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Using CHICKEN with emacs

Various packages exist for supporting Scheme programming with the emacs editor.


Particularly recommended is Alex Shinn's scheme-complete, which provides intelligent autocompletion:


hen.el is an emacs mode specifically for CHICKEN, but is currently unmaintained:

To use it, copy it somewhere into a location you normally use for emacs extensions and add this to your emacs initialization file:

 (require 'hen)

To enable it, do an M-x hen-mode or add the following to your emacs initialization file to use Hen for all Chicken files:

 (setq auto-mode-alist (append 
                      '(("\\.scm$" . hen-mode)
                        ("\\.meta$" . hen-mode)
                        ("\\.setup$" . hen-mode)) auto-mode-alist))


paredit provides structural editing for Scheme and Lisp code:


Neil van Dyke's Quack enhances Emacs support for Scheme and can be used for editing CHICKEN code.

The screenshot above shows GNU Emacs using Quack to edit a "hello world" program and the CHICKEN REPL being executed from within Emacs.


cluck is a clone of Quack but specialized for Chicken scheming.

Builtin Scheme support

Emacs has builtin support for syntax-highlighting of Scheme code and running a Scheme interpreter in an interactive buffer. To use it with CHICKEN, add this to your ~/.emacs file:

 (setq scheme-program-name "csi -:c")

The -:c is to force interactive mode, which is required on some platforms (most notably Windows).

This variable is customizable, which is the preferred way in GNU Emacs and XEmacs to set user preferences: menu Options -> Customize Emacs -> Specific Option, type in scheme-program-name. Emacs displays a form; fill in csi -:c for the program name, click "Set for Current Session", and then "Save for Future Sessions". This will update (or create if it does not already exist) the custom-set-variables section in your ~/.emacs file.

Useful elisp snippets

I have these definitions in my ~/.emacs file, which allow loading the current buffer, optionally by compiling it first to native code:

(define-key scheme-mode-map "\C-c\C-l" 'scheme-load-current-file)
(define-key scheme-mode-map "\C-c\C-k" 'scheme-compile-current-file)

(require 'cmuscheme)

(define-key scheme-mode-map "\C-c\C-l" 'scheme-load-current-file)
(define-key scheme-mode-map "\C-c\C-k" 'scheme-compile-current-file)

(defun scheme-load-current-file (&optional switch)
  (interactive "P")
  (let ((file-name (buffer-file-name)))
    (comint-check-source file-name)
    (setq scheme-prev-l/c-dir/file (cons (file-name-directory    file-name)
					 (file-name-nondirectory file-name)))
    (comint-send-string (scheme-proc) (concat "(load \""
    (if switch
      (switch-to-scheme t)
      (message "\"%s\" loaded." file-name) ) ) )

(defun scheme-compile-current-file (&optional switch)
  (interactive "P")
  (let ((file-name (buffer-file-name)))
    (comint-check-source file-name)
    (setq scheme-prev-l/c-dir/file (cons (file-name-directory    file-name)
					 (file-name-nondirectory file-name)))
    (message "compiling \"%s\" ..." file-name)
    (comint-send-string (scheme-proc) (concat "(compile-file \""
    (if switch
      (switch-to-scheme t)
      (message "\"%s\" compiled and loaded." file-name) ) ) )

Tweaking stock scheme-mode indentation

;; Indenting module body code at column 0
(defun scheme-module-indent (state indent-point normal-indent) 0)
(put 'module 'scheme-indent-function 'scheme-module-indent)

(put 'and-let* 'scheme-indent-function 1)
(put 'parameterize 'scheme-indent-function 1)
(put 'handle-exceptions 'scheme-indent-function 1)
(put 'when 'scheme-indent-function 1)
(put 'unless 'scheme-indent-function 1)
(put 'match 'scheme-indent-function 1)

Auto-inserting portable shebang boilerplate on creating a scheme file

See also the writing portable scripts page.

(require 'autoinsert)
(add-hook 'find-file-hooks 'auto-insert)

(setq auto-insert-alist 
      '(("\\.scm" . 
         (insert "#!/bin/sh\n#| -*- scheme -*-\nexec csi -s $0 \"$@\"\n|#\n"))))