern</a> for this event is a list of option names,
<strong>not</strong> file name wildcards.
While the auto command is running,
the <a href="elvisopt.html#aufilename">aufilename</a> option contains the name
of the actual option that was changed.
Options changed via the
<a href="elvisex.html#set">:set</a>,
<a href="elvisex.html#let">:let</a>, and
<a href="elvisex.html#local">:local</a>
commands always trigger this event for any changed options, but
some options are changed internally by Elvis as a normal consequence
of operation, and
those changes don't always trigger the <code>OptChanged</code> event.
For example, the <a href="elvisopt.html#bufchars">bufchars</a> option
changes any time you insert or delete text, but this doesn't trigger
<a href="#OptChanged">OptChanged</a>.
<dt><strong><a name="OptSet">OptSet</a></strong> <em>(not in vim)</em><dd>
<em>A particular Boolean option is set or reset.</em>
The <a href="#PATTERNS">pattern</a> for this event is a list of option names,
<strong>not</strong> file name wildcards.
To detect when a Boolean option is set (becomes true), use the name without
any prefix; to detect when it is reset (becomes false), use the name with a
"no" prefix.
While the auto command is running,
the <a href="elvisopt.html#aufilename">aufilename</a> option contains the name
of the actual option that was changed,
with a "no" prefix if it just became false.
The following example causes the <a href="elvisopt.html#novice">novice</a>
option to change a few other options:
:au OptSet novice set nomagic report=1 showmode</pre>
As with <a href="#OptChanged">OptChanged</a>,
Elvis changes some options internally, and
those changes don't always trigger an <code>OptSet</code> event.
<dt><strong><a name="ScriptEnter">ScriptEnter</a></strong> <em>(not in vim)</em><dd>
<em>At the start of a script.</em>
The pattern is compared to the name of the script file.
One common use for this event is for setting local options.
For example, if you like to use Perl-ish regular expressions for interactive
commands but still want to use traditional regular expression syntax inside
scripts, you could use the following to temporarily reset the
<a href="elvisopt.html#magicchar">magicchar</a> and
<a href="elvisopt.html#magicperl">magicperl</a> options while running scripts:
:au ScriptEnter * local magicchar=^$.*[ nomagicperl</pre>
<p>Note that <code>ScriptEnter</code> and <a href="#ScriptLeave">ScriptLeave</a>
are executed both for scripts that are explicitly run via the
<a href="elvisex.html#source">:so</a> command, and the configuration scripts
that are run automatically:
<a href="elvisses.html#elvis.brf">elvis.brf</a>,
<a href="elvisses.html#elvis.arf">elvis.arf</a>,
<a href="elvisses.html#elvis.bwf">elvis.bwf</a>, and
<a href="elvisses.html#elvis.awf">elvis.awf</a>.
<dt><strong><a name="ScriptLeave">ScriptLeave</a></strong> <em>(not in vim)</em><dd>
<em>At the end of a script.</em>
The opposite of <a href="#ScriptEnter">ScriptEnter</a>,
and not nearly as useful.
Maybe good for tracing execution?
<dt><strong><a name="StdinReadPost">StdinReadPost</a></strong><dd>
<em>Not implemented.</em>
<dt><strong><a name="StdinReadPre">StdinReadPre</a></strong><dd>
<em>Not implemented.</em>
<dt><strong><a name="Syntax">Syntax</a></strong><dd>
<em>Not implemented.</em>
Elvis has no "syntax" option.
The <a href="elvisopt.html#bufdisplay">bufdisplay</a> option serves a similar
purpose, but isn't quite similar enough to justify triggering a
<code>Syntax</code> event.
You could have Elvis simulate it via the <a href="#OptChanged">OptChanged</a>
:au OptChanged bufdisplay doau Syntax</pre>
<dt><strong><a name="TermChanged">TermChanged</a></strong><dd>
<em>Not implemented.</em>
Elvis doesn't allow the <a href="elvisopt.html#term">term</a> option to be
changed after initialization is complete.
