ILISP User Manual

A GNU Emacs Interface for Interacting with Lisp

Edition 0.13, October 1996

For ILISP Version 5.8

by Todd Kaufmann, Chris McConnell, Ivan Vazquez, Marco Antoniotti, and Rick Campbell

How to get the latest ILISP distribution.

ILISP is "free"; this means that everyone is free to use it and free to redistribute it on a free basis. ILISP is not in the public domain; it is copyrighted and there are restrictions on its distribution, but these restrictions are designed to permit everything that a good cooperating citizen would want to do. What is not allowed is to try to prevent others from further sharing any version of ILISP that they might get from you. The precise conditions appears following this section.

The easiest way to get a copy of ILISP is from someone else who has it. You need not ask for permission to do so, or tell any one else; just copy it.

If you do start using the package, please send mail to to subscribe to the ILISP mailing list.

Please send bugs, questions or suggestions for discussion to Message sent there will be distributed to all subscribers.

FTP directions

You can get the distribution file, ilisp-5.8.tar.gz via anonymous FTP from FTP.CS.CMU.EDU ( in /afs/cs/user/campbell/http/ilisp/.

% ftp
Name ( anonymous
331 Guest login ok, send username@node as password.
Password: your-user-id@your-hostname
ftp> cd /afs/cs/user/campbell/http/ilisp
250 Directory path set to /afs/cs/user/campbell/http/ilisp.
ftp> type binary
200 Type set to I.
ftp> get ilisp-5.8.tar.gz
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening data connection for ilisp-5.8.tar.gz.
226 Transfer complete.
local: ilisp-5.8.tar.gz remote: ilisp-5.8.tar.gz
168801 bytes received.
ftp> quit
221 Goodbye.

Or get whatever single files you need from the untarred subdirectory.

You can also get ilisp-5.8.tar.gz via anonymous FTP from FTP.ICSI.BERKELEY.EDU in either /pub/software/elisp/ or /pub/theory/marcoxa/elisp/.

Unpack and install:

% gzip -dc ilisp-5.8.tar.gz | tar xf -

See section How to install ILISP.

WWW directions

You can use the World Wide Web (WWW) to get the distribution file from the anonymous FTP locations using one of the following URLs:

You can also use the CMU Artificial Intelligence Repository:

From there follow: LISP, UTIL, EMACS and finally ILISP. Use your browser capabilities to download what you need.

The complete URL for the distribution file in the CMU AI Repository is

Other URLs for the distribution file include:

Unpack and install:

% gzip -dc ilisp-5.8.tar.gz | tar xf -

See section How to install ILISP.


ILISP replaces the standard inferior LISP mode. ILISP is based on comint mode and derived from a number of different interfaces including Symbolics, CMU Common Lisp, and Thinking Machines.

There are many people that have taken the time to report bugs, make suggestions and even better send code to fix bugs or implement new features.

Thanks to Guido Bosch, David Braunegg, Tim Bradshaw, Thomas M. Breuel, Hans Chalupsky, Kimball Collins, Brian Dennis, David Duff, Tom Emerson, Michael Ernst, Scott Fahlman, David Gadbois, Robert P. Goldman, Marty Hall, Richard Harris, Jim Healy, Christopher Hoover, Larry Hunter, Ben Hyde, Chuck Irvine, Michael Kashket, Mark Kantrowitz, Qiegang Long, Erik Naggum, Dan Pierson, Yusuf Pisan, Frank Ritter, Jeffrey Mark Siskind, Neil Smithline, Richard Stallman, Larry Stead, Jason Trenouth, Christof Ullwer, Bjorn Victor, Fred White, Ben Wing, Matsuo Yoshihiro, Jamie Zawinski, Paul Fuqua (for the CMU-CL GC display code) and Marco Antoniotti for bug reports, suggestions and code. Our apologies to anyone we may have forgotten.

Special thanks to Todd Kaufmann for the texinfo file, work on bridge, epoch-pop and for really exercising everything.

Please send bug reports, fixes and extensions to so that they can be merged into the master source.

--Chris McConnell                     18-Mar-91 
--Ivan Vazquez                        27-Jun-93
--Marco Antoniotti and Rick Campbell  25-Oct-96


ILISP is an interface from GNU Emacs to an inferior LISP. It has the following features:

How to install ILISP

Installation of ILISP and some initialization of your computing environment are described in this chapter. Please read the following sections carefully before getting started with ILISP.

If ILISP has already been installed at your location, you can probably skip ahead to "Autoloading."

Note that Jamie Zawinki's byte-compiler is required when compiling ILISP. If you don't have it, get it from

You don't need it if you are running emacs version 19 as both the FSF and XEmacs releases include this in their distributions.

Makefile configuration

Some configuration needs to be done before compiling the emacs-lisp files that comprise ILISP. This should be done in the Makefile file in the section of the file marked CONFIGURATION SECTION.

First, set the YOUR_EMACS variable to be the pathname of the emacs you will be using ILISP with. This is the emacs that will be used to compile ILISP with.

If you don't have Jamie Zawinski's byte compiler in your standard load path ( both FSF's 19 and XEmacs 19 do have enhaced versions of it ) then you will have to uncomment the BYTECOMP line and set it to point to the correct location of the bytecomp files.

If you do not have comint already in your emacs ( both FSF 19 and XEmacs 19 do ) then uncomment the USE_BUNDLED_COMINT line. This will cause the copy of comint.el to be moved from the Extras directory into the main ILISP directory.

The advice section is left uncommented out in the distributed Makefile because most people will not have advice.elc in their load path. Only XEmacs will have this in the standard distribution. If you do have it in your load path, then to avoid having two copies in your load-path and avoiding future confusion then comment out both the ADVICE and USE_BUNDLED_ADVICE lines.

