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bug#36496: [PATCH] Describe the rx notation in the lisp manual

From: Drew Adams
Subject: bug#36496: [PATCH] Describe the rx notation in the lisp manual
Date: Sun, 7 Jul 2019 17:56:31 -0700 (PDT)

>   > would be great if you could invoke a command on a
>   > regexp (e.g. a regexp string in code) and have an
>   > equivalent `rx' expression pop up, for inspection
>   > and understanding.
> I agree.  That would make rx much more convenient for people who like
> the shortness of some regexps.

It would also help someone understand a complex regexp.

It could also help someone learn about regexps by, in
effect analyzing them (on demand).

It would also be good to be able to select _part_ of a
complex regexp - a part that is itself a valid regexp,
and use such an inspection command on just that part,
to show what `rx' it corresponds to.  IOW, select some
text, not necessarily a string, and (if its a valid
regexp) get its `rx' form.

> It could be part of Lisp mode, so you
> could use this on a regexp constant in a source file.
> I suspect that the long-windedness of rx input is a substantial
> deterrent to its use.  It may be better for complex patterns but worse
> for simple ones.
>   > It would be nice to be able to have only the result
>   > of `rx' in the code and be able to get its `rx'
>   > expression on demand.
> I think it would be clearer, usually, for Lisp source to have the rx
> form.  That would help people get used to rx.  For complex patterns,
> the rx form is easier to understand and change.
> WHat would people think of making all the functions that want a regexp
> accept an rx input equivalently?  If the arg is not a string, treat it
> as rx format.

Do you mean they'd accept a quoted `rx' form (list)?
What would a use case be - as opposed to accepting
the result of macro-expanding such a form?  Assuming
there's good use case, maybe so. 

[But there may be some functions that already have a
(different) interpretation of a list value for the
same arg that could alternatively be a regexp string.
(So maybe not "all" such functions.)]

> Compilation could convert a constant non-string, for
> such args, to a regexp string.

Same question as above, about the use case for a
quoted `rx'-form arg (versus macro-expanding it to
provide a regexp string arg).

Even assuming such a use case, should the compiler
assume that _every_ such list arg should be compiled
to a regexp string?

And wouldn't such compile-time conversion just
amount to macro-expanding it?  I guess I might be
missing your point/suggestion.

> Commands that read a regexp using the minibuffer could offer a key to
> say that you are entering rx format.

Sounds good to me.

> The only problem is, which key would it be?

Some non-repeatable key.  Some key that can't be
used (by default) to edit minibuffer text.  Maybe
something like `C-x x'?

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