News - Recent Changes

These changes are in more-or-less reverse chronological order, with the most recent changes first.

See also the list of Qexo (XQuery)-specific changes.

Kawa 3.1.1 (January 16, 2020)

Kawa 3.1 (January 7, 2020)

Kawa 3.0 (October 2, 2017)

Kawa 2.4 (April 30, 2017)

Kawa 2.3 (January 13, 2017)

Kawa 2.2 (November 12, 2016)

Kawa 2.1 (October 26, 2015)

Lots of little changes, and some big changes to sequences and strings.

Kawa 2.0 (December 2 2014)

There are many new features, but the big one is R7RS compatibility.

Kawa 1.14 (October 4, 2013)

Kawa 1.13 (December 10, 2012)

Kawa 1.12 (May 30, 2012)

Kawa 1.11 (November 11, 2010)

Kawa 1.10 (July 24, 2010)

Kawa 1.9.90 (August 8, 2009)

Kawa 1.9.1 (January 23, 2007)

Kawa 1.9.0 (January 21, 2007)

Kawa 1.8 (October 18, 2005)

SRFI-69 “Basic hash tables” is now available, if you (require 'hash-table) or (require 'srfi-69). This is an optimized and Java-compatible port whose default hash function calls the standard hashCode method.

A define-simple-class can now have one (or more) explicit constructor methods. These have the spcial name *init*. You can call superclass constructors or sibling constructors (this constructor calls) using the (admittedly verbose but powerful) invoke-special form.

The runnable function creates a Runnable from a Procedure. It is implemented using the new class RunnableClosure, which is now also used to implement future.

The kawa command can now be run “in-place” from the build directory: $build_dir/bin/kawa.

The special field name class in (static-name type 'class) or (prefix:.class) returns the java.lang.Class object corresponding to the type or prefix. This is similar to the Java syntax.

Contructing an instance (perhaps using make) of a class defined using define-simple-class in the current module is much more efficient, since it no longer uses reflection. (Optimizing classes defined using define-class is more difficult.) The constructor function defined by the define-record-type macro is also optimized.

You can now access instance methods using this short-hand: (*:methodname instance arg ...) This is equivalent to: (invoke instance 'methodname arg ...)

You can now also access a fields using the same colon-notation as used for accessing methods, except you write a dot before the field name: (type:.fieldname) ;; is like: (static-field type 'fieldname). (*:.fieldname instance) ;; is like: (field 'fieldname instance) (type:.fieldname instance) ;; is like: (*:.fieldname (as instance type)) These all work with set! - for example: (set! (*:.fieldname instance) value).

In the above uses of colon-notation, a type can be any one of: - a namespace prefix bound using define-namespace to a namespace uri of the form "class:classname"; - a namespace prefix using define-namespace bound to a <classname> name, which can be a fully-qualified class name or a locally-declared class, or an alias (which might be an imported class); - a fully qualified name of a class (that exists at compile-time), as in (java.lang.Integer:toHexString 123); or - a <classname> variable, for example: (<list>:list3 11 12 13).

New fluid variables *print-base*, *print-radix*, *print-right-margin*, and *print-miser-width* can control output formatting. (These are based on Common Lisp.)

You can new emit elipsis (...) in the output of a syntax template using the syntax (... ...), as in other syntax-case implementations.

The args-fold program-argument processor from SRFI-37 is available after you (require 'args-fold) or (require 'srfi-37).

The fluid-let form now works with lexical bindings, and should be more compatible with other Scheme implementations.

(module-export namespace:prefix) can be used to export a namespace prefix.

Static modules are now implemented more similarly to non-static modules. Specifically, the module body is not automatically run by the class initializer. To get the old behavior, use the new --module-static-run flag. Alternatively, instead of (module-static #t) use (module-static 'init-run).

Implement SRFI-39 "Parameter-objects". These are like anonymous fluid values and use the same implementation. current-input-port, current-output-port, and current-error-port are now parameters.

Infer types of variables declared with a let.

