Saturday, January 5, 2008

SEEing LaTeX 21: Inserting Environments

Environments again? Yes, but this time we're going to look at environments in LaTeX, not the shell environment. Environments are a bit of a pain to type, but the repetitive structure makes them suitable to automation: we just get the name of the environment, and then have a more-or-less standard form:

Indentation of the body can be a little unclear. For example, I usually indent equation environments, but would never dream of indenting the document environment.

To add environment insertion into the LaTeX mode for SubEthaEdit, we begin by getting the environment name using display dialog:
    display dialog "Enter environment name:" with title "Insert Environment" default answer "equation"
on error number -128 -- user canceled
end try
set envName to text returned of result

The try block is to handle when the user cancels instead of entering and environment name. Somewhat arbitrarily, I set the default answer to be "equation", since my guess is that equations are probably the most common environment.

After that, there is just some fiddly work getting the formatting of the environment correct. It needs to intelligently insert newlines and tabs to keep the document readable. As well, something needs to be done with the selection text. There are two possibilities as I see it: (1) treat the selection as the name of the environment and (2) treat the selection as the body of the environment. I went with the latter. Finally, it would be nice to place the insertion point somewhere reasonable; I think it works nicely at the end of the body, especially since the insertion point is positioned to start typing immediately if the body is empty. Putting it all together, we have:
set {startSelected, nextSelected} to selectionRange without extendingFront or extendingEnd
set {startExtended, nextExtended} to selectionRange with extendingFront and extendingEnd

set prefix to selectByComparing(startSelected, startExtended, "", "\n")
set suffix to selectByComparing(nextSelected, nextExtended, "", "\n")
set indent to selectByComparing(startSelected, nextSelected, "\t", "")

set beforeInsertion to (join of {prefix, "\\begin{", envName, "}\n", indent, selectionText()} by "")
set afterInsertion to (join of {suffix, "\\end{", envName, "}\n" } by "")

setSelectionText to (beforeInsertion & afterInsertion)
setSelectionRange to startSelected + (count of beforeInsertion) - 1 + (count of suffix)
Note that I've made repeated use of a convenience function:
to selectByComparing(val1, val2, sameVal, diffVal)
    if val1 equals val2 then
    end if
end selectByComparing

The selectByComparing handler is not part of SubEthaEditTools - maybe it should be?

That's all there is to it, apart from the boilerplate:
on seescriptsettings()
    {displayName:"Insert Environment...", keyboardShortcut:"@^e", inContextMenu:"yes"}
end seescriptsettings


Update: There is an interesting possibility for adjusting the default environment. I had used "equation" as the default, but it was pretty arbitrary. Another approach would be to just repeat whichever environment was last given. We just add a property to the script that holds the default environment, use its value in making the dialog, and update the property based on the dialog result:
property defaultEnvironment: "equation"

    display dialog "Enter environment name:" with title "Insert Environment" default answer defaultEnvironment
on error number -128 -- user canceled
end try
set envName to text returned of result
set defaultEnvironment to envName

Is this actually a good idea? or will it just be annoying? Hard to say without using it, so I guess I'll try it out for a while.

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