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Dylan Design Notes

Dylan Design Notes: #33: Headers for Dylan Source Files (Addition)

#33: Headers for Dylan Source Files (Addition)

Version 1, January 1994 Copyright (c) 1993-1994, Apple Computer
This design note specifies a standard portable format for distributing Dylan source code.
We introduce the notion of a Dylan source code file. A file has two parts, the header and the body. The header comes before the body.

The body consists of zero or more outer expressions and comments, all of which must be in the same syntax.

The header consists of zero or more keyword-value pairs, as follows:

  1. The syntax of a keyword is as follows: a keyword is a letter, followed by zero or more letters, digits, and hyphens, followed by a colon, contains only characters from the ISO 646 7-bit character set, and is case-independent.

  2. A keyword begins on a new line, and cannot be preceded by whitespace.

  3. All text (excluding padding whitespace) between the keyword and the newline is considered to be the value. Additional lines can be added by having the additional lines start with whitespace. Leading whitespace is not part of the value.

  4. Interpretation of the value is determined by the keyword.

  5. Implementations must recognize and handle standardized keywords properly, unless the specification for a keyword explicitly states that it can be ignored.

  6. When importing a file, implementations are free to ignore any non-standard keyword/value pair that they do not recognize.

  7. When exporting a file, implementations must use standard keywords properly. Implementations are free to use non-standard keywords.

  8. The definition of a keyword may allow multiple occurrences of that keyword in a single file header. If it does, it must specify the meaning of multiple occurrences. If it does not, it is an error for the keyword to appear more than once.
The header cannot contain comments.

Blank lines may not appear in the header. A blank line defines the end of the header and the beginning of the code body. It is not part of the code body.

The following standard keywords are defined:

module:  module-name  [Header keyword]
Expressions in the file are associated with the named module. This keyword is required.
author: arbitrary text  [Header keyword]
copyright:arbitrary text  [Header keyword]
version: arbitrary text  [Header keyword]

These are provided for standardization. These are optional, and can be ignored by the implementation.

For example, a typical Dylan source file might look like this:

module: quickdraw
author:         J. Random Rect
                Linear Wheels, Inc., "Where quality is a slogan!"
copyright: (c) 1993 Linear Wheels, Inc., All rights reserved
version:        1.3 alpha (not fully tested)

define-constant $black-color ...


Some sort of standard portable file format is needed to publish Dylan source code. Code will be shared among very different development environments, and although some will store code in a database, sharing will only be possible through some kind of files.

This change will enhance ability to share code between development environments. It will facilitate code-management tasks in file-based environments by formalizing code attributes like syntax, authorship, copyright, version control, etc. It will facilitate management of code repositories (e.g. file servers, cd-roms, particularly in multi-platform environments) by providing readily browsable information to tools with minimal awareness of Dylan.

Keyword-value pairs are relatively easy for machines to parse and generate,and are relatively legible to humans. Also, this allows for future extensions by adding keywords.

Next chapter: #34: Select Ordering (Clarification)