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14.1 Common Item Keywords

The customization declarations that we will describe in the next few sections—defcustom, defgroup, etc.—all accept keyword arguments (see Constant Variables) for specifying various information. This section describes keywords that apply to all types of customization declarations.

All of these keywords, except :tag, can be used more than once in a given item. Each use of the keyword has an independent effect. The keyword :tag is an exception because any given item can only display one name.

:tag label
Use label, a string, instead of the item's name, to label the item in customization menus and buffers. Don't use a tag which is substantially different from the item's real name; that would cause confusion.


:group group
Put this customization item in group group. If this keyword is missing from a customization item, it'll be placed in the same group that was last defined (in the current file).

When you use :group in a defgroup, it makes the new group a subgroup of group.

If you use this keyword more than once, you can put a single item into more than one group. Displaying any of those groups will show this item. Please don't overdo this, since the result would be annoying.

:link link-data
Include an external link after the documentation string for this item. This is a sentence containing a button that references some other documentation.

There are several alternatives you can use for link-data:

(custom-manual info-node)
Link to an Info node; info-node is a string which specifies the node name, as in "(emacs)Top". The link appears as ‘[Manual]’ in the customization buffer and enters the built-in Info reader on info-node.
(info-link info-node)
Like custom-manual except that the link appears in the customization buffer with the Info node name.
(url-link url)
Link to a web page; url is a string which specifies the URL. The link appears in the customization buffer as url and invokes the WWW browser specified by browse-url-browser-function.
(emacs-commentary-link library)
Link to the commentary section of a library; library is a string which specifies the library name. See Library Headers.
(emacs-library-link library)
Link to an Emacs Lisp library file; library is a string which specifies the library name.
(file-link file)
Link to a file; file is a string which specifies the name of the file to visit with find-file when the user invokes this link.
(function-link function)
Link to the documentation of a function; function is a string which specifies the name of the function to describe with describe-function when the user invokes this link.
(variable-link variable)
Link to the documentation of a variable; variable is a string which specifies the name of the variable to describe with describe-variable when the user invokes this link.
(custom-group-link group)
Link to another customization group. Invoking it creates a new customization buffer for group.

You can specify the text to use in the customization buffer by adding :tag name after the first element of the link-data; for example, (info-link :tag "foo" "(emacs)Top") makes a link to the Emacs manual which appears in the buffer as ‘foo’.

You can use this keyword more than once, to add multiple links.

:load file
Load file file (a string) before displaying this customization item (see Loading). Loading is done with load, and only if the file is not already loaded.
:require feature
Execute (require 'feature) when your saved customizations set the value of this item. feature should be a symbol.

The most common reason to use :require is when a variable enables a feature such as a minor mode, and just setting the variable won't have any effect unless the code which implements the mode is loaded.

:version version
This keyword specifies that the item was first introduced in Emacs version version, or that its default value was changed in that version. The value version must be a string.
:package-version '(package . version)
This keyword specifies that the item was first introduced in package version version, or that its meaning or default value was changed in that version. This keyword takes priority over :version.

package should be the official name of the package, as a symbol (e.g., MH-E). version should be a string. If the package package is released as part of Emacs, package and version should appear in the value of customize-package-emacs-version-alist.

Packages distributed as part of Emacs that use the :package-version keyword must also update the customize-package-emacs-version-alist variable.

— Variable: customize-package-emacs-version-alist

This alist provides a mapping for the versions of Emacs that are associated with versions of a package listed in the :package-version keyword. Its elements are:

          (package (pversion . eversion)...)

For each package, which is a symbol, there are one or more elements that contain a package version pversion with an associated Emacs version eversion. These versions are strings. For example, the MH-E package updates this alist with the following:

          (add-to-list 'customize-package-emacs-version-alist
                       '(MH-E ("6.0" . "22.1") ("6.1" . "22.1") ("7.0" . "22.1")
                              ("7.1" . "22.1") ("7.2" . "22.1") ("7.3" . "22.1")
                              ("7.4" . "22.1") ("8.0" . "22.1")))

The value of package needs to be unique and it needs to match the package value appearing in the :package-version keyword. Since the user might see the value in an error message, a good choice is the official name of the package, such as MH-E or Gnus.