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See BLT.

macro: The following is quoted from the Jargon File (4.2.3, 23 NOV 2000)

macro /mak'roh/ n. [techspeak] A name (possibly followed by a formal arg list) that is equated to a text or symbolic expression to which it is to be expanded (possibly with the substitution of actual arguments) by a macro expander. This definition can be found in any technical dictionary; what those won't tell you is how the hackish connotations of the term have changed over time.

The term `macro' originated in early assemblers, which encouraged the use of macros as a structuring and information-hiding device. During the early 1970s, macro assemblers became ubiquitous, and sometimes quite as powerful and expensive as HLLs, only to fall from favor as improving compiler technology marginalized assembler programming (see languages of choice). Nowadays the term is most often used in connection with the C preprocessor, LISP, or one of several special-purpose languages built around a macro-expansion facility (such as TeX or Unix's [nt]roff suite).

Indeed, the meaning has drifted enough that the collective `macros' is now sometimes used for code in any special-purpose application control language (whether or not the language is actually translated by text expansion), and for macro-like entities such as the `keyboard macros' supported in some text editors (and PC TSR or Macintosh INIT/CDEV keyboard enhancers).

Some of my own words: macros can be created in Word, nedit, and similar programs which are combinations of commands that can be executed in Word or nedit. (There is even a record macro mode where you can enter commands and they are recorded to create a macro.) These macros can be invoked by name or an assigned keyboard shortcut. Starting in Word97, word macros are recorded as VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) code which can be displayed and edited.

There are macros in C (and maybe C++) which you must type in, but are at some point (maybe by the C preprocessor?) expanded into "real" C code.

There are (were?) programs in dos / Windows that let you record arbitrary keystrokes (strings) into macros which could be played back by pressing a keyboard shortcut. I haven't found the same facility in Linux, yet, although I understand it was and will again be part of khotkeys.

See keyboard macros in Linux.


  • RandyKramer - 06 Feb 2002
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