EDITLINE(3) Library Functions Manual EDITLINE(3)

command-line editing library with history

library “libeditline”

#include <editline.h>
char *
readline(const, char, *prompt);
add_history(const, char, *line);
read_history(const, char, *filename);
write_history(const, char, *filename);

editline is a library that provides n line-editing interface with history. It is intended to be functionally equivalent with the readline library provided by the Free Software Foundation, but much smaller. The bulk of this manual page describes the basic user interface. More APIs, both native and for readline compatibility , are also available. See the editline.h header file for details.
The readline() function displays the given prompt on stdout, waits for user input on stdin and then returns a line of text with the trailing newline removed. The data is returned in a buffer allocated with malloc(3), so the space should be released with free(3) when the calling program is done with it.
Each line returned is automatically saved in the internal history list, unless it happens to be equal to the previous line. This is configurable if you are building editline from source, i.e. if you would rather like to call add_history() manually.
The read_history() and write_history() functions can be used to load and store the history of your application. Note: these APIs do not do any tilde or environment variable expansion of the given filename.

A program that uses this library provides a simple emacs-like editing interface to its users. A line may be edited before it is sent to the calling program by typing either control characters or escape sequences. A control character, shown as a caret followed by a letter, is typed by holding down the control key while the letter is typed. For example, ^A is a control-A. An escape sequence is entered by typing the escape key followed by one or more characters. The escape key is abbreviated as ESC. Note that unlike control keys, case matters in escape sequences; ESC F is not the same as ESC f.
An editing command may be typed anywhere on the line, not just at the beginning. In addition, a return may also be typed anywhere on the line, not just at the end.
Most editing commands may be given a repeat count, n, where n is a number. To enter a repeat count, type the escape key, the number, and then the command to execute. For example, ESC 4 ^f moves forward four characters. If a command may be given a repeat count then the text [n] is given at the end of its description.
The following control characters are accepted:
Move to the beginning of the line
Move left (backwards) [n]
Delete character [n]
Move to end of line
Move right (forwards) [n]
Ring the bell
Delete character before cursor (backspace key) [n]
Complete filename (tab key); see below
Done with line (return key)
Kill to end of line (or column [n])
Redisplay line
Done with line (alternate return key)
Get next line from history [n]
Get previous line from history [n]
Search backward (forward if [n]) through history for text; prefixing the string with a caret (^) forces it to match only at the beginning of a history line
Transpose characters
Insert next character, even if it is an edit command
Wipe to the mark
Exchange current location and mark
Yank back last killed text
Start an escape sequence (escape key)
Move forward to next character c
Delete character before cursor (delete key) [n]
The following escape sequences are provided:
Delete previous word (backspace key) [n]
Delete previous word (delete key) [n]
Set the mark (space key); see ^X^X and ^Y above
Get the last (or [n]'th) word from previous line
Show possible completions; see below
Move to start of history
Move to end of history
Move backward a word [n]
Delete word under cursor [n]
Move forward a word [n]
Make word lowercase [n]
Toggle if 8bit chars display normally or with an M- prefix
Make word uppercase [n]
Yank back last killed text
Show library version
Make area up to mark yankable
ESC nn
Set repeat count to the number nn
Read from environment variable $C, where C is an uppercase letter
The editline library has a small macro facility. If you type the escape key followed by an uppercase letter, C, then the contents of the environment variable $C are read in as if you had typed them at the keyboard. For example, if the variable $L contains the following:
^A^Kecho '^V^[[H^V^[[2J'^M
Then typing ESC L will move to the beginning of the line, kill the entire line, enter the echo command needed to clear the terminal (if your terminal is like a VT-100), and send the line back to the shell.
The editline library also does filename completion. Suppose the root directory has the following files in it:
bin vmunix
core vmunix.old
If you type rm /v and then the tab key, editline will then finish off as much of the name as possible by adding munix. Because the name is not unique, it will then beep. If you type the escape key and a question mark, it will display the two choices. If you then type a period and a tab, the library will finish off the filename for you:
rm /v[TAB] munix .[TAB] old
The tab key is shown by [TAB] and the automatically-entered text is shown in italics, or underline.

To include editline in your program, call it as you do any other function and link your program with -leditline.

The following brief example lets you enter a line and edit it, then displays it.
#include <stdio.h> 
#include <stdlib.h> 
#include <editline.h> 
int main(void) 
	char *p; 
	while ((p = readline("CLI> "))) { 
	return 0; 

The original editline library was posted to comp.sources.unix newsgroup by created by Simmule R. Turner and Rich Salz in 1992. It now exists in several forks: Debian, Minix, Heimdal, Festival speech tools, Mozilla, Google Gadgets for Linux, and many other places. The original manual page was made by David W. Sanderson.
This version was originally based on the Minix 2 sources, but has since evolved to include patches from all relevant forks. It is currently maintained by Joachim Nilsson at GitHub, ⟨http://github.com/troglobit/editline⟩

Does not handle multiple lines or unicode characters well.
February 23, 2020 Debian