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Date: -- (:)
From: Andreas Rossberg <rossberg@m...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] ocamllex and python-style indentation
On Jun 12, 2009, at 10.20 h, Andrej Bauer wrote:

> I think I understand the general idea of inserting "virtual" tokens,
> but the details confuse me still. So starting with
>
>> if True:
>>    x = 3
>>    y = (2 +
>>      4 + 5)
>> else:
>>    x = 5
>>    if False:
>>        x = 8
>>        z = 2
>
> Martin suggests the following:
>
>> {
>> if True:
>> ;
>>   {
>>   x = 3
>>   ;
>>   y = (2 +
>>   ;
>>     {
>>     4 + 5)
>>     }
>>   }
>> ;
>> else:
>> ;
>>   {
>>   x = 5
>>   ;
>>   if False:
>>   ;
>>       {
>>       x = 8
>>       ;
>>       z = 2
>>       }
>>   }
>> }
>
> I have two questions. Notice that the { ... } and ( ... ) need not be
> correctly nested (in the top half), so how are we going to deal with
> this? The second question is, why are there the separators after and
> just before "else:". I would expect separators inside { .... }, but
> not around "else".

It depends on how exactly you define your layout rules. The usual  
approach is to tie start of layout-sensitive blocks to particular  
keywords -- this is essentially what Python and Haskell do. In that  
case, the binding to y is not affected. Haskell's rules for optional  
layout would rewrite your original program as

>> if True:
>>    {x = 3
>>    ;y = (2 +
>>      4 + 5)
>> }else:
>>    {x = 5
>>    ;if False:
>>        {x = 8
>>        ;z = 2
>> }}

The basic rules are fairly simple:

1. Insert "{" (assume width 0) before the first token following a  
layout keyword (usually ":" in Python). This opens a block.

2. As long as inside a block, insert ";" before each token that is on  
the _same_ column as the current (i.e. innermost) "{".

3. A block ends as soon as you see a line whose first token is _left_  
of the current "{". Insert "}" before that token.

Blocks can be nested, so you need to maintain a stack of starting  
columns in the parser. Note that rule 3 may end several blocks at  
once. EOF is treated as a token at column 0.

The way I implemented this is by wrapping the ocamllex-generated lexer  
with a function that compares each token's column with the top of the  
layout stack and inserts auxiliary tokens as necessary.

Haskell has another rule for inserting "}" if there would be a parse  
error without it (this is to allow inline blocks). This rule is pretty  
fudgy, and almost impossible to implement properly with a conventional  
parser generator. IMO, the only sane way to reformulate this rule is  
again to tie it to specific keywords, e.g. insert "}" before "else" if  
missing. This can be implemented in the parser by making closing  
braces optional in the right places.

- Andreas