<dt><strong><a name="User">User</a></strong><dd>
The <code>User</code> event can only be triggered explicitly via the
<a href="elvisex.html#doautocmd">:doau</a> command.
<dt><strong><a name="VimEnter">VimEnter</a></strong><dd>
<em>Not implemented.</em>
<dt><strong><a name="VimLeavePre">VimLeavePre</a></strong><dd>
<em>Not implemented.</em>
<dt><strong><a name="VimLeave">VimLeave</a></strong><dd>
<em>Not implemented.</em>
<dt><strong><a name="WinEnter">WinEnter</a></strong><dd>
<em>A window becomes the "current" window.</em>
Specifically, this is triggered when the window-specific options for a given
window are swapped in so they're accessible via commands such as
<a href="elvisex.html#set">:set</a>, and in
<a href="elvisexp.html">expressions</a>.
See also <a href="#BufEnter">BufEnter</a> and <a href="#WinLeave">WinLeave</a>.
Elvis can switch windows extremely often.
For example, if you're using the "<a href="elvisgui.html#x11">x11</a>" user
interface with multiple windows and toolbars, then Elvis will make each
window be the "current" window while it is evaluating the states
of each toolbar's buttons, after each keystroke.
<dt><strong><a name="WinLeave">WinLeave</a></strong><dd>
<em>A window will no longer be the "current" window.</em>
When switching from one window to another, Elvis will first trigger a
<code>WinLeave</code> event (with the old window), then switch windows,
and then trigger a <a href="#WinEnter">WinEnter</a> event (with the new window).
See also <a href="#BufLeave">BufLeave</a>.
<h3><a name="PATTERNS">16.8.4 Patterns</a></h3>
Patterns are used mostly to select file names.
They use the same "wildcard" characters that are used for matching filenames
on the command line.
Different operating systems have slightly different rules.
<li> "<code>*</code>" matches any text, of any length.
For example, "<code>*.html</code>" matches all the names that end with
<li> "<code>?</code>" matches any single character.
<li> For all operating systems except MS-DOS, "<code>[</code><var>chars</var><code>]</code>" matches
any single character in the <var>chars</var> list.
<li> For all operating systems except MS-DOS, "<code>[^</code><var>chars</var><code>]</code>" matches
any single character <strong>not</strong> in the <var>chars</var> list.
<li> For Unix, letters are compared in a case-sensitive manner; for all
other operating systems, letters are compared case-insensitively.
<li> Other characters must match exactly.
<p>The contents of <code>[]</code> wildcards is always interpreted in
a case-sensitive manner, even in operating systems such as Windows which
are normally case-insensitive with respect to filenames.
If you want a <code>[]</code> expression to be case-insensitive, then you
must explicitly give both the uppercase and lowercase versions of the
<p>The <var>chars</var> list may be individual characters, or ranges of
characters with a '-' between them. For example, <code>[_a-zA-Z]</code>
matches an underscore or a letter.
<p>Although the syntax for <code>[]</code> wildcards is similar to the
syntax for the <a href="elvisre.html#charlist">[]</a> metacharacter in regular expressions,
the two are not the same.
For example, you <strong>cannot</strong> use <code>[[:alpha:]]</code> to match
any locale-dependent letter in a filename wildcard, though you can in
regular expressions.
<h2><a name="SCRIPTS"></a>16.9 Script Library</h2>
The <a href="#load">:load</a> alias can load a variety of scripts,
stored in a standard directory.
This section describes those scripts.
<p>Most of the scripts set up <a href="elvisex.html#alias>aliases</a>,
<a href="elvisex.htmL#map">maps</a>,
<a href="elvisex.html#autocmd">autocmds</a>, or other aspects of
Elvis' configuration.
So running the script doesn't change your text, it changes Elvis.
The effects of these changes disappear when you exit Elvis, unless you
run the <a href="elvisex.html#mkexrc">:mkexrc</a> command to save the
altered configuration.
<p>Not all of these scripts do practical things.
