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Subject: Re: [boost] Review Request: Variadic Macro Data library
From: Edward Diener (eldiener_at_[hidden])
Date: 2011-02-20 09:47:02

On 2/20/2011 7:09 AM, Paul Mensonides wrote:
> On Sat, 19 Feb 2011 16:50:03 -0500, Edward Diener wrote:
>> On 2/19/2011 3:42 PM, Gordon Woodhull wrote:
>>> IMO you should ask Paul (directly off-list) before the review to see if
>>> this is an option. True it couldn't be added without his permission.
>> if during the review the majority of others feel that the library should
>> be part of Boost PP, I am certainly willing to do that. But I really do
>> not see the purpose of doing that beforehand.
> Besides the difficulties with compilers, there are two root issues with
> variadics (and placemarkers) in regards to the pp-lib.
> First, adding proper support requires breaking changes (argument
> orderings through the library, for example). If this is to happen, I'd
> prefer it to happen all at once in one major upgrade.
> Second, the way that the pp-lib would use variadics is not the same as
> what Edward's library does. AFAIK, Edward's library treats variadic
> content as a standalone data structure. By "variadic content," I'm
> referring to a comma-separated list of preprocessing token sequences such
> as
> a, b, c
> as opposed to variadic tuples or sequences such as
> (a, b, c)
> (a)(b, c)(d, e, f)
> In a general sense, I consider treating variadic content as a data
> structure as going in the wrong direction.

I want to clarify my purpose here, because while you think treating
variadic content as a data structure is the wrong direction, and I agree
with you, it is not what I do in my library.

It was not my goal to change the pp-lib in any way, and I was only too
aware of how much pp knowledge would be needed in order to do that. I do
not deny that using variadic macro content within the pp-lib would be
worthwhile, but that is something you would know about and you might
decide to do, as the remainder of your response also attests.

My goal is only to allow programmers to specify using variadic macros
and then provide the means to convert that sequence to/from pp-lib data
types. I have also provided the means to access any individual variadic
token from the sequence as well as its length, but that hardly means
"treating variadic content as a data structure" to me. As an additional
convenience, and because of variadic macros, I also mimicked pp-lib
tuple functionality without the need to pass the length of a tuple
directly. My goal is simple usability of variadic data in connection
with pp-lib.

I always have said, both in the documentation to my library and in
responding to others about my library, that the pp-lib data structures
should be used. They are much richer in functionality than what little I
provided for variadic macro data. I never wanted to provide more
functionality for working with variadic data per se, since it would be
redundant to do so given what pp-lib dats structures offer.

While others may want to provide a whole set of functionality for
working with variadic macro data directly, completely outside of its use
with pp-lib, given what pp-lib offers in the area of its data types it
is not something I want to pursue. The only advantage to that which I
see is slightly faster compile times and slightly simpler pp
programming, but that is not enough for me to pursue that path as I am
very comfortable in my own use of pp programming to use what is
currently provided by pp-lib.

> There are far better ways to
> utilize variadics than as input data structures. In particular, data
> structures get passed into algorithms (otherwise, they're pointless).
> However, an given interface can only have one variadic "argument". It is
> far more useful to spend that variadic argument on the auxiliary
> arguments to the algorithm.
> By "auxiliary arguments," I'm referring to additional arguments that get
> forwarded by higher-order algorithms to the user-supplied macros that
> they invoke. Take a FOR_EACH algorithm as an example. A FOR_EACH
> algorithm requires a sequence, a macro to invoke for each element of that
> sequence, and auxiliary data to be passed through the algorithm to the
> macro invoked for each element. What frequently happens now, with all
> such algorithms in the pp-lib, is that more than one piece of auxiliary
> data needs to get passed through the algorithm, so it gets encoded in
> another data structure. Each of those pieces of auxiliary data then need
> to be extracted latter--which leads to massive clutter and inefficiency.
> In reality, it comes down to two choices for interface:
> 1) FOR_EACH(macro, auxiliary_data, ...) where __VA_ARGS__ is the data
> structure.
> This scenario leads to the following (slightly simplified):
> #define M(E, D) \
> /* excessive unpacking with TUPLE_ELEM, */ \
> /* or equivalent, goes here */ \
> /**/
> FOR_EACH(M, (D1, D2, D3), E1, E2, E3)
> 2) FOR_EACH(macro, data_structure, ...) where __VA_ARGS__ is the
> auxiliary data.
> #define M(E, D1, D2, D3) \
> /* no unpacking required */ \
> /**/
> FOR_EACH(M, (E1, E2, E3), D1, D2, D3)
> The latter case is also extensible to scenarios where the elements of the
> data structure are non-unary. For example,
> #define M(E, F, D1, D2, D3) // ...
> FOR_EACH(M, (E1, F1)(E2, F2)(E3, F3), D1, D2, D3)
> The only time you really need to unpack is when the data structure is
> truly variadic (i.e. elements have different arity) such as:
> #define M(E, D1, D2, D3) // possibly unpack EF
> VARIADIC_FOR_EACH(M, (a)(b, c)(d, e, f), D1, D2, D3)
> (This scenario happens, but is comparatively rare. It happens in fancier
> scenarios, and it happens with sequences of types, e.g. std::pair<int,
> double>.)
> IMO, the second interface option is far superior to the first.
> As a concrete example, I recently had to generate some stuff for the
> Greek alphabet. However, I didn't want to mess around with multi-byte
> encodings directly. This is exactly what I needed, but it contains the
> basic idea:
> template<class T> struct entry {
> T id, lc, uc;
> };
> int main(int argc, char* argv[]) {
> std::vector<entry<const char*>> entries;
> #define _(s, id, lc, uc, type, enc) \
> entries.push_back(entry<type> { \
> enc(id), enc(lc), enc(uc) \
> }); \
> ) \
> /**/
> _,
> (alpha, α, Α)
> (beta, β, Β)
> (gamma, γ, Γ)
> (delta, δ, Δ)
> (epsilon, ε, Ε)
> (zeta, ζ, Ζ)
> (eta, η, Η)
> (theta, θ, Θ)
> (iota, ι, Ι)
> (kappa, κ, Κ)
> (lambda, λ, Λ)
> (mu, μ, Μ)
> (nu, ν, Ν)
> (xi, ξ, Ξ)
> (omicron, ο, Ο)
> (pi, π, Π)
> (rho, ρ, Ρ)
> (sigma, σ, Σ)
> (tau, τ, Τ)
> (upsilon, υ, Υ)
> (phi, φ, Φ)
> (chi, χ, Χ)
> (psi, ψ, Ψ)
> (omega, ω, Ω),
> const char*, CHAOS_PP_USTRINGIZE(8)
> ))
> #undef _
> for (auto i = entries.begin(); i != entries.end(); ++i) {
> std::cout<< i->id<< ": "<< i->lc<< ", "<< i->uc<< '\n';
> }
> return 0;
> }

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