Character comparisons (such as char-=?, char-ci<?) implemented much more efficiently — and (if using Java5) work for characters not in the Basic Multilingual Plane.

Major re-write of symbol and namespace handling. A Symbol is now immutable, consisting of a "print-name" and a pointer to a Namespace (package). An Environment is a mapping from Symbol to Location.

Rename Interpreter to Language and LispInterpreter to LispLanguage.

Constant-time property list operations.

Namespace-prefixes are now always resolved at compile-time, never at run-time.

(define-namespace PREFIX <CLASS>) is loosely the same as (define-namespace PREFIX "class:CLASS") but does the right thing for classes defined in this module, including nested or non-simple classes.

Macros capture proper scope automatically, not just when using require. This allows some internal macros to become private.

Major re-write of the macro-handling and hygiene framework. Usable support for syntax-case; in fact some of the primitives (such as if) are now implemented using syntax-case. (syntax form) (or the short-cut #!form) evaluates to a syntax object. (define-syntax (mac x) tr) same as (define-syntax mac (lambda (x) tr)). The following non-hygienic forms are equivalent:

  (define-macro (macro-name (param ...) transformer)
  (define-macro macro-name (lambda (param ...) transformer))
  (defmacro macro-name (PARAM ...) transformer)

Allow vectors and more general ellipsis-forms in patterns and templates.

A new configure switch --with-java-source=version allows you to tweak the Kawa sources to match Java compiler and libraries you’re using. The default (and how the sources are distributed) is 2 (for "Java 2" – jdk 1.2 or better), but you can also select "1" (for jdk 1.1.x), and "5" for Java 5 (jdk 1.5). You can also specify a jdk version number: "1.4.1" is equivalent to "2" (for now). Note the default source-base is incompatible with Java 5 (or more generally JAXB 1.3 or DOM 3), unless you also --disable-xml.

Configure argument --with-servlet[=servlet-api.jar] replaces --enable-servlet.

Function argument in error message are now numbered starting at one. Type errors now give better error messages.

A new function calling convention, used for --full-tailcalls. A function call is split up in two parts: A match0/.../matchN method checks that the actual arguments match the expected formal arguments, and leaves them in the per-thread CallContext. Then after the calling function returns, a zero-argument apply() methods evaluates the function body. This new convention has long-term advantages (performance, full continuations), but the most immediate benefit is better handling of generic (otherloaded) functions. There are also improved error messages.

Real numbers, characters, Lisp/Scheme strings (FString) and symbols all now implement the Comparable interface.

In define-class/define-simple-class: [Most of this work was funded by Merced Systems.]

Kawa 1.7.90 (2003)

Various fixes and better error messages in number parsing. Some optimizations for the divide function.

New framework for controlling compiler warnings and other features, supporting command-line flags, and the Scheme forms with-compile-options and module-compile-options. The flag --warn-undefined-variable is useful for catching typos. Implementation funded by Merced Systems.

New invoke-special syntax form (implemented by Chris Dean).

New define-variable form (similar to Common Lisp’s defvar).

Kawa 1.7 (June 7, 2003)

KawaPageServlet allows automatic loading and on-the-fly compilation in a servlet engine. See

The default source-base requires various Java 2 features, such as collection. However, make-select1 will comment out Java2 dependencies, allowing you to build Kawa with an older Java implementation.

The -f flag and the load function can take an absolute URL. New Scheme functions load-relative and base-uri.

Imported implementation of cut and cute from SRFI-26 (Notation for Specializing Parameters without Currying).

The way top-level definitions (including Scheme procedures) are mapped into Java fields is changed to use a mostly reversible mapping. (The mapping to method names remains more natural but non-reversible.)

define-alias of types can now be exported from a module.

New --no-inline and --inline=none options.

You can use define-namespace to define “namespace aliases”. This is used for the new short-hard syntax for method invocation: (define-namespace Int32 "class:java.lang.Integer") (Int32:toHexString 255) => "ff" (Int32:toString (Int32:new "00255")) => "255" Alternatively, you can write: (java.lang.Integer:toHexString 255) => "ff"

SRFI-9 (define-record-type) has been implemented, and compiled to a define-class, with efficient code.