You can then compile everything with the shell command

% make -f Makefile-ilisp <your target here>

Where the possible targets are emacs_18, emacs_18_epoch, emacs_18_menu, and emacs_19.

Ignore any compilation warnings unless they result in ILISP not compiling completely.

You should then copy relevant sections of ilisp.emacs to your .emacs or to the system-wide default.el file, depending on who will be using ILISP.

You should add the directory where all of the ILISP emacs-lisp files reside to your load-path. There is an example of this in ilisp.emacs

As an alternative you could set up a .ilisp which contains the appropriate portions of ilisp.emacs, in order to avoid cluttering too much .emacs or default.el

The first time a dialect is started, the interface files will complain about not being compiled, just hit i to ignore the message. Once a lisp dialect is started up, you should execute the command ilisp-compile-inits which will compile the `*.lisp' files and write them to the same directory as the ilisp files.

The binary files should have a unique extension for each different combination of architecture and LISP dialect. You will need to change ilisp-init-binary-extension and ilisp-init-binary-command to get additional extensions. The binary for each different architecture should be different. If you want to build the interface files into a LISP world, you will also need to set ilisp-load-inits to nil in the same place that you change ilisp-program to load the LISP world.

There is an ilisp-site-hook for initializing site specific stuff like program locations when ILISP is first loaded. You may want to define appropriate autoloads in your system Emacs start up file.

Example site init:

;;; CMU site
(setq ilisp-site-hook
      '(lambda ()
        (setq ilisp-motd "CMU ILISP V%s")
        (setq expand-symlinks-rfs-exists t)
        (setq allegro-program "/usr/misc/.allegro/bin/cl")
        (setq lucid-program "/usr/misc/.lucid/bin/lisp")))

Files of ILISP

The files you need to use ilisp are:

File with sample `.emacs' code for ILISP.
Expand pathnames resolving links.
Partial completion code.
Process to process communication.
The basic comint abstraction. You only need this if running emacs-18.
Extensions for sending commands and getting results.
Standalone lisp-mode extensions.
ILISP bug submittal code.
Compatibility code between fsf-18, fsf-19 and lemacs-19.
Buffer input module.
Variable definitions.
Indentation code.
Buffer-point movement code.
Keymap setups, including ilisp-lispm-bindings.
ILISP mode documenation.
ILISP mode definition.
Parenthesis handling.
Emacs-lisp additions.
ILISP symbol handling.
Low level interface code.
High level interface code.
Output handling, include typeout window (a popper replacement).
Process handling code.
Buffer value interface.
Match ring code.
Misc. utilities.
Error handling.
Interface to reset/kill/abort inferior lisp.
ilisp-send definitions and associated code.
Comint related code/setup.
ILISP completer related code.
Transfer between lisp <-> emacs code.
Commo-Lisp dialect definition.
ILISP source code module.
ILISP batch code module.
File to be loaded, loads in all necessary parts of ILISP.
ILISP support code. Each dialect will have one of these files.
Package descriptors for the Lisp Code Directory.
Texinfo file for ILISP.

How to define autoload entries

A complete example of things you may want to add to your .emacs can be found in the in the file `ilisp.emacs' in the ilisp-directory what follows is that file.

;;; This file shows examples of some of the things you might want to
;;; do to install or customize ILISP.  You may not want to include all
;;; of them in your .emacs.  For example, the default key binding
;;; prefix for ILISP is C-z and this file changes the default prefix to
;;; C-c.  For more information on things that can be changed, see the
;;; file ilisp.el. 

;;; If ilisp lives in some non-standard directory, you must tell emacs
;;; where to get it. This may or may not be necessary.
(setq load-path (cons (expand-file-name "~jones/emacs/ilisp/") load-path))

;;; If you always want partial minibuffer completion
(require 'completer)

;;; If you want to redefine typeout-window keys:
(add-hook 'ilisp-load-hook
      '(lambda ()
	(define-key global-map "\C-c1" 'ilisp-bury-output)
	(define-key global-map "\C-cv" 'ilisp-scroll-output)
	(define-key global-map "\C-cg" 'ilisp-grow-output)))

(autoload 'run-ilisp "ilisp" "Select a new inferior LISP." t)
;;; Autoload based on your LISP.  You only really need the one you use.
;;; If called with a prefix, you will be prompted for a buffer and
;;; program.
;;; [Back to the old way now -- Ivan Mon Jun 28 23:30:51 1993]
(autoload 'clisp     "ilisp" "Inferior generic Common LISP." t)
(autoload 'allegro   "ilisp" "Inferior Allegro Common LISP." t)
(autoload 'lucid     "ilisp" "Inferior Lucid Common LISP." t)
(autoload 'cmulisp   "ilisp" "Inferior CMU Common LISP." t)
(autoload 'kcl       "ilisp" "Inferior Kyoto Common LISP." t)
(autoload 'akcl      "ilisp" "Inferior Austin Kyoto Common LISP." t)
(autoload 'ibcl      "ilisp" "Ibuki Common LISP." t)
(autoload 'scheme    "ilisp" "Inferior generic Scheme." t)
(autoload 'oaklisp   "ilisp" "Inferior Oaklisp Scheme." t)

;;; Define where LISP programs are found.  (This may already be done
;;; at your site.)
(setq allegro-program "/usr/misc/.allegro/bin/cl")
(setq lucid-program "/usr/misc/.lucid/bin/lisp")
(setq cmulisp-program "/usr/misc/.cmucl/bin/lisp")

;;; If you run cmu-cl then set this to where your source files are.
(setq cmulisp-local-source-directory 

;;; This makes reading a lisp file load in ilisp.
(set-default 'auto-mode-alist
	     (append '(("\\.lisp$" . lisp-mode)) auto-mode-alist))
(setq lisp-mode-hook '(lambda () (require 'ilisp)))

;;; Sample load hook
(add-hook 'ilisp-load-hook 
	  '(lambda ()
	    ;; Change default key prefix to C-c
	    (setq ilisp-prefix "\C-c")

	    ;; Define LispMachine-like key bindings, too.

