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Epsilon User's Manual and Reference > Commands by Topic > Changing Text >

Rectangle Commands

Epsilon regions actually come in four distinct types. Each type has a corresponding Epsilon command that begins defining a region of that type.

 Region Type  Command
 Normal  mark-normal-region
 Line  mark-line-region
 Inclusive  mark-inclusive-region
 Rectangular  mark-rectangle

The commands are otherwise very similar. Each command starts defining a region of the specified type, setting the mark equal to point and turning on highlighting. If Epsilon is already highlighting a region of a different type, these commands change the type. If Epsilon is already highlighting a region of the same type, these commands start defining a new region by setting mark to point again. (You can set the variable mark-unhighlights to make the commands turn off the highlighting and leave the mark alone in this case.)

The mark-normal-region command defines the same kind of region as the set-mark command described in Killing Text. (The commands differ in that set-mark always begins defining a new region, even if another type of region is highlighted on the screen. The mark-normal-region command converts the old region, as described above.)

A line region always contains entire lines of text. It consists of the line containing point, the line containing mark, and all lines between the two.

An inclusive region is very similar to a normal region, but an inclusive region contains one additional character at the end of the region. A normal region contains all characters between point and mark, if you think of point and mark as being positioned between characters. But if you think of point and mark as character positions, then an inclusive region contains the character at point, the character at the mark, and all characters between the two. An inclusive region always contains at least one character (unless point and mark are both at the end of the buffer).

A rectangular region consists of all columns between those of point and mark, on all lines in the buffer between those of point and mark. The mark-rectangle command on Ctrl-X # begins defining a rectangular region. In a rectangular region, point can specify any of the four corners of this rectangle.

Some commands operate differently when the current region is rectangular. Killing a rectangular region by pressing the Ctrl-W key runs the command kill-rectangle. It saves the current rectangle in a kill buffer, and replaces the rectangle with spaces, so as not to shift any text that appears to the right of the rectangle. To remove the rectangle and the space it occupied, press Ctrl-U Ctrl-W. This shifts columns of text that followed the rectangle to the left. (Also see the kill-rectangle-removes variable.)

The Alt-W key runs the command copy-rectangle. It also saves the current rectangle, but doesn't modify the buffer. (Actually, it may insert spaces at the ends of lines, or convert tabs to spaces, if that's necessary to reach the starting or ending column on one of the lines in the region. But the buffer won't look any different as a result of these changes. Most rectangle commands do this.)

The Ctrl-Alt-W key runs the command delete-rectangle. It removes the current rectangle, shifting any text after it to the left. It doesn't save the rectangle.

When you use the Ctrl-Y key to yank a kill buffer that contains a rectangle, Epsilon inserts the last killed rectangle into the buffer at the current column, on the current and successive lines. It shifts existing text to the right. If you've enabled overwrite mode, however, the rectangle replaces any existing text in those columns. See the yank-rectangle-to-corner variable to set how Epsilon positions point and mark around the yanked rectangle. You can use the Alt-Y key to cycle through previous kills as usual.

When yanking line regions, the yank-line-retains-position variable serves a similar purpose, influencing where Epsilon positions the cursor.

The width of a tab character depends upon the column it occurs in. For this reason, if you use the rectangle commands to kill or copy text containing tabs, and you move the tabs to a different column, text after the tabs may shift columns. (For example, a tab at column 0 occupies 8 columns, but a tab at column 6 occupies only 2 columns.) You can avoid this problem by using spaces instead of tabs with the rectangle commands.

The buffer-specific variable indent-with-tabs controls whether Epsilon does indenting with tabs or only with spaces. Set it to 0 to make Epsilon always use spaces. This variable affects only future indenting you may do; it doesn't change your file. To replace the tabs in your file, use the untabify-buffer command.

Note that the bindings shown below for kill-rectangle, copy-rectangle, and delete-rectangle only apply when there's a highlighted rectangle.

Standard bindings:

  Ctrl-X #  mark-rectangle
 Ctrl-W  kill-rectangle
 Alt-W  copy-rectangle
 Ctrl-Alt-W  delete-rectangle
   mark-line-region
   mark-inclusive-region
 



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