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.\" Chet Ramey
.\" Information Network Services
.\" Case Western Reserve University
.\" chet@ins.CWRU.Edu
.\" Last Change: Thu Jul 31 08:46:08 EDT 2003
.TH HISTORY 3 "2003 July 31" "GNU History 5.0"
.\" File Name macro. This used to be `.PN', for Path Name,
.\" but Sun doesn't seem to like that very much.
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history \- GNU History Library
.if t The GNU History Library is Copyright \(co 1989-2002 by the Free Software Foundation, Inc.
.if n The GNU History Library is Copyright (C) 1989-2002 by the Free Software Foundation, Inc.
Many programs read input from the user a line at a time. The GNU
History library is able to keep track of those lines, associate arbitrary
data with each line, and utilize information from previous lines in
composing new ones.
The history library supports a history expansion feature that
is identical to the history expansion in
.BR bash.
This section describes what syntax features are available.
History expansions introduce words from the history list into
the input stream, making it easy to repeat commands, insert the
arguments to a previous command into the current input line, or
fix errors in previous commands quickly.
History expansion is usually performed immediately after a complete line
is read.
It takes place in two parts.
The first is to determine which line from the history list
to use during substitution.
The second is to select portions of that line for inclusion into
the current one.
The line selected from the history is the \fIevent\fP,
and the portions of that line that are acted upon are \fIwords\fP.
Various \fImodifiers\fP are available to manipulate the selected words.
The line is broken into words in the same fashion as \fBbash\fP
does when reading input,
so that several words that would otherwise be separated
are considered one word when surrounded by quotes (see the
description of \fBhistory_tokenize()\fP below).
History expansions are introduced by the appearance of the
history expansion character, which is \^\fB!\fP\^ by default.
Only backslash (\^\fB\e\fP\^) and single quotes can quote
the history expansion character.
.SS Event Designators
An event designator is a reference to a command line entry in the
history list.
.PD 0
.B !
Start a history substitution, except when followed by a
.BR blank ,
newline, = or (.
.B !\fIn\fR
Refer to command line
.IR n .
.B !\-\fIn\fR
Refer to the current command line minus
.IR n .
.B !!
Refer to the previous command. This is a synonym for `!\-1'.
.B !\fIstring\fR
Refer to the most recent command starting with
.IR string .
.B !?\fIstring\fR\fB[?]\fR
Refer to the most recent command containing
.IR string .
The trailing \fB?\fP may be omitted if
.I string
is followed immediately by a newline.
.B \d\s+2^\s-2\u\fIstring1\fP\d\s+2^\s-2\u\fIstring2\fP\d\s+2^\s-2\u
Quick substitution. Repeat the last command, replacing
.I string1
.IR string2 .
Equivalent to
(see \fBModifiers\fP below).
.B !#
The entire command line typed so far.
.SS Word Designators
Word designators are used to select desired words from the event.
.B :
separates the event specification from the word designator.
It may be omitted if the word designator begins with a
.BR ^ ,
.BR $ ,
.BR * ,
.BR \- ,
.BR % .
Words are numbered from the beginning of the line,
with the first word being denoted by 0 (zero).
Words are inserted into the current line separated by single spaces.
.PD 0
.B 0 (zero)
The zeroth word. For the shell, this is the command
.I n
The \fIn\fRth word.
.B ^
The first argument. That is, word 1.
.B $
The last argument.
.B %
The word matched by the most recent `?\fIstring\fR?' search.
.I x\fB\-\fPy
A range of words; `\-\fIy\fR' abbreviates `0\-\fIy\fR'.
.B *
All of the words but the zeroth. This is a synonym
for `\fI1\-$\fP'. It is not an error to use
.B *
if there is just one
word in the event; the empty string is returned in that case.
.B x*
Abbreviates \fIx\-$\fP.
.B x\-
Abbreviates \fIx\-$\fP like \fBx*\fP, but omits the last word.
If a word designator is supplied without an event specification, the
previous command is used as the event.
.SS Modifiers
After the optional word designator, there may appear a sequence of
one or more of the following modifiers, each preceded by a `:'.
.PD 0
.B h
Remove a trailing file name component, leaving only the head.
.B t
Remove all leading file name components, leaving the tail.
.B r
Remove a trailing suffix of the form \\fP, leaving the
.B e
Remove all but the trailing suffix.
.B p
Print the new command but do not execute it.
.B q
Quote the substituted words, escaping further substitutions.
.B x
Quote the substituted words as with
.BR q ,
but break into words at
.B blanks
and newlines.
.B s/\fIold\fP/\fInew\fP/
.I new
for the first occurrence of
.I old
in the event line. Any delimiter can be used in place of /. The
final delimiter is optional if it is the last character of the
event line. The delimiter may be quoted in
.I old
.I new
with a single backslash. If & appears in
.IR new ,
it is replaced by
.IR old .
