1

I'd like to replicate something in emacs that I do in AutoHotkey all the time:

  1. type td
  2. have that string be replaced with the current date

I'm trying to do this with Emacs abbrevs but I'm running into an Invalid function: error.

I've also tried using a builtin function, but I get the same Invalid function error. I've done a bunch of research but no avail.

Here's the code I have currently in my .emacs:

(defun insert-current-iso-date ()
    "..."
    (format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d"))

(define-abbrev-table 'global-abbrev-table
  '(("td" "" (insert-current-iso-date))))
  • One can use C-u M-! date -I to insert a date, assuming GNU date, the prefix arg means insert the output of the shell command. I don't have experience with abbrev (it seems too heavy to me), so I'm not sure that's possible with Emacs' built-in abbrev, and I hear YASnippet is popular and powerful. – xuchunyang May 22 at 4:13
  • Related Emacs Wiki - insert current date. – Drew May 22 at 4:14
3

You need to remove the parenthesis from your custom function. It's calling for hook function name there, not its evaluation.

(define-abbrev-table 'global-abbrev-table
  '(("td" "" insert-current-iso-date)))

Anyway, to my understanding, you should define your abbrevs the way it's intended which is using define-abbrev, whose syntax is easier to follow, and not overriding the whole table definition unless you have a good reason to do so.

(define-abbrev global-abbrev-table "td" "" 'insert-current-iso-date)

And, as @NickD pointed:

you have to change the insert-current-iso-date to insert the string: it is not enough to return it as it does currently:

(defun insert-current-iso-date ()
  (insert (format-time-string "%Y-%m-%d"))

And of course you have to turn on abbrev-mode.

| improve this answer | |
  • I think you also need to change the insert-current-iso-date to insert the formatted string: atm it just returns it. – NickD May 22 at 15:04
  • @NickD Hook name calls to confusion, but it's all it needs as the symbol is defined. The hook is the function [insert-current-iso-date] for performing the expansion, so its return is what is inserted. Probably it should be named current-iso-date for clarity. – Muihlinn May 22 at 16:26
  • 1
    In my experiment, that did not work: td was replaced by an empty string; I had to explicitly insert - I didn't spend much time on it however, so I may very well be wrong. – NickD May 22 at 17:51
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    Thank you all so much for this. I appreciate the rapid, accurate response, the back and forth about using insert, and the advice to use (define-abbrev). I was just trying to get it working, I'll now make it proper (eg. define-abbrev). I appreciate this, since 'td' is hard-coded into my muscle memory at this point and KNEW there would be a way to do it in Emacs! Thanks!! – Nick May May 23 at 14:13
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    Without good understanding of lisp, I just added this code (to replace what I had connected to ^Cd before). It works, except calling unexpand-abbrev (just in case I actually need the string 'td'!) leaves td2020-05-24 instead of just td. Any ideas why? – Steve Petersen May 24 at 16:13

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