Some are intended to serve merely as demonstrations of some of Elvis' features.
<p>Even the practical scripts may not be exactly what you want.
If that's the case, then you have a choice:
Either create a custom version of the script by running
"<code>:customize scripts/</code><var>scriptname</var><code>.ex</code>";
or load the normal version, alter its effects via Elvis'
<a href="elvisex.html#SETUP">configuration commands</a>, and save the
altered version via <a href="elvisex.html#mkexrc>:mkexrc</a>.
<p>Running "<code>:load</code>" without any arguments will list the available
This should include the following:
<dd>Defines an <code>:align</code> alias which aligns = signs (or any
other delimiter that you supply as an argument) within a given range of lines.
This can be handy when you're trying to make a Makefile look pretty.
<dd>Sets up some autocmd sequences for handling files that are compressed with
<dd>Defines some aliases for managing cut buffers.
<code>:cbsave</code> and <code>:cbload</code> save your cut buffers to a file,
and load them again, respectively.
<code>:cbshow</code> lists the current contents and
<a href="elvisopt.html#putstyle">putstyle</a> of each cut buffer.
<dd>Defines a <code>:cursor</code> alias which moves the cursor to a given
line of a given file.
If the file isn't loaded into a buffer already, then this alias will load it.
<dd>Defines a <code>:decode</code> alias, is sort of a "secret decoder ring".
Each letter is assigned a number.
You invoke this alias on a range of lines containing a series of numbers,
and pass it the number corresponding to 'a', and it converts the message's
numbers back into letters.
<dd>Defines a "define:<var>word</var>" protocol which looks up <var>word</var>
in's online technical encyclopedia.
Also defines a <code>:define</code> alias which uses this protocol.
<dd>Defines a "dict:<var>word</var>" protocol which uses the
<strong>dict</strong> program to look up <var>word</var> in a variety of
online dictionaries.
Also defines a <code>:dict</code> alias which uses this protocol.
<dd>Defines an <code>:ellipse</code> alias which inserts an ellipse into your
text. The parameters are width and height.
If you omit the height, then it is assumed to be half the width;
for most fonts, this makes the ellipse be roughly circular.
If you omit the width, then it is assumed to be either
<a href="elvisopt.html#textwidth">textwidth</a> or
(if <code>textwidth</code> isn't set)
<a href="elvisopt.html#columns">columns</a>.
<dd>Defines a <code>:find</code> alias which repeats the previous search,
like the <a href="elvisvi.html#n">n</a> command, except that if no match is
found in the current file then it performs a
<a href="elvisopt.html#next">:next</a> command and tries again.
If you like this, you might want to map a key to invoke :find...
:map &lt;C-N&gt; :find&lt;Enter&gt;</pre>
<dd>For the <a href="elvisgui.html#x11">x11</a> interface only,
this adds a toolbar button that lets you choose a font size.
It also defines a <code>:fontsize</code> alias.
<dd>This is used by the <a href="#gdb">:gdb</a> alias.
You should never need to load this one manually.
It contains a variety of aliases and other settings that are used
by the GDB interface.
<dd>Sets up <a href="elvisex.html#autocmd">:au</a> events that attempt to
use regions to highlight "herefiles" in shell scripts.
A herefile is text embedded in a shell script between
<code>&lt;&lt;</code><var>SYMBOL</var> and the following line containing just
The normal syntax coloring doesn't do herefiles properly,
so this workaround may be useful if you edit a lot of shell scripts.
<dd>Sets up a lot of things that might be handy if you're editing HTML.
Honestly, I don't expect anybody to like everything in here.
You'll probably want to run "<code>:customize scripts/html.ex</code>" and
edit out big chunks of this.
<dd>These are two slightly different attempts to make elvis use Gnu "info"
After loading one of these scripts, you should be able to run ":info gcc"
to see the info pages for the GCC compiler.
<dd>Defines an <code>:inregion</code> alias for applying an ex command to
each line in a given type of <a href="elvisex.html#region">region</a>.
