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I've been working with some org export engine code which passes around some rather large and complex list objects. It's rather tedious to explore an object by reading through a long word-wrapped printed representation of an object or iteratively writing and evaluating accessors in the scratch buffer. I and am wondering if there are any good methods for interactively examining values.

Take for example: many IDE's that present object values in an interactive tree view which permits incrementally expanding keys/values. The object is persistently shown on the screen and can be examined without much concern about the value types being viewed. A random screenshot of Chrome developer tools as illustration:

Chrome developer tools object view

Other tools present values as navigable popovers (functionally very similar). A random screenshot from Visual Studio:

Visual Studio datatip

Is there anything similar for emacs lisp? Perhaps something built into edebug or provided by another package? Or is this just waiting to be developed?

Note: I discovered pp and pp+ shortly after posting this question. The formatting is incredibly helpful in visually navigating object structure. It saves needing to modify print-length and print-depth to extreme values and formatting the output in a separate buffer.

  • Perhaps library hide-show.el helps in this regard. – Drew May 20 '16 at 4:59
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    @ebpa If pp and pp+ do what you want, then you can add that as your own solution and mark it as an answer in few days. – Kaushal Modi May 20 '16 at 13:49
  • @Drew I provided an answer with the pp+-based solution. I haven't been entirely satisfied with it though. I'll update my answer when I publish a better alternative. – ebpa Oct 15 '17 at 20:42
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I found the function pp-eval-last-sexp-with-tooltip in the pp+ package is a great general-purpose solution for this. It is effectively the same as eval-last-sexp, but neatly formats the return value and displays it as a tooltip. Values larger than pp-max-tooltip-size (x-max-tooltip-size) are shown in a separate window.

I have it bound to C-x C-e at the moment:

(require 'pp+)
(define-key global-map (kbd "C-x C-e") #'pp-eval-last-sexp-with-tooltip)

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