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XEmacs / man / xemacs / keystrokes.texi

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@node Keystrokes, Pull-down Menus, Frame, Top
@chapter Keystrokes, Key Sequences, and Key Bindings

@iftex
  This chapter discusses the character set Emacs uses for input commands
and inside files.  You have already learned that the more frequently
used Emacs commands are bound to keys.  For example, @kbd{Control-f} is
bound to @code{forward-char}.  The following issues are covered:

@itemize @bullet
@item
How keystrokes can be represented
@item
How you can create key sequences from keystrokes
@item
How you can add to the available modifier keys by customizing your
keyboard: for example, you could have the
@key{Capslock} key be understood as the @key{Super} key by Emacs. A
@key{Super} key is used like @key{Control} or @key{Meta} in that you hold
it while typing another key. 
@end itemize

 You will also learn how to customize existing key bindings and
create new ones.
@end iftex

@menu
* Intro to Keystrokes::      Keystrokes as building blocks of key sequences.
* Representing Keystrokes::  Using lists of modifiers and keysyms to
                             represent keystrokes.
* Key Sequences::            Combine key strokes into key sequences you can
                             bind to commands.
* String Key Sequences::     Available for upward compatibility.
* Meta Key::                 Using @key{ESC} to represent @key{Meta}
* Super and Hyper Keys::     Adding modifier keys on certain keyboards.
* Character Representation:: How characters appear in Emacs buffers.
* Commands::                 How commands are bound to key sequences.
@end menu
 
@node Intro to Keystrokes, Representing Keystrokes, Keystrokes, Keystrokes
@section Keystrokes as Building Blocks of Key Sequences
@cindex character set
@cindex ASCII
@cindex keystroke

      Earlier versions of Emacs used only the ASCII character set,
which defines 128 different character codes.  Some of these codes are
assigned graphic symbols like @samp{a} and @samp{=}; the rest are
control characters, such as @kbd{Control-a} (also called @kbd{C-a}).
@kbd{C-a} means you hold down the @key{CTRL} key and then press
@kbd{a}.@refill

   Keybindings in XEmacs are not restricted to the set of
keystrokes that can be represented in ASCII.  XEmacs can tell the
difference between, for example, @kbd{Control-h}, @kbd{Control-Shift-h},
and @kbd{Backspace}.
  
@cindex modifier key
@cindex keysym
@kindex meta key
@kindex control key
@kindex hyper key
@kindex super key
@kindex shift key
@kindex button1 
@kindex button2
@kindex button3
@kindex button1up
@kindex button2up
@kindex button3up

  A keystroke is like a piano chord: you get it by simultaneously
striking several keys.  To be more precise, a keystroke consists
of a possibly empty set of modifiers followed by a single
@dfn{keysym}.  The set of modifiers is small; it consists of
@kbd{Control}, @kbd{Meta}, @kbd{Super}, @kbd{Hyper}, and @kbd{Shift}.

  The rest of the keys on your keyboard, along with the mouse buttons,
make up the set of keysyms.  A keysym is usually what is printed on the
keys on your keyboard.  Here is a table of some of the symbolic names
for keysyms:
@table @kbd
@item a,b,c...
alphabetic keys
@item f1,f2...
function keys
@item button1
left mouse button
@item button2
middle mouse button
@item button3
right mouse button
@item button1up 
upstroke on the left mouse button
@item button2up
upstroke on the middle mouse button
@item button3up
upstroke on the right mouse button
@item return
Return key
@end table

@vindex keyboard-translate-table
Use the variable @code{keyboard-translate-table} only if you are on a
dumb tty, as it cannot handle input that cannot be represented as ASCII.
The value of this variable is a string used as a translate table for
keyboard input or @code{nil}.  Each character is looked up in this
string and the contents used instead.  If the string is of length
@code{n}, character codes @code{N} and up are untranslated.  If you are
running Emacs under X, you should do the translations with the
@code{xmodmap} program instead.


