Emacs Org Mode Version 8: Upgrading and Some Tips

As I mentioned in my post Emacs: The Ultimate Editor?, one of the things I love about Emacs is Org mode, which provides excellent facilities for working with plain text and exporting it to a variety of other formats. Recently I’ve used Org mode to prepare a number of tables within documents that I then export to \LaTeX and compile to PDF. Key here is Org’s ability to easily add or remove rows and columns, sort rows, and even transpose a table (see below). This blog is written in Org mode and exported to WordPress using org2blog.

A couple of months ago, version 8 of Org was released. It has many improvements over earlier versions but also some changes in syntax. In particular, the export engine has been rewritten. These changes are quite likely to break older Org files. Indeed the release notes say Org 8.0 is the most disruptive major version of Org.

Here is a list of problems I’ve experienced and the fixes. I’m currently using Org 8.0.3.

  • Export to Beamer didn’t work until I added
    (require 'ox-beamer)

    to my .emacs.

  • org2blog was broken in Org 8. A new branch for Org 8 was released at https://github.com/ptrv/org2blog/tree/org-8-support. In my tests org2blog/wp-post-subtree did not work properly: the title was being copied as a section heading. This was quickly fixed by author Peter Vasil earlier this week and org2blog is now working fine for me with Org 8.
  • The syntax for \LaTeX table alignments has changed. In Org <8:
    #+ATTR_LaTeX: align = |l|...

    In Org 8:

    #+ATTR_LaTeX: :align |l|...

Finally, here are a couple of useful, but easy to miss, features of Org.

Table Transpose

A new command org-table-transpose-table-at-point in Org 8 provides the array transpose function. With the cursor in the table

a11 a12 a13 a14
a21 a22 a23 a24
a31 a32 a33 a34

M-x org-table-transpose-table-at-point produces

a11 a21 a31
a12 a22 a32
a13 a23 a33
a14 a24 a34

This could be particularly useful in a \LaTeX file, provided orgtbl-mode is being used, as there is no easy way to transpose a \LaTeX table.


I’m not sure if this is new to ORG 8, but in any case it’s new to me. Type <s followed by tab and an empty source block magically appears:


Very useful! The following table shows all the available expansions:

| Sequence | Expands to       |
| <s       | #+BEGIN_SRC      |
| <e       | #+BEGIN_EXAMPLE  |
| <q       | #+BEGIN_QUOTE    |
| <v       | #+BEGIN_VERSE    |
| <V       | #+BEGIN_VERBATIM |
| <c       | #+BEGIN_CENTER   |
| <l       | #+BEGIN_LaTeX    |
| <L       | #+LaTeX          |
| <h       | #+BEGIN_HTML     |
| <H       | #+HTML           |
| <a       | #+BEGIN_ASCII    |
| <A       | #+ASCII:         |
| <i       | #+INDEX:         |
| <I       | #+INCLUDE:       |

4 thoughts on “Emacs Org Mode Version 8: Upgrading and Some Tips

  1. There is a nasty bug in Org-mode which causes it to stop working if it is updated via ELPA in an Emacs session which has at least one Org function already loaded. I wrote the following note to myself after spending sometime debugging Lisp, only to find out later about the bug. Feel free to include it in your post.

    * Update =Org-mode= from ELPA without breaking it
    You must make sure there are no =Org-mode= functions loaded while
    the update is done. For that, exit Emacs and then run Emacs without
    loading your =.emacs= (=Emacs -Q=). Remove the old =Org-mode=
    #+BEGIN_SRC sh
    rm -rf ~/.emacs.d/elpa/org-“Tab”
    where =Tab= means press =Tab= to see and auto complete the old
    =Org-mode= directory you want to remove. Finally, update =Org-mode=
    (=M-x package-install RET org RET=) and restart Emacs as usual.

  2. Thanks. I updated to Org 8 manually and keep it in Dropbox. This seems the best approach for me: I use Emacs on three different machines and have all gather their .emacs and elisp files from Dropbox.

  3. I’ve just checked and I’m using org-mode 8.2.4 which came from elpa on 30-12-13, and, so far, I haven’t come across any org2blog problems. Just to let you know that its safe to upgrade atm! 🙂

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