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If I type M-x customize in Emacs I am taken to customize-group for the Emacs group. At the top of the screen is a search entry dialogue box where I would normally search for a given string. Is there a way of saving searches typed in this dialogue box?

  • It is possible but adding it to the current version of custom-buffer-create-internal requires some Elisp magic. – Tobias Mar 14 at 13:16
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The following Elisp code adapts the history mechanism for text fields of elgrep-menu to Custom-menu.

The code is self-contained. You can copy-paste it into your init file.

After installing and running the code the search field of customization buffers has a history.

If you are in the text field for the search you can move backwards in history with M-up and forwards in history with M-down.

(require 'subr-x) ;; for `when-let'

(defun my-Custom-widget-update-hist (widget)
  "Update the :prompt-history variable of WIDGET.
Return the value of WIDGET."
  (when-let ((ret (widget-value widget))
         (hist-var (widget-get widget :prompt-history))
         (hist-length (or (get hist-var 'history-length) history-length)))
    (unless (string-equal ret (car-safe (symbol-value hist-var)))
      (set hist-var (cons ret (symbol-value hist-var)))
      (when (> (length (symbol-value hist-var)) hist-length)
    (setf (nthcdr hist-length (symbol-value hist-var)) nil)))
    ret))

(defun my-Custom-widget-hist-action (widget)
  "Add `my-Custom-widget-update-hist' to the :action of WIDGET."
  (let ((action (widget-get widget :action)))
    (widget-put widget :action
        `(lambda (wid &optional event)
           (my-Custom-widget-update-hist wid)
           (funcall ,action wid event)))))

(defvar my-Custom-menu-search-history nil)

(require 'wid-edit) ;; for `widget-field-keymap'
(defvar my-Custom-menu-hist-map (let ((map (copy-keymap widget-field-keymap)))
                  (define-key map (kbd "<M-up>") #'my-Custom-menu-hist-up)
                  (define-key map (kbd "ESC <up>") #'my-Custom-menu-hist-up)
                  (define-key map (kbd "<M-down>") #'my-Custom-menu-hist-down)
                  (define-key map (kbd "ESC <down>") #'my-Custom-menu-hist-down)
                  map)
  "Widget menu used for text widgets with history.
Binds M-up and M-down to one step in history up and down, respectively.")

(defvar my-Custom-menu-hist-pos nil
  "Current position in text widget history.
Used in `my-Custom-menu-hist-up' and `my-Custom-menu-hist-down'.")

(defvar my-Custom-menu-hist-list nil)

(defun my-Custom-menu-hist-move (dir)
  "Move in :prompt-history of widget at point in direction DIR which can be -1 or +1."
  (when-let ((wid (widget-at))
             (histvar (widget-get wid :prompt-history)))
    (unless my-Custom-menu-hist-list (setq my-Custom-menu-hist-list (cons (widget-value wid) (symbol-value histvar))))
    (unless (memq last-command '(my-Custom-menu-hist-up my-Custom-menu-hist-down))
      (setq my-Custom-menu-hist-list (cons (widget-value wid) (symbol-value histvar)))
      (setq my-Custom-menu-hist-pos 0))
    (let ((start my-Custom-menu-hist-pos))
      (while
          (progn
            (setq my-Custom-menu-hist-pos (mod (+ my-Custom-menu-hist-pos dir) (length my-Custom-menu-hist-list)))
            (condition-case nil
                (progn
                  (widget-value-set wid (nth my-Custom-menu-hist-pos my-Custom-menu-hist-list))
                  nil)
              (error (/= my-Custom-menu-hist-pos start))))))))

(defun my-Custom-menu-hist-up ()
  "Choose next item in :prompt-history of widget at point."
  (interactive)
  (my-Custom-menu-hist-move 1))

(defun my-Custom-menu-hist-down ()
  "Choose next item in :prompt-history of widget at point."
  (interactive)
  (my-Custom-menu-hist-move -1))

(defmacro my-Custom-find-widget (widget type &rest conditions)
  "Find widget of type TYPE, assign it to WIDGET and test CONDITIONS.
WIDGET and TYPE are unquoted symbols and CONDITIONS is a list of conditions.
The WIDGET symbol can be used in the CONDITIONS.
TYPE identifies the widget type."
  (declare (debug (symbolp symbolp body)) (indent 2))
  (let ((pos (make-symbol "pos"))
    (found (make-symbol "found")))
    `(let ((,pos (goto-char (point-min)))
       ,found
       ,widget)
       (while (and
           (progn
         (widget-forward 1)
         (<= ,pos (point)))
           (setq ,pos (point)
             ,widget (widget-at))
           (null (and (eq (widget-type ,widget) (quote ,type))
              ,@conditions
              (setq ,found ,widget)))))
       ,found)))

(defun my-Custom-menu-search-history-ad (&rest _)
  "Install search history for cus-edit.
Put this function into `Custom-mode-hook'."
  (let ((search-field-widget (my-Custom-find-widget widget editable-field
                   (when-let (help-echo (widget-get widget :help-echo))
                 (string-match "\\`Search for custom items\\.$" help-echo)))))
    (when search-field-widget
      (my-Custom-widget-hist-action search-field-widget)
      (let* ((search-button-widget (my-Custom-find-widget widget push-button
                     (when-let (tag (widget-get widget :tag))
                       (string-match "\\` Search \\'" tag))))
         (b (widget-field-start search-field-widget))
         (search-field-widget (prog1 (widget-copy search-field-widget) (widget-delete search-field-widget))))
    (when search-button-widget
      (widget-put search-button-widget :parent search-field-widget)
      (widget-put search-button-widget :action #'widget-parent-action))
    (widget-put search-field-widget :prompt-history 'my-Custom-menu-search-history)
    (widget-put search-field-widget :keymap my-Custom-menu-hist-map)
    (goto-char b)
    (widget-apply search-field-widget :create) ;; delegating the propertizing of the input field to the widget
    (widget-setup)
    (goto-char (point-min))))))

(advice-add 'custom-buffer-create-internal :after #'my-Custom-menu-search-history-ad)

The code is tested with:

GNU Emacs 26.1 (build 2, i686-pc-linux-gnu, GTK+ Version 3.22.30) of 2018-05-29

  • This is awesome. You have helped me add a feature to Emacs I have wanted for a long time. To make the search history persist between sessions I have added "my-Custom-menu-search-history" to the list desktop-globals-to-save. – devcom Mar 15 at 6:11
  • 1
    @devcom The direct implementation in the Emacs libraries (e.g., cus-edit.el) would be easier and nicer. I have sent a feature request to bug-gnu-emacs@gnu.org. – Tobias Mar 15 at 14:30

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