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9. Reading help files

ESS provides an easy-to-use facility for reading S help files from within Emacs. From within the ESS process buffer or any ESS edit buffer, typing C-c C-v (ess-display-help-on-object) will prompt you for the name of an object for which you would like documentation. Completion is provided over all objects which have help files.

If the requested object has documentation, you will be popped into a buffer (named *help(obj-name)*) containing the help file. This buffer is placed in a special `S Help' mode which disables the usual editing commands but which provides a number of keys for paging through the help file:

In addition, all of the ESS commands available in the edit buffers are also available in S help mode (see section 7.1 Creating or modifying S objects). Of course, the usual (non-editing) Emacs commands are available, and for convenience the digits and - act as prefix arguments.

If a help buffer already exists for an object for which help is requested, that buffer is popped to immediately; the ESS process is not consulted at all. If the contents of the help file have changed, you either need to kill the help buffer first, or pass a prefix argument (with C-u) to ess-display-help-on-object.

Help buffers are marked as temporary buffers in ESS, and are deleted when ess-quit or ess-cleanup are called.

Help buffers normally appear in another window within the current frame. If you wish help buffers to appear in their own frame (either one per help buffer, or one for all help buffers), you can customize the variable ess-help-own-frame.

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