Expansions

#1

While parsing a command (see
:doc command-parsing), Kakoune recognises certain
patterns and will replace them with their associated value before
executing the command. These patterns are called expansions.

Every expansion consists of a %, followed by the expansion type (one
or more alphabetic characters), a quoting character, and then all the
text up to and including its matching character.

If a nestable punctuation character ((, [, {, or <) is used as
the opening quoting character, the expansion will end at its matching
opposite (), ], }, or >). Nested pairs of the braces used in the
expansion are allowed, but they must be balanced. Braces other than the
ones used in the expansion need not be balanced, however. For example,
%{nest{ed} non[nested} is valid and expands to nest{ed} non[nested.

If any other character is used, the expansion will end at the next
occurrence of that character. The quoting character can be escaped
inside the expansion if it is doubled-up. For example, %|abc||def|
expands to the text abc|def.

It doesn’t matter which character is used, but {} are most common.

There are 2 types of quoting which can be used to group together words
separated by whitespace into a single argument or prevent expansions
from expanding:

“double quoted strings”
Double quoted strings are mainly for grouping multiple % expansions or
% expansions and regular text as a single argument. % and " can be
escaped by doubling the characters (i.e. %% and "").

single quoted strings
Expansions are not processed inside single quoted strings. Single quotes
can be escaped by doubling up (i.e. '').

Expansions are processed when unquoted and anywhere inside double-quoted
strings, but not inside unquoted words, inside single-quoted strings, or
inside %-strings or other expansions (see
:doc command-parsing typed-expansions
for full details). For example:

  • echo %val{session} echoes the current session ID

  • echo x%val{session}x echoes the literal text x%val{session}x

  • echo '%val{session}' echoes the literal text %val{session}

  • echo "x%val{session}x" echoes the current session ID, surrounded
    by x

  • echo %{%val{session}}" echoes the the literal text %val{session}

  • echo %sh{ echo %val{session} }" echoes the literal text
    %val{session}

Like “variable expansion” and “command substitution” in shell
programming, Kakoune expansions can expand to multiple “words” - that
is, separate arguments on the resulting command-line. However, unlike
shell programming, Kakoune expansions cannot accidentally expand to
multiple words because they contain whitespace or other special
characters. Only expansions which semantically contain a list of values
(list-type options, registers, selections, etc.) expand to multiple
arguments. While in shell-programming it’s good practice to always wrap
expansions in double-quotes, in Kakoune it’s perfectly safe to leave
expansions unquoted.

Argument expansions

Expansions with the type arg can only be used inside the “commands”
parameter of the define-command command (See :doc commands declaring-new-commands).

The following expansions are available:

(where n is a decimal number)
expands to argument number n of the current command

%arg{@}
expands to all the arguments of the current command, as individual words

Option expansions

Expansions with the type opt expand to the value associated with the
named option in the current scope (See :doc options).

For example, %opt{BOM} expands to utf8 or to none, according to
the current state of the BOM option.

Register expansions

Expansions with the type reg expand to the contents of the named
register. For registers named after symbols (like the search register
/), the expansion can use either the symbol or the alphabetic name
(See :doc registers).

For example, %reg{/} expands to the content of the / register, and
so does %reg{slash}.

Shell expansions

Expansions with the type sh are executed as shell-scripts, and
whatever the script prints to standard output replaces the expansion.
For example, the command echo %sh{date} will echo the output of the
date command.

Tip

If a shell expansion writes to standard error, that output is appended
to Kakoune’s \*debug* buffer. If you’re trying to debug a shell
expansion, check the debug buffer with :buffer \*debug* to see if
anything shows up.

Because Kakoune does not expand expansions inside the text of an
expansion, you can’t use normal expansions inside %sh{}. Instead,
Kakoune can export expansions as environment variables to make them
available to the shell. Here’s how expansion patterns map to variable
names:

(where n is a decimal number)
becomes $_n_. For example, %arg{3} becomes $3.

%arg{@}
becomes $@

becomes $kak_opt_x

(where x is the alphabetic name of a register)
$kak_reg_x contains all the selections in register x
$kak_main_reg_x contains only the main selection

becomes $kak_x

When turned into environment variables, list-type options, $kak_reg_x,
and “quoted list” values will be shell-quoted so the shell doesn’t get
confused about how many items the list contains. You will need to apply
eval to get back the original values. For example, if you want to
process the contents of each selection, you can do something like:

eval set -- "$kak_selections"
while [ $# -gt 0 ]; do
    # ... do a thing with $1 ...
    shift
done

The eval command will take the expanded $kak_selections and unquote
them, then execute the resulting set command, which sets the shell’s
argument variables to the items from $kak_selections. The while loop
with shift iterates through the arguments one by one.

