Emacs bookmarks are pretty wonderful, you can bookmark almost anything: files, directories, info and help buffers, Magit buffers, elfeed searches and entries. And, naturally, you can extend Emacs to be able to bookmark almost anything you want.
There's a basic web browser in Emacs called EWW which, by default, uses its own bookmarking system rather than Emacs's global one. This note demonstrates how to extend Emacs to make EWW use the standard bookmarks system.
As of September 2021 Emacs added support for exactly this feature. But the below is still a useful way to learn how the bookmarking system creates and uses bookmarks.
Let's start by taking a closer look at what a bookmark looks like under the
hood. When you type
M-x bookmark-set Emacs adds a 'record' to the
bookmark-alist. This list is then saved to a file (defined in the variable
bookmark-default-file) so you don't loose your bookmarks when you quit Emacs.
An individual bookmark record looks like this:
(front-context-string . "13.8 Bookmarks\n=") (rear-context-string . " Up: Registers\n\n") (position . 251555) (filename . "/Users/oht/Applications/Emacs.app/Contents/Resources/info/emacs") (info-node . "Bookmarks") (handler . Info-bookmark-jump))
Let's break that down piece-by-piece.
(emacs) Bookmarksis the name of the bookmark, and what gets displayed in the bookmark list.
rear-context-stringhelp keep your bookmarks accurate when you edit a file after setting a bookmark. If you simply recorded the filename and line number subsequent edits to the file would quickly render your bookmarks inaccurate. Emacs uses the position and context to keep the bookmark accurate.
positionis the point's position in the buffer.
filenameis pretty self explanatory, as is
info-node(which is specific to bookmarking the info manuals).
handlerdefines the function that
bookmark-jumpwill use to go to that bookmark.
Detailed information about how bookmark records can be found by describing the
With a little imagination, one can envision a bookmark record for a webpage that looks something like this:
("Name of Webpage" (location . "https://example.com") (handler . eww-handler-function))
Emacs refers to a function which creates these records as a "bookmark make record function". In this case that function would look like this:
(defun custom-make-record-function () `(,(name-bookmark-function) (location . ,(get-url-function)) (handler . eww-handler-function)))
Emacs uses different functions to create each kind of bookmark; one function
for bookmarking files and another for bookmarking directories. Defining which
function to use in which context is the job of the variable
bookmark-make-record-function. In our case we want to set that variable, when
using EWW, to the name of our custom make record function. Then, when you type
M-x bookmark-set Emacs will call your make-record function and insert the
record into the
Now that we understand how it works, we can enumerate all the pieces we'll need.
bookmark-make-record-functionlocally when EWW buffers are created.
First, the make-record function. You can grab the url from EWW with the
eww-current-url but EWW provides no such function for getting the
page's title. You can, however, grab the page title with a little lisp:
(plist-get eww-data :title). All together the complete make-record function
looks like this:
(defun oht-eww-bookmark-make-record () "Make a bookmark record for the current eww buffer." `(,(plist-get eww-data :title) ((location . ,(eww-current-url)) (handler . oht-eww-bookmark-handler) (defaults . (,(plist-get eww-data :title))))))
(It's not clear to me why the
defaults part of this is needed but without it
EWW will not properly update the
:title when browsing pages. This fix was
suggested by Joe Corneli.)
Second, the handler function for jumping to the URL:
(defun oht-eww-bookmark-handler (record) "Jump to a bookmark's url with bookmarked location." (eww (bookmark-prop-get record 'location)))
Third, we need to set the buffer-local variable
to the name of our custom make-record function when using EWW. We do this by
first defining a function which sets the local variable, then adding a hook to
eww-mode which calls that function. Like this:
(defun oht-eww-set-bookmark-handler () "Assigns `bookmark-make-record-function' to a custom function." (set (make-local-variable 'bookmark-make-record-function) #'oht-eww-bookmark-make-record)) (add-hook 'eww-mode-hook 'oht-eww-set-bookmark-handler)
Now, when visiting a page in EWW you can type
M-x bookmark-set and a bookmark will
be created, and jumping to that bookmark will open the URL in EWW.
While this example is specific to the EWW browser, it should give you an idea of how you can extend Emacs's bookmarking system in other ways.