The first argument is a face name identifying the region,
and the remaining arguments are an ex command line to execute on each such line.
<dd>Defines vim-compatible <code>:isearch</code> and <code>:ilist</code>
aliases, and some maps that use those aliases.
(See "likevim", below, for more vim-compatibility tricks.)
<dd>Adjusts elvis for maximum speed while running the vi macro package that
implement's Conway's "life".
This also includes a copy of the "life" macros.
<dd>Defines <em>many</em> aliases and maps to allow elvis to emulate some
of vim's commands.
<dd>Defines a <code>:Mail</code> alias.
This alias sets up elvis for editing mail messages.
If your email client can be configured to use an external editor,
then you might want to load this alias, run "<code>:mkexrc</code>" to store
the <code>:Mail</code> alias in your ~/.elvisrc file, and then tell your
email client to run "<code>elvis -cMail</code>" as the external editor.
<dd>Defines a "mailto:" protocol.
This can be handy if you're using Elvis as a lightweight web browser, and
click on a "writeto:" link.
It uses the system's <strong>mail</strong> command to actually send the mail.
<dd>Defines a <code>:makehtml</code> alias, which converts plain text into HTML.
This does a pretty good job!
It can convert the whole file, or just a given range of lines.
<dd>Defines a <code>:match</code> alias, which jumps between matching pairs
of keywords.
This is sort of like the <a href="elvisvi.html#pct">%</a> command,
but for keywords instead of single punctuation characters.
The list of keywords is easily adjustable by editing the script.
<dd>Defines a simple <code>:note</code> alias for adding a note to a
given line, and <code>:nextnote</code> and <code>:prevnote</code> aliases
for searching the next/previous note.
It also sets up <strong>gn</strong> and <strong>gN</strong> maps for searching.
<p>I expect to add a "real" note facility to Elvis eventually.
This script uses <a href="elvisex.html#region">regions</code>, which can be
dangerous because if you're using regions for anything else then you could
easily lose your notes accidentally.
<dd>Defines a <code>:piglatin</code> alias which converts text to Pig Latin.
Finally something practical!
<dd>Defines a <code>:reverse</code> alias which reverses characters in each
<dd>Defines a <code>:rot13</code> alias, which performs Rot13 encoding/decoding
for a range of lines.
Rot13 is a simple character substitution cipher in which the first 13 letters
in the alphabet are swapped with the last 13 letters.
Rot13 is sometimes used in Usenet news posts to protect unsuspecting readers
from potentially offensive jokes.
<dd>Defines an <code>:sfb</code> alias for browsing directories.
The standard Elvis configuration includes a <code>:readDIR</code> alias
which loads this script and runs <code>:sfb</code> if you attempt to
edit a directory.
<dd>Sets up shades of gray for the <a href="elvisopt.html#hllayers">hllayers</a>
If the background is light, then it will use light gray shades;
if dark, it will use dark shades.
<dd>Defines a simple <code>:show</code> alias which displays the values
of various alias symbols such as <code>!?</code> and <code>!1</code>.
<dd>Defines a <code>:shuffle</code> alias, which randomly unsorts a range of
lines, or an entire buffer.
<dd>Defines <code>:since</code> and <code>:rcssince</code> aliases.
These use <a href="elvisex.html#region">:region</code> to highlight changes
since the last write, or the last RCS checkin.
It also sets up some autocmds to run <code>:rcssince</code> automatically
when a file is loaded or saved, and to highlight changes.
<dd>This configures Elvis to automatically convert the value of the
<a href="elvisopt.html#tags">tags</a> option.
Traditionally, this option's value has been a space-delimited path,
but Elvis uses the operating system's path delimiter (colon or semicolon).
After loading this script, any time you change the "tags" value, Elvis
will go in and change any spaces to colons or semicolons as appropriate.
<dd>Defines <code>:wc</code>, a simple word counter.
<dd>Defines a "whois:" protocol, and a <code>:whois</code> command that uses it.
This is used to fetch information about an IP address or domain name.