The configure option --with-collections is now the default.

Unknowns are no longer automatically static.

If type not specified in a declaration, don’t infer it from it initial value. If no return type is specified for a function, default to Object, rather than the return type of the body. (The latter leads to undesirable different behaviour if definitions are re-arranged.)

You can now define and use classes defined using object, define-class, and define-simple-class from the “interpreter”, as well as the compiler. Also, a bug where inherited fields did not get initialized has been fixed.

There are several new procedures useful for servlets.

Numerical comparisions (<, <=, etc) now generates optimized bytecode if the types of the operands have certain known types. including efficient code for <int>, <long>, <double>, and <integer>. Much more code can now (with type declaration) be written just as efficiently in Scheme as in Java.

There have been some internal re-arranging of how Expressions are processed. The Scheme-specific Translator type now inherits from Compilation, which replaces the old Parser class. A Complation is now allocated much earlier, as part of parsing, and includes a SourceMessages object. SourcesMessages now includes (default) line number, which is used by Compilation for the "current" line numbers. The ExpWalker class includes a SourceMessages instance (which it gets from the Compilation). CanInline.inline method now takes ExpWalker parameter. Checking of the number or parameters, and mapping known procedures to Java methods are now both done during the inlining pass.

The user-visible effect is that Kawa can now emit error mesages more cleanly more places; the inlining pass can be more agressive, and can emit better error messages, which yields better type information. This gives us better code with fewer warnings about unknown methods.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.98 to 1.6.99.

A new language front-end handles a tiny subset of XSLT. An example is the check-format-users test in gnu/xquery/testsuite/Makefile.

There are now converters between SAX2 and Consumer events, and a basic implementation of XMLReader based on XMLParser.

The function as-xml prints a value in XML format.

Srfi-0 (cond-expand), srfi-8 (receive), and srfi-25 (multi-dimensional arrays) are now implemented. So is srfi-1 (list library), though that requires doing (require ’list-lib).

The JEmacs code is being re-organized, splitting out the Swing-dependent code into a separate gnu.jemacs.swing package. This should make it easier to add JEmacs implementation without Swing.

The class gnu.expr.Interpreter has various new ’eval’ methods that are useful for evaluating Scheme/BRL/XQuery/... expressions from Java.

Kawa now uses current versions of autoconf, autoamke, and libtool, allowing the use of automake file inclusion.

The comparisons <<, <=, -, >, and => now compile to optimized Java arithmetic if both operands are <int> or a literal that fits in <int>.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.97 to 1.6.98

Generated HTML and Postscrpt documents are no longer included in the source distribution. Get kawa-doc-version.tar.gz instead.

(format #t ...) and (format PORT ...) now returns #!void instead of #t.

Support fluid bindings (fluid-let) for any thread, not just Future and main.

A Unix script header #!/PROGRAM is ignored.

You can now take the same Kawa "web" program (written in Scheme, KRL/BRL, or XQuery) and run it as either a servlet or a CGI script.

There are a number of new functions for accessing HTTP requests and generating HTTP responses.

Kawa now supports a new experimental programming KRL (the "Kawa Report Language"). You select this language using –krl on the Kawa command link. It allows Scheme code to be inside template files, like HTML pages, using a syntax based on BRL ( However, KRL has soem experimental changes to both BRL and standard Scheme. There is also a BRL-compatibile mode, selected using –brl, though that currently only supports a subset of BRL functions.

If language is not explicitly specified and you’re running a source file (e.g. "java kawa.repl myscript.xql"), Kawa tried to derive the language from the the filename extension (e.g. "xql"). It still defaults to Scheme if there is no extension or the extension is unrecognized.

New command-line option –output-format alias –format can be used to over-ride the format used to write out top-level (repl, load) values.

