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4.4 Transient Arguments and Buffer Variables

The infix arguments of many of Magit’s transient prefix commands cease to have an effect once the git command that is called with those arguments has returned. Commands that create a commit are a good example for this. If the user changes the arguments, then that only affects the next invocation of a suffix command. If the same transient prefix command is later invoked again, then the arguments are initially reset to the default value. This default value can be set for the current Emacs session or saved permanently, see (transient)Saving Values. It is also possible to cycle through previously used sets of arguments using C-M-p and C-M-n, see (transient)Using History.

However the infix arguments of many other transient commands continue to have an effect even after the git command that was called with those arguments has returned. The most important commands like this are those that display a diff or log in a dedicated buffer. Their arguments obviously continue to have an effect for as long as the respective diff or log is being displayed. Furthermore the used arguments are stored in buffer-local variables for future reference.

For commands in the second group it isn’t always desirable to reset their arguments to the global value when the transient prefix command is invoked again.

As mentioned above, it is possible to cycle through previously used sets of arguments while a transient popup is visible. That means that we could always reset the infix arguments to the default because the set of arguments that is active in the existing buffer is only a few C-M-p away. Magit can be configured to behave like that, but because I expect that most users would not find that very convenient, it is not the default.

Also note that it is possible to change the diff and log arguments used in the current buffer (including the status buffer, which contains both diff and log sections) using the respective "refresh" transient prefix commands on D and L. (d and l on the other hand are intended to change what diff or log is being displayed. It is possible to also change how the diff or log is being displayed at the same time, but if you only want to do the latter, then you should use the refresh variants.) Because these secondary diff and log transient prefixes are about changing the arguments used in the current buffer, they always start out with the set of arguments that are currently in effect in that buffer.

Some commands are usually invoked directly even though they can also be invoked as the suffix of a transient prefix command. Most prominently magit-show-commit is usually invoked by typing RET while point is on a commit in a log, but it can also be invoked from the magit-diff transient prefix.

When such a command is invoked directly, then it is important to reuse the arguments as specified by the respective buffer-local values, instead of using the default arguments. Imagine you press RET in a log to display the commit at point in a different buffer and then use D to change how the diff is displayed in that buffer. And then you press RET on another commit to show that instead and the diff arguments are reset to the default. Not cool; so Magit does not do that by default.

User Option: magit-prefix-use-buffer-arguments

This option controls whether the infix arguments initially shown in certain transient prefix commands are based on the arguments that are currently in effect in the buffer that their suffixes update.

The magit-diff and magit-log transient prefix commands are affected by this option.

User Option: magit-direct-use-buffer-arguments

This option controls whether certain commands, when invoked directly (i.e. not as the suffix of a transient prefix command), use the arguments that are currently active in the buffer that they are about to update. The alternative is to use the default value for these arguments, which might change the arguments that are used in the buffer.

Valid values for both of the above options are:

I am afraid it gets more complicated still:


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