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6.9 Smobs

A smob is a “small object”. Before foreign objects were introduced in Guile 2.0.12 (see Foreign Objects), smobs were the preferred way to for C code to define new kinds of Scheme objects. With the exception of the so-called “applicable SMOBs” discussed below, smobs are now a legacy interface and are headed for eventual deprecation. See Deprecation. New code should use the foreign object interface.

This section contains reference information related to defining and working with smobs. For a tutorial-like introduction to smobs, see “Defining New Types (Smobs)” in previous versions of this manual.

Function: scm_t_bits scm_make_smob_type (const char *name, size_t size)

This function adds a new smob type, named name, with instance size size, to the system. The return value is a tag that is used in creating instances of the type.

If size is 0, the default free function will do nothing.

If size is not 0, the default free function will deallocate the memory block pointed to by SCM_SMOB_DATA with scm_gc_free. The what parameter in the call to scm_gc_free will be name.

Default values are provided for the mark, free, print, and equalp functions. If you want to customize any of these functions, the call to scm_make_smob_type should be immediately followed by calls to one or several of scm_set_smob_mark, scm_set_smob_free, scm_set_smob_print, and/or scm_set_smob_equalp.

C Function: void scm_set_smob_free (scm_t_bits tc, size_t (*free) (SCM obj))

This function sets the smob freeing procedure (sometimes referred to as a finalizer) for the smob type specified by the tag tc. tc is the tag returned by scm_make_smob_type.

The free procedure must deallocate all resources that are directly associated with the smob instance obj. It must assume that all SCM values that it references have already been freed and are thus invalid.

It must also not call any libguile function or macro except scm_gc_free, SCM_SMOB_FLAGS, SCM_SMOB_DATA, SCM_SMOB_DATA_2, and SCM_SMOB_DATA_3.

The free procedure must return 0.

Note that defining a freeing procedure is not necessary if the resources associated with obj consists only of memory allocated with scm_gc_malloc or scm_gc_malloc_pointerless because this memory is automatically reclaimed by the garbage collector when it is no longer needed (see scm_gc_malloc).

Smob free functions must be thread-safe. See Foreign Object Memory Management, for a discussion on finalizers and concurrency. If you are embedding Guile in an application that is not thread-safe, and you define smob types that need finalization, you might want to disable automatic finalization, and arrange to call scm_manually_run_finalizers () yourself. See Foreign Objects.

C Function: void scm_set_smob_mark (scm_t_bits tc, SCM (*mark) (SCM obj))

This function sets the smob marking procedure for the smob type specified by the tag tc. tc is the tag returned by scm_make_smob_type.

Defining a marking procedure is almost always the wrong thing to do. It is much, much preferable to allocate smob data with the scm_gc_malloc and scm_gc_malloc_pointerless functions, and allow the GC to trace pointers automatically.

Any mark procedures you see currently almost surely date from the time of Guile 1.8, before the switch to the Boehm-Demers-Weiser collector. Such smob implementations should be changed to just use scm_gc_malloc and friends, and to lose their mark function.

If you decide to keep the mark function, note that it may be called on objects that are on the free list. Please read and digest the comments from the BDW GC’s gc/gc_mark.h header.

The mark procedure must cause scm_gc_mark to be called for every SCM value that is directly referenced by the smob instance obj. One of these SCM values can be returned from the procedure and Guile will call scm_gc_mark for it. This can be used to avoid deep recursions for smob instances that form a list.

It must not call any libguile function or macro except scm_gc_mark, SCM_SMOB_FLAGS, SCM_SMOB_DATA, SCM_SMOB_DATA_2, and SCM_SMOB_DATA_3.

C Function: void scm_set_smob_print (scm_t_bits tc, int (*print) (SCM obj, SCM port, scm_print_state* pstate))

This function sets the smob printing procedure for the smob type specified by the tag tc. tc is the tag returned by scm_make_smob_type.

The print procedure should output a textual representation of the smob instance obj to port, using information in pstate.

The textual representation should be of the form #<name ...>. This ensures that read will not interpret it as some other Scheme value.

It is often best to ignore pstate and just print to port with scm_display, scm_write, scm_simple_format, and scm_puts.

