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GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual

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14.4.2 Composite Types

When none of the simple types is appropriate, you can use composite types, which build new types from other types. Here are several ways of doing that:

(restricted-sexp :match-alternatives criteria)
The value may be any Lisp object that satisfies one of criteria. criteria should be a list, and each element should be one of these possibilities:

For example,

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

allows integers, t and nil as legitimate values.

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

(cons car-type cdr-type)
The value must be a cons cell, its CAR must fit car-type, and its CDR must fit cdr-type. For example, (cons string symbol) is a customization type which matches values such as ("foo" . foo).

In the customization buffer, the CAR and the CDR are displayed and edited separately, each according to the type that you specify for it.

(list element-types...)
The value must be a list with exactly as many elements as the element-types you have specified; and each element must fit the corresponding element-type.

For example, (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.

(vector element-types...)
Like list except that the value must be a vector instead of a list. The elements work the same as in list.

(choice alternative-types...)
The value must fit at least one of alternative-types. For example, (choice integer string) allows either an integer or a string.

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

Normally the strings in this menu are determined automatically from the choices; however, you can specify different strings for the menu by including the :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"))

so that the menu offers `Number of spaces' and `Literal Text'.

In any alternative for which nil is not a valid value, other than a const, you should specify a valid default for that alternative using the :value keyword. See section 14.4.4 Type Keywords.

(radio element-types...)
This is similar to 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 (function-item customization types).

(const value)
The value must be value---nothing else is allowed.

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

:tag is often used with const, inside of choice. For example,

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

describes a variable for which t means yes, nil means no, and foo means "ask."

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

The main use of other is as the last element of choice. For example,

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

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

(function-item function)
Like 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 :doc, or function's own documentation string.

(variable-item variable)
Like 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 :doc, or variable's own documentation string.

(set types...)
The value must be a list, and each element of the list must match one of the types specified.

This appears in the customization buffer as a checklist, so that each of types may have either one corresponding element or none. It is not possible to specify two different elements that match the same one of types. For example, (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 integer in a set.

Most often, the types in a set are const types, as shown here:

 
(set (const :bold) (const :italic))

Sometimes they describe possible elements in an alist:

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

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

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


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