customize.texi   [plain text]

@c -*-texinfo-*-
@c This is part of the GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual.
@c Copyright (C) 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004,
@c   2005, 2006, 2007  Free Software Foundation, Inc.
@c See the file elisp.texi for copying conditions.
@setfilename ../info/customize
@node Customization, Loading, Macros, Top
@chapter Writing Customization Definitions

@cindex customization definitions
  This chapter describes how to declare user options for customization,
and also customization groups for classifying them.  We use the term
@dfn{customization item} to include both kinds of customization
definitions---as well as face definitions (@pxref{Defining Faces}).

* Common Keywords::      Common keyword arguments for all kinds of
                           customization declarations.
* Group Definitions::    Writing customization group definitions.
* Variable Definitions:: Declaring user options.
* Customization Types::  Specifying the type of a user option.
@end menu

@node Common Keywords
@section Common Item Keywords

@cindex customization keywords
  All kinds of customization declarations (for variables and groups, and
for faces) accept keyword arguments for specifying various information.
This section describes some keywords that apply to all kinds.

  All of these keywords, except @code{:tag}, can be used more than once
in a given item.  Each use of the keyword has an independent effect.
The keyword @code{:tag} is an exception because any given item can only
display one name.

@table @code
@item :tag @var{label}
@kindex tag@r{, customization keyword}
Use @var{label}, a string, instead of the item's name, to label the
item in customization menus and buffers.  @strong{Don't use a tag
which is substantially different from the item's real name; that would
cause confusion.}  One legitimate case for use of @code{:tag} is to
specify a dash where normally a hyphen would be converted to a space:

(defcustom cursor-in-non-selected-windows @dots{}
  :tag "Cursor In Non-selected Windows"
@end example

@kindex group@r{, customization keyword}
@item :group @var{group}
Put this customization item in group @var{group}.  When you use
@code{:group} in a @code{defgroup}, it makes the new group a subgroup of

If you use this keyword more than once, you can put a single item into
more than one group.  Displaying any of those groups will show this
item.  Please don't overdo this, since the result would be annoying.

@item :link @var{link-data}
@kindex link@r{, customization keyword}
Include an external link after the documentation string for this item.
This is a sentence containing an active field which references some
other documentation.

There are several alternatives you can use for @var{link-data}:

@table @code
@item (custom-manual @var{info-node})
Link to an Info node; @var{info-node} is a string which specifies the
node name, as in @code{"(emacs)Top"}.  The link appears as
@samp{[Manual]} in the customization buffer and enters the built-in
Info reader on @var{info-node}.

@item (info-link @var{info-node})
Like @code{custom-manual} except that the link appears
in the customization buffer with the Info node name.

@item (url-link @var{url})
Link to a web page; @var{url} is a string which specifies the
@acronym{URL}.  The link appears in the customization buffer as
@var{url} and invokes the WWW browser specified by

@item (emacs-commentary-link @var{library})
Link to the commentary section of a library; @var{library} is a string
which specifies the library name.

@item (emacs-library-link @var{library})
Link to an Emacs Lisp library file; @var{library} is a string which
specifies the library name.

@item (file-link @var{file})
Link to a file; @var{file} is a string which specifies the name of the
file to visit with @code{find-file} when the user invokes this link.

@item (function-link @var{function})
Link to the documentation of a function; @var{function} is a string
which specifies the name of the function to describe with
@code{describe-function} when the user invokes this link.

@item (variable-link @var{variable})
Link to the documentation of a variable; @var{variable} is a string
which specifies the name of the variable to describe with
@code{describe-variable} when the user invokes this link.

@item (custom-group-link @var{group})
Link to another customization group.  Invoking it creates a new
customization buffer for @var{group}.
@end table

You can specify the text to use in the customization buffer by adding
@code{:tag @var{name}} after the first element of the @var{link-data};
for example, @code{(info-link :tag "foo" "(emacs)Top")} makes a link to
the Emacs manual which appears in the buffer as @samp{foo}.

An item can have more than one external link; however, most items have
none at all.

@item :load @var{file}
@kindex load@r{, customization keyword}
Load file @var{file} (a string) before displaying this customization
item.  Loading is done with @code{load-library}, and only if the file is
not already loaded.

@item :require @var{feature}
@kindex require@r{, customization keyword}
Execute @code{(require '@var{feature})} when your saved customizations
set the value of this item.  @var{feature} should be a symbol.

The most common reason to use @code{:require} is when a variable enables
a feature such as a minor mode, and just setting the variable won't have
any effect unless the code which implements the mode is loaded.

@item :version @var{version}
@kindex version@r{, customization keyword}
This keyword specifies that the item was first introduced in Emacs
version @var{version}, or that its default value was changed in that
version.  The value @var{version} must be a string.

@item :package-version '(@var{package} . @var{version})
@kindex package-version@r{, customization keyword}
This keyword specifies that the item was first introduced in
@var{package} version @var{version}, or that its meaning or default
value was changed in that version.  The value of @var{package} is a
symbol and @var{version} is a string.

This keyword takes priority over @code{:version}.

