Emacs Lisp provides a rich set of the data types. Some of them, like cons cells, integers and strings, are common to nearly all Lisp dialects. Some others, like markers and buffers, are quite special and needed to provide the basic support to write editor commands in Lisp. To implement such a variety of object types and provide an efficient way to pass objects between the subsystems of an interpreter, there is a set of C data structures and a special type to represent the pointers to all of them, which is known as tagged pointer.
In C, the tagged pointer is an object of type
initialized variable of such a type always holds the value of one of the
following basic data types: integer, symbol, string, cons cell, float,
or vectorlike object. Each of these data types has the
corresponding tag value. All tags are enumerated by
and placed into a 3-bit bitfield of the
Lisp_Object. The rest of the
bits is the value itself. Integers are immediate, i.e., directly
represented by those value bits, and all other objects are represented
by the C pointers to a corresponding object allocated from the heap. Width
Lisp_Object is platform- and configuration-dependent: usually
it’s equal to the width of an underlying platform pointer (i.e., 32-bit on
a 32-bit machine and 64-bit on a 64-bit one), but also there is a special
Lisp_Object is 64-bit but all pointers are 32-bit.
The latter trick was designed to overcome the limited range of values for
Lisp integers on a 32-bit system by using 64-bit
long long type for
The following C data structures are defined in lisp.h to represent the basic data types beyond integers:
Cons cell, an object used to construct lists.
String, the basic object to represent a sequence of characters.
Array, a fixed-size set of Lisp objects which may be accessed by an index.
Symbol, the unique-named entity commonly used as an identifier.
These types are the first-class citizens of an internal type system.
Since the tag space is limited, all other types are the subtypes of
Lisp_Vectorlike. Vector subtypes are enumerated
enum pvec_type, and nearly all complex objects like windows, buffers,
frames, and processes fall into this category.
Below there is a description of a few subtypes of
Buffer object represents the text to display and edit. Window is the part
of display structure which shows the buffer or is used as a container to
recursively place other windows on the same frame. (Do not confuse Emacs Lisp
window object with the window as an entity managed by the user interface
system like X; in Emacs terminology, the latter is called frame.) Finally,
process object is used to manage the subprocesses.