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16 Readline Support

If the readline package has been compiled in, then when units is used interactively, numerous command line editing features are available. To check if your version of units includes readline, invoke the program with the --version option.

For complete information about readline, consult the documentation for the readline package. Without any configuration, units will allow editing in the style of emacs. Of particular use with units are the completion commands.

If you type a few characters and then hit ESC followed by ? then units will display a list of all the units that start with the characters typed. For example, if you type metr and then request completion, you will see something like this:

You have: metr
metre             metriccup         metrichorsepower  metrictenth
metretes          metricfifth       metricounce       metricton
metriccarat       metricgrain       metricquart       metricyarncount
You have: metr

If there is a unique way to complete a unitname, you can hit the TAB key and units will provide the rest of the unit name. If units beeps, it means that there is no unique completion. Pressing the TAB key a second time will print the list of all completions.

The readline library also keeps a history of the values you enter. You can move through this history using the up and down arrows. The history is saved to the file .units_history in your home directory so that it will persist across multiple units invocations. If you wish to keep work for a certain project separate you can change the history filename using the --history option. You could, for example, make an alias for units to units --history .units_history so that units would save separate history in the current directory. The length of each history file is limited to 5000 lines. Note also that if you run several concurrent copies of units each one will save its new history to the history file upon exit.


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