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3.5 The Requester

In various situations, ne needs to ask you to choose one string from several (where “several” can mean a lot). For this kind of event, the requester is issued. The requester displays the strings in as many columns as possible and lets you move with the cursor from one string to another. The strings can fill many screens, which are handled as consecutive pages. Most navigation keys work exactly as in normal editing. This is true even of custom key bindings. Thus, for instance, you can page up and down through the list with Control-P and Control-N (in the standard keyboard configuration).

As with the input line (see The Input Line), you can confirm your input with Return or escape the requester with f1 or the Escape key (or whatever has been bound to the Escape command). Moreover, if you are selecting a file name there is a third possibility: by escaping with the Tab key, the file or directory name that the cursor is currently on will be copied to the input line. This allows you to choose an existing name with Tab and modify it before hitting Return.

A special feature is bound to printing characters: the requester progressively filters out entries that don’t match the characters you type without regard to case. You can use Backspace to progressively return filtered out entries to the list. This lets you quickly navigate large lists to get to the entries you really want.

An example of a requester is the list of commands appearing when you use the Help command. Another is the list of document words matching a prefix given to the AutoComplete command. A third example is the file requester that ne issues whenever a file operation is going to take place. In this case, pressing Return while on a directory name will enter the directory. Note also that, should the requester take too long to appear, you can interrupt the directory scanning with Control-\. However, the listing will likely be incomplete.

Note that there are two items that always appear in the file requester: ./ and ../. The first one represents the current directory and can be used to force a reread of the directory. The second one represents the parent directory and can be used to move up by one directory level.

Another example of a requester is the list of current documents which is displayed when you use the Select... entry from the Documents menu, or invoke the SelectDoc command with the f4 key. Documents with unsaved changes will be bold (if your terminal supports bold) and marked with an asterisk. These documents are generally listed in the order they were opened. However, in this requester you can reorder these documents by using the keys bound to the NextDoc and PrevDoc commands, usually f2 and f3. Any document reordering and selection will only take effect if you exit the requester with the Return key.

The requester presents the strings by default in “row major order,” which means the second string is on the same row as the first but to its right, at the top of the second column, and so on across each row before filling in the next row down. If you prefer your lists displayed in “column major order”—the first, second, and third strings are in the same column and each column is filled before starting on the next column to the right—then use the RequestOrder command to switch that preference. The setting will be stored in your default preferences the next time you save them. See Preferences Commands.


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