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23.1.5 Tag Files and Split Files

If a Texinfo file has more than 30,000 bytes, texinfo-format-buffer automatically creates a tag table for its Info file; makeinfo always creates a tag table. With a tag table, Info can jump to new nodes more quickly than it can otherwise.

In addition, if the Texinfo file contains more than about 300,000 bytes, texinfo-format-buffer and makeinfo split the large Info file into shorter indirect subfiles of about 300,000 bytes each. Big files are split into smaller files so that Emacs does not need to make a large buffer to hold the whole of a large Info file; instead, Emacs allocates just enough memory for the small, split-off file that is needed at the time. This way, Emacs avoids wasting memory when you run Info. (Before splitting was implemented, Info files were always kept short and include files were designed as a way to create a single, large printed manual out of the smaller Info files. See Include Files, for more information. Include files are still used for very large documents, such as The Emacs Lisp Reference Manual, in which each chapter is a separate file.)

When a file is split, Info itself makes use of a shortened version of the original file that contains just the tag table and references to the files that were split off. The split-off files are called indirect files.

The split-off files have names that are created by appending ‘-1, ‘-2, ‘-3 and so on to the file name specified by the @setfilename command. The shortened version of the original file continues to have the name specified by @setfilename.

At one stage in writing this document, for example, the Info file was saved as the file test-texinfo and that file looked like this:

Info file: test-texinfo,    -*-Text-*-
produced by texinfo-format-buffer
from file: new-texinfo-manual.texinfo

test-texinfo-1: 102
test-texinfo-2: 50422
test-texinfo-3: 101300
Tag table:
Node: overview^?104
Node: info file^?1271
Node: printed manual^?4853
Node: conventions^?6855

(But test-texinfo had far more nodes than are shown here.) Each of the split-off, indirect files, test-texinfo-1, test-texinfo-2, and test-texinfo-3, is listed in this file after the line that says ‘Indirect:’. The tag table is listed after the line that says ‘Tag table:’.

In the list of indirect files, the number following the file name records the cumulative number of bytes in the preceding indirect files, not counting the file list itself, the tag table, or any permissions text in the first file. In the tag table, the number following the node name records the location of the beginning of the node, in bytes from the beginning of the (unsplit) output.

If you are using texinfo-format-buffer to create Info files, you may want to run the Info-validate command. (The makeinfo command does such a good job on its own, you do not need Info-validate.) However, you cannot run the M-x Info-validate node-checking command on indirect files. For information on how to prevent files from being split and how to validate the structure of the nodes, see Using Info-validate.

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