@node Representing Keystrokes, Key Sequences, Intro to Keystrokes, Keystrokes
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@subsection Representing Keystrokes
@kindex hyper key
@kindex super key
@findex read-key-sequence

  XEmacs represents keystrokes as lists. Each list consists of
an arbitrary combination of modifiers followed by a single keysym at the
end of the list.  If the keysym corresponds to an ASCII character, you
can use its character code.  (A keystroke may also be represented by an
event object, as returned by the @code{read-key-sequence} function;
non-programmers need not worry about this.)

The following table gives some examples of how to list representations
for keystrokes.  Each list consists of sets of modifiers followed by
keysyms:

@table @kbd
@item (control a)
Pressing @key{CTRL} and @kbd{a} simultaneously.
@item (control ?a)
Another way of writing the keystroke @kbd{C-a}.
@item (control 65)
Yet another way of writing the keystroke @kbd{C-a}.
@item (break)
Pressing the @key{BREAK} key.
@item (control meta button2up)
Release the middle mouse button, while pressing @key{CTRL} and
@key{META}. 
@end table
@cindex shift modifer
  Note: As you define keystrokes, you can use the @kbd{shift} key only
as a modifier with characters that do not have a second keysym on the
same key, such as @kbd{backspace} and @kbd{tab}.  It is an error to
define a keystroke using the @key{shift} modifier with keysyms such as
@kbd{a} and @kbd{=}.  The correct forms are @kbd{A} and @kbd{+}.

@node Key Sequences, String Key Sequences, Representing Keystrokes, Keystrokes
@subsection Representing Key Sequences

  A @dfn{complete key sequence} is a sequence of keystrokes that Emacs
understands as a unit.  Key sequences are significant because you can
bind them to commands.  Note that not all sequences of keystrokes are
possible key sequences.  In particular, the initial keystrokes in a key
sequence must make up a @dfn{prefix key sequence}.

  Emacs represents a key sequence as a vector of keystrokes.  Thus, the
schematic representation of a complete key sequence is as follows:

@example
  [(modifier .. modifer keysym) ... (modifier .. modifier keysym)]
@end example

  Here are some examples of complete key sequences:

@table @kbd
@item [(control c) (control a)]	
Typing @kbd{C-c} followed by @kbd{C-a}
@item [(control c) (control 65)]	
Typing @kbd{C-c} followed by @kbd{C-a}. (Using the ASCII code
for the character `a')@refill
@item [(control c) (break)]
Typing @kbd{C-c} followed by the @kbd{break} character.@refill
@end table

@kindex C-c
@kindex C-x
@kindex C-h
@kindex ESC
@cindex prefix key sequence

  A @dfn{prefix key sequence} is the beginning of a series of longer
sequences that are valid key sequences; adding any single keystroke to
the end of a prefix results in a valid key sequence.  For example,
@kbd{control-x} is standardly defined as a prefix.  Thus there is a
two-character key sequence starting with @kbd{C-x} for each valid
keystroke, giving numerous possibilities.  Here are some samples:

@itemize @bullet
@item
@kbd{[(control x) (c)]}
@item
@kbd{[(control x) (control c)]}
@end itemize

  Adding one character to a prefix key does not have to form a complete
key.  It could make another, longer prefix.  For example, @kbd{[(control
x) (\4)]} is itself a prefix that leads to any number of different
three-character keys, including @kbd{[(control x) (\4) (f)]},
@kbd{[(control x) (\4) (b)]} and so on.  It would be possible to define
one of those three-character sequences as a prefix, creating a series of
four-character keys, but we did not define any of them this way.@refill

  By contrast, the two-character sequence @kbd{[(control f) (control
k)]} is not a key, because the @kbd{(control f)} is a complete key
sequence in itself.  You cannot give @kbd{[(control f (control k)]} an
independent meaning as a command while @kbd{(control f)} is a complete
sequence, because Emacs would understand @key{C-f C-k} as two
commands.@refill

 The predefined prefix key sequences in Emacs are @kbd{(control c)},
@kbd{(control x)}, @kbd{(control h)}, @kbd{[(control x) (\4)]}, and
@kbd{escape}.  You can customize Emacs and could make new prefix keys or
eliminate the default key sequences.  @xref{Key Bindings}.  For example,
if you redefine @kbd{(control f)} as a prefix, @kbd{[(control f)
(control k)]} automatically becomes a valid key sequence (complete,
unless you define it as a prefix as well).  Conversely, if you remove
the prefix definition of @kbd{[(control x) (\4)]}, @kbd{[(control x)
(\4) (f)]} (or @kbd{[(control x) (\4) @var{anything}]}) is no longer a
valid key sequence.

