[asdf-devel] Pre ML post review

Faré fahree at gmail.com
Thu Dec 17 03:18:11 UTC 2009

Dear ASDF developers,

Rommel and I are currently working on asdf bug #485918,
i.e. a plan for user-customizable persistent configuration of ASDF paths
through configuration files (duh).

What follows is a detailed plan and several questions.

General Idea

The general idea is that in configuration files such as
will be a SEXP in a trival domain-specific language
to specify a search path.

Backwards Compatibility

Now comes the issue of backwards compatibility with the current
asdf:*central-registry* that currently has to be manually configured
by users or supplemental layer (e.g. common-lisp-controller).

My proposal is that there would be a new (private) variable
that would store a parsed version of the configuration
as an undocumented opaque data-structure
(except for the private use of ASDF and XCVB),
only accessible through API functions and said DSL.
One magic directive in that DSL, present by default in the configuration,
would hook into the implementation defaults, which would include
the searching of asdf:*central-registry* until it is eventually removed.
Uses of asdf:*central-registry* would be deprecated,
but still supported for many years to come for backwards compatibility.

The same DSL could be recognized by ASDF, XCVB, and any other future
build system for Common Lisp.

Alternatives I considered and rejected included:

1- Keep asdf:*central-registry* as the master with its current semantics,
   and somehow the configuration parser expands the new configuration
   language into a expanded series of directories of subdirectories to
   lookup, pre-recursing through specified hierarchies. This is kludgy,
   and leaves little space of future cleanups and extensions.

2- Keep asdf:*central-registry* remains the master but extend its semantics
   in completely new ways, so that new kinds of entries may be implemented
   as a recursive search, etc. This seems somewhat backwards.

3- Completely remove asdf:*central-registry* and break backwards compatibility.
   Hopefully this will happen in a few years after everyone migrate to
   a better ASDF and/or to XCVB, but it would be very bad to do it now.

4- Replace asdf:*central-registry* by a symbol-macro with appropriate magic
   when you dereference it or setf it. Only the new variable with new
   semantics is handled by the new search procedure.

Configuration DSL

Here is the grammar of the SEXP DSL I am considering for configuration:

;; A configuration is single SEXP starting with keyword :source-registry
;; followed by a list of directives.
CONFIGURATION := (:source-registry DIRECTIVE ...)

;; A directive is one of the following:
    ;; add a single directory to be scanned (no recursion)

    ;; add a directory hierarchy, recursing but excluding specified patterns
    (:tree DIRECTORY-PATHNAME-DESIGNATOR &key exclude) |

    ;; override the default defaults for exclusion patterns
    (:exclude-subdirectories PATTERN ...) |

    ;; splice the parsed contents of another config file
    (:include-configuration REGULAR-FILE-PATHNAME-DESIGNATOR) |

    ;; Your configuration expression MUST have contain exactly one of these:
    (:inherit-configuration) | ; splices contents of inherited configuration
    (:ignore-inherited-configuration) ; drop contents of inherited configuration

    ;; This directive specifies that some default must be spliced.

PATTERN := a string without wildcards, that will be matched exactly
	against the name of a subdirectory.

Configuration Files

Following a suggestion by Stelian, the configuration should be read in
this order, each configuration containing an expression that may extend
or override the previous configuration:
	file /etc/common-lisp/source-registry.conf
        file ~/.config/common-lisp/source-registry.conf
        environment variable CL_SOURCE_REGISTRY
        some implementation- or application- specific command-line argument.

Equivalently (since the DSL doesn't allow for uncontrolled side-effects),
the outermost configuration only would be parsed,
and recursing to previous configurations would only happen
if and when specified.

This also leaves the question of whether environment variable and
command-line arguments should take the same SEXP syntax (to be READ),
or whether they should have some more shell-friendly textual
representation of the same information. Allowing for a different
representation is probably more work for marginally more feature,
and I don't recommend it. So, in the end, the same SEXP syntax
for shell variables and command-line arguments.

Configuration API

This API is exported from package COMMON-LISP-CONFIGURATION.

   will read the configuration and initialize all internal variables,
   and return the new configuration.

   undoes any initialization. You might want to call that before you
   dump an image that would be resumed with a different configuration,
   and return an empty configuration.
   Also will have a hook that allows clients will use to clear any cache
   that depends on this configuration.

   checks an initial variable to see whether the state is initialized
   or cleared. In the former case, return current configuration;
   in the latter, initialize.
   ASDF will call this function at the start of (asdf:find-system).

(process-source-registry-configuration X &optional inherit)
   If X is a CONS, parse it as a SEXP in the configuration DSL,
   and extend or override inheritted configuration.
   If X is a STRING, first parse it into a SEXP with READ
   (Alternate proposal: parse some shell-friendly text representation).
   The inheritted configuration is provided in optional argument inherit,
   itself a function that returns the previous configuration, with NIL
   designating the default of #'ensure-source-registry-configuration.
   Internally, initialize-source-registry-configuration can use this
   with a series of functions for inheritted configuration.

Search Algorithm

* When a system is searched for, entries are processed in order.

* If a given entry has exactly one match, the search stops successfully.
  If a given entry contains no match, it is skipped.
  If a given entry contains multiple matches, an error is thrown.

* This later case does not change the semantics of ASDF in the case
  where no recursion takes place, and ensures no undetected insanity
  happens in the case where recursion is specified. XCVB has tested
  this model, with success I believe.

* When an entry is first processed, the implementation may cache
  the contents of the directory (i.e. all files that may match anything.)
  until the cache is explicitly flushed (see below).

Cache flushing

* The cache is flushed when function
  is called.

* When the configuration is (re)loaded, the cache is flushed.

Questioned Niceties

I've been suggested the below features, but have rejected them,
for the sake of keeping ASDF no more complex than strictly necessary.

* More syntactic sugar: synonyms for the configuration directives, such as
  (:add-directory X) for (:directory X), or (:add-directory-hierarchy X)
  or (:add-directory X :recurse t) for (:tree X).

* The possibility to register individual files instead of directories.

* Integrate Xach Beane's tilde expander into the parser,
  or something similar that is shell-friendly or shell-compatible.
  I'd rather keep ASDF minimal. But maybe this precisely keeps it
  minimal by removing the need for evaluated entries that ASDF has?
  Hopefully, these are already superseded by the :default-registry

* We may allow a shell-friendly colon-separated text-based syntax
  for environment variables and command-line arguments.
  If we only accept directories, not files, then all provided strings should
  be considered with implicit / at the end before being parsed by
  parse-namestring or such. An explicit // (as in TEXINPUTS) or /**
  (as in zsh or some (non-standard) CL pathname extensions, but
  requiring painful quotes from the shell) could specify recursion.

Additional Notes

With this specification, we can share configuration between ASDF and XCVB,
and maintain reasonable backwards compatibility in ASDF.

[ François-René ÐVB Rideau | Reflection&Cybernethics | http://fare.tunes.org ]
Just because your semi-free country government is evil doesn't mean "native"
governments have a right to exist and enslave "their" people. — Faré

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