A single backslash will quote the &. If
.I old
is null, it is set to the last
.I old
substituted, or, if no previous history substitutions took place,
the last
.I string
in a
.B !?\fIstring\fR\fB[?]\fR
.B &
Repeat the previous substitution.
.B g
Cause changes to be applied over the entire event line. This is
used in conjunction with `\fB:s\fP' (e.g., `\fB:gs/\fIold\fP/\fInew\fP/\fR')
or `\fB:&\fP'. If used with
`\fB:s\fP', any delimiter can be used
in place of /, and the final delimiter is optional
if it is the last character of the event line.
An \fBa\fP may be used as a synonym for \fBg\fP.
.B G
Apply the following `\fBs\fP' modifier once to each word in the event line.
This section describes how to use the History library in other programs.
.SS Introduction to History
The programmer using the History library has available functions
for remembering lines on a history list, associating arbitrary data
with a line, removing lines from the list, searching through the list
for a line containing an arbitrary text string, and referencing any line
in the list directly. In addition, a history \fIexpansion\fP function
is available which provides for a consistent user interface across
different programs.
The user using programs written with the History library has the
benefit of a consistent user interface with a set of well-known
commands for manipulating the text of previous lines and using that text
in new commands. The basic history manipulation commands are
identical to
the history substitution provided by \fBbash\fP.
If the programmer desires, he can use the Readline library, which
includes some history manipulation by default, and has the added
advantage of command line editing.
Before declaring any functions using any functionality the History
library provides in other code, an application writer should include
the file
.FN <readline/history.h>
in any file that uses the
History library's features. It supplies extern declarations for all
of the library's public functions and variables, and declares all of
the public data structures.
.SS History Storage
The history list is an array of history entries. A history entry is
declared as follows:
.Vb "typedef void *" histdata_t;
typedef struct _hist_entry {
char *line;
char *timestamp;
histdata_t data;
The history list itself might therefore be declared as
.Vb "HIST_ENTRY **" the_history_list;
The state of the History library is encapsulated into a single structure:
* A structure used to pass around the current state of the history.
typedef struct _hist_state {
HIST_ENTRY **entries; /* Pointer to the entries themselves. */
int offset; /* The location pointer within this array. */
int length; /* Number of elements within this array. */
int size; /* Number of slots allocated to this array. */
int flags;
If the flags member includes \fBHS_STIFLED\fP, the history has been
.SH "History Functions"
This section describes the calling sequence for the various functions
exported by the GNU History library.
.SS Initializing History and State Management
This section describes functions used to initialize and manage
the state of the History library when you want to use the history
functions in your program.
.Fn1 void using_history void
Begin a session in which the history functions might be used. This
initializes the interactive variables.
.Fn1 "HISTORY_STATE *" history_get_history_state void
Return a structure describing the current state of the input history.
.Fn1 void history_set_history_state "HISTORY_STATE *state"
Set the state of the history list according to \fIstate\fP.
.SS History List Management
These functions manage individual entries on the history list, or set
parameters managing the list itself.
.Fn1 void add_history "const char *string"
Place \fIstring\fP at the end of the history list. The associated data
field (if any) is set to \fBNULL\fP.
.Fn1 void add_history_time "const char *string"
Change the time stamp associated with the most recent history entry to
.Fn1 "HIST_ENTRY *" remove_history "int which"
Remove history entry at offset \fIwhich\fP from the history. The
removed element is returned so you can free the line, data,
and containing structure.
.Fn1 "histdata_t" free_history_entry "HIST_ENTRY *histent"
Free the history entry \fIhistent\fP and any history library private
data associated with it. Returns the application-specific data
so the caller can dispose of it.
.Fn3 "HIST_ENTRY *" replace_history_entry "int which" "const char *line" "histdata_t data"
Make the history entry at offset \fIwhich\fP have \fIline\fP and \fIdata\fP.
This returns the old entry so the caller can dispose of any
application-specific data. In the case
of an invalid \fIwhich\fP, a \fBNULL\fP pointer is returned.
.Fn1 void clear_history "void"
Clear the history list by deleting all the entries.
.Fn1 void stifle_history "int max"
Stifle the history list, remembering only the last \fImax\fP entries.
.Fn1 int unstifle_history "void"
Stop stifling the history. This returns the previously-set
maximum number of history entries (as set by \fBstifle_history()\fP).
history was stifled. The value is positive if the history was
stifled, negative if it wasn't.
.Fn1 int history_is_stifled "void"
Returns non-zero if the history is stifled, zero if it is not.