Note that the above paragraphs uses \4 instead of simply 4, because \4
is the symbol whose name is "4", and plain 4 is the integer 4, which
would have been interpreted as the ASCII value.  Another way of
representing the symbol whose name is "4" is to write ?4, which would be
interpreted as the number 52, which is the ASCII code for the character
"4".  We could therefore actually have written 52 directly, but that is
far less clear.

@node String Key Sequences, Meta Key, Key Sequences, Keystrokes
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@subsection  String Key Sequences
For backward compatibility, you may also represent a key sequence using
strings.  For example, we have the following equivalent representations:

@table @kbd
@item "\C-c\C-c"
@code{[(control c) (control c)]}
@item "\e\C-c"
@code{[(meta control c)]}
@end table

@kindex LFD
@kindex TAB

@node Meta Key, Super and Hyper Keys, String Key Sequences, Keystrokes
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@subsection Assignment of the @key{META} Key
 
@kindex META
@kindex ESC
  Not all terminals have the complete set of modifiers.  
Terminals that have a @key{Meta} key allow you to type Meta characters
by just holding that key down.  To type @kbd{Meta-a}, hold down
@key{META} and press @kbd{a}.  On those terminals, the @key{META} key
works like the @key{SHIFT} key.  Such a key is not always labeled
@key{META}, however, as this function is often a special option for a
key with some other primary purpose.@refill

  If there is no @key{META} key, you can still type Meta characters
using two-character sequences starting with @key{ESC}.  To enter
@kbd{M-a}, you could type @kbd{@key{ESC} a}.  To enter @kbd{C-M-a}, you
would type @kbd{ESC C-a}.  @key{ESC} is allowed on terminals with
Meta keys, too, in case you have formed a habit of using it.@refill

If you are running under X and do not have a @key{META} key, it 
is possible to reconfigure some other key to be a @key{META} 
key.  @xref{Super and Hyper Keys}. @refill

@vindex meta-flag
  Emacs believes the terminal has a @key{META} key if the variable
@code{meta-flag} is non-@code{nil}.  Normally this is set automatically
according to the termcap entry for your terminal type.  However, sometimes
the termcap entry is wrong, and then it is useful to set this variable
yourself.  @xref{Variables}, for how to do this.

Note: If you are running under the X window system, the setting of
the @code{meta-flag} variable is irrelevant. 

@node Super and Hyper Keys, Character Representation, Meta Key, Keystrokes
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@subsection Assignment of the @key{SUPER} and @key{HYPER} Keys
@kindex hyper key
@kindex super key

  Most keyboards do not, by default, have @key{SUPER} or @key{HYPER}
modifier keys.  Under X, you can simulate the @key{SUPER} or
@key{HYPER} key if you want to bind keys to sequences using @kbd{super}
and @kbd{hyper}.  You can use the @code{xmodmap} program to do this.

  For example, to turn your @key{CAPS-LOCK} key into a @key{SUPER} key,
do the following:

  Create a file called @code{~/.xmodmap}.  In this file, place the lines

@example
	remove Lock = Caps_Lock
	keysym Caps_Lock = Super_L
	add Mod2 = Super_L
@end example

The first line says that the key that is currently called @code{Caps_Lock}
should no longer behave as a ``lock'' key.  The second line says that
this should now be called @code{Super_L} instead.  The third line says that 
the key called @code{Super_L} should be a modifier key, which produces the
@code{Mod2} modifier.

To create a @key{META} or @key{HYPER} key instead of a @key{SUPER} key,
replace the word @code{Super} above with @code{Meta} or @code{Hyper}.