XMLPrinter can now print in (non-well-formed-XML) HTML.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.96 to 1.6.97

Changed lots of error messages to use pairs of single quotes rather than starting with a backquote (accent grave): ’name’ instead of ‘name’. Many newer fonts make the latter look bad, so it is now discouraged.

The types <String> and <java.lang.String> new behave differently. The type <java.lang.String> now works just like (say) <java.util.Hashtable>. Converting an object to a <java.lang.String> is done by a simple coercion, so the incoming value must be a java.lang.String reference or null. The special type <String> converts any object to a java.string.String by calling toString; it also handles null by specially testing for it.

For convenience (and backwards compatibility) Kawa uses the type <String> (rather than <java.lang.String>) when it sees the Java type java.lang.String, for example in the argument to an invoke.

The default behaviour of ’[’ and ’] was changed back to be token (word) constituents, matching R5RS and Common Lisp. However, you can easily change this behaviour using the new setBrackMode method or the defaultBracketMode static field in ReadTable.

You can now build Kawa from source using the Ant build system (from Apache’s Jakarta project), as an alternative to using the traditional configure+make system. An advantage of Ant is that it works on most Java systems, without requiring a Unix shell and commands. Specifically, this makes it easy to build Kawa under MS-Windows. Thanks to James White for contributing this support.

Added (current-error-port) which does the obvious.

The new let-values and let-values* macros from srfi-11 provide a more convenient way to use multiple values.

All the abstract apply* and eval* methods now specify ’throws Throwable’. A bunch of code was changed to match. The main visible advantage is that the throw and primitive-throw procedures work for any Throwable without requiring it to be (confusingly) wrapped.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.95 to 1.6.96

A new compilation flag –servlet generates a Servlet which can be deployed in a servlet engin like Tomcat. This is experimental, but it seesm to work for both Scheme source and XQuery source.

The interface gnu.lists.CharSequence was renamed to avoid conflitcs with the (similar) interface java.lang.CharSequence in JDK 1.4beta.

New –help option (contributed by Andreas Schlapbach).

Changed the code generation used when –full-tailcalls. It now is closer to that used by default, in that we don’t generate a class for each non-inlined procedure. In both cases calling an unknown procedure involves executing a switch statement to select a method. In addition to generating fewer classes and simplifying one of the more fragile parts of Kawa, it is also a step towards how full continuations will be implemented.

Changed the convention for name "mangling" - i.e. how Scheme names are mapped into Java names. Now, if a Scheme name is a valid Java name it is used as is; otherwise a reversible mangling using "$" characters is used. Thus the Scheme names '< and '$Leq are both mapped into the same Java name "$Leq". However, other names not containing "$" should no longer clash, including pairs like "char-letter?" and "charLetter?" and "isCharLetter" which used to be all mapped to "isCharLetter". Now only names containing "$" can be ambiguous.

If the compiler can determine that all the operands of (+ ...) or (- ...) are floating-point, then it will generate optimized code using Java primitive arithmetic.

Guile-style keyword syntax ’#:KEYWORD’ is recognized. (Note this conflicts with Common Lisp syntax for uninterned symbols.)

New syntax forms define-class and define-simple-class allow you to define classes more easily. define-class supports true multiple inheritance and first class class values, where each Scheme class is compiled to a pair of an inteface and a class. define-simple-class generates more efficient and Java-compatible classes.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.94 to 1.6.95.

A new language "xquery" implements a (so far small subset of) XQuery, the draft XML Query languaage.

Various internal (Java API) changes: Changes to gnu.expr.Interpreter to make it easier to add non-Lisp-like languages; gnu.lists.Consumer now has an endAttribute method that need to be called after each attribute, rather than endAttributes that was called after all of them.

If configured with –with-gcj, Kawa builds and intalls a ’gckawa’ script to simlify linking with needed libraries.

The setter function is now inlined, and (set! (field X 'N) V) and (set! (static-field <T> "N) V) are now inlined.