	    ;; Sample initialization hook.  Set the inferior LISP directory to
	    ;; the directory of the buffer that spawned it on the first prompt.
	    (setq ilisp-init-hook
	     '(lambda ()
	       (default-directory-lisp ilisp-last-buffer)))))

How to run a Lisp process using ILISP

To start a Lisp use M-x run-ilisp, or a specific dialect like M-x allegro. If called with a prefix you will be prompted for a buffer name and a program to run. The default buffer name is the name of the dialect. The default program for a dialect will be the value of DIALECT-program or the value of ilisp-program inherited from a less specific dialect. If there are multiple LISP's, use the dialect name or M-x select-ilisp (C-z S) to select the current ILISP buffer.

Entry into ILISP mode runs the hooks on comint-mode-hook and ilisp-mode-hook and then DIALECT-hooks specific to LISP dialects in the nesting order above. Many dialects call ilisp-load-init in their dialect setup.

These are the currently supported dialects.

The dialects are listed so that the indentation correponds to the hierarchical relationship between dialects.


If anyone figures out support for other dialects I would be happy to include it in future releases. See section Dialects.

To define a new dialect, See section Defining new dialects and See section ILISP Customization.

Buffers used by ILISP, and their commands

The Lisp listener buffer. Forms can be entered in this buffer in, and they will be sent to lisp when you hit return if the form is complete. This buffer is in ilisp-mode, which is built on top of comint-mode, and all comint commands such as history mechanism and job control are available.
A buffer is assumed to contain Lisp source code if its major mode is in the list lisp-source-modes. If it's loaded into a buffer that is in one of these major modes, it's considered a lisp source file by find-file-lisp, load-file-lisp and compile-file-lisp. Used by these commands to determine defaults.
Used for listing completions of symbols or files by the completion commands. See section Completion.
*Aborted Commands*
See section Interrupts, aborts, and errors.
*Error Output*
used to pop-up results and errors from the inferior LISP.
Buffer containing the last form sent to the inferior LISP.
See section Source Code Commands.
See section Batch commands.

Typeout windows

All ILISP output is funneled through the function which is bound to the hook ilisp-display-output-function. The function gets a single argument, a string, and should make that output visible to the user somehow.

One possible choice for output display is ilisp-display-output-in-typeout-window, which pops up a window at the top of the current screen which is just large enough to display the output. This window can be "remote controlled" by the commands ilisp-scroll-output, ilisp-bury-output, and ilisp-grow-output.

Unlike the old popper facility, the ilisp typeout window facility does not trounce on any existing Emacs functions or on any common key bindings, like C-x o.

Other built-in functions which might be useful as values for ilisp-display-output-function include ilisp-display-output-default, ilisp-display-output-adaptively, ilisp-display-output-in-lisp-listener, ilisp-display-output-in-temp-buffer, and ilisp-display-output-in-typeout-window.

The default display function is ilisp-display-output-default, which obeys the lisp-no-popper variable.

Users are encouraged to write their own output display functions to get the exact desired behavior, displaying on a private emacs screen, in a pop-up dialog box, or whetever.

C-z 1 (ilisp-bury-output)
deletes and buries the typeout output window.
C-z v (ilisp-scroll-output)
scrolls the output window if it is showing, otherwise does nothing. If it is called with a negative prefix, it will scroll backwards.
C-z G (ilisp-grow-output)
will grow the output window if showing by the prefix number of lines.

An alternative to typeout windows is to always have the inferior LISP buffer visible and have all output go there. Setting lisp-no-popper to t will cause all output to go to the inferior LISP buffer. Setting lisp-no-popper to 'message will make output of one line go to the message window. Setting comint-always-scroll to t will cause process output to always be visible. If a command gets an error, you will be left in the break loop.

Switching buffers

Commands to make switching between buffers easier.

C-z b (switch-to-lisp)
will pop to the current ILISP buffer or if already in an ILISP buffer, it will return to the buffer that last switched to an ILISP buffer. With a prefix, it will also go to the end of the buffer. If you do not want it to pop, set pop-up-windows to nil.
M-C-l (previous-buffer-lisp)
will switch to the last visited buffer in the current window or the Nth previous buffer with a prefix.

ILISP Commands

Most of these key bindings work in both Lisp Mode and ILISP mode. There are a few additional and-go bindings found in Lisp Mode.

Eval and compile functions

In LISP, the major unit of interest is a form, which is anything between two matching parentheses. Some of the commands here also refer to "defun," which is a list that starts at the left margin in a LISP buffer, or after a prompt in the ILISP buffer. These commands refer to the "defun" that contains the point.

"A call" refers to a reference to a function call for a function or macro, or a reference to a variable. Commands which "insert a call" in the ILISP buffer will bring up the last command which matches it or else will insert a template for a call.

When an eval is done of a single form matching ilisp-defvar-regexp the corresponding symbol will be unbound and the value assigned again.

When you send a form to LISP, the status light will reflect the progress of the command. In a lisp mode buffer the light will reflect the status of the currently selected inferior LISP unless lisp-show-status is nil. If you want to find out what command is currently running, use the command C-z s (status-lisp). If you call it with a prefix, the pending commands will be displayed as well.

