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2.4: Basic Preferences

ne has a number of flags which specify alternative behaviours, the most prototypical example being the insert flag, which specifies if the text you type in is inserted in the existing text, or overwrites it. You can toggle this flag with the `Insert' menu item of the `Prefs' menu, or with the INSERT key of your keyboard (toggle means to change the value of a flag from true to false, or from false to true; also see Insert).

Another important flag is the free form flag, which specifies if the cursor can be moved anywhere, or only on existing text (a la vi). Programmers usually prefer non free form editing; text writers prefer free form. See FreeForm, for some elaboration. The free form flag can be set with the `Free Form' menu item of the `Prefs' menu

At this point, I suggest you to explore by trial and error the other flags of the `Prefs' menu. I would prefer spending a couple of words about the automatic preferences, or, in short, autoprefs.

Having many flags ensures a high degree of flexibility, but can turn editing into a nightmare if for each different kind of file loaded one has to turn on and off dozens of options. The solution is having the program handling all the details, depending on some characteristic of the file.

The solution chosen in ne is to look at the extension of the name of a file, i.e., the last group of letters after a dot. For instance, the extension of `ne.texinfo' is `texinfo', while the extension of `source.c' is `c'.

Whenever you select the `Save AutoPrefs' menu item, ne saves in a directory named `.ne' (in your home directory) a file, with the same name as the extension of the name of current document (postfixed with `#ap'), containing all the commands which will rebuild the current settings. Whenever you will open a file with the same extension in its name, ne will reload automagically the same set of preferences (there is a flag which inhibits the process; see AutoPrefs).

Finally, when you select the `Save Def Prefs' menu item, a special preferences file named `.default#ap' is saved that is loaded whenever ne is run, before loading any file. Here is the place to put in the preferences you always want to be set.

Note also that a preferences file is just a macro (as described in the following section). Thus, it can be edited manually if necessary.

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