.SS Information About the History List
These functions return information about the entire history list or
individual list entries.
.Fn1 "HIST_ENTRY **" history_list "void"
Return a \fBNULL\fP terminated array of \fIHIST_ENTRY *\fP which is the
current input history. Element 0 of this list is the beginning of time.
If there is no history, return \fBNULL\fP.
.Fn1 int where_history "void"
Returns the offset of the current history element.
.Fn1 "HIST_ENTRY *" current_history "void"
Return the history entry at the current position, as determined by
\fBwhere_history()\fP. If there is no entry there, return a \fBNULL\fP
.Fn1 "HIST_ENTRY *" history_get "int offset"
Return the history entry at position \fIoffset\fP, starting from
If there is no entry there, or if \fIoffset\fP
is greater than the history length, return a \fBNULL\fP pointer.
.Fn1 "time_t" history_get_time "HIST_ENTRY *"
Return the time stamp associated with the history entry passed as the argument.
.Fn1 int history_total_bytes "void"
Return the number of bytes that the primary history entries are using.
This function returns the sum of the lengths of all the lines in the
.SS Moving Around the History List
These functions allow the current index into the history list to be
set or changed.
.Fn1 int history_set_pos "int pos"
Set the current history offset to \fIpos\fP, an absolute index
into the list.
Returns 1 on success, 0 if \fIpos\fP is less than zero or greater
than the number of history entries.
.Fn1 "HIST_ENTRY *" previous_history "void"
Back up the current history offset to the previous history entry, and
return a pointer to that entry. If there is no previous entry, return
a \fBNULL\fP pointer.
.Fn1 "HIST_ENTRY *" next_history "void"
Move the current history offset forward to the next history entry, and
return the a pointer to that entry. If there is no next entry, return
a \fBNULL\fP pointer.
.SS Searching the History List
These functions allow searching of the history list for entries containing
a specific string. Searching may be performed both forward and backward
from the current history position. The search may be \fIanchored\fP,
meaning that the string must match at the beginning of the history entry.
.Fn2 int history_search "const char *string" "int direction"
Search the history for \fIstring\fP, starting at the current history offset.
If \fIdirection\fP is less than 0, then the search is through
previous entries, otherwise through subsequent entries.
If \fIstring\fP is found, then
the current history index is set to that history entry, and the value
returned is the offset in the line of the entry where
\fIstring\fP was found. Otherwise, nothing is changed, and a -1 is
.Fn2 int history_search_prefix "const char *string" "int direction"
Search the history for \fIstring\fP, starting at the current history
offset. The search is anchored: matching lines must begin with
\fIstring\fP. If \fIdirection\fP is less than 0, then the search is
through previous entries, otherwise through subsequent entries.
If \fIstring\fP is found, then the
current history index is set to that entry, and the return value is 0.
Otherwise, nothing is changed, and a -1 is returned.
.Fn3 int history_search_pos "const char *string" "int direction" "int pos"
Search for \fIstring\fP in the history list, starting at \fIpos\fP, an
absolute index into the list. If \fIdirection\fP is negative, the search
proceeds backward from \fIpos\fP, otherwise forward. Returns the absolute
index of the history element where \fIstring\fP was found, or -1 otherwise.
.SS Managing the History File
The History library can read the history from and write it to a file.
This section documents the functions for managing a history file.
.Fn1 int read_history "const char *filename"
Add the contents of \fIfilename\fP to the history list, a line at a time.
If \fIfilename\fP is \fBNULL\fP, then read from \fI~/.history\fP.
Returns 0 if successful, or \fBerrno\fP if not.
.Fn3 int read_history_range "const char *filename" "int from" "int to"
Read a range of lines from \fIfilename\fP, adding them to the history list.
Start reading at line \fIfrom\fP and end at \fIto\fP.
If \fIfrom\fP is zero, start at the beginning. If \fIto\fP is less than
\fIfrom\fP, then read until the end of the file. If \fIfilename\fP is
\fBNULL\fP, then read from \fI~/.history\fP. Returns 0 if successful,
or \fBerrno\fP if not.
.Fn1 int write_history "const char *filename"
Write the current history to \fIfilename\fP, overwriting \fIfilename\fP
if necessary.
If \fIfilename\fP is \fBNULL\fP, then write the history list to \fI~/.history\fP.
Returns 0 on success, or \fBerrno\fP on a read or write error.
.Fn2 int append_history "int nelements" "const char *filename"
Append the last \fInelements\fP of the history list to \fIfilename\fP.
If \fIfilename\fP is \fBNULL\fP, then append to \fI~/.history\fP.
Returns 0 on success, or \fBerrno\fP on a read or write error.
