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Programming in Emacs Lisp

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3.3 Make a Function Interactive

You make a function interactive by placing a list that begins with the special form interactive immediately after the documentation. A user can invoke an interactive function by typing M-x and then the name of the function; or by typing the keys to which it is bound, for example, by typing C-n for next-line or C-x h for mark-whole-buffer.

Interestingly, when you call an interactive function interactively, the value returned is not automatically displayed in the echo area. This is because you often call an interactive function for its side effects, such as moving forward by a word or line, and not for the value returned. If the returned value were displayed in the echo area each time you typed a key, it would be very distracting.

An Interactive multiply-by-seven, An Overview  An overview.
3.3.1 An Interactive multiply-by-seven  The interactive version.

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