Just after you start up X, execute the command @code{xmodmap /.xmodmap}.
You can add this command to the appropriate initialization file to have
the command executed automatically.@refill

If you have problems, see the documentation for the @code{xmodmap}
program.  The X keyboard model is quite complicated, and explaining
it is beyond the scope of this manual.  However, we reprint the 
following description from the X Protocol document for your convenience:

@cindex keysyms
@cindex keycode

 A list of keysyms is associated with each keycode. If that list
(ignoring trailing @code{NoSymbol} entries) is a single keysym @samp{K},
then the list is treated as if it were the list 
@code{``K NoSymbol K NoSymbol''}. If the list (ignoring trailing 
@code{NoSymbol} entries) is a pair of keysyms @samp{K1 K2}, then the 
list is treated as if it were the list @code{``K1 K2 K1 K2''}. If the 
list (ignoring trailing @code{NoSymbol} entries) is a triple of keysyms 
@samp{K1 K2 K3}, then the list is treated as if it were the list 
@code{``K1 K2 K3 NoSymbol''}.

 The first four elements of the list are split into two groups of 
keysyms. Group 1 contains the first and second keysyms; Group 2 contains
third and fourth keysyms. Within each group, if the second element of
the group is NoSymbol, then the group should be treated as if the second
element were the same as the first element, except when the first
element is an alphabetic keysym @samp{K} for which both lowercase and 
uppercase forms are defined. In that case, the group should be treated 
as if the first element were the lowercase form of @samp{K} and the second 
element were the uppercase form of @samp{K}.

 The standard rules for obtaining a keysym from a KeyPress event make use of 
only the Group 1 and Group 2 keysyms; no interpretation of other keysyms in 
the list is given here. (That is, the last four keysyms are unused.)

 Which group to use is determined by modifier state. Switching between
groups is controlled by the keysym named @code{Mode_switch}. Attach that
keysym to some keycode and attach that keycode to any one of the
modifiers Mod1 through Mod5. This modifier is called the @dfn{group
modifier}. For any keycode, Group 1 is used when the group modifier is
off, and Group 2 is used when the group modifier is on.

 Within a group, which keysym to use is also determined by modifier
state. The first keysym is used when the @code{Shift} and @code{Lock} 
modifiers are off. The second keysym is used when the @code{Shift} 
modifier is on, or when the @code{Lock} modifier is on and the second 
keysym is uppercase alphabetic, or when the @code{Lock} modifier is on 
and is interpreted as @code{ShiftLock}. Otherwise, when the @code{Lock} 
modifier is on and is interpreted as @code{CapsLock}, the state of the 
@code{Shift} modifier is applied first to select a keysym, 
but if that keysym is lower-case alphabetic, then the corresponding 
upper-case keysym is used instead.

 In addition to the above information on keysyms, we also provide the 
following description of modifier mapping from the InterClient 
Communications Conventions Manual:

@cindex modifier mapping

 X11 supports 8 modifier bits, of which 3 are pre-assigned to 
@code{Shift}, @code{Lock}, and @code{Control}. Each modifier bit is 
controlled by the state of a set of keys, and these sets are specified 
in a table accessed by @code{GetModifierMapping()} and 
@code{SetModifierMapping()}.

 A client needing to use one of the pre-assigned modifiers should assume
that the modifier table has been set up correctly to control these
modifiers. The @code{Lock} modifier should be interpreted as @code{Caps
Lock} or @code{Shift Lock} according to whether the keycodes in its
controlling set include @code{XK_Caps_Lock} or @code{XK_Shift_Lock}.

 Clients should determine the meaning of a modifier bit from the keysyms 
being used to control it.

A client needing to use an extra modifier, for example @code{Meta}, should:

@enumerate
@item
Scan the existing modifier mappings.

@enumerate
@item
If it finds a modifier that contains a keycode whose set of keysyms 
includes @code{XK_Meta_L} or @code{XK_Meta_R}, it should use that 
modifier bit.

@item
If there is no existing modifier controlled by @code{XK_Meta_L} or 
@code{XK_Meta_R}, it should select an unused modifier bit (one with 
an empty controlling set) and:
@end enumerate

@item
If there is a keycode with @code{XL_Meta_L} in its set of keysyms, 
add that keycode to the set for the chosen modifier, and then:

@enumerate
@item
If there is a keycode with @code{XL_Meta_R} in its set of keysyms, 
add that keycode to the set for the chosen modifier, and then:

@item
If the controlling set is still empty, interact with the user to 
select one or more keys to be @code{Meta}.
@end enumerate


@item
If there are no unused modifier bits, ask the user to take corrective action.
@end enumerate

 This means that the @code{Mod1} modifier does not necessarily mean 
@code{Meta}, although some applications (such as twm and emacs 18) 
assume that. Any of the five unassigned modifier bits could mean 
@code{Meta}; what matters is that a modifier bit is generated by a 
keycode which is bound to the keysym @code{Meta_L} or @code{Meta_R}.

