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Named Readtables Manual

Table of Contents

[in package EDITOR-HINTS.NAMED-READTABLES]

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1 named-readtables ASDF System Details

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2 Introduction

Named-Readtables is a library that provides a namespace for readtables akin to the already-existing namespace of packages. In particular:

It follows that Named-Readtables is a facility for using readtables in a localized way.

Additionally, it also attempts to become a facility for using readtables in a modular way. In particular:

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2.1 Links

Here is the official repository and the HTML documentation for the latest version.

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2.2 Acknowledgements

Thanks to Robert Goldman for making me want to write this library.

Thanks to Stephen Compall, Ariel Badichi, David Lichteblau, Bart Botta, David Crawford, and Pascal Costanza for being early adopters, providing comments and bugfixes.

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3 Overview

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3.1 Notes on the API

The API heavily imitates the API of packages. This has the nice property that any experienced Common Lisper will take it up without effort.

DEFREADTABLE              -   DEFPACKAGE

IN-READTABLE              -   IN-PACKAGE

MERGE-READTABLES-INTO     -   USE-PACKAGE

MAKE-READTABLE            -   MAKE-PACKAGE

UNREGISTER-READTABLE      -   DELETE-PACKAGE

RENAME-READTABLE          -   RENAME-PACKAGE

FIND-READTABLE            -   FIND-PACKAGE

READTABLE-NAME            -   PACKAGE-NAME

LIST-ALL-NAMED-READTABLES -   LIST-ALL-PACKAGES

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3.2 Important API idiosyncrasies

There are three major differences between the API of Named-Readtables, and the API of packages.

  1. Readtable names are symbols not strings.

    Time has shown that the fact that packages are named by strings causes severe headache because of the potential of package names colliding with each other.

    Hence, readtables are named by symbols lest to make the situation worse than it already is. Consequently, readtables named CL-ORACLE:SQL-SYNTAX and CL-MYSQL:SQL-SYNTAX can happily coexist next to each other. Or, taken to an extreme, SCHEME:SYNTAX and ELISP:SYNTAX.

    If, for example to duly signify the importance of your cool readtable hack, you really think it deserves a global name, you can always resort to keywords.

  2. The inheritance is resolved statically, not dynamically.

    A package that uses another package will have access to all the other package's exported symbols, even to those that will be added after its definition. I.e. the inheritance is resolved at run-time, that is dynamically.

    Unfortunately, we cannot do the same for readtables in a portable manner.

    Therefore, we do not talk about "using" another readtable but about "merging" the other readtable's definition into the readtable we are going to define. I.e. the inheritance is resolved once at definition time, that is statically.

    (Such merging can more or less be implemented portably albeit at a certain cost. Most of the time, this cost manifests itself at the time a readtable is defined, i.e. once at compile-time, so it may not bother you. Nonetheless, we provide extra support for Sbcl, ClozureCL, and AllegroCL at the moment. Patches for your implementation of choice are welcome, of course.)

  3. DEFREADTABLE does not have compile-time effects.

    If you define a package via DEFPACKAGE, you can make that package the currently active package for the subsequent compilation of the same file via IN-PACKAGE. The same is, however, not true for DEFREADTABLE and IN-READTABLE for the following reason:

    It's unlikely that the need for special reader-macros arises for a problem which can be solved in just one file. Most often, you're going to define the reader macro functions, and set up the corresponding readtable in an extra file.

    If DEFREADTABLE had compile-time effects, you'd have to wrap each definition of a reader-macro function in an EVAL-WHEN to make its definition available at compile-time. Because that's simply not the common case, DEFREADTABLE does not have a compile-time effect.

    If you want to use a readtable within the same file as its definition, wrap the DEFREADTABLE and the reader-macro function definitions in an explicit EVAL-WHEN.

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3.3 Preregistered Readtables

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3.4 Examples

(defreadtable elisp:syntax
   (:merge :standard)
   (:macro-char #\? #'elisp::read-character-literal t)
   (:macro-char #\[ #'elisp::read-vector-literal t)
   ...
   (:case :preserve))

(defreadtable scheme:syntax
   (:merge :standard)
   (:macro-char #\[ #'(lambda (stream char)
                         (read-delimited-list #\] stream)))
   (:macro-char #\# :dispatch)
   (:dispatch-macro-char #\# #\t #'scheme::read-#t)
   (:dispatch-macro-char #\# #\f #'scheme::read-#f)
   ...
   (:case :preserve))

(in-readtable elisp:syntax)

...

(in-readtable scheme:syntax)

...

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4 Reference