Only variables actually mentioned in the body of the shell expansion
will be exported into the shell’s environment. For example:

echo %sh{ env | grep ^kak_ }
  1. will find none of Kakoune’s special environment variables, but:
echo %sh{ env | grep ^kak_ # kak_session }
  1. will find the $kak_session variable because it was mentioned by
    name in a comment, even though it wasn’t directly used.

Tip

These environment variables are also available in other contexts where
Kakoune uses a shell command, such as the |, ! or $ normal mode
commands (See :doc keys).

File expansions

Expansions with the type file will expand to the content of the
filename given in argument as read from the host filesystem.

Value expansions

Expansions with the type val give access to Kakoune internal data that
is not stored in an option or a register. Some value expansions can only
be used in certain contexts, like %val{hook_param} that expands to the
parameter string of the currently-executing hook, and is not available
outside a hook.

The following expansions are supported (with required context in
italics
):

in buffer, window scope
full path of the file or same as %val{bufname} when there’s no
associated file

in buffer, window scope
number of lines in the current buffer

quoted list of the names of currently-open buffers (as seen in
%val{bufname})

in buffer, window scope
name of the current buffer

in window scope
value of the $X environment variable in the client displaying the
current window (e.g. %val{client_env_SHELL} is $SHELL in the
client’s environment)

unquoted list of the names of clients (as seen in %val{client})
connected to the current session

in window scope
name of the client displaying the current window

in window scope
process id of the client displaying the current window

directory containing the user configuration

in map command <keys> parameter and <a-;> from object menu
current count when the mapping was triggered, defaults to 0 if no count
given

in window scope
offset of the main cursor from the beginning of the buffer (in bytes)

in window scope
1-based offset from the start of the line to the cursor position in
Unicode codepoints, which may differ from visible columns if the
document contains full-width codepoints (which occupy two columns) or
zero-width codepoints

in window scope
1-based offset from the start of the line to the cursor position in
display column, taking into account tabs and character width.

in window scope
unicode value of the codepoint under the main cursor

in window scope
1-based offset from the start of the line to the first byte of the
character under the main cursor (in bytes), the fourth component of
%val{selection_desc}

in window scope
line of the main cursor, the third component of %val{selection_desc}

in buffer, window scope
history id of the current buffer, an integer value which refers to a
specific buffer version in the undo tree (see also %val{timestamp})

in hook command <command> parameter
text captured by capture group n, if the executing hook’s filter regex
used capture groups

in hook command <command> parameter
the complete parameter string of the executing hook

in buffer, window scope
true if the buffer has modifications not saved, otherwise false

for commands executed from the object menu’s <a-;> only
a pipe-separted list of words including inner if the user wants an
inner selection, to_begin if the user wants to select to the
beginning, and to_end if the user wants to select to the end

in map command <keys> parameter and <a-;> from the object
menu

current register when the mapping was triggered

directory containing the kak support files, determined from Kakoune’s
binary location

for commands executed from the object menu’s <a-;> only
replace if the new selection should replace the existing, extend
otherwise

in window scope
content of the main selection

in window scope
quoted list of the contents of all selections

in window scope
range of the main selection, represented as a.b,c.d where a is the
anchor line, b is the number of bytes from the start of the line to
the anchor, c is the cursor line (like %val{cursor_line}), d is
the number of bytes from the start of the line to the cursor (like
%val{cursor_column}), and all are 1-based decimal integers

in window scope
unquoted list of the ranges of all selections, in the same format as
%val{selection_desc}

in window scope
length (in codepoints) of the main selection

in window scope
unquoted list of the lengths (in codepoints) of the selections

name of the current session

in .kak file
path of the file currently getting executed (through the source command)

in prompt command <command> parameter
the text entered by the user in response to the prompt command

in buffer, window scope
timestamp of the current buffer, an integer that increments each time
the buffer is modified, including undoing and redoing previous
modifications (see also %val{history_id})

unquoted list of user modes.

version of the current Kakoune server (git hash or release name)

in window scope
height of the current Kakoune window

in window scope
width of the current Kakoune window

Values in the above list that do not mention a context are available
everywhere.

A value described as a “quoted list” will follow the rules of Kakoune
string quoting (See :doc command-parsing). An
“unquoted list” cannot contain any special characters that would require
quoting.

Scopes
Command Parsing
Options
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