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Wipple updates

August 24, 2020

I haven’t pushed to the wipplelang/wipple repository lately, but I am experimenting around with some new ideas privately. I’ve been working on some quality-of-life improvements to Wipple — check them out!

  1. Statements are now separated with a newline instead of a semicolon. Statement breaks will occur when all preceding statement items are parsed (ie. no open groups) and a newline is encountered:

    foo -- one statement
    bar -- another statement

    ) -- one statement

    The last statement in a block is still the one returned, and empty blocks still evaluate to the empty list.

  2. Statements are now just lists — there is no distinct type. The semantics for lists are altered so a single-item list is evaluated as if that item was not in a list:

    (foo bar) -- call 'foo' with 'bar'
    (foo bar baz) -- call 'foo' with 'bar', and the result with 'baz'
    (foo) -- evaluate 'foo'
    () -- return as-is
  3. Lists with operators are now parsed so they consume all values on both sides until an operator of a higher precedence is reached. This removes the need for explicit lists in many places:

    bob : person (| age 42 |)

    In previous versions of Wipple extra parentheses would be required:

    bob : (person (| age 42 |))

    Note that if the operator’s function evaluates the parameter before returning, and the left-hand- and/or right-hand-side of the operator contains only one value, the single value will be used congruent to the changes in list evaluation above.

  4. If an operator is evaluated on its own, the function the operator wraps is returned instead of the operator itself (which is unusable alone):

    > +
    function -- the 'add' function

    In previous versions of Wipple:

    > +
    operator -- the '+' operator
  5. Added pairlist, a primitive that groups pairs of values. Pair lists are almost always used with another function, like struct or keyed functions. The syntax is (| a b c d |), which will create a pair list with two pairs, 'a b and 'c d (ie. the first item in the pair is left unevaluated and the second item is evaluated).

    For example, pair lists are used by structs to associate values with property names:

    person : struct (|
    name "Bob"
    age 42
    favorite-color 'blue

    In order to evaluate the first pair item as well, you can pass the pair list to the dynamic package’s eval-pairlist-keys!:

    > a : 1

    > b : 2

    > c : 3

    > d : 4

    > (| a b c d |)

    > list (| a b c d |) -- need to convert to list to view in wipple
    ((a 1) (c 4))

    > use dynamic

    > (| a b c d |) |> eval-pairlist-keys! |> list
    ((1 2) (3 4))
  6. Dot syntax has been removed at the parser level; it is now an operator:

    foo . bar -- access the 'bar' property on the value of 'foo'

    Because dot syntax was the only thing requiring the Property trait from being built-in, this trait is now implemented in the property package (which the struct package uses as a dependency). The Property trait looks like this:

    Property : trait (name -> value ->
    (Data (|
    name name
    value value

    And the . operator is defined like this:

    dot-precedence : 100

    . : operator (|
    precedence dot-precedence
    associativity left
    call (base => 'prop => ...)

    Note that the . operator evaluates the left-hand side for each call. This will probably lead to unexpected behavior if you try chaining . calls:

    a : struct (|
    b '(c d)

    -- expected: c
    -- actual: error (c is not defined)
    a . b . 0

    -- this is because (c d) is evaluated again after being returned.
    -- above is evaluated like this:
    (a . b) . 0
    (c d) . 0
    error: c is not defined
    in (c d) (file.wpl:12:2)

    What you probably want to do is use the .. operator, which accepts a list of paths to be applied one after the other:

    > a .. b 0

    And if you want to do this dynamically, you can use the dynamic package’s resolve-path! function:

    > use dynamic

    > path-segment-1 : 'b

    > path-segment-2 : 1 - 1

    > resolve-path! a [path-segment-1 path-segment-2]
  7. ... has been added to the standard library and serves as a placeholder so that incomplete examples can still run. It evaluates to itself:

    ... : '...
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