@var{package} should be the official name of the package, such as MH-E
or Gnus.  If the package @var{package} is released as part of Emacs,
@var{package} and @var{version} should appear in the value of
@end table

Packages distributed as part of Emacs that use the
@code{:package-version} keyword must also update the
@code{customize-package-emacs-version-alist} variable.

@defvar customize-package-emacs-version-alist
This alist provides a mapping for the versions of Emacs that are
associated with versions of a package listed in the
@code{:package-version} keyword.  Its elements look like this:

(@var{package} (@var{pversion} . @var{eversion})@dots{})
@end example

For each @var{package}, which is a symbol, there are one or more
elements that contain a package version @var{pversion} with an
associated Emacs version @var{eversion}.  These versions are strings.
For example, the MH-E package updates this alist with the following:

(add-to-list 'customize-package-emacs-version-alist
             '(MH-E ("6.0" . "22.1") ("6.1" . "22.1") ("7.0" . "22.1")
                    ("7.1" . "22.1") ("7.2" . "22.1") ("7.3" . "22.1")
                    ("7.4" . "22.1") ("8.0" . "22.1")))
@end smallexample

The value of @var{package} needs to be unique and it needs to match
the @var{package} value appearing in the @code{:package-version}
keyword.  Since the user might see the value in a error message, a good
choice is the official name of the package, such as MH-E or Gnus.
@end defvar

@node Group Definitions
@section Defining Customization Groups
@cindex define customization group
@cindex customization groups, defining

  Each Emacs Lisp package should have one main customization group which
contains all the options, faces and other groups in the package.  If the
package has a small number of options and faces, use just one group and
put everything in it.  When there are more than twelve or so options and
faces, then you should structure them into subgroups, and put the
subgroups under the package's main customization group.  It is OK to
put some of the options and faces in the package's main group alongside
the subgroups.

  The package's main or only group should be a member of one or more of
the standard customization groups.  (To display the full list of them,
use @kbd{M-x customize}.)  Choose one or more of them (but not too
many), and add your group to each of them using the @code{:group}

  The way to declare new customization groups is with @code{defgroup}.

@defmac defgroup group members doc [keyword value]@dots{}
Declare @var{group} as a customization group containing @var{members}.
Do not quote the symbol @var{group}.  The argument @var{doc} specifies
the documentation string for the group.

The argument @var{members} is a list specifying an initial set of
customization items to be members of the group.  However, most often
@var{members} is @code{nil}, and you specify the group's members by
using the @code{:group} keyword when defining those members.

If you want to specify group members through @var{members}, each element
should have the form @code{(@var{name} @var{widget})}.  Here @var{name}
is a symbol, and @var{widget} is a widget type for editing that symbol.
Useful widgets are @code{custom-variable} for a variable,
@code{custom-face} for a face, and @code{custom-group} for a group.

When you introduce a new group into Emacs, use the @code{:version}
keyword in the @code{defgroup}; then you need not use it for
the individual members of the group.

In addition to the common keywords (@pxref{Common Keywords}), you can
also use this keyword in @code{defgroup}:

@table @code
@item :prefix @var{prefix}
@kindex prefix@r{, @code{defgroup} keyword}
If the name of an item in the group starts with @var{prefix}, then the
tag for that item is constructed (by default) by omitting @var{prefix}.

One group can have any number of prefixes.
@end table
@end defmac

  The prefix-discarding feature is currently turned off, which means
that @code{:prefix} currently has no effect.  We did this because we
found that discarding the specified prefixes often led to confusing
names for options.  This happened because the people who wrote the
@code{defgroup} definitions for various groups added @code{:prefix}
keywords whenever they make logical sense---that is, whenever the
variables in the library have a common prefix.

  In order to obtain good results with @code{:prefix}, it would be
necessary to check the specific effects of discarding a particular
prefix, given the specific items in a group and their names and
documentation.  If the resulting text is not clear, then @code{:prefix}
should not be used in that case.

  It should be possible to recheck all the customization groups, delete
the @code{:prefix} specifications which give unclear results, and then
turn this feature back on, if someone would like to do the work.

@node Variable Definitions
@section Defining Customization Variables
@cindex define customization options
@cindex customization variables, how to define

  Use @code{defcustom} to declare user-customizable variables.

@defmac defcustom option standard doc [keyword value]@dots{}
This construct declares @var{option} as a customizable user option
variable.  You should not quote @var{option}.  The argument @var{doc}
specifies the documentation string for the variable.  There is no need
to start it with a @samp{*}, because @code{defcustom} automatically
marks @var{option} as a @dfn{user option} (@pxref{Defining

The argument @var{standard} is an expression that specifies the
standard value for @var{option}.  Evaluating the @code{defcustom} form
evaluates @var{standard}, but does not necessarily install the
standard value.  If @var{option} already has a default value,
@code{defcustom} does not change it.  If the user has saved a
customization for @var{option}, @code{defcustom} installs the user's
customized value as @var{option}'s default value.  If neither of those
cases applies, @code{defcustom} installs the result of evaluating
@var{standard} as the default value.