Note that in this table as elsewhere, the key C-z (ilisp-prefix) is used as a prefix character for ILISP commands, though this may be changed. For a full list of key-bindings, use M-x describe-mode or M-x describe-bindings while in an ILISP-mode buffer.

The eval/compile commands verify that their expressions are balanced and then send the form to the inferior LISP. If called with a positive prefix, the result of the operation will be inserted into the buffer after the form that was just sent.

For commands which operate on a region, the result of the compile or eval is the last form in the region.

The `and-go' versions will perform the operation and then immediately switch to the ILISP buffer where you will see the results of executing your form. If eval-defun-and-go-lisp or compile-defun-and-go-lisp is called with a prefix, a call for the form will be inserted as well.

The prefix-key for most ILISP commands. This can be changed by setting the variable ilisp-prefix.
RET (return-ilisp)
In ILISP-mode buffer, sends the current form to lisp if complete, otherwise creates a new line and indents. If you edit old input, the input will be copied to the end of the buffer first and then sent.
C-] (close-and-send-lisp)
Closes the current sexp, indents it, and then sends it to the current inferior LISP.
LFD (newline-and-indent-lisp)
Insert a new line and then indent to the appropriate level. If called at the end of the inferior LISP buffer and an sexp, the sexp will be sent to the inferior LISP without a trailing newline.
C-z e (eval-defun-lisp)
M-C-x (eval-defun-lisp)
C-z C-e (eval-defun-and-go-lisp)
Send the defun to lisp.
C-z r (eval-region-lisp)
C-z C-r (eval-region-and-go-lisp)
C-z n (eval-next-sexp-lisp)
C-z C-n (eval-next-sexp-and-go-lisp)
C-z c (compile-defun-lisp)
C-z C-c (compile-defun-lisp-and-go)
When compile-defun-lisp is called in an inferior LISP buffer with no current form, the last form typed to the top-level will be compiled.
C-z w (compile-region-lisp)
C-z C-w (compile-region-and-go-lisp)

If any of the forms contain an interactive command, then the command will never return. To get out of this state, you need to use abort-commands-lisp (C-z g). If lisp-wait-p is t, then EMACS will display the result of the command in the minibuffer or a pop-up window. If lisp-wait-p is nil, (the default) the send is done asynchronously and the results will be brought up only if there is more than one line or there is an error. In this case, you will be given the option of ignoring the error, keeping it in another buffer or keeping it and aborting all pending sends. If there is not a command already running in the inferior LISP, you can preserve the break loop. If called with a negative prefix, the sense of lisp-wait-p will be inverted for the next command.

Documentation functions

describe-lisp, inspect-lisp, arglist-lisp, and documentation-lisp switch whether they prompt for a response or use a default when called with a negative prefix. If they are prompting, there is completion through the inferior LISP by using TAB or M-TAB. When entering an expression in the minibuffer, all of the normal ilisp commands like arglist-lisp also work.

Commands that work on a function will use the nearest previous function symbol. This is either a symbol after a `#'' or the symbol at the start of the current list.

C-z a (arglist-lisp)
Return the arglist of the current function. With a numeric prefix, the leading paren will be removed and the arglist will be inserted into the buffer.
C-z d (documentation-lisp)
Infers whether function or variable documentation is desired. With a negative prefix, you can specify the type of documentation as well. With a positive prefix the documentation of the current function call is inserted into the buffer.
C-z i (describe-lisp)
Describe the previous sexp (it is evaluated). If there is no previous sexp and if called from inside an ILISP buffer, the previous result will be described.
C-z i (describe-lisp)
Describe the previous sexp (it is evaluated). If there is no previous sexp and if called from inside an ILISP buffer, the previous result will be described.
C-z I (inspect-lisp)
Switch to the current inferor LISP and inspect the previous sexp (it is evaluated). If there is no previous sexp and if called from inside an ILISP buffer, the previous result will be inspected.
C-z D (fi:clman)
C-z A (fi:clman-apropos)
If the Franz online Common LISP manual is available, get information on a specific symbol. fi:clman-apropos will get information apropos a specific string. Some of the documentation is specific to the allegro dialect, but most of it is for standard Common LISP.


C-z M (macroexpand-lisp)
C-z m (macroexpand-1-lisp)
These commands apply to the next sexp. If called with a positive numeric prefix, the result of the macroexpansion will be inserted into the buffer. With a negative prefix, prompts for expression to expand.

Tracing functions

C-z t (trace-defun-lisp)
traces the current defun. When called with a numeric prefix the function will be untraced. When called with negative prefix, prompts for function to be traced.

Package Commands

The first time an inferior LISP mode command is executed in a Lisp Mode buffer, the package will be determined by using the regular expression ilisp-package-regexp to find a package sexp and then passing that sexp to the inferior LISP through ilisp-package-command. For the `clisp' dialect, this will find the first (in-package PACKAGE) form in the file. A buffer's package will be displayed in the mode line. If a buffer has no specification, forms will be evaluated in the current inferior LISP package.

Buffer package caching can be turned off by setting the variable lisp-dont-cache-package to T. This will force ILISP to search for the closest previous ilisp-package-regexp in the buffer each time an inferior LISP mode command is executed.

C-z p (package-lisp)
Show the current package of the inferior LISP.
C-z P (set-package-lisp)
Set the inferior LISP package to the current buffer's package or with a prefix to a manually entered package.
M-x set-buffer-package-lisp
Set the buffer's package from the buffer. If it is called with a prefix, the package can be set manually.

