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Subject: Re: [proto] [phoenix3] New design proposal
From: Joel de Guzman (joel_at_[hidden])
Date: 2010-10-19 23:19:17

On 10/20/2010 12:08 AM, Eric Niebler wrote:
> On 10/19/2010 1:33 AM, Thomas Heller wrote:
>> On Tue, Oct 19, 2010 at 6:21 AM, Joel de Guzman wrote:
>>> Can we also focus on one very specific use-case that demonstrates
>>> the motivation behind the need of such a refactoring and why the
>>> old(er) design is not sufficient? I'd really want to sync up with
>>> you guys.
>> With the old design (the one which is currently in the gsoc svn
>> sandbox) I had problems with defining what phoenix expressions really
>> are. We had at least two types of expressions. First were the ones we
>> reused from proto (plus, multiplies, function and so on), Second were
>> these proto::function constructs which had a funcwrap<T> struct and
>> an env placeholder. This env placeholder just wastes a valuable slot
>> for potential arguments. The second point why this design is not
>> good, is that data and behaviour is not separated. The T in funcwrap
>> defines how the phoenix expression will get evaluated.
>> This design solves this two problems: Data and behaviour are cleanly
>> separated. Additionally we end up with only one type of expressions:
>> A expression is a structure which has a tag, and a variable list of
>> children. You define what what a valid expression is by extending the
>> phoenix_algorithm template through specialisation for your tag. The
>> Actions parameter is responsible for evaluating the expression. By
>> template parametrisation of this parameter we allow users to easily
>> define their own evaluation schemes without worrying about the
>> validity of the phoenix expression. This is fixed by the meta grammar
>> class.
> What Thomas said. We realized that for Phoenix to be extensible at the
> lowest level, we'd need to document its intermediate form: the Proto
> tree. That way folks have the option to use Proto transforms on it.
> (There are higher-level customization points that don't expose Proto,
> but I'm talking about real gear-heads here.)
> There were ugly things about the intermediate form we wanted to clean up
> before we document it. That started the discussion. Then the discussion
> turned to, "Can a user just change a semantic actions here and there
> without having to redefine the whole Phoenix grammar in Proto, which is
> totally non-trivial?" I forget offhand what the use case was, but it
> seemed a reasonable thing to want to do in general. So as Thomas says,
> the goal is two-fold: (a) a clean-up of the intermediate form ahead of
> its documentation, and (b) a way to easily plug in user-defined semantic
> actions without changing the grammar.
> I think these changes effect the way to define new Phoenix syntactic
> constructs, so it's worth doing a before-and-after comparison of the
> extensibility mechanisms. Thomas, can you send around such a comparison?
> How hard is it to add a new statement, for instance?

Yes, exactly, that's what I want. Anyway, while I'd still want to see
this, I looked at the code and I like it, except for some nits here
and there (especially naming). More on that later.


Joel de Guzman

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