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6.14.8.2 Catching Exceptions

catch is used to set up a target for a possible non-local jump. The arguments of a catch expression are a key, which restricts the set of exceptions to which this catch applies, a thunk that specifies the code to execute and one or two handler procedures that say what to do if an exception is thrown while executing the code. If the execution thunk executes normally, which means without throwing any exceptions, the handler procedures are not called at all.

When an exception is thrown using the throw function, the first argument of the throw is a symbol that indicates the type of the exception. For example, Guile throws an exception using the symbol numerical-overflow to indicate numerical overflow errors such as division by zero:

(/ 1 0)
⇒
ABORT: (numerical-overflow)

The key argument in a catch expression corresponds to this symbol. key may be a specific symbol, such as numerical-overflow, in which case the catch applies specifically to exceptions of that type; or it may be #t, which means that the catch applies to all exceptions, irrespective of their type.

The second argument of a catch expression should be a thunk (i.e. a procedure that accepts no arguments) that specifies the normal case code. The catch is active for the execution of this thunk, including any code called directly or indirectly by the thunk’s body. Evaluation of the catch expression activates the catch and then calls this thunk.

The third argument of a catch expression is a handler procedure. If an exception is thrown, this procedure is called with exactly the arguments specified by the throw. Therefore, the handler procedure must be designed to accept a number of arguments that corresponds to the number of arguments in all throw expressions that can be caught by this catch.

The fourth, optional argument of a catch expression is another handler procedure, called the pre-unwind handler. It differs from the third argument in that if an exception is thrown, it is called, before the third argument handler, in exactly the dynamic context of the throw expression that threw the exception. This means that it is useful for capturing or displaying the stack at the point of the throw, or for examining other aspects of the dynamic context, such as fluid values, before the context is unwound back to that of the prevailing catch.

Scheme Procedure: catch key thunk handler [pre-unwind-handler]
C Function: scm_catch_with_pre_unwind_handler (key, thunk, handler, pre_unwind_handler)
C Function: scm_catch (key, thunk, handler)

Invoke thunk in the dynamic context of handler for exceptions matching key. If thunk throws to the symbol key, then handler is invoked this way:

(handler key args ...)

key is a symbol or #t.

thunk takes no arguments. If thunk returns normally, that is the return value of catch.

Handler is invoked outside the scope of its own catch. If handler again throws to the same key, a new handler from further up the call chain is invoked.

If the key is #t, then a throw to any symbol will match this call to catch.

If a pre-unwind-handler is given and thunk throws an exception that matches key, Guile calls the pre-unwind-handler before unwinding the dynamic state and invoking the main handler. pre-unwind-handler should be a procedure with the same signature as handler, that is (lambda (key . args)). It is typically used to save the stack at the point where the exception occurred, but can also query other parts of the dynamic state at that point, such as fluid values.

A pre-unwind-handler can exit either normally or non-locally. If it exits normally, Guile unwinds the stack and dynamic context and then calls the normal (third argument) handler. If it exits non-locally, that exit determines the continuation.

If a handler procedure needs to match a variety of throw expressions with varying numbers of arguments, you should write it like this:

(lambda (key . args)
  …)

The key argument is guaranteed always to be present, because a throw without a key is not valid. The number and interpretation of the args varies from one type of exception to another, but should be specified by the documentation for each exception type.

Note that, once the normal (post-unwind) handler procedure is invoked, the catch that led to the handler procedure being called is no longer active. Therefore, if the handler procedure itself throws an exception, that exception can only be caught by another active catch higher up the call stack, if there is one.


C Function: SCM scm_c_catch (SCM tag, scm_t_catch_body body, void *body_data, scm_t_catch_handler handler, void *handler_data, scm_t_catch_handler pre_unwind_handler, void *pre_unwind_handler_data)
C Function: SCM scm_internal_catch (SCM tag, scm_t_catch_body body, void *body_data, scm_t_catch_handler handler, void *handler_data)

The above scm_catch_with_pre_unwind_handler and scm_catch take Scheme procedures as body and handler arguments. scm_c_catch and scm_internal_catch are equivalents taking C functions.

body is called as body (body_data) with a catch on exceptions of the given tag type. If an exception is caught, pre_unwind_handler and handler are called as handler (handler_data, key, args). key and args are the SCM key and argument list from the throw.

body and handler should have the following prototypes. scm_t_catch_body and scm_t_catch_handler are pointer typedefs for these.

SCM body (void *data);
SCM handler (void *data, SCM key, SCM args);

The body_data and handler_data parameters are passed to the respective calls so an application can communicate extra information to those functions.

If the data consists of an SCM object, care should be taken that it isn’t garbage collected while still required. If the SCM is a local C variable, one way to protect it is to pass a pointer to that variable as the data parameter, since the C compiler will then know the value must be held on the stack. Another way is to use scm_remember_upto_here_1 (see Foreign Object Memory Management).


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