.Fn2 int history_truncate_file "const char *filename" "int nlines"
Truncate the history file \fIfilename\fP, leaving only the last
\fInlines\fP lines.
If \fIfilename\fP is \fBNULL\fP, then \fI~/.history\fP is truncated.
Returns 0 on success, or \fBerrno\fP on failure.
.SS History Expansion
These functions implement history expansion.
.Fn2 int history_expand "char *string" "char **output"
Expand \fIstring\fP, placing the result into \fIoutput\fP, a pointer
to a string. Returns:
.PD 0
If no expansions took place (or, if the only change in
the text was the removal of escape characters preceding the history expansion
if expansions did take place;
if there was an error in expansion;
if the returned line should be displayed, but not executed,
as with the \fB:p\fP modifier.
If an error ocurred in expansion, then \fIoutput\fP contains a descriptive
error message.
.Fn3 "char *" get_history_event "const char *string" "int *cindex" "int qchar"
Returns the text of the history event beginning at \fIstring\fP +
\fI*cindex\fP. \fI*cindex\fP is modified to point to after the event
specifier. At function entry, \fIcindex\fP points to the index into
\fIstring\fP where the history event specification begins. \fIqchar\fP
is a character that is allowed to end the event specification in addition
to the ``normal'' terminating characters.
.Fn1 "char **" history_tokenize "const char *string"
Return an array of tokens parsed out of \fIstring\fP, much as the
shell might.
The tokens are split on the characters in the
\fBhistory_word_delimiters\fP variable,
and shell quoting conventions are obeyed.
.Fn3 "char *" history_arg_extract "int first" "int last" "const char *string"
Extract a string segment consisting of the \fIfirst\fP through \fIlast\fP
arguments present in \fIstring\fP. Arguments are split using
.SS History Variables
This section describes the externally-visible variables exported by
the GNU History Library.
.Vb int history_base
The logical offset of the first entry in the history list.
.Vb int history_length
The number of entries currently stored in the history list.
.Vb int history_max_entries
The maximum number of history entries. This must be changed using
.Vb int history_write_timestamps
If non-zero, timestamps are written to the history file, so they can be
preserved between sessions. The default value is 0, meaning that
timestamps are not saved.
.Vb char history_expansion_char
The character that introduces a history event. The default is \fB!\fP.
Setting this to 0 inhibits history expansion.
.Vb char history_subst_char
The character that invokes word substitution if found at the start of
a line. The default is \fB^\fP.
.Vb char history_comment_char
During tokenization, if this character is seen as the first character
of a word, then it and all subsequent characters up to a newline are
ignored, suppressing history expansion for the remainder of the line.
This is disabled by default.
.Vb "char *" history_word_delimiters
The characters that separate tokens for \fBhistory_tokenize()\fP.
The default value is \fB"\ \et\en()<>;&|"\fP.
.Vb "char *" history_no_expand_chars
The list of characters which inhibit history expansion if found immediately
following \fBhistory_expansion_char\fP. The default is space, tab, newline,
\fB\er\fP, and \fB=\fP.
.Vb "char *" history_search_delimiter_chars
The list of additional characters which can delimit a history search
string, in addition to space, tab, \fI:\fP and \fI?\fP in the case of
a substring search. The default is empty.
.Vb int history_quotes_inhibit_expansion
If non-zero, single-quoted words are not scanned for the history expansion
character. The default value is 0.
.Vb "rl_linebuf_func_t *" history_inhibit_expansion_function
This should be set to the address of a function that takes two arguments:
a \fBchar *\fP (\fIstring\fP)
and an \fBint\fP index into that string (\fIi\fP).
It should return a non-zero value if the history expansion starting at
\fIstring[i]\fP should not be performed; zero if the expansion should
be done.
It is intended for use by applications like \fBbash\fP that use the history
expansion character for additional purposes.
By default, this variable is set to \fBNULL\fP.
.PD 0
.FN ~/.history
Default filename for reading and writing saved history
.PD 0
\fIThe Gnu Readline Library\fP, Brian Fox and Chet Ramey
\fIThe Gnu History Library\fP, Brian Fox and Chet Ramey
Brian Fox, Free Software Foundation
Chet Ramey, Case Western Reserve University
If you find a bug in the
.B history
library, you should report it. But first, you should
make sure that it really is a bug, and that it appears in the latest
version of the
.B history
library that you have.
Once you have determined that a bug actually exists, mail a
bug report to \fIbug\-readline\fP@\\fP.
If you have a fix, you are welcome to mail that
as well! Suggestions and `philosophical' bug reports may be mailed
to \fPbug-readline\fP@\\fP or posted to the Usenet
.BR gnu.bash.bug .
Comments and bug reports concerning
this manual page should be directed to
.IR chet@ins.CWRU.Edu .