The expression @var{standard} can be evaluated at various other times,
too---whenever the customization facility needs to know @var{option}'s
standard value.  So be sure to use an expression which is harmless to
evaluate at any time.  We recommend avoiding backquotes in
@var{standard}, because they are not expanded when editing the value,
so list values will appear to have the wrong structure.

Every @code{defcustom} should specify @code{:group} at least once.

If you specify the @code{:set} keyword, to make the variable take other
special actions when set through the customization buffer, the
variable's documentation string should tell the user specifically how
to do the same job in hand-written Lisp code.

When you evaluate a @code{defcustom} form with @kbd{C-M-x} in Emacs Lisp
mode (@code{eval-defun}), a special feature of @code{eval-defun}
arranges to set the variable unconditionally, without testing whether
its value is void.  (The same feature applies to @code{defvar}.)
@xref{Defining Variables}.
@end defmac

  @code{defcustom} accepts the following additional keywords:

@table @code
@item :type @var{type}
Use @var{type} as the data type for this option.  It specifies which
values are legitimate, and how to display the value.
@xref{Customization Types}, for more information.

@item :options @var{value-list}
@kindex options@r{, @code{defcustom} keyword}
Specify the list of reasonable values for use in this
option.  The user is not restricted to using only these values, but they
are offered as convenient alternatives.

This is meaningful only for certain types, currently including
@code{hook}, @code{plist} and @code{alist}.  See the definition of the
individual types for a description of how to use @code{:options}.

@item :set @var{setfunction}
@kindex set@r{, @code{defcustom} keyword}
Specify @var{setfunction} as the way to change the value of this
option.  The function @var{setfunction} should take two arguments, a
symbol (the option name) and the new value, and should do whatever is
necessary to update the value properly for this option (which may not
mean simply setting the option as a Lisp variable).  The default for
@var{setfunction} is @code{set-default}.

@item :get @var{getfunction}
@kindex get@r{, @code{defcustom} keyword}
Specify @var{getfunction} as the way to extract the value of this
option.  The function @var{getfunction} should take one argument, a
symbol, and should return whatever customize should use as the
``current value'' for that symbol (which need not be the symbol's Lisp
value).  The default is @code{default-value}.

You have to really understand the workings of Custom to use
@code{:get} correctly.  It is meant for values that are treated in
Custom as variables but are not actually stored in Lisp variables.  It
is almost surely a mistake to specify @code{getfunction} for a value
that really is stored in a Lisp variable.

@item :initialize @var{function}
@kindex initialize@r{, @code{defcustom} keyword}
@var{function} should be a function used to initialize the variable
when the @code{defcustom} is evaluated.  It should take two arguments,
the option name (a symbol) and the value.  Here are some predefined
functions meant for use in this way:

@table @code
@item custom-initialize-set
Use the variable's @code{:set} function to initialize the variable, but
do not reinitialize it if it is already non-void.

@item custom-initialize-default
Like @code{custom-initialize-set}, but use the function
@code{set-default} to set the variable, instead of the variable's
@code{:set} function.  This is the usual choice for a variable whose
@code{:set} function enables or disables a minor mode; with this choice,
defining the variable will not call the minor mode function, but
customizing the variable will do so.

@item custom-initialize-reset
Always use the @code{:set} function to initialize the variable.  If
the variable is already non-void, reset it by calling the @code{:set}
function using the current value (returned by the @code{:get} method).
This is the default @code{:initialize} function.

@item custom-initialize-changed
Use the @code{:set} function to initialize the variable, if it is
already set or has been customized; otherwise, just use

@item custom-initialize-safe-set
@itemx custom-initialize-safe-default
These functions behave like @code{custom-initialize-set}
(@code{custom-initialize-default}, respectively), but catch errors.
If an error occurs during initialization, they set the variable to
@code{nil} using @code{set-default}, and throw no error.

These two functions are only meant for options defined in pre-loaded
files, where some variables or functions used to compute the option's
value may not yet be defined.  The option normally gets updated in
@file{startup.el}, ignoring the previously computed value.  Because of
this typical usage, the value which these two functions compute
normally only matters when, after startup, one unsets the option's
value and then reevaluates the defcustom.  By that time, the necessary
variables and functions will be defined, so there will not be an error.
@end table

@item :set-after @var{variables}
@kindex set-after@r{, @code{defcustom} keyword}
When setting variables according to saved customizations, make sure to
set the variables @var{variables} before this one; in other words, delay
setting this variable until after those others have been handled.  Use
@code{:set-after} if setting this variable won't work properly unless
those other variables already have their intended values.
@end table

  The @code{:require} keyword is useful for an option that turns on the
operation of a certain feature.  Assuming that the package is coded to
check the value of the option, you still need to arrange for the package
to be loaded.  You can do that with @code{:require}.  @xref{Common
Keywords}.  Here is an example, from the library @file{saveplace.el}:

(defcustom save-place nil
  "Non-nil means automatically save place in each file..."
  :type 'boolean
  :require 'saveplace
  :group 'save-place)
@end example

If a customization item has a type such as @code{hook} or
@code{alist}, which supports @code{:options}, you can add additional
values to the list from outside the @code{defcustom} declaration by
calling @code{custom-add-frequent-value}.  For example, if you define a
function @code{my-lisp-mode-initialization} intended to be called from
@code{emacs-lisp-mode-hook}, you might want to add that to the list of
reasonable values for @code{emacs-lisp-mode-hook}, but not by editing
its definition.  You can do it thus:

(custom-add-frequent-value 'emacs-lisp-mode-hook
@end example

@defun custom-add-frequent-value symbol value
For the customization option @var{symbol}, add @var{value} to the
list of reasonable values.

