23.7.1.6 Specifying Indentation Rules

Based on the provided grammar, SMIE will be able to provide automatic indentation without any extra effort. But in practice, this default indentation style will probably not be good enough. You will want to tweak it in many different cases.

SMIE indentation is based on the idea that indentation rules should be as local as possible. To this end, it relies on the idea of virtual indentation, which is the indentation that a particular program point would have if it were at the beginning of a line. Of course, if that program point is indeed at the beginning of a line, its virtual indentation is its current indentation. But if not, then SMIE uses the indentation algorithm to compute the virtual indentation of that point. Now in practice, the virtual indentation of a program point does not have to be identical to the indentation it would have if we inserted a newline before it. To see how this works, the SMIE rule for indentation after a { in C does not care whether the { is standing on a line of its own or is at the end of the preceding line. Instead, these different cases are handled in the indentation rule that decides how to indent before a {.

Another important concept is the notion of parent: The parent of a token, is the head token of the nearest enclosing syntactic construct. For example, the parent of an else is the if to which it belongs, and the parent of an if, in turn, is the lead token of the surrounding construct. The command backward-sexp jumps from a token to its parent, but there are some caveats: for openers (tokens which start a construct, like if), you need to start with point before the token, while for others you need to start with point after the token. backward-sexp stops with point before the parent token if that is the opener of the token of interest, and otherwise it stops with point after the parent token.

SMIE indentation rules are specified using a function that takes two arguments method and arg where the meaning of arg and the expected return value depend on method.

method can be:

When arg is a token, the function is called with point just before that token. A return value of nil always means to fallback on the default behavior, so the function should return nil for arguments it does not expect.

offset can be:

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