Status: Version 5 passed Jan 89 X3J13
Version 6 passed Mar 89 X3J13
References: SYMBOL-MACROLET (88-002R page 2-81)
Related Issues: SYMBOL-MACROLET-DECLARE
Edit history: 29-July-88, Version 1 by Piazza
21-September-88, Version 2 by Piazza
22-September-88, Version 3 by Piazza
22-September-88, Version 4 by Piazza
30-Nov-88, Version 5 by Masinter
14-Mar-89, Version 6 by Steele
The SYMBOL-MACROLET construct, introduced with CLOS in X3J13 document
88-002R, profoundly alters the interpretation of symbols appearing as
forms in a Common Lisp program--what previously was necessarily a variable
might now be a symbol macro instead. Macros which appear in the body of a
SYMBOL-MACROLET form are currently unable to determine whether a symbol
form is a variable or a symbol macro, and, if the latter, what the
expansion of the symbol macro is. Consequently, complex macros (such as
SETF or PUSH) which depend on the form of their argument(s), are unable to
produce their desired results in some cases, as in the following example:
(let ((a (make-array 5))
(symbol-macrolet ((place (aref a (incf i))))
(push x place))
i) ==> 2
In addition, it would be both natural and nice to be able to write
(with-slots (rho theta) point
(declare (single-float rho theta))
as well as DECLARE within SYMBOL-MACROLET forms.
Change the definition of SYMBOL-MACROLET to specify that it is a special
form, which affects the evaluation environment for symbols. Enhance
MACROEXPAND and MACROEXPAND-1 so that they can expand a symbol macro.
Modify SETF et al to use the new MACROEXPAND and MACROEXPAND-1 to examine
even symbol subforms. Specify that the expansion of a symbol macro IS
subject to further macro expansion in the same lexical environment as the
symbol macro invocation, exactly analogous to normal macros. Clarify that
within the body of a SYMBOL-MACROLET, SETQ of a symbol defined as
a symbol macro will be treated as if it were a SETF.
Furthermore PSETQ of a symbol defined as a symbol macro will
behave as if it were a PSETF, and MULTIPLE-VALUE-SETQ will behave
as if SETQ were used on each variable to be set.
When MACROEXPAND or MACROEXPAND-1 sees a symbol macro, it calls
the value of *MACROEXPAND-HOOK* in the same manner as for an
ordinary macro. The three values given to the hook function
in this case will be an expansion function, a form (in this case
the symbol naming the symbol macro), and an environment. The
only guaranteed property of the expansion function is that when
it is applied to the form and the environment it will return the
correct expansion of the symbol macro. (In particular, nothing
it said in this specification whether the expansion is conceptually
stored in the expansion function, the environment, or both.)
The potential for interaction between macros is exactly why &environment
arguments were originally added to macros. Changing SYMBOL-MACROLET to be
a special form, which communicates through the &environment arguments to
macros with MACROEXPAND and MACROEXPAND-1, would allow PUSH and SETF
(among others) to work with SYMBOL-MACROLET in the same way they work with
This change cannot (reasonably) support the currently specified semantics
that the expansion text is "outside" the scope of the symbol macro. For
indeed, when the symbol macro is expanded, (a copy of) the expansion is
then within the scope of the SYMBOL-MACROLET, and should then be subject
to further scrutiny. The issue of "infinite expansion" of symbol macros is
no more dangerous than that of normal macros.
Portable Common Loops provides a code-walking implementation of
SYMBOL-MACROLET as specified in 88-002R. Symbolics Cloe has both a
code-walking version of a SYMBOL-MACROLET macro and compiler support for
a SYMBOL-MACROLET special form.
Cost to Implementors:
If SYMBOL-MACROLET is modified to be a special form, compilers and
interpreters will have to change, as well as MACROEXPAND, MACROEXPAND-1,
PUSH, INCF, DECF, and others.
Cost to Users:
If SYMBOL-MACROLET is converted to a special form, code-walking programs
will have to be modified to handle SYMBOL-MACROLET correctly. Those same
programs would have to be modified to handle the other special forms
specified in CLOS, anyway.
Cost of Non-Adoption:
SYMBOL-MACROLET will retain its confusing semantics, leading to bugs when
it interacts with complex macros and forms which produce side-effects.
Implementations which support ONCE-ONLY will break. For that matter, any
mechanism which examines code and assumes that "variables" have no side
effects will break.
SYMBOL-MACROLET-SEMANTICS:SPECIAL-FORM avoids the hairiest problems
surrounding interaction of macros (like SETF) and side effects, and makes
SYMBOL-MACROLET consistent with MACROLET.
If SYMBOL-MACROLET is made to be a special form, aesthetics are improved
by making symbol macros consistent with normal macros.
A case could be made for adding a new function, SYMBOL-MACRO-FUNCTION, as
a dual of MACRO-FUNCTION. However, symbol macros are simpler than normal
macros: a symbol macro is associated with a single expansion form, rather
than an arbitrary function which computes the expansion. For this reason,
the augmented MACROEXPAND-1 proposed here can also fill the role of
SYMBOL-MACRO-FUNCTION: the second value of (macroexpand-1 sym env) will be
T if and only if sym is a symbol macro, while the first value gives the
expansion of sym, if it has one.
Rather than extending the existing MACROEXPAND and MACROEXPAND-1
functions, new functions could be introduced to expand symbol macros.
However, there seems to be no particular reason to do this.
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