The precise effect of adding a value depends on the customization type
of @var{symbol}.
@end defun

Internally, @code{defcustom} uses the symbol property
@code{standard-value} to record the expression for the standard value,
and @code{saved-value} to record the value saved by the user with the
customization buffer.  Both properties are actually lists whose car is
an expression which evaluates to the value.

@node Customization Types
@section Customization Types

@cindex customization types
  When you define a user option with @code{defcustom}, you must specify
its @dfn{customization type}.  That is a Lisp object which describes (1)
which values are legitimate and (2) how to display the value in the
customization buffer for editing.

@kindex type@r{, @code{defcustom} keyword}
  You specify the customization type in @code{defcustom} with the
@code{:type} keyword.  The argument of @code{:type} is evaluated, but
only once when the @code{defcustom} is executed, so it isn't useful
for the value to vary.  Normally we use a quoted constant.  For

(defcustom diff-command "diff"
  "The command to use to run diff."
  :type '(string)
  :group 'diff)
@end example

  In general, a customization type is a list whose first element is a
symbol, one of the customization type names defined in the following
sections.  After this symbol come a number of arguments, depending on
the symbol.  Between the type symbol and its arguments, you can
optionally write keyword-value pairs (@pxref{Type Keywords}).

  Some of the type symbols do not use any arguments; those are called
@dfn{simple types}.  For a simple type, if you do not use any
keyword-value pairs, you can omit the parentheses around the type
symbol.  For example just @code{string} as a customization type is
equivalent to @code{(string)}.

* Simple Types::
* Composite Types::
* Splicing into Lists::
* Type Keywords::
* Defining New Types::
@end menu

All customization types are implemented as widgets; see @ref{Top, ,
Introduction, widget, The Emacs Widget Library}, for details.

@node Simple Types
@subsection Simple Types

  This section describes all the simple customization types.

@table @code
@item sexp
The value may be any Lisp object that can be printed and read back.  You
can use @code{sexp} as a fall-back for any option, if you don't want to
take the time to work out a more specific type to use.

@item integer
The value must be an integer, and is represented textually
in the customization buffer.

@item number
The value must be a number (floating point or integer), and is
represented textually in the customization buffer.

@item float
The value must be a floating point number, and is represented
textually in the customization buffer.

@item string
The value must be a string, and the customization buffer shows just the
contents, with no delimiting @samp{"} characters and no quoting with

@item regexp
Like @code{string} except that the string must be a valid regular

@item character
The value must be a character code.  A character code is actually an
integer, but this type shows the value by inserting the character in the
buffer, rather than by showing the number.

@item file
The value must be a file name, and you can do completion with

@item (file :must-match t)
The value must be a file name for an existing file, and you can do
completion with @kbd{M-@key{TAB}}.

@item directory
The value must be a directory name, and you can do completion with

@item hook
The value must be a list of functions (or a single function, but that is
obsolete usage).  This customization type is used for hook variables.
You can use the @code{:options} keyword in a hook variable's
@code{defcustom} to specify a list of functions recommended for use in
the hook; see @ref{Variable Definitions}.

@item alist
The value must be a list of cons-cells, the @sc{car} of each cell
representing a key, and the @sc{cdr} of the same cell representing an
associated value.  The user can add and delete key/value pairs, and
edit both the key and the value of each pair.

You can specify the key and value types like this:

(alist :key-type @var{key-type} :value-type @var{value-type})
@end smallexample

where @var{key-type} and @var{value-type} are customization type
specifications.  The default key type is @code{sexp}, and the default
value type is @code{sexp}.

The user can add any key matching the specified key type, but you can
give some keys a preferential treatment by specifying them with the
@code{:options} (see @ref{Variable Definitions}).  The specified keys
will always be shown in the customize buffer (together with a suitable
value), with a checkbox to include or exclude or disable the key/value
pair from the alist.  The user will not be able to edit the keys
specified by the @code{:options} keyword argument.

The argument to the @code{:options} keywords should be a list of
specifications for reasonable keys in the alist.  Ordinarily, they are
simply atoms, which stand for themselves as.  For example:

:options '("foo" "bar" "baz")
@end smallexample

specifies that there are three ``known'' keys, namely @code{"foo"},
@code{"bar"} and @code{"baz"}, which will always be shown first.

