custom reader and custom rpcs

Helmut Eller eller.helmut at
Thu Oct 24 07:54:29 UTC 2013

On Tue, Oct 22 2013, Alexander Popolitov wrote:

> On 10/21/2013 11:32 AM, Helmut Eller wrote:
>> I'm also not a fan of making SLIME super flexible. Especially if that
>> flexibility is not actually used and regularly tested.  Usually testing
>> becomes more difficult with more flexibility.
> Actually, I have a suggestion, how to make testing easier.
> Now we have CL swank server and Emacs slime slient, which can talk to
> this server.
> What is missing, is CL client, which is able to talk to swank server.
> If it were present, then one could immediately write bunch of unit
> tests for all thinkable
> situations.

True that might be useful. But we'd still have to write more tests with
more flexibility.

>> There are also some situations, e.g. in the debugger, when some RPCs are
>> processed selectively and others are queued.  Making those situations
>> table driven is probably difficult and possibly even harder to
>> understand than what we have now.
> But how is this queing handled in DESTUCTURING-CASE approach?
> It seems to me, that given rpc gets executed, whenever its form matches
> a destructuring pattern, regardless of whether we are now in debugging
> context or not.

I whish I had documented this better and as I can hardly remember the
details.  Search WAIT-FOR-EVENT in the source.  Those are situations
that scan the queued events and (potentially) process events out of

DESTRUCTURING-CASE is partly modelled after Erlang's selective receive,
though it's less general and we have to do the "selective" part manually
with RECEIVE-IF.  We could probably create a new macro, say
SELECTIVE-RECEIVE, that could then either use tables or CASE under the

> On the other hand, in table-driven approach one could introduce
> another table
> of actually "active" rpcs, in parallel to the table of merely
> "defined" ones.
> This way, binding this active-table to some restricted set of commands
> when in debugger-mode may produce desirable effect.

That would work but it requires a bunch of tables. I doubt that handling
multiple tables and an essentially unknown set of events is particulary
easy to understand.

Maybe it would be clearer to define some generic functions (perhaps with
progn method combination type) and call them at places that actually
need more flexibility.

> I think, that what you actually have as SLIME + SWANK is not merely a tool
> for developing and debugging lisp code. It is a tool for developing and
> debugging lisp code, built on top of a framework to define network
> length-based
> s-exp-based rpc-based protocols.
> Strictily speaking, it is not yet so, but my patch seems to make it
> so. And the fact,
> that required fixes are so minimal, indicates that it is almost so.
> In this new version of patch I've also added customizability of a
> writer function
> (which was PRIN1-TO-STRING-FOR-EMACS).
> Thus, if one desires to roll his own protocol in CL, one can do the
> following:
> 1) write a reader-function, which accepts strings, and returns s-exp-s
> 2) write a writer-function, which accepts s-exps and returns strings
> 3) define table of rpcs
> and that's all, one gets a server which processes requests
> asynchronously with the rest lisp core.

We could do that, but the question remains: why should we do it?  Is the
"if one desires to roll his own protocol in CL" case actually important?
As I said before, improved security or more flexibilty have drawbacks


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