Source Code Commands

The following commands all deal with finding things in source code. The first time that one of these commands is used, there may be some delay while the source module is loaded. When searching files, the first applicable rule is used:

M-x lisp-directory defines a set of files to be searched by the source code commands. It prompts for a directory and sets the source files to be those in the directory that match entries in auto-mode-alist for modes in lisp-source-modes. With a positive prefix, the files are appended. With a negative prefix, all current buffers that are in one of lisp-source-modes will be searched. This is also what happens by default. Using this command stops using a tags file.

edit-definitions-lisp, who-calls-lisp, and edit-callers-lisp will switch whether they prompt for a response or use a default when called with a negative prefix. If they are prompting, there is completion through the inferior LISP by using TAB or M-TAB. When entering an expression in the minibuffer, all of the normal ILISP commands like arglist-lisp also work.

edit-definitions-lisp (M-.) will find a particular type of definition for a symbol. It tries to use the rules described above. The files to be searched are listed in the buffer *Edit-Definitions*. If lisp-edit-files is nil, no search will be done if not found through the inferior LISP. The variable ilisp-locator contains a function that when given the name and type should be able to find the appropriate definition in the file. There is often a flag to cause your LISP to record source files that you will need to set in the initialization file for your LISP. The variable is *record-source-files* in both allegro and lucid. Once a definition has been found, next-definition-lisp (M-,) will find the next definition (or the previous definition with a prefix).

edit-callers-lisp (C-z ^) will generate a list of all of the callers of a function in the current inferior LISP and edit the first caller using edit-definitions-lisp. Each successive call to next-caller-lisp (M-`) will edit the next caller (or the previous caller with a prefix). The list is stored in the buffer *All-Callers*. You can also look at the callers by doing M-x who-calls-lisp.

search-lisp (M-?) will search the current tags files, lisp-directory files or buffers in one of lisp-source-modes for a string or a regular expression when called with a prefix. next-definition-lisp (M-,) will find the next definition (or the previous definition with a prefix).

replace-lisp (M-") will replace a string (or a regexp with a prefix) in the current tags files, lisp-directory files or buffers in one of lisp-source-modes.

Here is a summary of the above commands (behavior when given prefix argument is given in parentheses):

M-x lisp-directory
Define a set of files to be used by the source code commands.
M-. (edit-definitions-lisp)
Find definition of a symbol.
M-, (next-definition-lisp)
Find next (previous) definition.
C-z ^ (edit-callers-lisp)
Find all callers of a function, and edit the first.
M-` (next-caller-lisp)
Edit next (previous) caller of function set by edit-callers-lisp.
M-x who-calls-lisp
List all the callers of a function.
M-? (search-lisp)
Search for string (regular expression) in current tags, lisp-directory files or buffers. Use next-definition-lisp to find next occurence.
M-" (replace-lisp)
Replace a string (regular expression) in files.

Batch commands

The following commands all deal with making a number of changes all at once. The first time one of these commands is used, there may be some delay as the module is loaded. The eval/compile versions of these commands are always executed asynchronously.

mark-change-lisp (C-z SPC) marks the current defun as being changed. A prefix causes it to be unmarked. clear-changes-lisp (C-z * 0) will clear all of the changes. list-changes-lisp (C-z * l) will show the forms currently marked.

eval-changes-lisp (C-z * e), or compile-changes-lisp (C-z * c) will evaluate or compile these changes as appropriate. If called with a positive prefix, the changes will be kept. If there is an error, the process will stop and show the error and all remaining changes will remain in the list. All of the results will be kept in the buffer *Last-Changes*.


C-z SPC (mark-change-lisp)
Mark (unmark) current defun as changed.
C-z * e (eval-changes-lisp)
C-z * c (compile-changes-lisp)
Call with a positive prefix to keep changes.
C-z * 0 (clear-changes-lisp)
C-z * l (list-changes-lisp)

Files and directories

File commands in lisp-source-mode buffers keep track of the last used directory and file. If the point is on a string, that will be the default if the file exists. If the buffer is one of lisp-source-modes, the buffer file will be the default. Otherwise, the last file used in a lisp-source-mode will be used.

C-x C-f (find-file-lisp)
will find a file. If it is in a string, that will be used as the default if it matches an existing file. Symbolic links are expanded so that different references to the same file will end up with the same buffer.
C-z l (load-file-lisp)
will load a file into the inferior LISP. You will be given the opportunity to save the buffer if it has changed and to compile the file if the compiled version is older than the current version.
C-z k (compile-file-lisp)
will compile a file in the current inferior LISP.
C-z ! (default-directory-lisp)
sets the default inferior LISP directory to the directory of the current buffer. If called in an inferior LISP buffer, it sets the Emacs default-directory to the LISP default directory.

Switching between interactive and raw keyboard modes

There are two keyboard modes for interacting with the inferior LISP, \"interactive\" and \"raw\". Normally you are in interactive mode where keys are interpreted as commands to EMACS and nothing is sent to the inferior LISP unless a specific command does so. In raw mode, all characters are passed directly to the inferior LISP without any interpretation as EMACS commands. Keys will not be echoed unless ilisp-raw-echo is T.

Raw mode can be turned on interactively by the command raw-keys-ilisp (C-z #) and will continue until you type C-g. Raw mode can also be turned on/off by inferior LISP functions if the command io-bridge-ilisp (M-x io-bridge-ilisp) has been executed in the inferior LISP either interactively or on a hook. To turn on raw mode, a function should print ^[1^] and to turn it off should print ^[0^]. An example in Common LISP would be:

(progn (format t "1") (print (read-char)) (format t "0"))

Interrupts, aborts, and errors

If you want to abort the last command you can use C-g.