You may want to restrict the value type for specific keys, for
example, the value associated with the @code{"bar"} key can only be an
integer.  You can specify this by using a list instead of an atom in
the list.  The first element will specify the key, like before, while
the second element will specify the value type.  For example:

:options '("foo" ("bar" integer) "baz")
@end smallexample

Finally, you may want to change how the key is presented.  By default,
the key is simply shown as a @code{const}, since the user cannot change
the special keys specified with the @code{:options} keyword.  However,
you may want to use a more specialized type for presenting the key, like
@code{function-item} if you know it is a symbol with a function binding.
This is done by using a customization type specification instead of a
symbol for the key.

:options '("foo" ((function-item some-function) integer)
@end smallexample

Many alists use lists with two elements, instead of cons cells.  For

(defcustom list-alist '(("foo" 1) ("bar" 2) ("baz" 3))
  "Each element is a list of the form (KEY VALUE).")
@end smallexample

instead of

(defcustom cons-alist '(("foo" . 1) ("bar" . 2) ("baz" . 3))
  "Each element is a cons-cell (KEY . VALUE).")
@end smallexample

Because of the way lists are implemented on top of cons cells, you can
treat @code{list-alist} in the example above as a cons cell alist, where
the value type is a list with a single element containing the real

(defcustom list-alist '(("foo" 1) ("bar" 2) ("baz" 3))
  "Each element is a list of the form (KEY VALUE)."
  :type '(alist :value-type (group integer)))
@end smallexample

The @code{group} widget is used here instead of @code{list} only because
the formatting is better suited for the purpose.

Similarly, you can have alists with more values associated with each
key, using variations of this trick:

(defcustom person-data '(("brian"  50 t)
                         ("dorith" 55 nil)
                         ("ken"    52 t))
  "Alist of basic info about people.
Each element has the form (NAME AGE MALE-FLAG)."
  :type '(alist :value-type (group integer boolean)))

(defcustom pets '(("brian")
                  ("dorith" "dog" "guppy")
                  ("ken" "cat"))
  "Alist of people's pets.
In an element (KEY . VALUE), KEY is the person's name,
and the VALUE is a list of that person's pets."
  :type '(alist :value-type (repeat string)))
@end smallexample

@item plist
The @code{plist} custom type is similar to the @code{alist} (see above),
except that the information is stored as a property list, i.e. a list of
this form:

(@var{key} @var{value} @var{key} @var{value} @var{key} @var{value} @dots{})
@end smallexample

The default @code{:key-type} for @code{plist} is @code{symbol},
rather than @code{sexp}.

@item symbol
The value must be a symbol.  It appears in the customization buffer as
the name of the symbol.

@item function
The value must be either a lambda expression or a function name.  When
it is a function name, you can do completion with @kbd{M-@key{TAB}}.

@item variable
The value must be a variable name, and you can do completion with

@item face
The value must be a symbol which is a face name, and you can do
completion with @kbd{M-@key{TAB}}.

@item boolean
The value is boolean---either @code{nil} or @code{t}.  Note that by
using @code{choice} and @code{const} together (see the next section),
you can specify that the value must be @code{nil} or @code{t}, but also
specify the text to describe each value in a way that fits the specific
meaning of the alternative.

@item coding-system
The value must be a coding-system name, and you can do completion with

@item color
The value must be a valid color name, and you can do completion with
@kbd{M-@key{TAB}}.  A sample is provided.
@end table

@node Composite Types
@subsection Composite Types
@cindex Composite Types (customization)

  When none of the simple types is appropriate, you can use composite
types, which build new types from other types or from specified data.
The specified types or data are called the @dfn{arguments} of the
composite type.  The composite type normally looks like this:

(@var{constructor} @var{arguments}@dots{})
@end example

but you can also add keyword-value pairs before the arguments, like

(@var{constructor} @r{@{}@var{keyword} @var{value}@r{@}}@dots{} @var{arguments}@dots{})
@end example

  Here is a table of constructors and how to use them to write
composite types:

@table @code
@item (cons @var{car-type} @var{cdr-type})
The value must be a cons cell, its @sc{car} must fit @var{car-type}, and
its @sc{cdr} must fit @var{cdr-type}.  For example, @code{(cons string
symbol)} is a customization type which matches values such as
@code{("foo" . foo)}.

In the customization buffer, the @sc{car} and the @sc{cdr} are
displayed and edited separately, each according to the type
that you specify for it.

@item (list @var{element-types}@dots{})
The value must be a list with exactly as many elements as the
@var{element-types} given; and each element must fit the
corresponding @var{element-type}.

For example, @code{(list integer string function)} describes a list of
three elements; the first element must be an integer, the second a
string, and the third a function.

In the customization buffer, each element is displayed and edited
separately, according to the type specified for it.

@item (vector @var{element-types}@dots{})
Like @code{list} except that the value must be a vector instead of a
list.  The elements work the same as in @code{list}.

@item (choice @var{alternative-types}@dots{})
The value must fit at least one of @var{alternative-types}.
For example, @code{(choice integer string)} allows either an
integer or a string.

In the customization buffer, the user selects an alternative
using a menu, and can then edit the value in the usual way for that

Normally the strings in this menu are determined automatically from the
choices; however, you can specify different strings for the menu by
including the @code{:tag} keyword in the alternatives.  For example, if
an integer stands for a number of spaces, while a string is text to use
verbatim, you might write the customization type this way,

(choice (integer :tag "Number of spaces")
        (string :tag "Literal text"))
@end example

so that the menu offers @samp{Number of spaces} and @samp{Literal text}.

