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The  let* expression

The next line of the  forward-paragraph function begins a  let* expression. This is a different kind of expression than we have seen so far. The symbol is  let* not  let .

The  let* special form is like  let except that Emacs sets each variable in sequence, one after another, and variables in the latter part of the varlist can make use of the values to which Emacs set variables in the earlier part of the varlist.

In the  let* expression in this function, Emacs binds two variables:  fill-prefix-regexp and  paragraph-separate . The value to which  paragraph-separate is bound depends on the value of  fill-prefix-regexp .

Let's look at each in turn. The symbol  fill-prefix-regexp is set to the value returned by evaluating the following list:

(and fill-prefix 
     (not (equal fill-prefix ""))
     (not paragraph-ignore-fill-prefix)
     (regexp-quote fill-prefix))

This is an expression whose first element is the function  and .

The  and function evaluates each of its arguments until one of the arguments returns a value of  nil , in which case the  and expression returns  nil ; however, if none of the arguments returns a value of  nil , the value resulting from evaluating the last argument is returned. (Since such a value is not  nil , it is considered true in Lisp.) In other words, an  and expression returns a true value only if all its arguments are true.

In this case, the variable  fill-prefix-regexp is bound to a non- nil value only if the following four expressions produce a true (i.e., a non- nil ) value when they are evaluated; otherwise,  fill-prefix-regexp is bound to  nil .

fill-prefix
When this variable is evaluated, the value of the fill prefix, if any, is returned. If there is no fill prefix, this variable returns  nil .

(not (equal fill-prefix "")
This expression checks whether an existing fill prefix is an empty string, that is, a string with no characters in it. An empty string is not a useful fill prefix.

(not paragraph-ignore-fill-prefix)
This expression returns  nil if the variable  paragraph-ignore-fill-prefix has been turned on by being set to a true value such as  t .

(regexp-quote fill-prefix)
This is the last argument to the  and function. If all the arguments to the  and are true, the value resulting from evaluating this expression will be returned by the  and expression and bound to the variable  fill-prefix-regexp ,

The result of evaluating this  and expression successfully is that  fill-prefix-regexp will be bound to the value of  fill-prefix as modified by the  regexp-quote function. What  regexp-quote does is read a string and return a regular expression that will exactly match the string and match nothing else. This means that  fill-prefix-regexp will be set to a value that will exactly match the fill prefix if the fill prefix exists. Otherwise, the variable will be set to  nil .

The second local variable in the  let* expression is  paragraph-separate . It is bound to the value returned by evaluating the expression:

(if fill-prefix-regexp
    (concat paragraph-separate 
            "\\|^" fill-prefix-regexp "[ \t]*$")
  paragraph-separate)))

This expression shows why  let* rather than  let was used. The true-or-false-test for the  if depends on whether the variable  fill-prefix-regexp evaluates to  nil or some other value.

If  fill-prefix-regexp does not have a value, Emacs evaluates the else-part of the  if expression and binds  paragraph-separate to its local value. ( paragraph-separate is a regular expression that matches what separates paragraphs.)

But if  fill-prefix-regexp does have a value, Emacs evaluates the then-part of the  if expression and binds  paragraph-separate to a regular expression that includes the  fill-prefix-regexp as part of the pattern.

Specifically,  paragraph-separate is set to the original value of the paragraph separate regular expression concatenated with an alternative expression that consists of the  fill-prefix-regexp followed by a blank line. The `^' indicates that the  fill-prefix-regexp must begin a line, and the optional whitespace to the end of the line is defined by  "[ \t]*$" .) The `\\|' defines this portion of the regexp as an alternative to  paragraph-separate .

Now we get into the body of the  let* . The first part of the body of the  let* deals with the case when the function is given a negative argument and is therefore moving backwards. We will skip this section.

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