It is also possible to write a formula in Emacs Lisp. This can be useful for string manipulation and control structures, if Calc's functionality is not enough.
If a formula starts with a single-quote followed by an opening parenthesis, then it is evaluated as a Lisp form. The evaluation should return either a string or a number. Just as with calc formulas, you can specify modes and a printf format after a semicolon.
With Emacs Lisp forms, you need to be conscious about the way field
references are interpolated into the form. By default, a reference will be
interpolated as a Lisp string (in double-quotes) containing the field. If
you provide the ‘N’ mode switch, all referenced elements will be numbers
(non-number fields will be zero) and interpolated as Lisp numbers, without
quotes. If you provide the ‘L’ flag, all fields will be interpolated
literally, without quotes. I.e., if you want a reference to be interpreted
as a string by the Lisp form, enclose the reference operator itself in
"$3". Ranges are inserted as space-separated
fields, so you can embed them in list or vector syntax.
Here are a few examples—note how the ‘N’ mode is used when we do computations in Lisp:
'(concat (substring $1 1 2) (substring $1 0 1) (substring $1 2))
'(+ $1 $2);N
'(apply '+ '($1..$4));N