In any alternative for which @code{nil} is not a valid value, other than
a @code{const}, you should specify a valid default for that alternative
using the @code{:value} keyword.  @xref{Type Keywords}.

If some values are covered by more than one of the alternatives,
customize will choose the first alternative that the value fits.  This
means you should always list the most specific types first, and the
most general last.  Here's an example of proper usage:

(choice (const :tag "Off" nil)
        symbol (sexp :tag "Other"))
@end example

This way, the special value @code{nil} is not treated like other
symbols, and symbols are not treated like other Lisp expressions.

@item (radio @var{element-types}@dots{})
This is similar to @code{choice}, except that the choices are displayed
using `radio buttons' rather than a menu.  This has the advantage of
displaying documentation for the choices when applicable and so is often
a good choice for a choice between constant functions
(@code{function-item} customization types).

@item (const @var{value})
The value must be @var{value}---nothing else is allowed.

The main use of @code{const} is inside of @code{choice}.  For example,
@code{(choice integer (const nil))} allows either an integer or

@code{:tag} is often used with @code{const}, inside of @code{choice}.
For example,

(choice (const :tag "Yes" t)
        (const :tag "No" nil)
        (const :tag "Ask" foo))
@end example

describes a variable for which @code{t} means yes, @code{nil} means no,
and @code{foo} means ``ask.''

@item (other @var{value})
This alternative can match any Lisp value, but if the user chooses this
alternative, that selects the value @var{value}.

The main use of @code{other} is as the last element of @code{choice}.
For example,

(choice (const :tag "Yes" t)
        (const :tag "No" nil)
        (other :tag "Ask" foo))
@end example

describes a variable for which @code{t} means yes, @code{nil} means no,
and anything else means ``ask.''  If the user chooses @samp{Ask} from
the menu of alternatives, that specifies the value @code{foo}; but any
other value (not @code{t}, @code{nil} or @code{foo}) displays as
@samp{Ask}, just like @code{foo}.

@item (function-item @var{function})
Like @code{const}, but used for values which are functions.  This
displays the documentation string as well as the function name.
The documentation string is either the one you specify with
@code{:doc}, or @var{function}'s own documentation string.

@item (variable-item @var{variable})
Like @code{const}, but used for values which are variable names.  This
displays the documentation string as well as the variable name.  The
documentation string is either the one you specify with @code{:doc}, or
@var{variable}'s own documentation string.

@item (set @var{types}@dots{})
The value must be a list, and each element of the list must match one of
the @var{types} specified.

This appears in the customization buffer as a checklist, so that each of
@var{types} may have either one corresponding element or none.  It is
not possible to specify two different elements that match the same one
of @var{types}.  For example, @code{(set integer symbol)} allows one
integer and/or one symbol in the list; it does not allow multiple
integers or multiple symbols.  As a result, it is rare to use
nonspecific types such as @code{integer} in a @code{set}.

Most often, the @var{types} in a @code{set} are @code{const} types, as
shown here:

(set (const :bold) (const :italic))
@end example

Sometimes they describe possible elements in an alist:

(set (cons :tag "Height" (const height) integer)
     (cons :tag "Width" (const width) integer))
@end example

That lets the user specify a height value optionally
and a width value optionally.

@item (repeat @var{element-type})
The value must be a list and each element of the list must fit the type
@var{element-type}.  This appears in the customization buffer as a
list of elements, with @samp{[INS]} and @samp{[DEL]} buttons for adding
more elements or removing elements.

@item (restricted-sexp :match-alternatives @var{criteria})
This is the most general composite type construct.  The value may be
any Lisp object that satisfies one of @var{criteria}.  @var{criteria}
should be a list, and each element should be one of these

@itemize @bullet
A predicate---that is, a function of one argument that has no side
effects, and returns either @code{nil} or non-@code{nil} according to
the argument.  Using a predicate in the list says that objects for which
the predicate returns non-@code{nil} are acceptable.

A quoted constant---that is, @code{'@var{object}}.  This sort of element
in the list says that @var{object} itself is an acceptable value.
@end itemize

For example,

(restricted-sexp :match-alternatives
                 (integerp 't 'nil))
@end example

allows integers, @code{t} and @code{nil} as legitimate values.

The customization buffer shows all legitimate values using their read
syntax, and the user edits them textually.
@end table

  Here is a table of the keywords you can use in keyword-value pairs
in a composite type:

@table @code
@item :tag @var{tag}
Use @var{tag} as the name of this alternative, for user communication
purposes.  This is useful for a type that appears inside of a

@item :match-alternatives @var{criteria}
@kindex match-alternatives@r{, customization keyword}
Use @var{criteria} to match possible values.  This is used only in

@item :args @var{argument-list}
@kindex args@r{, customization keyword}
Use the elements of @var{argument-list} as the arguments of the type
construct.  For instance, @code{(const :args (foo))} is equivalent to
@code{(const foo)}.  You rarely need to write @code{:args} explicitly,
because normally the arguments are recognized automatically as
whatever follows the last keyword-value pair.
@end table

@node Splicing into Lists
@subsection Splicing into Lists

  The @code{:inline} feature lets you splice a variable number of
elements into the middle of a list or vector.  You use it in a
@code{set}, @code{choice} or @code{repeat} type which appears among the
element-types of a @code{list} or @code{vector}.

