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Camlp4's (lack of) hygiene (was Re: Macros)
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Date: 2000-07-16 (21:35)
From: John Prevost <prevost@m...>
Subject: Re: Camlp4's (lack of) hygiene (was Re: Macros)
>>>>> "dr" == Daniel de Rauglaudre <daniel.de_rauglaudre@inria.fr> writes:

    dr> Well, if I find how to do that, I think it would not be a
    dr> problem to add things in Ocaml compiler to allow that, if it
    dr> is not too complicated.

Well, it is pretty complicated.  That level of things essentially
requires that the compiler actually knows about the grammar stuff
which is in effect and can get at the module the grammar was defined
in order to use the right bindings.

If I were, say, writing my own system which had a module named MLast,
and wanted to write a quotation for my AST, I would need to give my
module a different name.  This hygiene issue is equivalent to the
division between static and dynamic binding.  Essentially, a quotation
which refers to symbols by name uses the values of those symbols at
the time the quotation is called, not the time the quotation is

Basically, I think that having quotations (at least) as a hygienic
macro facility in O'Caml would be very nice.  Having syntax extensions
would be cool--but, it's much harder to do.  Making quotations
hygienic would involve .cmo .cmi and .cmx files carrying information
about quotation definitions, which would be scoped like other symbols.
Something maybe like:

<:q_MLast.expr< ... >>

open q_MLast
<:expr< ... >>

This would be a Major Change to the system.  So, as I said before, I
doubt it will happen.  Maybe in O'Caml 4.  :)

    dr> ??? No. These quotations do not depend on Pcaml... only on
    dr> MLast.

You're right--sorry.  :) I should've actually looked at things.
Here's a relevant function, turning the quotation's parse tree into
MLast expressions.  I'll explain the places where hygiene could be
violated quickly before the code.

Notice that the quotation is actually written using itself (it's from
the meta directory.  :), but it does use MLast in one place textually
right here--in the Node case.  Some and None are also referred to
directly.  (And I'm sure that the expanded version refers to MLast
quite a bit more.)

The hygiene problem is that if MLast (or None or Some) is bound in the
source text of the file using this quotation, then the value used will
be that of the source file--not the one in scope in the definition
below.  A (admittedly stupid) definition like:

type 'a bigoption =
  | None
  | Some of 'a
  | Many of 'a list

in code that uses q_MLast would show this nicely.  Using module paths
only helps somewhat, since you don't know that a module is actually in
scope with that name.  And the pervasives module isn't actually
available by name--if you override it, it's overridden for good.  (So
there's nothing you can write below that can even avoid the little bit
I wrote above.)

value rec expr_of_ast =
  [ Node n al ->
      List.fold_left (fun e a -> <:expr< $e$ $expr_of_ast a$ >>)
        <:expr< MLast.$uid:n$ loc >> al
  | List al ->
      List.fold_right (fun a e -> <:expr< [$expr_of_ast a$ :: $e$] >>) al
        <:expr< [] >>
  | Tuple al -> <:expr< ($list:List.map expr_of_ast al$) >>
  | Option None -> <:expr< None >>
  | Option (Some a) -> <:expr< Some $expr_of_ast a$ >>
  | Str s -> <:expr< $str:s$ >>
  | Chr c -> <:expr< $chr:c$ >>
  | Bool True -> <:expr< True >>
  | Bool False -> <:expr< False >>
  | Cons a1 a2 -> <:expr< [$expr_of_ast a1$ :: $expr_of_ast a2$] >>
  | Record lal -> <:expr< {$list:List.map label_expr_of_ast lal$} >>
  | Loc -> <:expr< loc >>
  | Antiquot loc s ->
      let e =
        try Grammar.Entry.parse Pcaml.expr_eoi (Stream.of_string s) with
        [ Stdpp.Exc_located (bp, ep) exc ->
            raise (Stdpp.Exc_located (fst loc + bp, fst loc + ep) exc) ]
      MLast.ExAnt loc e ]
and label_expr_of_ast (l, a) =
  (<:expr< MLast.$lid:l$ >>, expr_of_ast a)