With semantic-mode enabled and reading a C++ source file in cc-mode, running helm-semantic-or-imenu correctly shows all the classes, variables and functions defined in that file. However, all the descriptions have the characters & and * missing. So, by simply looking at the entries shown in the helm semantic/imenu buffer, I can't tell the correct signatures. For example, a member variable defined as const char* fileName shows up as const char fileName. Is there some variable which would change this display behaviour?

EDIT : More information thanks to @TuDo - Both semantic-ia-show-summary and helm-semantic-or-imenu use semantic-format-tag-summarize to parse the tag info. However, the latter correctly outputs const char* fileName.

2 Answers 2


In a buffer with only the line const char* fileName as above, running (semantic-fetch-tags) returns this tag that gives back char as type:

(("filename" variable (:pointer 1 :constant-flag t :type "char") nil #<overlay from 1 to 22 in 03-095759.c>))

The type is "char", although it has the attribute :pointer 1 to denote the level of pointer. helm-semantic does not account for this attribute, so I will try to update it and create a PR for Helm to fix this.

EDIT: But then, the Helm function uses semantic-format-tag-summarize to format tag for displaying in Helm, so this is a bug in Semantic itself for not returning correct original appearance of tag. I will report this to CEDET maintainer.

EDIT2: As a workaround until this got fixed. you can at least press TAB to temporary jump to function signature and view the correct one.

EDIT3: I finally reproduced the error with a minimal example:

(let ((tag (car (semantic-fetch-tags))))
    (insert (semantic-format-tag-summarize tag nil t))

Eval the above code in a file with a pointer. For some reason, when the buffer string is returned, characters like * or & is deleted. Maybe it should be escaped when ``semantic-format-tag-summarize` returns tag string? I already reported this issue to CEDET maintainer.

EDIT4: This bug was fixed with commit 9ea601e. The problem is solved.

  • I was looking at the code for semantic-ia-show-summary. It calls semantic-format-tag-summarize as well. However, its output correct says const char* fileName. So, this doesn't sound like a semantic issue.
    – Pradhan
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 5:05
  • Interesting. Helm uses the same thing but it returns string with missing info.
    – Tu Do
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 5:30
  • The difference is that semantic-ia-show-summary retrieves tags from semantic-analyze-interesting-tag, while Helm retrieves from semantic-fetch-tags. Probably the two tag formats are inconsistent?
    – Tu Do
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 5:34
  • 1
    @Pradhan I fixed this bug and made a PR here. It is not a bug, but a behaviour of semantic-format-tag-summarize.
    – Tu Do
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 6:28
  • 1
    @Pradhan The bug is fixed in helm-semantic now.
    – Tu Do
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 8:18

I've just patched moo-jump-local to properly handle const char* fileName. It seems that semantic can't currently parse top-level references. Although it parses them in the arguments lists, as you can see here: moo-jump-local

  • Nice. I wonder if moo-jump-local can be used in other languages that Semantic supports, i.e. Emacs Lisp, Python...? If not, then I will use this command only for C/C++ buffers and the old helm-semantic-or-imenu for others. EDIT: Seems like it's possible but very rudimentary.
    – Tu Do
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 8:49
  • The goto function of github.com/abo-abo/lispy is pretty advanced for Elisp, Clojure, Common Lisp and Scheme. For instance, you get dedicated tags for defgeneric or global-set-key.
    – abo-abo
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 9:03

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