There are conventions for writing minor modes just as there are for
major modes. These conventions are described below. The easiest way to
follow them is to use the macro
See Defining Minor Modes.
nilif the mode is disabled, and non-
nilif the mode is enabled. The variable should be buffer-local if the minor mode is buffer-local.
This variable is used in conjunction with the minor-mode-alist to display the minor mode name in the mode line. It also determines whether the minor mode keymap is active, via minor-mode-map-alist (see Controlling Active Maps). Individual commands or hooks can also check its value.
The mode command should accept one optional argument. If called interactively with no prefix argument, it should toggle the mode (i.e., enable if it is disabled, and disable if it is enabled). If called interactively with a prefix argument, it should enable the mode if the argument is positive and disable it otherwise.
If the mode command is called from Lisp (i.e., non-interactively), it
should enable the mode if the argument is omitted or
should toggle the mode if the argument is the symbol
otherwise it should treat the argument in the same way as for an
interactive call with a numeric prefix argument, as described above.
The following example shows how to implement this behavior (it is
similar to the code generated by the
(interactive (list (or current-prefix-arg 'toggle))) (let ((enable (if (eq arg 'toggle) (not foo-mode) ; this mode’s mode variable (> (prefix-numeric-value arg) 0)))) (if enable do-enable do-disable))
The reason for this somewhat complex behavior is that it lets users easily toggle the minor mode interactively, and also lets the minor mode be easily enabled in a mode hook, like this:
(add-hook 'text-mode-hook 'foo-mode)
This behaves correctly whether or not
foo-mode was already
enabled, since the
foo-mode mode command unconditionally enables
the minor mode when it is called from Lisp with no argument. Disabling
a minor mode in a mode hook is a little uglier:
(add-hook 'text-mode-hook (lambda () (foo-mode -1)))
However, this is not very commonly done.
Here mode-variable is the variable that controls enabling of the minor mode, and string is a short string, starting with a space, to represent the mode in the mode line. These strings must be short so that there is room for several of them at once.
When you add an element to minor-mode-alist, use
check for an existing element, to avoid duplication. For example:
(unless (assq 'leif-mode minor-mode-alist) (push '(leif-mode " Leif") minor-mode-alist))
or like this, using
add-to-list (see List Variables):
(add-to-list 'minor-mode-alist '(leif-mode " Leif"))
In addition, several major mode conventions apply to minor modes as well: those regarding the names of global symbols, the use of a hook at the end of the initialization function, and the use of keymaps and other tables.
The minor mode should, if possible, support enabling and disabling via
Custom (see Customization). To do this, the mode variable should be
defcustom, usually with
:type 'boolean. If
just setting the variable is not sufficient to enable the mode, you
should also specify a
:set method which enables the mode by
invoking the mode command. Note in the variable’s documentation string
that setting the variable other than via Custom may not take effect.
Also, mark the definition with an autoload cookie (see autoload cookie), and specify a
:require so that customizing the variable
will load the library that defines the mode. For example:
;;;###autoload (defcustom msb-mode nil "Toggle msb-mode. Setting this variable directly does not take effect; use either \\[customize] or the function `msb-mode'." :set 'custom-set-minor-mode :initialize 'custom-initialize-default :version "20.4" :type 'boolean :group 'msb :require 'msb)