 Therefore, if you want to make a @key{META} key, the right way 
is to make the keycode in question generate both a @code{Meta} keysym 
and some previously-unassigned modifier bit.

@node Character Representation, Commands, Super and Hyper Keys, Keystrokes
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@section Representation of Characters

This section briefly discusses how characters are represented in Emacs
buffers.  @xref{Key Sequences} for information on representing key
sequences to create key bindings. 

  ASCII graphic characters in Emacs buffers are displayed with their
graphics.  @key{LFD} is the same as a newline character; it is displayed
by starting a new line.  @key{TAB} is displayed by moving to the next
tab stop column (usually every 8 spaces).  Other control characters are
displayed as a caret (@samp{^}) followed by the non-control version of
the character; thus, @kbd{C-a} is displayed as @samp{^A}.  Non-ASCII
characters 128 and up are displayed with octal escape sequences; thus,
character code 243 (octal), also called @kbd{M-#} when used as an input
character, is displayed as @samp{\243}.

The variable @code{ctl-arrow} may be used to alter this behavior.
@xref{Display Vars}.

@node Commands, , Character Representation, Keystrokes
@section Keys and Commands

@cindex binding
@cindex customization
@cindex keymap
@cindex function
@cindex command
  This manual is full of passages that tell you what particular keys do.
But Emacs does not assign meanings to keys directly.  Instead, Emacs
assigns meanings to @dfn{functions}, and then gives keys their meanings
by @dfn{binding} them to functions.

 A function is a Lisp object that can be executed as a program.  Usually
it is a Lisp symbol that has been given a function definition; every
symbol has a name, usually made of a few English words separated by
dashes, such as @code{next-line} or @code{forward-word}.  It also has a
@dfn{definition}, which is a Lisp program.  Only some functions can be the
bindings of keys; these are functions whose definitions use
@code{interactive} to specify how to call them interactively.  Such
functions are called @dfn{commands}, and their names are @dfn{command
names}.  More information on this subject will appear in the @i{XEmacs
Lisp Reference Manual}.

  The bindings between keys and functions are recorded in various tables
called @dfn{keymaps}.  @xref{Key Bindings} for more information on key
sequences you can bind commands to.  @xref{Keymaps} for information on
creating keymaps.

  When we say  ``@kbd{C-n} moves down vertically one line'' we are
glossing over a distinction that is irrelevant in ordinary use but is
vital in understanding how to customize Emacs.  The function
@code{next-line} is programmed to move down vertically.  @kbd{C-n}
has this effect @i{because} it is bound to that function.  If you rebind
@kbd{C-n} to the function @code{forward-word} then @kbd{C-n} will move
forward by words instead.  Rebinding keys is a common method of
customization.@refill

   The rest of this manual usually ignores this subtlety to keep
things simple.  To give the customizer the information needed, we often
state the name of the command that really does the work in parentheses
after mentioning the key that runs it.  For example, we will say that
``The command @kbd{C-n} (@code{next-line}) moves point vertically
down,'' meaning that @code{next-line} is a command that moves vertically
down and @kbd{C-n} is a key that is standardly bound to it.

@cindex variables
  While we are on the subject of information for customization only,
it's a good time to tell you about @dfn{variables}.  Often the
description of a command will say, ``To change this, set the variable
@code{mumble-foo}.''  A variable is a name used to remember a value.
Most of the variables documented in this manual exist just to facilitate
customization: some command or other part of Emacs uses the variable
and behaves differently depending on its setting.  Until you are interested in
customizing, you can ignore the information about variables.  When you
are ready to be interested, read the basic information on variables, and 
then the information on individual variables will make sense.
@xref{Variables}.