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Author image Sean O'Rourke


Sepia - Simple Emacs-Perl Interface


From inside Emacs:

   M-x load-library RET sepia RET
   M-x sepia-repl RET

At the prompt in the *sepia-repl* buffer:

   main @> ,help

For more information, please see Sepia.html or sepia.info, which come with the distribution.


Sepia is a set of features to make Emacs a better tool for Perl development. This package contains the Perl side of the implementation, including all user-serviceable parts (for the cross-referencing facility see Sepia::Xref). This document is aimed as Sepia developers; for user documentation, see Sepia.html or sepia.info.

Though not intended to be used independent of the Emacs interface, the Sepia module's functionality can be used through a rough procedural interface.


Like Emacs, Sepia's behavior can be modified by placing functions on various hooks (arrays). Hooks can be manipulated by the following functions:

add_hook(@hook, @functions) -- Add @functions to @hook.
remove_hook(@hook, @functions) -- Remove named @functions from @hook.
run_hook(@hook) -- Run the functions on the named hook.

Each function is called with no arguments in an eval {} block, and its return value is ignored.

Sepia currently defines the following hooks:

@PRE_PROMPT -- Called immediately before the prompt is printed.
@PRE_EVAL -- Called immediately before evaluating user input.
@POST_EVAL -- Called immediately after evaluating user input.


Sepia tries hard to come up with a list of completions.

$re = _apropos_re($pat)

Create a completion expression from user input.

$val = filter_untyped

Return true if $_ is the name of a sub, file handle, or package.

$val = filter_typed $type

Return true if $_ is the name of something of $type, which should be either a glob slot name (e.g. SCALAR) or the special value "VARIABLE", meaning an array, hash, or scalar.

$re_out = maybe_icase $re_in

Make $re_in case-insensitive if it looks like it should be.

@res = all_abbrev_completions $pattern

Find all "abbreviated completions" for $pattern.

@res = filter_exact_prefix @names

Filter exact matches so that e.g. "A::x" completes to "A::xx" when both "Ay::xx" and "A::xx" exist.

@res = lexical_completions $type, $str, $sub

Find lexicals of $sub (or a parent lexical environment) of type $type matching $str.

@compls = completions($string [, $type [, $sub ] ])

Find a list of completions for $string with glob type $type, which may be "SCALAR", "HASH", "ARRAY", "CODE", "IO", or the special value "VARIABLE", which means either scalar, hash, or array. Completion operates on word subparts separated by [:_], so e.g. "S:m_w" completes to "Sepia::my_walksymtable". If $sub is given, also consider its lexical variables.

@compls = method_completions($expr, $string [,$eval])

Complete among methods on the object returned by $expr. The $eval argument, if present, is a function used to do the evaluation; the default is eval, but for example the Sepia REPL uses Sepia::repl_eval. Warning: Since it has to evaluate $expr, method completion can be extremely problematic. Use with care.

@matches = apropos($name [, $is_regex])

Search for function $name, either in all packages or, if $name is qualified, only in one package. If $is_regex is true, the non-package part of $name is a regular expression.

Module information

@names = mod_subs($pack)

Find subs in package $pack.

@decls = mod_decls($pack)

Generate a list of declarations for all subroutines in package $pack.

$info = module_info($module, $type)

Emacs-called function to get module information.

$file = mod_file($mod)

Find the likely file owner for module $mod.

@mods = package_list

Gather a list of all distributions on the system.

@mods = module_list

Gather a list of all packages (.pm files, really) installed on the system, grouped by distribution. XXX UNUSED

@paths = file_list $module

List the absolute paths of all files (except man pages) installed by $module.

@mods = doc_list

Gather a list of all documented packages (.?pm files, really) installed on the system, grouped by distribution. XXX UNUSED

Miscellaneous functions

$v = core_version($module)
[$file, $line, $name] = location($name)

Return a [file, line, name] triple for function $name.


Return a list of $subname's lexical variables. Note that this includes all nested scopes -- I don't know if or how Perl distinguishes inner blocks.

$lisp = tolisp($perl)

Convert a Perl scalar to some ELisp equivalent.


Print @res appropriately on the current filehandle. If $ISEVAL is true, use terse format. Otherwise, use human-readable format, which can use either Data::Dumper, YAML, or Data::Dump.

prompt() -- Print the REPL prompt.
$flowed = flow($width, $text) -- Flow $text to at most $width columns.


load \@keyvals -- Load persisted data in @keyvals.
$ok = saveable $name -- Return whether $name is saveable.

Saving certain magic variables leads to badness, so we avoid them.

\@kvs = save $re -- Return a list of name/value pairs to save.

REPL shortcuts

The function implementing built-in REPL shortcut ",X" is named repl_X.

define_shortcut $name, $sub [, $doc [, $shortdoc]]

Define $name as a shortcut for function $sub.

alias_shortcut $new, $old

Alias $new to do the same as $old.


Define the default REPL shortcuts.


Toggle strict mode. Requires PadWalker and Devel::LexAlias.


Toggle command timing.

who($package [, $re])

List variables and functions in $package matching $re, or all variables if $re is absent.

$text = columnate(@items)

Format @items in columns such that they fit within $ENV{COLUMNS} columns.

@m = methods($package [, $qualified])

List method names in $package and its parents. If $qualified, return full "CLASS::NAME" rather than just "NAME."


Collect $warning for later printing.

Print and clear accumulated warnings.


Execute a command interpreter on standard input and standard output. If you want to use different descriptors, localize them before calling repl(). The prompt has a few bells and whistles, including:

Obviously-incomplete lines are treated as multiline input (press 'return' twice or 'C-c' to discard).
die is overridden to enter a debugging repl at the point die is called.

Behavior is controlled in part through the following package-globals:

$PACKAGE -- evaluation package
$PRINTER -- result printer (default: dumper)
$PS1 -- the default prompt
$STRICT -- whether 'use strict' is applied to input
$WANTARRAY -- evaluation context
$COLUMNATE -- format some output nicely (default = 1)

Format some values nicely, independent of $PRINTER. Currently, this displays arrays of scalars as columns.

$REPL_LEVEL -- level of recursive repl() calls

If zero, then initialization takes place.

%REPL -- maps shortcut names to handlers
%REPL_DOC -- maps shortcut names to documentation
%REPL_SHORT -- maps shortcut names to brief usage

Module browsing

$status = html_module_list([$file [, $prefix]])

Generate an HTML list of installed modules, looking inside of packages. If $prefix is missing, uses "about://perldoc/". If $file is given, write the result to $file; otherwise, return it as a string.

$status = html_package_list([$file [, $prefix]])

Generate an HTML list of installed top-level modules, without looking inside of packages. If $prefix is missing, uses "about://perldoc/". $file is the same as for html_module_list.


See the README file included with the distribution.


Sepia's public GIT repository is located at http://repo.or.cz/w/sepia.git.

There are several modules for Perl development in Emacs on CPAN, including Devel::PerlySense and PDE. For a complete list, see http://emacswiki.org/cgi-bin/wiki/PerlLanguage.


Sean O'Rourke, <seano@cpan.org>

Bug reports welcome, patches even more welcome.


Copyright (C) 2005-2011 Sean O'Rourke. All rights reserved, some wrongs reversed. This module is distributed under the same terms as Perl itself.