12.1.3 The echo area

Underneath the editor window is an echo area, identical to the echo area in the other tools. This is used by the Editor to display status messages, and to request more information from you when necessary. The echo area is contained in every view in the Editor.

Whenever you invoke a command which requires further input (for instance, if you search a file for a piece of text, in which case you need to specify the text you want to search for), you are prompted for that input in the echo area. Type any information that is needed by the Editor, and the characters you type are echoed in the echo area.

For many commands, you can save time by using tab completion . When you have partially specified input in the echo area, you can press the Tab key and the Editor attempts to complete what you have typed. If it cannot complete the string uniquely, a dialog appears which lists all the possible alternatives. Double-click on any item in this dialog to place it in the echo area.

For example, suppose you have three files in the current directory, test1.lisp , test2.lisp and test3.lisp , and you want to edit test2.lisp using keyboard commands. Type Ctrl+X Ctrl+F , then type test and press Tab . A list appears which shows all three files. To edit test2.lisp , double-click on the item marked test2.lisp in this list.

To get the hang of when tab completion is appropriate and when it is not, experiment by pressing the Tab key when specifying input in the echo area. As a rule, if there are a finite number of things you could type, then tab completion is appropriate. Thus, when opening a file already on disk, tab completion is appropriate (there is a finite number of files in the current directory). When specifying a string to search for, however, tab completion is not appropriate (you could specify practically any string).

Common LispWorks User Guide (Macintosh version) - 5 Jul 2006