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Finding time as of late has been more difficult than I anticipated, and on top of that, just as I was thinking of writing last month’s post, I got distracted by an exciting patchset that has been in the works for over a year finally getting sorted out and landing. So, I hope that some of the fun developments in this post will make up the absense of the last one 🙂.

Since it’s been longer than I thought since the last standard post, we’ve got a fair few commits to catch up on — about 200. Most of these are miscellaneous minor improvements and bugfixes, but a few notable changes have arrived too.


The fabulous new folding engine (org-fold-core) should noticeably improve Org’s performance with large files. It contains a number of key optimisations to improve speed, namely:

  • Deferring fontification of folded regions
  • Using text properties (\(\mathcal{O}(n \log n)\)) instead of overlays (\(\mathcal{O}(n^2)\)) for folded regions
  • A collection of aggressive optimisations available under org-fold-core--optimise-for-huge-buffers
  • Convert text properties to overlays for isearch (which currently only supports overlays)

How noticeable is the overall performance impact? Well, I poked Ihor and he was kind enough to whip up some benchmarks.

Figure 1: The scaling of org-shifttab showing file contents, as file size increases, with and without org-fold.
Figure 2: The scaling of org-shifttab showing the entire file, as file size increases, with and without org-fold.

Well this looks very promising1! Let’s see how much of an improvement this is overall.

Table 1: Time to run org-shifttab twice, cycling through all three display modes (in seconds).
File size (Mb) Headings (thousands) Bugfix (no org-fold) Main (with org-fold) Improvement
18 36 115.31 0.89 99%
8.8 24 19.03 0.48 97%
4.4 5 3.79 0.13 97%
2.2 2 1.29 0.08 94%
1.1 1 0.50 0.045 91%

To be clear, even the smallest file in this data — a 1.1 Mb Org file with around a thousand headings, is fairly large. So, it’s unlikely you’ll notice much of a difference with small–medium files, but if you a few large+ files this should be a fantastic improvement. Once again, thanks Ihor!

The change to text properties instead of overlays breaks a number of third party packages like evil-search and consult’s consult-line. If you are involved in any packages affected by this, you’ll either want to consider supporting invisible text, or look at isearch-filter-predicate and isearch-mode-end-hook, which org-fold now uses. If you’re an end-user, perhaps politely make an issue on the repo for a project if no issue currently exists, and either:

  • Stay off Org’s bleeding edge till the package ecosystem has adapted to this change
  • Help the packages you use adapt to this change
  • Set org-fold-core-style to overlays to restore the old behaviour

Engraved source code blocks in LaTeX

All too often exporting code to LaTeX has been a disappointment, with lovely syntax highlighting from Emacs major modes replaced with a markedly inferior attempt by pygments (setting org-latex-listings to minted) in a colour scheme I don’t really like.

A bit over a year ago, a project called engrave-faces started with the aim of making Emacs’ font-lock more exportable, like a generalised htmlize.el. This has recently been used to provide a new option for inline and block source code exports in LaTeX.

Figure 3: A screenshot of an Org code block, exported to a PDF, using engrave-faces and the doom-one-light theme.

To use this, simply install the package and set org-latex-src-block-backend (a rename of org-latex-listings to better reflect its usage) to engraved.

While this is sufficient to get started, this new backend also allows for some new options. The theme used for engraving a source block can be set globally with the new variable org-latex-engraved-theme, or per-file with the #+latex_engraved_theme keyword. It takes either the name of a theme, or the symbol t as a stand-in for the current theme.

The theme can also be set on a per-block level using the LaTeX attribute :engraved-theme.

Figure 4: Seven code blocks exported to LaTeX, each with a different engrave-faces theme.

Here’s what using these new capabilities looks like in practice.

Org mode
#+title: Engraving source blocks
#+latex_engraved_theme: modus-operandi

#+begin_src emacs-lisp
(message "look ma, some %s" 'code)

#+attr_latex: :engraved-theme modus-viviandi
#+begin_src shell
echo "This is shell code"

This may well be the best syntax-highlighting solution available for PDFs/LaTeX currently available, but I am a tad biased 😛.

TexInfo export improvements

Jonas Bernoulli has been using a custom TexInfo backend for Magit’s documentation for a while now, and over the past few months he’s worked the features he was missing into Org’s built-in TexInfo exporter.

Upstreaming like this always takes a fair bit of effort, so thank you Jonas for going through with this!

Toggle noweb prefix handling

Previously, whenever a noweb reference appeared on a non-empty line, a multi-line replacement would duplicate the content before the noweb reference.

Clearly, this is not always desirable, and this behaviour can now be turned of by setting the new header argument :noweb-prefix no.

Org mode
#+begin_src emacs-lisp :noweb yes :noweb-prefix no
(setq example-data "<<example>>")

Will now expand to

#+begin_src emacs-lisp
(setq example-data "some

Instead of

#+begin_src emacs-lisp
(setq example-data "some
(setq example-data "multiline
(setq example-data "content")

Package highlight: org-modern

I think we’ve all seen plenty of org-mode prettification packages before, so what makes Minad’s org-modern special? It’s actually doing something similar to Ihor’s org-fold improvements, switching out slower overlay-based approaches for text properties. I can confirm that switching out org-superstar-mode for org-modern has made a substantial improvement in my experience, halving the first-load time of my to around 20 seconds. If you’re a fan of Org prettification and haven’t taken a look at this package, I highly recommend giving it a shot.

Figure 5: A demonstration of org-modern taken from the project README.

Other improvements

  • Clean up some magic numbers in org-attach Marco Wahl
  • Allow any command form in org-attach-commands (including keyboard macros) Marco Wahl
  • Allow dest in org-list-send-item to be a buffer position Sacha Chua
  • Improve CSL-JSON date handling in oc-basic David Lukes
  • Add TOML and desktop language aliases TEC
  • Speed up cached bibliography retrieval in oc-basic Ihor Radchenko
  • Allow setting PlantUML jar arguments Ihor Radchenko
  • Allow for customisation of property separators with org-property-separators Tyler Grinn
  • New ox-latex maintainer, Daniel Fleischer
  • More unit tests Kyle Keyer, Nick Dokos
  • Documentation improvements Kyle Meyer, Juan Manuel Macias, Bastien, Karl Fogel, Cody Harris


  • An Emacs <28 bug in org-persist Ihor Radchenko
  • Author extraction in oc-basic Nicolas Goaziou
  • Fix behaviour of org-copy-visible with adjacent tex and buffer-invisibility-spec Kyle Meyer
  • Parsing of inline footnotes with parentheses Nicolas Goaziou
  • Honor default-directory in ob-gnuplot Ihor Radchenko
  • Heading fontification bug Anders Johansson
  • Template expansion where one key is a substring of another Andrew Arensburger



Note the difference in scale, org-fold makes the most difference in the graph where the times are an order of magnitude more.

CC0 To the extent possible under law, TEC has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to This Month in Org.