,# paredit (parenthetical deftness)
## 1. Intro (15s)
Some programming languages, most famously Lisp, require heavy use of
parentheses. A good editor will provide a few tools to help you with
this. A great editor (such as Emacs with paredit installed) will go
further, which is what we'll explore here.
## 2. Insertion and Deletion
Let's write some Emacs Lisp.
Now you'll notice that as you type open parens, the closing ones are
inserted for you. This is no real surprise, as it's something many
other editors provide. But we're just getting started.
The next thing you'll notice is that deleting works differently. When
you press C-k to kill a line, the whole line doesn't always get
deleted. Paredit is doing its best to make sure that the structure of
your code remains valid. It knows you probably didn't want to actually
kill the whole line, just everything up to the closing paren.
If the rest of the line contains an expression that spans many lines,
it will remove the whole thing instead of just up to the end of the
And pressing close paren won't insert one, but just jumps to the close
of the current expression instead.
Pressing backspace will pass through the parens and only delete elements.
But once a pair of parens is empty, then deleting one of them deletes
So far everything that works with parentheses also applies to other
matched characters. Double-quotes, square brackets, and curly braces
(if your language uses them) all behave similarly.
Of course, paredit knows that these rules don't apply when you're
inside a string or a comment, so it doesn't try to enforce its
## 3. Workarounds
Now these features are helpful, but they assume that the file you're
working with has a valid structure. For various reasons, that's not
always true. Let's see what happens when the rules are violated.
The first thing to note is that paredit won't even activate if it
detects unbalanced characters in a file you're opening. So let's fix
it and activate paredit manually.
You can still get a document in a bad state if you don't watch
out. Killing a region with C-w does not enforce the rules, so remember
that when you use it, you're stepping outside the bounds of paredit
and should be a little more careful.
See how the end of the line is highlighted differently? That's
show-paren-mode indicating that things are unbalanced. It's not part
of paredit, but it's definitely worth enabling.
Another thing that's helpful to remember is that Emacs lets you prefix
a key with C-q to insert it literally rather than activating whatever
the key is bound to. Use this if you need to insert a lone paren to
fix things. You can also prefix backspace with C-u to force it.
## 4. Wrangling (depth-changing)
You can wrap the next expression in parens with M-(. If you want to
wrap multiple expressions, simply mark them and then hit (.
If you're inside a list and want to merge it with its parent, use M-s
Of course we can't neglect to mention the imaginatively named "barf"
and "slurp" commands. If you're inside a list, you can "barf" the last
expression out of the list. The reverse operation "slurps" the next
element outside into the list. Yum!
Barfing and slurping have forward and backward variations.
If you're running Emacs in a terminal, it may not be capable of
entering these keys, so you can use the alternate arrow-key versions.
This is pretty straightforward; just use M-S-s and M-S-j to split and
## 5. Other Languages
While paredit-mode was designed to work with Lisp languages, it can be
used in others as well. It works with most modes based on cc-mode
js2-mode. It also works in ruby-mode. The list modification commands
don't expect list elements to need commas between them, so this is not
ideal. Other than that, the functionality it provides is quite
## 6. Installation and Enabling
If you use the Emacs Starter Kit, you've got Paredit already
installed. Otherwise hit up the Emacs Lisp Package Archive, or ELPA
for a copy. ELPA can be downloaded from http://tromey.com/elpa.
You'll still need to choose which modes to enable it for though. Add
hooks for that:
Add a hook for each mode for which you want paredit activated, and
you're good to go.
The esk-paredit-nonlisp function customizes and enables paredit for
non-Lisp languages. It's included in the Starter Kit, but if you want
to use it elsewhere, it looks like this:
## 7. Conclusion
Hopefully now you've picked up some techniques that will make you more
effective in your coding.
If you're interested in learning more about Emacs or Lisp, check out
my PeepCode screencasts, each available for $9:
Meet Emacs - http://peepcode.com/products/meet-emacs
Functional Programming with Clojure - http://peepcode.com/products/functional-programming-with-clojure
Thanks for watching!