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Suppose, for the sake of argument, that you would prefer to write your whole application in Scheme. Then the API available to you consists of:

A module in the last category can either be a pure Scheme module — in other words a collection of utility procedures coded in Scheme — or a module that provides a Scheme interface to an extension library coded in C — in other words a nice package where someone else has done the work of wrapping up some useful C code for you. The set of available modules is growing quickly and already includes such useful examples as (gtk gtk), which makes Gtk+ drawing functions available in Scheme, and (database postgres), which provides SQL access to a Postgres database.

Given the growing collection of pre-existing modules, it is quite feasible that your application could be implemented by combining a selection of these modules together with new application code written in Scheme.

If this approach is not enough, because the functionality that your application needs is not already available in this form, and it is impossible to write the new functionality in Scheme, you will need to write some C code. If the required function is already available in C (e.g. in a library), all you need is a little glue to connect it to the world of Guile. If not, you need both to write the basic code and to plumb it into Guile.

In either case, two general considerations are important. Firstly, what is the interface by which the functionality is presented to the Scheme world? Does the interface consist only of function calls (for example, a simple drawing interface), or does it need to include objects of some kind that can be passed between C and Scheme and manipulated by both worlds. Secondly, how does the lifetime and memory management of objects in the C code relate to the garbage collection governed approach of Scheme objects? In the case where the basic C code is not already written, most of the difficulties of memory management can be avoided by using Guile's C interface features from the start.

For the full documentation on writing C code for Guile and connecting existing C code to the Guile world, see REFFIXME.