<dd>For the "<a href="elvisgui.html#x11">x11</a>" interface only,
this reconfigures the toolbar to act like tabs for switching between buffers.
<h2><a name="FASTER"></a>16.10 How to make Elvis run faster</h2>
This section describes some ways you can "tune" Elvis to run faster.
None of these suggestions require recompiling Elvis.
<p>For example, my computer (AMD K6-200) can run 10
generations of the "life" macros in 41 seconds with the default configuration. If I invoke Elvis with a reduced block size
(<code>-b1024</code> on the command line) and an increased cache
it can run 10 generations in just 24 seconds.
<h3>The blksize option</h3>
Elvis uses fixed-size blocks to store buffers. The block size is chosen
when the session file is created. The default is 2048 bytes (or 1024 bytes
for MS-DOS), but you can override that by invoking Elvis with a
<strong>-b</strong><var>blksize</var> flag.
The size must be a power of two, between 512 and 8192.
<p>The <a href="elvisopt.html#blksize">blksize</a> option indicates the
current block size. This is a read-only option; once Elvis has started,
(and hence has already created the session file) it is too late to request
a different block size.
<p>Generally, smaller blocks are better if your CPU is slow or you're only
editing small files. Larger blocks are better if your disk is slow (e.g., the
temporary file is stored on a remote disk, accessed via a network) or you're
editing large files.
<h3>The block cache</h3>
In the interest of speed, Elvis has its own cache of blocks from the session
file. The <a href="elvisopt.html#blkcache">blkcache</a> option tells Elvis
how many blocks to store in the cache. You can change this value at any time.
If Elvis requires more cached blocks for a given editing operation than the
blkcache allows, then Elvis ignores blkcache and loads the required blocks into
the expanded cache; you can't make blkcache too small.
The default blkcache is 20 (except for MS-DOS, where it is 10),
and the upper bound is 200 blocks.
In MS-DOS, setting blkcache too high can cause Elvis to crash.
<p>The <a href="elvisopt.html#blkhit">blkhit</a>
and <a href="elvisopt.html#blkmiss">blkmiss</a> options count the number
of cache hits and misses, so you can compute the efficiency of the cache
as follows:
:calc (bh*100/(bh+bm))"%"</pre>
<p>You'll probably find that 98% or more of the block requests are being
satisfied from the cache. However, since each miss takes thousands of
times longer to complete than a hit, each fraction of a percent means a lot.
<p>In addition to the blocks themselves, the cache contains a hash table
which allows Elvis to quickly determine whether a block is in the cache
or not. If you increase the size of the cache, then you'll probably want to
increase the size of the table as well. The table size is controlled by the
<a href="elvisopt.html#blkhash">blkhash</a> option. Ideally, it should
be set to a prime number somewhat larger than blkcache...
or simply the largest possible value, since hash table entries are small.
The default is 61, and the upper bound is 300.
Elvis has a <a href="elvisopt.html#sync">sync</a> option which, if set,
causes Elvis to force all dirty blocks out to disk occasionally. This is
a <em>very</em> slow operation, so the sync option is normally turned off.
If Elvis seems to be running exceptionally slowly, then you might want to
verify that sync is off.
You can check it by giving the command "<code>:set sync?</code>".
<h3>Temporary files</h3>
The session file, and any other temporary files, should be stored on a local
hard disk. Storing them on a network drive will slow Elvis down a lot.
<p>The <a href="elvisopt.html#session">session</a> option indicates where
the current session file is stored, and the
<a href="elvisopt.html#sessionpath">sessionpath</a> option indicates which
directories Elvis looked through when deciding where to put the session file.
These are read-only options, since it is too late to choose a new location
for the session file after the session file is already created.
If you need to force Elvis to store its session files in a different
directory, you should set the <code>SESSIONPATH</code> environment variable
to a list of acceptable directories. Elvis will use the first directory
from that list which exists and is writable.
<p>The <a href="elvisopt.html#directory">directory</a> option tells Elvis
where to store other temporary files, such as those used for piping text
through external programs. You can change its value at any time. (Note:
the real vi also has a directory option, but only allows you to change it
during initialization.)
