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3.11.4 Debugging Calc

A few commands exist to help in the debugging of Calc commands. See Programming, to see the various ways that you can write your own Calc commands.

The Z T (calc-timing) command turns on and off a mode in which the timing of slow commands is reported in the Trail. Any Calc command that takes two seconds or longer writes a line to the Trail showing how many seconds it took. This value is accurate only to within one second.

All steps of executing a command are included; in particular, time taken to format the result for display in the stack and trail is counted. Some prompts also count time taken waiting for them to be answered, while others do not; this depends on the exact implementation of the command. For best results, if you are timing a sequence that includes prompts or multiple commands, define a keyboard macro to run the whole sequence at once. Calc’s X command (see Programming with Keyboard Macros) will then report the time taken to execute the whole macro.

Another advantage of the X command is that while it is executing, the stack and trail are not updated from step to step. So if you expect the output of your test sequence to leave a result that may take a long time to format and you don’t wish to count this formatting time, end your sequence with a DEL keystroke to clear the result from the stack. When you run the sequence with X, Calc will never bother to format the large result.

Another thing Z T does is to increase the Emacs variable gc-cons-threshold to a much higher value (two million; the usual default in Calc is 250,000) for the duration of each command. This generally prevents garbage collection during the timing of the command, though it may cause your Emacs process to grow abnormally large. (Garbage collection time is a major unpredictable factor in the timing of Emacs operations.)

Another command that is useful when debugging your own Lisp extensions to Calc is M-x calc-pass-errors, which disables the error handler that changes the “max-lisp-eval-depth exceeded” message to the much more friendly “Computation got stuck or ran too long.” This handler interferes with the Emacs Lisp debugger’s debug-on-error mode. Errors are reported in the handler itself rather than at the true location of the error. After you have executed calc-pass-errors, Lisp errors will be reported correctly but the user-friendly message will be lost.

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