C Function: void scm_set_smob_equalp (scm_t_bits tc, SCM (*equalp) (SCM obj1, SCM obj2))

This function sets the smob equality-testing predicate for the smob type specified by the tag tc. tc is the tag returned by scm_make_smob_type.

The equalp procedure should return SCM_BOOL_T when obj1 is equal? to obj2. Else it should return SCM_BOOL_F. Both obj1 and obj2 are instances of the smob type tc.

C Function: void scm_assert_smob_type (scm_t_bits tag, SCM val)

When val is a smob of the type indicated by tag, do nothing. Else, signal an error.

C Macro: int SCM_SMOB_PREDICATE (scm_t_bits tag, SCM exp)

Return true if exp is a smob instance of the type indicated by tag, or false otherwise. The expression exp can be evaluated more than once, so it shouldn’t contain any side effects.

C Function: SCM scm_new_smob (scm_t_bits tag, void *data)
C Function: SCM scm_new_double_smob (scm_t_bits tag, void *data, void *data2, void *data3)

Make a new smob of the type with tag tag and smob data data, data2, and data3, as appropriate.

The tag is what has been returned by scm_make_smob_type. The initial values data, data2, and data3 are of type scm_t_bits; when you want to use them for SCM values, these values need to be converted to a scm_t_bits first by using SCM_UNPACK.

The flags of the smob instance start out as zero.

C Macro: scm_t_bits SCM_SMOB_FLAGS (SCM obj)

Return the 16 extra bits of the smob obj. No meaning is predefined for these bits, you can use them freely.

C Macro: scm_t_bits SCM_SET_SMOB_FLAGS (SCM obj, scm_t_bits flags)

Set the 16 extra bits of the smob obj to flags. No meaning is predefined for these bits, you can use them freely.

C Macro: scm_t_bits SCM_SMOB_DATA (SCM obj)
C Macro: scm_t_bits SCM_SMOB_DATA_2 (SCM obj)
C Macro: scm_t_bits SCM_SMOB_DATA_3 (SCM obj)

Return the first (second, third) immediate word of the smob obj as a scm_t_bits value. When the word contains a SCM value, use SCM_SMOB_OBJECT (etc.) instead.

C Macro: void SCM_SET_SMOB_DATA (SCM obj, scm_t_bits val)
C Macro: void SCM_SET_SMOB_DATA_2 (SCM obj, scm_t_bits val)
C Macro: void SCM_SET_SMOB_DATA_3 (SCM obj, scm_t_bits val)

Set the first (second, third) immediate word of the smob obj to val. When the word should be set to a SCM value, use SCM_SMOB_SET_OBJECT (etc.) instead.

C Macro: SCM SCM_SMOB_OBJECT (SCM obj)
C Macro: SCM SCM_SMOB_OBJECT_2 (SCM obj)
C Macro: SCM SCM_SMOB_OBJECT_3 (SCM obj)

Return the first (second, third) immediate word of the smob obj as a SCM value. When the word contains a scm_t_bits value, use SCM_SMOB_DATA (etc.) instead.

C Macro: void SCM_SET_SMOB_OBJECT (SCM obj, SCM val)
C Macro: void SCM_SET_SMOB_OBJECT_2 (SCM obj, SCM val)
C Macro: void SCM_SET_SMOB_OBJECT_3 (SCM obj, SCM val)

Set the first (second, third) immediate word of the smob obj to val. When the word should be set to a scm_t_bits value, use SCM_SMOB_SET_DATA (etc.) instead.

C Macro: SCM * SCM_SMOB_OBJECT_LOC (SCM obj)
C Macro: SCM * SCM_SMOB_OBJECT_2_LOC (SCM obj)
C Macro: SCM * SCM_SMOB_OBJECT_3_LOC (SCM obj)

Return a pointer to the first (second, third) immediate word of the smob obj. Note that this is a pointer to SCM. If you need to work with scm_t_bits values, use SCM_PACK and SCM_UNPACK, as appropriate.

Function: SCM scm_markcdr (SCM x)

Mark the references in the smob x, assuming that x’s first data word contains an ordinary Scheme object, and x refers to no other objects. This function simply returns x’s first data word.


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