<h3>Screen updates</h3>
Options which add information to the bottom row of the window, such as
<a href="elvisopt.html#ruler">ruler</a> and
<a href="elvisopt.html#showmode">showmode</a>, can slow down screen updates.
If speed is critical, you should turn those options off.
<p>The <a href="elvisopt.html#optimize">optimize</a> option attempts to
eliminate superfluous screen updates while a macro is executing.
It is normally on, but you may want to verify that.
Some animation macros force it off.
<p>Elvis also has an <a href="elvisopt.html#animation">animation</a> option
which, if <a href="elvisopt.html#optimize">optimize</a> is on, causes Elvis
to bypass some of the animation steps. The default value is 3. If animations
look choppy then try reducing it to 1. Or set it to 10 or so for faster
<p>The <a href="elvisopt.html">exrefresh</a> option controls whether
Elvis should refresh the screen after each line output by an ex command, or
wait until the command completes and then update the screen once.
It is normally off, so the screen is only updated once.
<p>Interestingly, the syntax-coloring display mode seems to run about as fast
as the normal display mode. One possible exception would be if you're running
Elvis over a slow modem connection then the extra escape sequences required for
sending color information may slow down screen updates.
<p>If you have long lines, then Elvis may run somewhat faster when the
<a href="elvisopt.html#wrap">wrap</a> option is set. This is because Elvis
always formats entire lines, even if only part of the line is visible on
the screen, and the "nowrap" display style shows more long lines (one per row)
than the "wrap" display style.
The <a href="elvisopt.html#pollfrequency">pollfrequency</a> option indicates
how often Elvis checks for an abort request from the user. (Abort requests
are usually given by typing ^C or by clicking on a window while a macro or
other time-consuming command is running). Smaller numbers give a quicker
response to an abort request, but will cause the command itself to run slower.
<p>The <a href="elvisopt.html#keytime">keytime</a> option indicates how long
Elvis should wait after receiving an Esc character to distinguish between
the &lt;Esc&gt; key, and some other function key which begins with an Esc.
Longer times are more reliable, especially when you're running over a network.
But shorter times allow a quicker response to the &lt;Esc&gt; key.
<h3>MS-DOS-specific tips</h3>
The single biggest improvement you can make is to switch from the 16-bit
MS-DOS version to the 32-bit text-mode Win32 version. It only runs under Windows95
or WindowsNT, not MS-DOS, but you can make it run in full-screen mode which
feels like MS-DOS. And it is *much* faster, because I really had to mangle
the MS-DOS version of Elvis to make it fit in the lower 640k.
<p>The fancier ANSI drivers such as NANSI.SYS also help. They allow Elvis
to redraw the screen very quickly. The <a href="#URLS">URLs</a> section
of this chapter tells you where you can find NANSI.SYS on the Internet.
<p>Installing <code>smartdrv.exe</code> can be a <em>big</em> help.
Storing temporary files on a RAM disk (in extended/expanded memory please!)
can also help.
<p>Elvis also has a compile-time option, controlled by the
declaration in <code>config.h</code>, which allows Elvis to store its buffers
in EMS/XMS memory instead of a file. This makes Elvis run <em>much</em>
faster, but it has some disadvantages. If Elvis crashes, there will be no
way to recover the contents of the edit buffers. Also the Microsoft functions
for accessing EMS/XMS memory are very bulky, and also require a fairly large
buffer; so if you enable FEATURE_RAM, then you must disable most of the other
FEATURE_XXXX features in <code>config.h</code>, and even then Elvis may run out
of memory occasionally. If you enable FEATURE_RAM, then to actually use that
feature, you must invoke Elvis with "-f ram" on the command line.
<p>If you often use "-b 2048" or "-f ram", then you might consider setting up
a batch file which runs them. For example, you could create a
<code>elvis.bat</code> file containing...
elvis.exe -b 2048 -f ram %1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9
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