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GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual

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It may be easier to understand Edebug specifications by studying the examples provided here.

A let special form has a sequence of bindings and a body. Each of the bindings is either a symbol or a sublist with a symbol and optional expression. In the specification below, notice the gate inside of the sublist to prevent backtracking once a sublist is found.

(def-edebug-spec let
    &or symbolp (gate symbolp &optional form))

Edebug uses the following specifications for defun and defmacro and the associated argument list and interactive specifications. It is necessary to handle interactive forms specially since an expression argument it is actually evaluated outside of the function body.

(def-edebug-spec defmacro defun) ; Indirect ref to defun spec.
(def-edebug-spec defun 
  (&define name lambda-list 
           [&optional stringp]   ; Match the doc string, if present.
           [&optional ("interactive" interactive)]

(def-edebug-spec lambda-list
  (([&rest arg]
    [&optional ["&optional" arg &rest arg]]
    &optional ["&rest" arg]

(def-edebug-spec interactive
  (&optional &or stringp def-form))    ; Notice: def-form

The specification for backquote below illustrates how to match dotted lists and use nil to terminate recursion. It also illustrates how components of a vector may be matched. (The actual specification defined by Edebug does not support dotted lists because doing so causes very deep recursion that could fail.)

(def-edebug-spec ` (backquote-form))   ; Alias just for clarity.

(def-edebug-spec backquote-form
  (&or ([&or "," ",@"] &or ("quote" backquote-form) form)
       (backquote-form . [&or nil backquote-form])
       (vector &rest backquote-form)

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  Copyright 2003   by The Free Software Foundation     Updated Jun 2003