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8. The emacs extensions

You can use any basic text editor, such as Notepad, to create the raw data format described in Section 6, “Input file format”. However, you'll spend a lot of time pounding on the spacebar to make the fields line up correctly.

To make life much easier and more efficient, the author has written some extensions to the emacs text editor for the entry of IBP banding data. The emacs text editor is one of the oldest and most widely used open source tools. For information and free downloads for Windows, Macs, and Unix, see the emacs page at the Free Software Foundation.

The reader is assumed to be familiar with emacs. Installation of the IBP extensions is straightforward. These extensions are written in the elisp language, a variant of Lisp. Complete internal documentation for these extensions is available: see IBP banding data system: emacs customizations.

Once emacs is installed on your machine, do these things to use the customizations:

  1. Copy all the files whose names in .el from the IBP zip archive to your current working directory.

  2. Start up emacs to create the banding data file by its usual name, e.g., wena-2005-1 or 20035-2004. In general the command will look like this:

    emacs -l package data-file

    In this command, data-file is the file you are creating, and the package is from this list:

    maps2013m.elMAPS 2013Multiple stations
    maps2013s.elMAPS 2013Single stations
    maps2004m.elMAPS 2006Multiple stations
    maps2004s.elMAPS 2006Single stations
    maps1998m.elMAPS 1998Multiple stations
    maps1998s.elMAPS 1998Single stations
    maws2007m.elMAWS 2007Multiple stations
    maws2007s.elMAWS 2007Single stations
    maws2004m.elMAWS 2004Multiple stations
    maws2004s.elMAWS 2004Single stations

Two special keys are defined to speed up data entry:


Advances the cursor to the next field. If the field is not full, it is filled with spaces (or whatever other character is the default, such as 0 for age and u for sex). Do not tab over required fields such as species code and date.

C-- (control-shift-hyphen)

Provides a “duplicate” function: it copies the current field value from the corresponding field of the previous band record that has such a value. It is especially useful for duplicating date, time, and net fields.

For the purposes of this package, the field structure in a multi-station set are shown below; default content is blanks unless otherwise indicated.

Any remaining fields—the alignment check character, color bands, note numbers, and so on—are considered “beyond the fields we know.”

I have also found the emacs C-u (control-U) function quite useful: it repeats the next emacs command four times. Because the micro-aging, wing, and weight fields are often all blank, all four of these fields can be skipped with C-u tab.