  Normally, each of the element-types in a @code{list} or @code{vector}
describes one and only one element of the list or vector.  Thus, if an
element-type is a @code{repeat}, that specifies a list of unspecified
length which appears as one element.

  But when the element-type uses @code{:inline}, the value it matches is
merged directly into the containing sequence.  For example, if it
matches a list with three elements, those become three elements of the
overall sequence.  This is analogous to using @samp{,@@} in the backquote

  For example, to specify a list whose first element must be @code{baz}
and whose remaining arguments should be zero or more of @code{foo} and
@code{bar}, use this customization type:

(list (const baz) (set :inline t (const foo) (const bar)))
@end example

This matches values such as @code{(baz)}, @code{(baz foo)}, @code{(baz bar)}
and @code{(baz foo bar)}.

  When the element-type is a @code{choice}, you use @code{:inline} not
in the @code{choice} itself, but in (some of) the alternatives of the
@code{choice}.  For example, to match a list which must start with a
file name, followed either by the symbol @code{t} or two strings, use
this customization type:

(list file
      (choice (const t)
              (list :inline t string string)))
@end example

If the user chooses the first alternative in the choice, then the
overall list has two elements and the second element is @code{t}.  If
the user chooses the second alternative, then the overall list has three
elements and the second and third must be strings.

@node Type Keywords
@subsection Type Keywords

You can specify keyword-argument pairs in a customization type after the
type name symbol.  Here are the keywords you can use, and their

@table @code
@item :value @var{default}
This is used for a type that appears as an alternative inside of
@code{choice}; it specifies the default value to use, at first, if and
when the user selects this alternative with the menu in the
customization buffer.

Of course, if the actual value of the option fits this alternative, it
will appear showing the actual value, not @var{default}.

If @code{nil} is not a valid value for the alternative, then it is
essential to specify a valid default with @code{:value}.

@item :format @var{format-string}
@kindex format@r{, customization keyword}
This string will be inserted in the buffer to represent the value
corresponding to the type.  The following @samp{%} escapes are available
for use in @var{format-string}:

@table @samp
@item %[@var{button}%]
Display the text @var{button} marked as a button.  The @code{:action}
attribute specifies what the button will do if the user invokes it;
its value is a function which takes two arguments---the widget which
the button appears in, and the event.

There is no way to specify two different buttons with different

@item %@{@var{sample}%@}
Show @var{sample} in a special face specified by @code{:sample-face}.

@item %v
Substitute the item's value.  How the value is represented depends on
the kind of item, and (for variables) on the customization type.

@item %d
Substitute the item's documentation string.

@item %h
Like @samp{%d}, but if the documentation string is more than one line,
add an active field to control whether to show all of it or just the
first line.

@item %t
Substitute the tag here.  You specify the tag with the @code{:tag}

@item %%
Display a literal @samp{%}.
@end table

@item :action @var{action}
@kindex action@r{, customization keyword}
Perform @var{action} if the user clicks on a button.

@item :button-face @var{face}
@kindex button-face@r{, customization keyword}
Use the face @var{face} (a face name or a list of face names) for button
text displayed with @samp{%[@dots{}%]}.

@item :button-prefix @var{prefix}
@itemx :button-suffix @var{suffix}
@kindex button-prefix@r{, customization keyword}
@kindex button-suffix@r{, customization keyword}
These specify the text to display before and after a button.
Each can be:

@table @asis
@item @code{nil}
No text is inserted.

@item a string
The string is inserted literally.

@item a symbol
The symbol's value is used.
@end table

@item :tag @var{tag}
Use @var{tag} (a string) as the tag for the value (or part of the value)
that corresponds to this type.

@item :doc @var{doc}
@kindex doc@r{, customization keyword}
Use @var{doc} as the documentation string for this value (or part of the
value) that corresponds to this type.  In order for this to work, you
must specify a value for @code{:format}, and use @samp{%d} or @samp{%h}
in that value.

The usual reason to specify a documentation string for a type is to
provide more information about the meanings of alternatives inside a
@code{:choice} type or the parts of some other composite type.

@item :help-echo @var{motion-doc}
@kindex help-echo@r{, customization keyword}
When you move to this item with @code{widget-forward} or
@code{widget-backward}, it will display the string @var{motion-doc} in
the echo area.  In addition, @var{motion-doc} is used as the mouse
@code{help-echo} string and may actually be a function or form evaluated
to yield a help string.  If it is a function, it is called with one
argument, the widget.

@item :match @var{function}
@kindex match@r{, customization keyword}
Specify how to decide whether a value matches the type.  The
corresponding value, @var{function}, should be a function that accepts
two arguments, a widget and a value; it should return non-@code{nil} if
the value is acceptable.

