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1.1 Basic Concepts

We begin by explaining some basic concepts of Emacs. These concepts are explained in more detail in the GNU Emacs Manual.

Conceptually, a buffer is just a string of ASCII characters and two special characters <PNT> (point) and <MRK> (mark) such that the character <PNT> occurs exactly once and <MRK> occurs at most once. The text of a buffer is obtained by deleting the occurrences of <PNT> and <MRK>. If, in a buffer, there is a character following <PNT> then we say that point is looking at the character; otherwise we say that point is at the end of buffer. <PNT> and <MRK> are used to indicate positions in a buffer and they are not part of the text of the buffer. If a buffer contains a <MRK> then the text between <MRK> and <PNT> is called the region of the buffer.

Emacs provides (multiple) windows on the screen, and you can see the content of a buffer through the window associated with the buffer. The cursor of the screen is always positioned on the character after <PNT>.

A keymap is a table that records the bindings between characters and command functions. There is the global keymap common to all the buffers. Each buffer has its local keymap that determines the mode of the buffer. Local keymap overrides global keymap, so that if a function is bound to some key in the local keymap then that function will be executed when you type the key. If no function is bound to a key in the local map, however, the function bound to the key in the global map becomes in effect.