If configured --with-gcj, then a gckawa helper script is installed, to make it easier to link Kawa+gcj-compiled applications.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.92 to 1.6.94

The JEmacs code now depends on CommonLisp, rather than vice versa, which means Commonlisp no longer depends on Swing, and can be built with GCJ. CommonLisp and JEmacs symbols are now implemented using Binding, not String.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.90 to 1.6.92

Kawa now installs as a .jar file (kawa.jar symlinked to kawa-VERSION.jar), rather than a collection of .class files.

The Kawa manual includes instructions for how to build Kawa using GCJ, and how to compile Scheme code to a native executable using GCJ.

Kawa now has builtin pretty-printer support, using an algorithm from Steel Bank Common Lisp converted from Lisp to Java. The high-level Common Lisp pretty-printing features are mostly not yet implemented, but the low-level support is there. The standard output and error ports default to pretty-printing.

A new formatting framework uses the Consumer interface from gnu.lists. You can associate a format with an output port. Common Lisp and JEmacs finally print using their respective syntaxes.

All output ports (OutPort instances) are now automatically flushed on program exit, using a new WriterManager helper class.

The new commmand-line option –debug-print-expr causes the Expression for each expression to be printed. The option –debug-print-final-expr is similar, but prints Expressions after optimization and just before compilation. They are printed using the new pretty-printer.

Changed calling convention for –full-tailcalls to write results to a Consumer, usually a TreeList or something to be printed. A top-level ModuleBody now uses the same CpsProcedure convention. This is useful for generating xml or html.

New libtool support allows kawa to be built as a shared library.

The new configure flag –with-gcj uses gcj to compile Kawa to both .class files and native code. This is experimental.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.70 to 1.6.90

The reader (for Scheme and Lisp) has been re-written to be table-driven, based on the design of Common Lisp readtables.

The new gnu.lists package has new implementations of sequence-related classes. It replaces most of gnu.kawa.util. See the package.html file.

If the expected type of a non-unary + or - is <int> or <long> and the operands are integeral types, then the operands will converted to the primitive integer type and the addition or subtraction done using primitive arithmetic. Similarly if the expected type is <float> or <long> and the operands have appropriate type. This optimization an make a big performance difference. (We still need to also optimize compare operations like (< x y) to really benefit from <int> declarations of loop variables.)

The implementation of procedure closures has been changed to basically be the same as top-level procedures (except when –full-tailcalls is specified): Each procedure is now an instance of a ModuleMethod, which each "frame" is an instance of ModuleBody, just like for top-level functions. This sometimes reduces the number of classes generated, but more importantly it simplifies the implementation.

A new gnu.xml package contains XML-related code, currently an XML parser and printer, plus some XPath support. The class gnu.lists.TreeList (alias <document>) is useful for compactly representing nested structures, including XML documents. If you (require 'xml) you will get Scheme interfaces (print-as-xml and parse-xml-from-url) to these classes.

New package gnu.kawa.functions, for primitive functions (written in Java).

The map and for-each procedure is now inlined. This is most especially beneficial when it allows the mapped-over procedure to also be inlined, such as when that procedure is a lambda expression.

Added documentation on compiling with Jikes. Renamed some classes to avoid warning when compiling with Jikes.

The reverse! procedure was added.

Internal changes: * If a variable reference is unknown, create a Declaration instance with the IS_UNKNOWN flag to represent an imported binding. * The ExpWalker framework for "tree walking" Expressions had a bit of reorganization. * New package gnu.kawa.functions, for primitive functions (written in Java).

Added a hook for constant-folding and other optimization/inlining at traversal (ExpWalker) time. Optimization of + and - procedures to use primitive Java operations when the operands are primitive types.

Implementation of SRFI-17. Change the definitions of (set! (f x ...) val) to ((setter f) x ... val), rather then the old ((setter f) val x ...). You can now associate a setter with a procedure, either using make-procedure or set-procedure-property!. Also, (setter f) is now inlined, when possible.

Internally, Syntax (and hence Macro) no longer extend Declaration.