@item :indent @var{columns}
Indent this item by @var{columns} columns.  The indentation is used for
@samp{%n}, and automatically for group names, for checklists and radio
buttons, and for editable lists.  It affects the whole of the
item except for the first line.

@item :offset @var{columns}
An integer indicating how many extra spaces to indent the subitems of
this item.  By default, subitems are indented the same as their parent.

@item :extra-offset
An integer indicating how many extra spaces to add to this item's
indentation, compared to its parent.

@item :notify
A function called each time the item or a subitem is changed.  The
function is called with two or three arguments.  The first argument is
the item itself, the second argument is the item that was changed, and
the third argument is the event leading to the change, if any.

@item :menu-tag
A tag used in the menu when the widget is used as an option in a
@code{menu-choice} widget.

@item :menu-tag-get
A function used for finding the tag when the widget is used as an option
in a @code{menu-choice} widget.  By default, the tag used will be either the
@code{:menu-tag} or @code{:tag} property if present, or the @code{princ}
representation of the @code{:value} property if not.

@item :validate
A function which takes a widget as an argument, and return @code{nil}
if the widget's current value is valid for the widget.  Otherwise, it
should return the widget containing the invalid data, and set that
widget's @code{:error} property to a string explaining the error.

You can use the function @code{widget-children-validate} for this job;
it tests that all children of @var{widget} are valid.

@item :tab-order
Specify the order in which widgets are traversed with
@code{widget-forward} or @code{widget-backward}.  This is only partially

@enumerate a
Widgets with tabbing order @code{-1} are ignored.

(Unimplemented) When on a widget with tabbing order @var{n}, go to the
next widget in the buffer with tabbing order @var{n+1} or @code{nil},
whichever comes first.

When on a widget with no tabbing order specified, go to the next widget
in the buffer with a positive tabbing order, or @code{nil}
@end enumerate

@item :parent
The parent of a nested widget (e.g., a @code{menu-choice} item or an
element of a @code{editable-list} widget).

@item :sibling-args
This keyword is only used for members of a @code{radio-button-choice} or
@code{checklist}.  The value should be a list of extra keyword
arguments, which will be used when creating the @code{radio-button} or
@code{checkbox} associated with this item.
@end ignore
@end table

@node Defining New Types
@subsection Defining New Types

In the previous sections we have described how to construct elaborate
type specifications for @code{defcustom}.  In some cases you may want
to give such a type specification a name.  The obvious case is when
you are using the same type for many user options: rather than repeat
the specification for each option, you can give the type specification
a name, and use that name each @code{defcustom}.  The other case is
when a user option's value is a recursive data structure.  To make it
possible for a datatype to refer to itself, it needs to have a name.

Since custom types are implemented as widgets, the way to define a new
customize type is to define a new widget.  We are not going to describe
the widget interface here in details, see @ref{Top, , Introduction,
widget, The Emacs Widget Library}, for that.  Instead we are going to
demonstrate the minimal functionality needed for defining new customize
types by a simple example.

(define-widget 'binary-tree-of-string 'lazy
  "A binary tree made of cons-cells and strings."
  :offset 4
  :tag "Node"
  :type '(choice (string :tag "Leaf" :value "")
                 (cons :tag "Interior"
                       :value ("" . "")

(defcustom foo-bar ""
  "Sample variable holding a binary tree of strings."
  :type 'binary-tree-of-string)
@end example

The function to define a new widget is called @code{define-widget}.  The
first argument is the symbol we want to make a new widget type.  The
second argument is a symbol representing an existing widget, the new
widget is going to be defined in terms of difference from the existing
widget.  For the purpose of defining new customization types, the
@code{lazy} widget is perfect, because it accepts a @code{:type} keyword
argument with the same syntax as the keyword argument to
@code{defcustom} with the same name.  The third argument is a
documentation string for the new widget.  You will be able to see that
string with the @kbd{M-x widget-browse @key{RET} binary-tree-of-string
@key{RET}} command.

After these mandatory arguments follow the keyword arguments.  The most
important is @code{:type}, which describes the data type we want to match
with this widget.  Here a @code{binary-tree-of-string} is described as
being either a string, or a cons-cell whose car and cdr are themselves
both @code{binary-tree-of-string}.  Note the reference to the widget
type we are currently in the process of defining.  The @code{:tag}
attribute is a string to name the widget in the user interface, and the
@code{:offset} argument is there to ensure that child nodes are
indented four spaces relative to the parent node, making the tree
structure apparent in the customization buffer.

The @code{defcustom} shows how the new widget can be used as an ordinary
customization type.

The reason for the name @code{lazy} is that the other composite
widgets convert their inferior widgets to internal form when the
widget is instantiated in a buffer.  This conversion is recursive, so
the inferior widgets will convert @emph{their} inferior widgets.  If
the data structure is itself recursive, this conversion is an infinite
recursion.  The @code{lazy} widget prevents the recursion: it convert
its @code{:type} argument only when needed.

   arch-tag: d1b8fad3-f48c-4ce4-a402-f73b5ef19bd2
@end ignore