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If you want to install elisp files, you must do two things:
The directories that Emacs searches through when an elisp file is to be loaded are stored in the load-path variable. This shows you the current load-path:
C-h v load-path RET.
If one the the directories in load-path seems adequate, put
the elisp files in that directory. Often Emacs users have an
~/elisp directory where they put elisp files collected over
the years. If you would like that, create the
directory and add it to the load-path. You can create the
directory from Emacs:
M-x make-directory RET ~/elisp RET.
Once you have the directory, you must put some code at the beginning of your ~/.emacs files that adds the directory to load-path:
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/elisp")
If you want to get started right away, you have to evaluate the command that adds the new directory to load-path. Place point at the end of the code you just inserted into your .emacs file and type C-x C-e to evaluate it right away. This will not be necessary in future sessions because Emacs automatically runs all the code in your .emacs file.
Elisp files should be loaded on two occasions:
The first possibility is covered by the autoload function. Here is an example which tells Emacs to load the file sql-mode as soon as you use the sql-mode function:
(autoload 'sql-mode "sql" "SQL mode." t)
The first argument is the function, the second argument is the file (without .el or .elc), the third argument is rudimentary documentation, and the fourth argument tells Emacs that the function is interactive. This means that you can now type M-x sql-mode RET; this will automatically load the first sql.elc or sql.el file from your load-path.
Such autoload statements must be added to your ~/.emacs file, of course.
Now for the editing of files: Emacs uses the variable auto-mode-alist to determine which mode to use for which files. Every entry in this list is composed of a regular expression matching the files affected and the function to call before editing such a file.
("\\.sql$" . sql-mode) in
auto-mode-alist, for example, tells Emacs to use the
function sql-mode for all files ending in ".sql". The way
to add such an element to auto-mode-alist is to add the
following statement to your ~/.emacs file:
(add-to-list 'auto-mode-alist '("\\.sql$" . sql-mode))
In combination with the autoload statement above, editing a file with the ".sql" extension will therefore call sql-mode, and that will load the first sql.elc or sql.el file from your load-path. Et voilą!
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