Various Java-level changes, which may be reflected in Scheme later: * gnu.kawa.util.Consumer interface is similar to ObjectOutput and SAX’s ContentHandler interfaces. * A gnu.expr.ConsumerTarget is used when evaluating to an implicit Consumer. * These interfaces will make it easy to write functional-style but efficient code for transforming data streams, including XML. * gnu.kawa.util.FString is now variable-size.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.68 to 1.6.70

The bare beginnings of Common Lisp support, enabled by the –commonlisp (or –clisp) command line option. This is so far little more than a hack of the EmacsLisp support, but with lexical scoping and CL-style format.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.66 to 1.6.68

JEmacs news:

You can now specify in define and define-private the type of a variable. If the variable is module-level, (define name :: <type> value) creates a field named “name” having the specified type and initial value. (If type is not specified, the default is not Object, but rather a Binding that contains the variable’s value.)

You can now define the type of a module-level variable: In (define[-private] :: type expression) New (define-constant name [:: type] expression) definition form.

A procedure can now have arbitrary properties associated with it. Use procedure-property and set-procedure-property! to get and set them.

The new procedure make-procedure creates a generic procedure that may contain one or more methods, as well as specified properties.

New declaration form define-base-unit. Both it and define-unit have been re-implemented to be module-safe. Basically ’(define-unit ft 12in)’ is sugar for ’(define-constant ft$unit (... (* 12 in$unit)))’, where ft$unit and in$unit are standard identifiers managed by the module system. Also, the output syntax for units and quantities is cleaner.

The new declaration (module-export name ...) allows control over the names exported from a module. The new declaration (module-static ...) allows control over which definitions are static and which are non-static. This makes it easier to use a module as a Java class.

Procedures names that accidentally clash with inherited method names (such as "run") are now re-named.

Simple aliases (define-aliases defining an alias for a variable name) are implemented more efficiently.

The package hierarchy is getter cleaner, with fewer cyclic dependencies: The gnu.math package no longer has any dependencies on kawa.* or gnu.*. Two classes were moved from gnu.text to other classes, avoiding another cyclic package dependency between gnu.text and gnu.mapping. The new gnu.kawa.lispexpr is for compile-time handling of Lisp-like languages.

Compliation of literals has been re-done. A class that can be used in a literal no longer needs to be declared as Compilable. Instead, you declare it as implementaing, and make sure it has appropriate methods.

All the standard "data" types (i.e. not procedures or ports) now implement, and can thus be serialized. If they appear in literals, they can also be compiled.

Created a new class gnu.kawa.util.AbstractString, with the Scheme alias <abstract-string>. The old gnu.kawa.util.FString now extends AbstractString. A new class CharBuffer provides an growable buffer, with markers (automatically-adjusted positions). Many of the Scheme <string> procedures now work on <abstract-string>. The JEmacs BufferContnat class (contains the characters of a buffer) now extends CharBuffer.

Some JEmacs changes to support a "mode" concept, as well as preliminary support for inferior-process and telnet modes.

New section in manual / web page for projects using Kawa.

The record feasture (make-record-type etc) how handles "funny" type and fields names that need to be "mangled" to Java names.

Re-did implementation of define-alias. For example, you can define type-aliases: (define-alias <marker> <gnu.jemacs.buffer.Marker>) and then use <marker> instead of <gnu.jemacs.buffer.Marker>.

(field array 'length) now works.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.64 to 1.6.66

Added documentation to the manual for Homogeneous numeric vector datatypes (SRFI-4).

You can now specify characters using their Unicode value: #\u05d0 is alef.

Kawa now uses a more mnemonic name mangling Scheme. For example, a Scheme function named <= would get compiled to method $Ls$Eq.

There is now working and useful module support, thought not all features are implemented. The basic idea is that a module can be any class that has a default constructor (or all of whose fields and methods are static); the public fields and methods of such a class are its exported definitions. Compiling a Scheme file produces such a module. Doing: (require <classname>) will create an anonymous instance of <classname> (if needed), and add all its exported definitions to the current environment. Note that if you import a class in a module you are compiling, then an instance of the module will be created at compile-time, and imported definitions are not re-imported. (For now you must compile a module, you cannot just load it.)

