Emacs has a command
fill-paragraph 【Alt+q】 that does hard-wrap of current paragraph (it inserts a newline char at every ≈70 chars.). This command is especially useful when writing email or plain text based report. Emacs also has
fill-region, which acts on a text selection. However, there are some usability problems with these commands. This page discuss the problems and some suggestions.
One frequently asked question is how to “unfill” — do reverse of
fill-paragraph. Technically, this means replacing newline char by space. Emacs does not have a built-in command for this. The typical answer to this question, is to set the cut-width to a huge number (set “fill-column” to 10001000), then call
fill-paragraph, then set “fill-column” back to previous value. This is inconvenient.
When user needs to break lines for several paragraphs of text, she need to call
fill-region. There is no keyboard shortcut for it. It would be nice, if the hard-wrap command will automatically work on a text selection if it exists.
In the following, we suggest a command “compact-uncompact-block”. It does “fill” or “unfill” on the current paragraph. If there is a text selection, then the command automatically works on the region. This way, there is one single command with one single shortcut to remember.
Here is a implementation:
(defun compact-uncompact-block () "Remove or add line ending chars on current paragraph. This command is similar to a toggle of `fill-paragraph'. When there is a text selection, act on the region." (interactive) ;; This command symbol has a property “'stateIsCompact-p”. (let (currentStateIsCompact (bigFillColumnVal 4333999) (deactivate-mark nil)) (save-excursion ;; Determine whether the text is currently compact. (setq currentStateIsCompact (if (eq last-command this-command) (get this-command 'stateIsCompact-p) (if (> (- (line-end-position) (line-beginning-position)) fill-column) t nil) ) ) (if (region-active-p) (if currentStateIsCompact (fill-region (region-beginning) (region-end)) (let ((fill-column bigFillColumnVal)) (fill-region (region-beginning) (region-end))) ) (if currentStateIsCompact (fill-paragraph nil) (let ((fill-column bigFillColumnVal)) (fill-paragraph nil)) ) ) (put this-command 'stateIsCompact-p (if currentStateIsCompact nil t)) ) ) )
compact-uncompact-block command is part of ErgoEmacs Keybinding.
One improvement is to make the command do source code formatting in a smart way when the current buffer is in a programing language mode. (like C-lint, HTML-lint, JSLint, etc.) It should toggle the formatting between a compact and non-compact style.