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Re: elisp: isn't default-directory always the dir of current file??

From: Xah Lee
Subject: Re: elisp: isn't default-directory always the dir of current file??
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 12:32:58 -0800 (PST)
User-agent: G2/1.0

On Mar 2, 2:32 am, Lennart Borgman <address@hidden> wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 8:46 AM,XahLee<address@hidden> wrote:
> >> but that didn't. The following works though:
> >> (add-to-list 'load-path (file-name-directory load-file-name))
> > Ugh, this is quite painful. Spend 2+ hours on this.
> > If i use this:
> > (add-to-list 'load-path (file-name-directory load-file-name))
> > it works if the file is loaded by elisp. But doesn't work if the file
> > is run with eval-buffer.
> Use buffer-file-name if load-file-name is nil.



For completeness or whoever may be reading this later, here's the code
to put the dir into load path:

(add-to-list 'load-path
 (file-name-directory (if load-file-name load-file-name buffer-file-

This is useful, because suppose you have a elisp library of many files
in a dir named xyz. And in that dir there's one file that init them
all, named “init.el”.

In your install instruction, you can tell user to open init.el and
eval-buffer and everything is installed. And if user wants it
automatically loaded when emacs starts, just put a single line such

(load-file "/Users/xah/web/emacs/emacs2/init.el")

in “.emacs”.

The advantage of this is that:

• user can just put a single load-file line to init your library. They
don't need to put extra line to add path to load-path.

• user can install your library in a very simple way of opening the
file and M-x eval-buffer. (which is simple and especially when user
want to see what your lib do first).

... there are probably other easy alternatives for installation

For example, 2 installation instruction from existing package i find
very good are:

; from nxml
(load-file "~/Documents/emacs/nxml-mode-20041004/rng-auto.el")

; from js2
(autoload 'js2-mode "js2" nil t)

Very excellent!

Often, emacs packages does not have good install instruction. Some,
simply say “put dir in your load path”, assuming that the user knows
about elisp. Many users have no idea about load path or the concept
particular to elisp.

some rambling thoughts about emacs library system below.

Also, emacs itself doesn't have a simple, mechanical, uniform
installation system. It would be nice if it does. Something enforced
by elisp... so that all packages are forced to have one single
installation method, such as say “(install filename)”.

... elisp's concept of module, lib, package etc are also sucky. Here's
something i wrote in my tutorial:

What's Library, Package, Feature?

Here's a bit technical detail about some elisp issues related to
library. Knowing it helps you a bit.

Emacs lisp the language does not have name spaces. Everything is
global. Also, emacs has a concept of “package”, “library”, but these
terms are used losely in the documentation. They do not have technical
meaning in emacs lisp. Emacs also has a concepts of “feature”. A
“feature” does have technical meaning in elisp. It is basically a
elisp symbol, that can be added to the list variable “features”. The
sole purpose is for emacs to know which “feature” has been loaded
already. A emacs “feature” has no relation to the file name the lisp
symbol is in.

In general, the terms used by emacs: “package”, “library”, “feature”,
are all fuzzily defined and confusing, and none enforces a relation to
a file's name. This means, you could have a file named “xyz.el”, which
provides a feature named “abc”, while it really just provide a mode to
user with the command name “opq-mode”, and “opq-mode” might have
display name “opq” or “OPQ”, “OPQ mode”, or “yoyo”. And, this file can
be considered as a package as well as library


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