If you want to abort all commands, you should use the command abort-commands-lisp (C-z g). Commands that are aborted will be put in the buffer *Aborted Commands* so that you can see what was aborted. If you want to abort the currently running top-level command, use interrupt-subjob-ilisp (C-c C-c). As a last resort, M-x panic-lisp will reset the ILISP state without affecting the inferior LISP so that you can see what is happening.

delete-char-or-pop-ilisp (C-d) will delete prefix characters unless you are at the end of an ILISP buffer in which case it will pop one level in the break loop.

reset-ilisp, (C-z z) will reset the current inferior LISP's top-level so that it will no longer be in a break loop.


C-c C-c (interrupt-subjob-ilisp)
Send a keyboard interrupt signal to lisp.
C-z g (abort-commands-lisp)
Abort all running or unsent commands.
M-x panic-lisp (panic-lisp)
Reset the ILISP process state.
C-z z (reset-ilisp)
Reset lisp to top-level.
C-d (delete-char-or-pop-ilisp)
If at end of buffer, pop a level in break loop.

If lisp-wait-p is nil (the default), all sends are done asynchronously and the results will be brought up only if there is more than one line or there is an error. In case, you will be given the option of ignoring the error, keeping it in another buffer or keeping it and aborting all pending sends. If there is not a command already running in the inferior LISP, you can preserve the break loop. If called with a negative prefix, the sense of lisp-wait-p will be inverted for the next command.

Command history

ILISP mode is built on top of comint-mode, the general command-interpreter-in-a-buffer mode. As such, it inherits many commands and features from this, including a command history mechanism.

Each ILISP buffer has a command history associated with it. Commands that do not match ilisp-filter-regexp and that are longer than ilisp-filter-length and that do not match the immediately prior command will be added to this history.

M-n (comint-next-input)
M-p (comint-previous-input)
Cycle through the input history.
M-s (comint-previous-similar-input)
Cycle through input that has the string typed so far as a prefix.
M-N (comint-psearch-input)
Search forwards for prompt.
M-P (comint-msearch-input)
Search backwards for prompt.
C-c R (comint-msearch-input-matching)
Search backwards for occurrence of prompt followed by string which is prompted for (not a regular expression).

See comint-mode documentation for more information on `comint' commands.


Commands to reduce number of keystrokes.

M-TAB (complete-lisp)
will try to complete the previous symbol in the current inferior LISP. Partial completion is supported unless ilisp-prefix-match is set to t. (If you set it to t, inferior LISP completions will be faster.) With partial completion, `p--n' would complete to `position-if-not' in Common LISP. If the symbol follows a left paren or a `#'', only symbols with function cells will be considered. If the symbol starts with a `*' or you call with a positive prefix all possible completions will be considered. Only external symbols are considered if there is a package qualification with only one colon. The first time you try to complete a string the longest common substring will be inserted and the cursor will be left on the point of ambiguity. If you try to complete again, you can see the possible completions. If you are in a string, then filename completion will be done instead. And if you try to complete a filename twice, you will see a list of possible completions. Filename components are completed individually, so `/u/mi/' could expand to `/usr/misc/'. If you complete with a negative prefix, the most recent completion (symbol or filename) will be undone.
M-RET (complete)
will complete the current symbol to the most recently seen symbol in Emacs that matches what you have typed so far. Executing it repeatedly will cycle through potential matches. This is from the TMC completion package and there may be some delay as it is initially loaded.


Indentation, parenthesis balancing, and comment commands.

TAB (indent-line-ilisp)
indents for LISP. With prefix, shifts rest of expression rigidly with the current line.
M-C-q (indent-sexp-ilisp)
will indent each line in the next sexp.
M-q (reindent-lisp)
will reindent the current paragraph if in a comment or string. Otherwise it will close the containing defun and reindent it.
C-z ; (comment-region-lisp)
will put prefix copies of comment-start before and comment-end's after the lines in region. To uncomment a region, use a minus prefix.
C-z ) (find-unbalanced-lisp)
will find unbalanced parens in the current buffer. When called with a prefix it will look in the current region.
] (close-all-lisp)
will close all outstanding parens back to the containing form, or a previous left bracket which will be converted to a left parens. If there are too many parens, they will be deleted unless there is text between the last paren and the end of the defun. If called with a prefix, all open left brackets will be closed.

ILISP Customization

Starting a dialect runs the hooks on comint-mode-hook and ilisp-mode-hook and then DIALECT-hooks specific to dialects in the nesting order below.


On the very first prompt in the inferior LISP, the hooks on ilisp-init-hook are run. For more information on creating a new dialect or variables to set in hooks, see `ilisp.el'.

ILISP Mode Hooks:

Executed when file is loaded
Executed when file is loaded
Executed when an ilisp buffer is created
Executed after inferior LISP is initialized and the first prompt is seen.
Executed when dialect is set

Variables you might want to set in a hook or dialect:

Keys to prefix ilisp key bindings
Program to start for inferior LISP
String printed on startup with version
Set to T for synchronous sends
Set to T for ilisp to handle errors from the underlying lisp.
The name of a function which displays ILISP output.
Set to T to have all output in inferior LISP
Set to nil to stop showing process status
Set to T if you do not want partial completion
Input history filter
Input history minimum length
Prompt for non- top-level read-eval print loops


A dialect of lisp is a specific implementation. For the parts of Common Lisp which are well specified, they are usually the same. For the parts that are not (debugger, top-level loop, etc.), there is usually the same functionality but different commands.

ILISP provides the means to specify these differences so that the ILISP commands will use the specific command peculiar to an implementation, but still offer the same behavior with the same interface.

Defining new dialects

To define a new dialect use the macro defdialect. For examples, look at the dialect definitions in `ilisp-acl.el', `ilisp-cmu.el', `ilisp-kcl.el', `ilisp-luc'. There are hooks and variables for almost anything that you are likely to need to change. The relationship between dialects is hierarchical with the root values being defined in setup-ilisp. For a new dialect, you only need to change the variables that are different than in the parent dialect.

