Un naufragio personal

Ángel Ortega

Minimum Profit cookbook

This document includes some recipes for the Minimum Profit text editor.

Executing MPSL code

There are three ways of executing MPSL inside the editor.

From the command line

The first one is from the command line using the -e switch:

 mp-5 -e 'mp.config.word_wrap = 75;'

This command opens the editor and immediately executes an assignation to the mp.config.word_wrap variable, giving it a value of 75 (this operation have activated word wrapping on column 75). Take note that the leading semicolon is mandatory. Several sentences can be given:

 mp-5 -e 'mp.config.word_wrap = 75; mp.ispell(1); mp.alert("Hello!");'

Word wrapping is set, ispell is activated (if supported) and a greeting message is given. As seen, any valid MPSL program can be given here.

Using the 'eval' action

The 'eval' action is on the menu as the "Edit/Execute MPSL code..." entry. This action asks for a string of MPSL code to be executed. The return value will be returned as an alert message.

Using the 'eval_doc' action

The 'eval_doc' in on the menu as the "Edit/Execute document as MPSL". This action will take the contents of the currently active document and pass it directly to the MPSL engine.

Using different encodings

By default, MP reads and writes files using the current locale for character set conversions. This way, if you run it in an UTF-8 environment, you don't have to do anything special, just open and save your files. But, if you need to read or write files using different encodings (for example, if your locale encoding is ISO-8859-1 and you need to read UTF-8 files), you can use the encoding() function. This function receives an encoding string as argument; after calling it, all I/O operations will use that encoding. To get back to 'normal' (i.e., default local encoding), just call it without arguments, or with a NULL one.

This snippet will convert a file named 'text' to UTF-8:

 local d = mp.open('text'); encoding('utf-8'); mp.save(d); mp.close();


Spellchecking is done under Unix-like systems by piping the words of the current document to the external command ispell, so it must be installed, correctly configured and with properly installed dictionary files to be useful. To activate spell checking, the mp.ispell() function must be called with a boolean argument telling if spellchecking is wanted or not.

By default, the command to be executed is "ispell -a". If you have it in a non-standard path, or want to use a different program as aspell, you can change it by changing the configuration variable mp.config.ispell_cmd.

Note: if you happen to use an UTF-8 locale, the ispell program doesn't work correctly. Either use aspell, or change the command configuration variable to "ispell -a -Tutf8".

Disabling syntax highlighting for slow machines

Syntax highlighting in Minimum Profit 5.x can be a CPU hog on embedded or small systems. An easy way to disable it is to set mp.syntax to an empty hash:

	/* disable all syntax highlighting */
	mp.syntax = {};

Creating a print dialog

Minimum Profit 5.x lacks a print command, but it's easy to create one by using its powerful scripting language (MPSL) and some external commands used as pipes. The following example will create a dialog that will ask for some printing options and print the current document, optionally with preview. The external programs paps, psnup, psselect and gv must be installed and accesible with the current path.

Copy this subroutine in an empty document and execute the menu option "Edit / Execute document as MPSL". Hopefully, the script will compile without errors and the new function my_print() will be created inside MP's machine:

 sub my_print(doc) {
 	local r = mp.form( [
 			'label'		=> 'Page range (empty: all):',
 			'type'		=> 'text'
 			'label'		=> 'Pages per page:',
 			'type'		=> 'text',
 			'value'		=> 1
 			'label'		=> 'Preview?',
 			'type'		=> 'checkbox'
 	if (r != NULL) {
 		local cmd = []; /* empty array */
 		local f;
 		/* first program is the text to PostScript converter */
 		push(cmd, 'paps');
 		/* select range using psselect, if available */
 		if (r[0] != '')
 			push(cmd, 'psselect -p' ~ r[0]);
 		/* select pages-in-page using psnup */
 		if (r[1] > 1)
 			push(cmd, 'psnup -' ~ r[1]);
 		/* preview using gv? */
 		if (r[2])
 			push(cmd, 'gv -');
 			push(cmd, 'lpr');
 		local c = join(cmd, '|');
 		/* now pipe */
 		if ((f = popen(c, "w")) != NULL) {
 			foreach (local l, doc.txt.lines)
 				write(f, l ~ "\n");
 			if (pclose(f) != 0)
 				f = NULL;
 		if (f == NULL)
 			mp.alert("Error '" ~ ERRNO ~ "' piping to '" ~ c ~ "'");

The code should be self-explaining (I hope): a call to mp.form() creates a dialog box asking for the following printing options: a page range suitable for the psselect utility, a number of n-up pages for psnup (it's cool to avoid wasting paper by printing two pages into one) and a preview checkbox. If the dialog box is validated, the return values are used to construct an array of commands to pipe to. They are finally joined into one string using the '|' separator to build a command that will be used as a writable pipe.

To test the new code, hit the Escape key (twice if using the Curses interface) and type the following:


This is fine, but it would be much better if this new operation would be accesible from a hotkey or a menu option.

In any of those two cases, an editor 'action' must be created. Actions are special functions that live in the mp.actions name space, and accept a document as the only argument. Optionally, actions have a description, a human-readable string:

 	mp.actions.my_print = sub(d) { my_print(d); };
 	mp.actdesc.my_print = "Print...";

This is just one way of creating it, by using an anonymous subroutine; another way would be:

 	sub mp.actions.my_print(d) { my_print(d); }

or even

 	mp.actions.my_print = my_print;

Because the my_print() and the action itself use the same number of arguments.

If you want to bind this action to ctrl-p, it's also easy:

 	mp.keycodes['ctrl-p'] = 'my_print';

Execute that and, from now on, every hit to ctrl-p will invoke my_print() on the current document.

To add it to the menu, the mp.menu array must be patched. This is less straightforward because the menu structure is a bit more complicated: it's an array of two-element arrays, where the zeroth element is the menu bar ("File", "Edit", and so on) and the first one is itself another array, this time of action names.

We want for our print option to live in the first menu bar ("File"), just above the last option, which is "Exit". The ins() MPSL library function inserts an element in a given position of an array, with negative subscripts starting from the end, so the following code will do:

 	ins(mp.menu[0][1], '-', -2);
 	ins(mp.menu[0][1], 'my_print', -2);

The '-' special option creates a menu separator.

The menu is not automatically rebuilt, so a call to the mp.update_ui() function is also needed:


Take note that on current version the GTK version doesn't rebuild its menu when calling mp.update_ui() (it's bug #1150).

This examples show the easy expandability of the new MP 5.x version.

I'm sure all this is fascinating, but everything will be lost on exit; the way to make this changes permanent is to add all that code to the personal configuration file, which is nothing more than an MPSL source code file that is compiled and parsed on startup. It's called .mp.mpsl, on Unix/Linux systems live in $HOME and on Win32 in the "My Documents" folder. The "File / Edit configuration file" menu option gives easy access to it.

ttcdt <dev@triptico.com>