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Defining New Texinfo Commands

Texinfo provides several ways to define new commands:

Defining Macros

You use the Texinfo @macro command to define a macro, like this:

@macro macroname{param1, param2, ...}
text ... \param1\ ...
@end macro

The parameters param1, param2, ... correspond to arguments supplied when the macro is subsequently used in the document (described in the next section).

For a macro to work with TeX, macroname must consist entirely of letters: no digits, hyphens, underscores, or other special characters.

If a macro needs no parameters, you can define it either with an empty list (`@macro foo {}') or with no braces at all (`@macro foo').

The definition or body of the macro can contain most Texinfo commands, including previously-defined macros. Not-yet-defined macro invocations are not allowed; thus, it is not possible to have mutually recursive Texinfo macros. Also, a macro definition that defines another macro does not work in TeX due to limitations in the design of @macro.

In the macro body, instances of a parameter name surrounded by backslashes, as in `\param1\' in the example above, are replaced by the corresponding argument from the macro invocation. You can use parameter names any number of times in the body, including zero.

To get a single `\' in the macro expansion, use `\\'. Any other use of `\' in the body yields a warning.

The newlines after the @macro line and before the @end macro line are ignored, that is, not included in the macro body. All other whitespace is treated according to the usual Texinfo rules.

To allow a macro to be used recursively, that is, in an argument to a call to itself, you must define it with `@rmacro', like this:

@rmacro rmac
a\arg\b
@end rmacro
...
@rmac{1@rmac{text}2}

This produces the output `a1atextb2b'. With `@macro' instead of `@rmacro', an error message is given.

You can undefine a macro foo with @unmacro foo. It is not an error to undefine a macro that is already undefined. For example:

@unmacro foo

Invoking Macros

After a macro is defined (see the previous section), you can use (invoke) it in your document like this:

@macroname {arg1, arg2, ...}

and the result will be just as if you typed the body of macroname at that spot. For example:

@macro foo {p, q}
Together: \p\ & \q\.
@end macro
@foo{a, b}

produces:

Together: a & b.

Thus, the arguments and parameters are separated by commas and delimited by braces; any whitespace after (but not before) a comma is ignored. The braces are required in the invocation (but not the definition), even when the macro takes no arguments, consistent with all other Texinfo commands. For example:

@macro argless {}
No arguments here.
@end macro
@argless{}

produces:

No arguments here.

To insert a comma, brace, or backslash in an argument, prepend a backslash, as in

@macname {\\\{\}\,}

which will pass the (almost certainly error-producing) argument `\{},' to macname.

If the macro is defined to take a single argument, and is invoked without any braces, the entire rest of the line after the macro name is supplied as the argument. For example:

@macro bar {p}
Twice: \p\ & \p\.
@end macro
@bar aah

produces:

Twice: aah & aah.

If the macro is defined to take a single argument, and is invoked with braces, the braced text is passed as the argument, regardless of commas. For example:

@macro bar {p}
Twice: \p\ & \p\.
@end macro
@bar{a,b}

produces:

Twice: a,b & a,b.

Macro Details

Due to unavoidable disparities in the TeX and @command{makeinfo} implementations, Texinfo macros have the following limitations.

`@alias new=existing'

The `@alias' command defines a new command to be just like an existing one. This is useful for defining additional markup names, thus preserving semantic information in the input even though the output result may be the same.

Write the `@alias' command on a line by itself, followed by the new command name, an equals sign, and the existing command name. Whitespace around the equals sign is ignored. Thus:

@alias new = existing

For example, if your document contains citations for both books and some other media (movies, for example), you might like to define a macro @moviecite{} that does the same thing as an ordinary @cite{} but conveys the extra semantic information as well. You'd do this as follows:

@alias moviecite = cite

Macros do not always have the same effect due to vagaries of argument parsing. Also, aliases are much simpler to define than macros. So the command is not redundant. (It was also heavily used in the Jargon File!)

Aliases must not be recursive, directly or indirectly.

`definfoenclose': Customized Highlighting

A @definfoenclose command may be used to define a highlighting command for Info, but not for TeX. A command defined using @definfoenclose marks text by enclosing it in strings that precede and follow the text. You can use this to get closer control of your Info output. Presumably, if you define a command with @definfoenclose for Info, you will create a corresponding command for TeX, either in `texinfo.tex', `texinfo.cnf', or within an `@iftex' in your document.

Write a @definfoenclose command on a line and follow it with three arguments separated by commas. The first argument to @definfoenclose is the @-command name (without the @); the second argument is the Info start delimiter string; and the third argument is the Info end delimiter string. The latter two arguments enclose the highlighted text in the Info file. A delimiter string may contain spaces. Neither the start nor end delimiter is required. If you do not want a start delimiter but do want an end delimiter, you must follow the command name with two commas in a row; otherwise, the Info formatting commands will naturally misinterpret the end delimiter string you intended as the start delimiter string.

If you do a @definfoenclose on the name of a pre-defined macro (such as @emph, @strong, @t, or @i), the enclosure definition will override the built-in definition. An enclosure command defined this way takes one argument in braces; this is intended for new markup commands (see section Marking Words and Phrases).

For example, you can write:

@definfoenclose phoo,//,\\

near the beginning of a Texinfo file to define @phoo as an Info formatting command that inserts `//' before and `\\' after the argument to @phoo. You can then write @phoo{bar} wherever you want `//bar\\' highlighted in Info.

Also, for TeX formatting, you could write

@iftex
@global@let@phoo=@i
@end iftex

to define @phoo as a command that causes TeX to typeset the argument to @phoo in italics.

Note that each definition applies to its own formatter: one for TeX, the other for texinfo-format-buffer or texinfo-format-region. The @definfoenclose command need not be within `@ifinfo', but the raw TeX commands do need to be in `@iftex'.

Here is another example: write

@definfoenclose headword, , :

near the beginning of the file, to define @headword as an Info formatting command that inserts nothing before and a colon after the argument to @headword.

`@definfoenclose' definitions must not be recursive, directly or indirectly.


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