As we have seen earlier (see Generate an Error Message), when the Emacs Lisp interpreter has trouble evaluating an expression, it provides you with help; in the jargon, this is called “signaling an error”. Usually, the computer stops the program and shows you a message.
However, some programs undertake complicated actions. They should not
simply stop on an error. In the
kill-region function, the most
likely error is that you will try to kill text that is read-only and
cannot be removed. So the
kill-region function contains code
to handle this circumstance. This code, which makes up the body of
kill-region function, is inside of a
The template for
condition-case looks like this:
(condition-case var bodyform error-handler...)
The second argument, bodyform, is straightforward. The
condition-case special form causes the Lisp interpreter to
evaluate the code in bodyform. If no error occurs, the special
form returns the code's value and produces the side-effects, if any.
In short, the bodyform part of a
expression determines what should happen when everything works
However, if an error occurs, among its other actions, the function generating the error signal will define one or more error condition names.
An error handler is the third argument to
An error handler has two parts, a condition-name and a
body. If the condition-name part of an error handler
matches a condition name generated by an error, then the body
part of the error handler is run.
As you will expect, the condition-name part of an error handler may be either a single condition name or a list of condition names.
Also, a complete
condition-case expression may contain more
than one error handler. When an error occurs, the first applicable
handler is run.
Lastly, the first argument to the
the var argument, is sometimes bound to a variable that
contains information about the error. However, if that argument is
nil, as is the case in
kill-region, that information is
In brief, in the
kill-region function, the code
condition-case works like this:
If no errors, run only this code but, if errors, run this other code.