The define-private keyword creates a module-local definition.

New syntax to override some properties of the current module: (module-name <name>) overrides the default name for a module. (module-extends <class>) specifies the super-class. (module-implements <interface> ...) specfies the implemented interfaces.

The syntax: (require ’keyword) is syntactic sugar for (require <classname>) where the classname is find is a "module catalog" (currently hard-wired). This provides compatibility with Slib. The Slib "features" gen-write, pretty-print, pprint-file, and printf are now available in Kawa; more will be added, depending on time and demand. See the package directory gnu/kawa/slib for what is available.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.62 to 1.6.64

A lot of improvements to JEmacs (see is replaced by kawa-compiled-VERSION.jar.

You can now use Kawa to generate applets, using the new –applet switch, Check the "Applet compilation" section in the manual. Generating an application using the –main flag should work again. Neither –applet nor –main has Scheme hard-wired any more.

A new macro ‘(this)’ evaluates to the "this object" - the current instance of the current class. The current implementation is incomplete, and buggy, but it will have to do for now.

The command-line argument -f FILENAME will load the same files types as load.

When a source file is compiled, the top-level definitions (procedures, variables, and macros) are compiled to final fields on the resulting class. This are not automatically entered into the current environment; instead that is the responsibility of whoever loads the compiled class. This is a major step towards a module system for Kawa.

There is a new form define-private which is like define, except that the defined name is not exported from the current module.

A procedure that has optional arguments is now typically compiled into multiple methods. If it’s a top-level procedure, these will be methods in the modules "ModuleBody" class, with the same (mangled) name. The compiler can in many cases call the appropriate method directly. Usually, each method takes a fixed number of arguments, which means we save the overhead of creating an array for the arguments.

A top-level procedure declared using the form (define (NAME ARS ...) BODY ..) is assumed to be "constant" if it isn’t assigned to in the current compilation unit. A call in the same compilation unit will now be implemented as a direct method call. This is not done if the prcedure is declared with the form: (define NAME (lambda (ARGS ,,,) BODY ...)

gnu.expr.Declaration no longer inherits from gnu.bytecode.Variable.

A gnu.mapping.Environment now resolves hash index collisions using "double hashing" and "open addressing" instead of "chaining" through Binding. This allows a Binding to appear in multiple Environments.

The classes Sequence, Pair, PairWithPosition, FString, and Char were moved from kawa.lang to the new package gnu.kawa.util. It seems that these classes (except perhaps Char) belong together. The classes List and Vector were also moved, and at the same time renamed to LList and FVector, respectively, to avoid clashed with classes in java.util.

New data types and procedures for "uniform vectors" of primitive types were implemented. These follow the SRFI-4 specification, which you can find at .

You can now use the syntax name :: type to specify the type of a parameter. For example: (define (vector-length x :: <vector>) (invoke x 'length)) The following also works: (define (vector-length (x :: <vector>)) ...).

(define-member-alias name object [fname]) is new syntactic sugar for (define-alias name (field object fname)), where the default for fname is the mangling of name.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.60 to 1.6.62

The new function ‘invoke’ allows you to call a Java method. All of ‘invoke’, ‘invoke-static’ and ‘make’ now select the bets method. They are also inlined at compile time in many cases. Specifically, if there is a method known to be definitely applicable, based on compile-time types of the argument expressions, the compiler will choose the most specific such method.

The functions slot-ref, slot-set!, field, and static-field are now inlined by the compiler when it can.

Added open-input-string, open-output-string, get-output-string from SRFI-6. See

The manual has a new section "Mapping Scheme names to Java names", and a new chapter "Types". The chapters "Extensions", "Objects and Classes", and "Low-level functions" have been extensivley re-organized.