Writing new commands

Basic tools for creating new commands:

Define a new buffer local variable.
List of dialect types. For specific dialect clauses.
Create a symbol.
Return a symbol's name
Return a symbol's qualification
Return a symbol's package
Convert string to symbol
Convert symbol to string
Convert symbol to string qualified for buffer
Return previous symbol
Return previous sexp
Return name of current definition
Return previous function symbol
Read an sexp with completion, arglist, etc
Read a symbol or list with completion
Read from choices or list with completion


Concept Index


  • *Aborted Commands* buffer, *Aborted Commands* buffer
  • *All-Callers* buffer, *All-Callers* buffer
  • *Changed-Definitions* buffer
  • *Completions* buffer
  • *Edit-Definitions* buffer, *Edit-Definitions* buffer
  • *Error Output* buffer
  • *Errors* buffer
  • *ilisp-send* buffer
  • *Last-Changes* buffer, *Last-Changes* buffer
  • *Output* buffer
  • .

  • `.el' files
  • `.emacs' forms
  • a

  • Aborting commands
  • `and-go' functions
  • Anonymous FTP
  • Apropos help
  • Arglist lisp
  • autoload definitions
  • b

  • Break loop
  • `bridge.el'
  • Buffer package
  • Buffer package caching
  • buffers of ILISP
  • bury output window
  • Byte-compiling ILISP files
  • c

  • Call
  • Change commands
  • Clearing changes
  • Close all parens
  • Close brackets
  • `comint-ipc.el'
  • comint-mode
  • `comint.el'
  • Command history
  • Comment region
  • Common Lisp manual
  • `compat.el'
  • Compile last form
  • Compile region
  • Compile/eval commands
  • Compiling changes
  • Compiling files
  • Compiling ILISP files
  • `completer.el'
  • Completion
  • Current directory
  • Currently running command
  • Customization
  • d

  • Default directory
  • defining autoloads
  • Defining new dialects
  • Defun
  • Describing bindings
  • Describing lisp objects
  • Dialect startup
  • Dialects
  • Dialects supported
  • Directories and files
  • Displaying commands
  • Documentation Functions
  • e

  • Errors
  • Eval region
  • Eval'ing changes
  • Eval/compile commands
  • Expanding macro forms
  • f

  • features
  • File changes
  • Filename completion
  • Files and directories
  • Files of ILISP
  • Find callers
  • Find file
  • Find unbalanced parens
  • Finding source
  • First prompt
  • Franz manual
  • FTP site
  • g

  • Getting ILISP, Getting ILISP
  • Group changes
  • grow output window
  • h

  • Hooks
  • How to get, How to get
  • i

  • ILISP buffers
  • ILISP Mode Hooks
  • `ilisp-bat.el'
  • `ilisp-bug.el'
  • `ilisp-cl.el'
  • `ilisp-cmp.el'
  • `ilisp-cmt.el'
  • `ilisp-def.el'
  • `ilisp-doc.el'
  • `ilisp-el.el'
  • `ilisp-ext.el'
  • `ilisp-hi.el'
  • `ilisp-hnd.el'
  • `ilisp-ind.el'
  • `ilisp-inp.el'
  • `ilisp-key.el'
  • `ilisp-kil.el'
  • `ilisp-low.el'
  • `ilisp-mod.el'
  • `ilisp-mov.el'
  • `ilisp-out.el'
  • `ilisp-prc.el'
  • `ilisp-prn.el'
  • `ilisp-rng.el'
  • `ilisp-snd.el'
  • `ilisp-src.el'
  • `ilisp-sym.el'
  • `ilisp-utl.el'
  • `ilisp-val.el'
  • `ilisp-xfr.el '
  • `ilisp.el'
  • `ilisp.emacs'
  • `ilisp.texi'
  • In-package form
  • Indentation
  • Input search
  • Inserting calls
  • Inserting results
  • Installation
  • Interactive keyboard mode
  • Internal ILISP functions
  • Interrupting commands
  • l

  • Last command
  • Lisp find file
  • List callers
  • Listing bindings
  • Listing changes
  • Loading files
  • m

  • Macroexpansion
  • Marking changes
  • Minibuffer completion
  • Modeline status
  • n

  • Negative prefix
  • Next definition
  • Next input
  • p

  • Package commands
  • Parenthesis balancing
  • Partial completion
  • Pop in break loop
  • Previous commands
  • Previous definition
  • Previous lisp buffer
  • r

  • Raw keyboard mode
  • Region commands
  • Reindent lisp
  • Replace lisp
  • Resetting lisp
  • Rigid indentation
  • Running lisp
  • s

  • scrolling output
  • Search input
  • Sending input to lisp
  • Set buffer package
  • Set default directory
  • Show current package
  • Similar input
  • Source Code Commands
  • Source modes
  • Starting up lisp
  • Status light
  • Supported dialects
  • Switching buffers
  • Symbolic link expansion
  • `symlink-fix.el'
  • t

  • TMC completion
  • Top-level, return to
  • Tracing defuns
  • Turning off typeout windows
  • Typeout windows
  • u

  • Uncomment region
  • Untracing defuns
  • w

  • WWW site
  • Key Index


  • ]
  • c

  • C-]
  • C-c R
  • C-d
  • C-g
  • C-x C-f
  • C-z !
  • C-z #
  • C-z )
  • C-z * 0
  • C-z * c
  • C-z * e
  • C-z * l
  • C-z 1
  • C-z ;
  • C-z ^
  • C-z A
  • C-z a
  • C-z b
  • C-z c
  • C-z C-c
  • C-z C-e
  • C-z C-n
  • C-z C-r
  • C-z C-w
  • C-z D
  • C-z d
  • C-z e
  • C-z G
  • C-z g, C-z g
  • C-z I
  • C-z i, C-z i
  • C-z k
  • C-z l
  • C-z m
  • C-z M
  • C-z n
  • C-z P
  • C-z p
  • C-z prefix
  • C-z r
  • C-z s
  • C-z SPC
  • C-z t
  • C-z v
  • C-z w
  • C-z z
  • l

