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2.3 Commands for Getting Help

The entire text of this manual is available from the Octave prompt via the command doc. In addition, the documentation for individual user-written functions and variables is also available via the help command. This section describes the commands used for reading the manual and the documentation strings for user-supplied functions and variables. See section Function Files, for more information about how to document the functions you write.

Command: help name

Display the help text for name. If invoked without any arguments, help prints a list of all the available operators and functions.

For example, the command help help prints a short message describing the help command.

The help command can give you information about operators, but not the comma and semicolons that are used as command separators. To get help for those, you must type help comma or help semicolon.

See also: doc, lookfor, which.

Command: doc function_name

Display documentation for the function function_name directly from an on-line version of the printed manual, using the GNU Info browser. If invoked without any arguments, the manual is shown from the beginning.

For example, the command doc rand starts the GNU Info browser at the rand node in the on-line version of the manual.

Once the GNU Info browser is running, help for using it is available using the command C-h.

See also: help.

Command: lookfor str
Command: lookfor -all str
Function: [func, helpstring] = lookfor (str)
Function: [func, helpstring] = lookfor ('-all', str)

Search for the string str in all functions found in the current function search path. By default, lookfor searches for str in the first sentence of the help string of each function found. The entire help text of each function can be searched if the '-all' argument is supplied. All searches are case insensitive.

Called with no output arguments, lookfor prints the list of matching functions to the terminal. Otherwise, the output arguments func and helpstring define the matching functions and the first sentence of each of their help strings.

The ability of lookfor to correctly identify the first sentence of the help text is dependent on the format of the function's help. All Octave core functions are correctly formatted, but the same can not be guaranteed for external packages and user-supplied functions. Therefore, the use of the '-all' argument may be necessary to find related functions that are not a part of Octave.

See also: help, doc, which.

To see what is new in the current release of Octave, use the news function.

Function File: news ()

Display the current NEWS file for Octave.

Function File: info ()

Display contact information for the GNU Octave community.

Built-in Function: warranty ()

Describe the conditions for copying and distributing Octave.

The following functions can be used to change which programs are used for displaying the documentation, and where the documentation can be found.

Built-in Function: val = info_file ()
Built-in Function: old_val = info_file (new_val)

Query or set the internal variable that specifies the name of the Octave info file. The default value is ‘octave-home/info/octave.info’, in which octave-home is the root directory of the Octave installation. The default value may be overridden by the environment variable OCTAVE_INFO_FILE, or the command line argument ‘--info-file NAME’.

See also: info_program, doc, help, makeinfo_program.

Built-in Function: val = info_program ()
Built-in Function: old_val = info_program (new_val)

Query or set the internal variable that specifies the name of the info program to run. The default value is ‘octave-home/libexec/octave/version/exec/arch/info’ in which octave-home is the root directory of the Octave installation, version is the Octave version number, and arch is the system type (for example, i686-pc-linux-gnu). The default value may be overridden by the environment variable OCTAVE_INFO_PROGRAM, or the command line argument ‘--info-program NAME’.

See also: info_file, doc, help, makeinfo_program.

Built-in Function: val = makeinfo_program ()
Built-in Function: old_val = makeinfo_program (new_val)

Query or set the internal variable that specifies the name of the program that Octave runs to format help text containing Texinfo markup commands. The default value is makeinfo.

See also: info_file, info_program, doc, help.

Built-in Function: val = doc_cache_file ()
Built-in Function: old_val = doc_cache_file (new_val)

Query or set the internal variable that specifies the name of the Octave documentation cache file. A cache file significantly improves the performance of the lookfor command. The default value is ‘octave-home/share/octave/version/etc/doc-cache’, in which octave-home is the root directory of the Octave installation, and version is the Octave version number. The default value may be overridden by the environment variable OCTAVE_DOC_CACHE_FILE, or the command line argument ‘--doc-cache-file NAME’.

See also: lookfor, info_program, doc, help, makeinfo_program.

Built-in Function: val = suppress_verbose_help_message ()
Built-in Function: old_val = suppress_verbose_help_message (new_val)

Query or set the internal variable that controls whether Octave will add additional help information to the end of the output from the help command and usage messages for built-in commands.


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