  • LFD
  • m

  • M-"
  • M-,
  • M-.
  • M-?
  • M-`
  • M-C-l
  • M-C-q
  • M-C-x
  • M-N
  • M-n
  • M-p
  • M-P
  • M-q
  • M-RET
  • M-s
  • M-TAB
  • M-TAB
  • M-x io-bridge-ilisp
  • M-x lisp-directory
  • M-x set-buffer-package-lisp
  • M-x who-calls-lisp
  • r

  • RET
  • t

  • TAB, TAB
  • Command Index

    Commands available via M-x prefix.


  • abort-commands-lisp, abort-commands-lisp
  • akcl
  • allegro
  • arglist-lisp
  • c

  • clear-changes-lisp
  • clisp
  • close-all-lisp
  • close-and-send-lisp
  • cmulisp
  • comint-msearch-input
  • comint-msearch-input-matching
  • comint-next-input
  • comint-previous-input
  • comint-previous-similar-input
  • comint-psearch-input
  • comment-region-lisp
  • compile-changes-lisp
  • compile-defun-and-go-lisp
  • compile-defun-lisp
  • compile-defun-lisp-and-go
  • compile-file-lisp
  • compile-region-and-go-lisp
  • compile-region-lisp
  • complete
  • complete-lisp
  • d

  • default-directory-lisp
  • defdialect
  • delete-char-or-pop-ilisp
  • describe-lisp
  • documentation-lisp
  • e

  • edit-callers-lisp, edit-callers-lisp
  • edit-definitions-lisp
  • eval-changes-lisp
  • eval-defun-and-go-lisp, eval-defun-and-go-lisp
  • eval-defun-lisp
  • eval-next-sexp-and-go-lisp
  • eval-next-sexp-lisp
  • eval-region-and-go-lisp
  • eval-region-lisp
  • f

  • fi:clman
  • fi:clman-apropos
  • find-file-lisp
  • find-unbalanced-lisp
  • i

  • ibcl
  • ilisp-bury-output
  • ilisp-grow-output
  • ilisp-scroll-output
  • indent-line-ilisp
  • indent-sexp-ilisp
  • inspect-lisp
  • interrupt-subjob-ilisp
  • io-bridge-ilisp
  • k

  • kcl
  • l

  • lisp-directory
  • list-changes-lisp
  • load-file-lisp
  • lucid
  • m

  • macroexpand-1-lisp
  • macroexpand-lisp
  • mark-change-lisp
  • n

  • newline-and-indent-lisp
  • next-caller-lisp
  • next-definition-lisp, next-definition-lisp
  • o

  • oaklisp
  • p

  • package-lisp
  • panic-lisp
  • previous-buffer-lisp
  • r

  • raw-keys-ilisp
  • reindent-lisp
  • replace-lisp
  • reset-ilisp
  • return-ilisp
  • run-ilisp
  • s

  • scheme
  • search-lisp
  • set-buffer-package-lisp
  • set-package-lisp
  • setup-ilisp
  • status-lisp
  • switch-to-lisp
  • t

  • trace-defun-lisp
  • w

  • who-calls-lisp
  • Variable Index

    Variables and hooks of ILISP.


  • *record-source-files*
  • a

  • auto-mode-alist
  • c

  • comint-always-scroll
  • comint-mode-hook
  • d

  • default-directory
  • DIALECT-hook
  • i

  • ilisp-defvar-regexp
  • ilisp-display-output-function
  • ilisp-filter-length, ilisp-filter-length
  • ilisp-filter-regexp, ilisp-filter-regexp
  • ilisp-handle-errors
  • ilisp-init-binary-command
  • ilisp-init-binary-extension
  • ilisp-init-hook, ilisp-init-hook
  • ilisp-load-hook
  • ilisp-load-inits
  • ilisp-locator
  • ilisp-mode-hook, ilisp-mode-hook
  • ilisp-motd
  • ilisp-other-prompt
  • ilisp-package-regexp
  • ilisp-prefix, ilisp-prefix
  • ilisp-prefix-match, ilisp-prefix-match
  • ilisp-program, ilisp-program
  • ilisp-raw-echo
  • ilisp-site-hook, ilisp-site-hook
  • l

  • lisp-dont-cache-package
  • lisp-edit-files
  • lisp-no-popper, lisp-no-popper
  • lisp-show-status, lisp-show-status
  • lisp-source-modes
  • lisp-wait-p, lisp-wait-p, lisp-wait-p
  • p

  • pop-up-windows
  • Function Index

    Internal functions of ILISP which can be used to write new commands.


  • compile-region-lisp
  • d

  • deflocal
  • e

  • eval-region-lisp
  • i

  • ilisp-compile-inits
  • ilisp-completing-read
  • ilisp-dialect
  • ilisp-package-command
  • ilisp-read
  • ilisp-read-symbol
  • ilisp-send
  • l

  • lisp-buffer-symbol
  • lisp-def-name
  • lisp-function-name
  • lisp-previous-sexp
  • lisp-previous-symbol
  • lisp-string-to-symbol
  • lisp-symbol
  • lisp-symbol-delimiter
  • lisp-symbol-name
  • lisp-symbol-package
  • lisp-symbol-to-string

  • This document was generated on 26 October 1996 using the texi2html translator version 1.51.