The Kawa license has been simplified. There used to be two licenses: One for the packages gnu.*, and one for the packages kawa.*. There latter has been replaced by the former. The "License" section of the manual was also improved.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.59 to 1.6.60

There is a new package gnu.kawa.reflect. Some classes that used to be in kawa.lang or kawa.standard are now there.

The procedures slot-ref and slot-set! are now available. They are equivalent to the existing ‘field’, but reading a field ‘x’ will look for ‘getX’ method if there is no public ‘x’ field; writing to a field will look for ‘setX’.

The procedure ‘make’ makes it convenient to create new objects.

There is now a teaser screen snapshot of "JEmacs" at

The html version of the manual now has a primitive index. The manual has been slightly re-organized, with a new "Classes and Objects" chapter.

The new functions invoke-static and class-methods allow you to call an arbitary Java method. They both take a class specification and a method name. The result of class-methods is a generic procedure consisting of those methods whose names match. (Instance methods are also matched; they are treated the asme as class methods with an extra initial argument.) The invoke-static function also takes extra arguments, and actually calls the "best"-matching method. An example:

        (invoke-static <java.lang.Thread> 'sleep 100)

Many fewer classes are now generated when compiling a Scheme file. It used to be that each top-level procedure got compiled to its own class; that is no longer the case. The change should lead to faster startup and less resource use, but procedure application will probably be noticably slower (though not so much slower as when reflection is used). The reason for the slowdown is that we in the general case now do an extra method call, plus a not-yet-optimized switch statement. This change is part of the new Kawa module system. That will allow the compiler to substitute direct methods calls in more cases, which I hope will more than make up for the slowdown.

A Scheme procedure is now in general compiled to a Java method whose name is a "mangling" of the Scheme procedure’s name. If the procedure takes a variable number of parameters, then "$V" is added to the name; this indicates that the last argument is a Java array containing the rest of the arguments. Conversely, calling a Java method whose name ends in "$V" passes any excess arguments in the last argument, which must be an array type.

Many changes to the "Emacs-emulation" library in gnu.jemacs.buffer: * Implemented commands to read and save files. * We ask for file and buffer names using a dialog pop-up window. * Split windows correctly, so that the windows that are not split keep their sizes, the windows being split gets split as specified, and the frame does not change size. Now also handles horizonal splits. * Fairly good support for buffer-local keymaps and Emacs-style keymap search order. A new class BufferKeymap manages the active keymaps of a buffer. Multi-key key-sequences are handled. Pending prefix keys are remembered on a per-buffer basis (whereas Emacs does it globally).

There is now some low-level support for generic procedures.

The R5RS primitives let-syntax and letrec-syntax for defining local syntax extensions (macros) should now work. Also define-syntax works as an internal definition. All of these should now be properly "hygienic". (There is one known exception: symbols listed among the literals lists are matched as raw symbols, rather that checking that the symbol has the same binding, if any, as at the defining site.) The plan is to support general functions as hygienic rewriters, as in the Chez Scheme "syntax-case" system; as one part of that plan, the syntax-case primitive is available, but so far without any of the supporting machinary to support hygiene.

The read-line procedure was added. This allows you to efficiently read a line from an input port. The interface is the same as scsh and Guile.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.58 to 1.6.59

define-alias now works both top-level and inside a function.

Optimized eqv? so if one of the arguments is constant and not Char or Numeric, inline it the same way eq? is. (This helps case when the labels are symbols, which help the "lattice" benchmark.) ???

The Emacs-related packages are now grouped under a new gnu.jemacs package.

Improved framework for catching errors. This means improved error messages when passing a parameter of the wrong type. Many standard procedures have been improved.

Simplified, documented, and tested (!) procedure for building Kawa from source under Windows (95/98/NT).

New macros trace and untrace for tracing procedures. After executing (trace PROCEDURE), debugging output will be written (to the standard error port) every time PROCEDURE is called, with the parameters and return value. Use (untrace PROCEDURE) to turn tracing off.

New utility functions (system-tmpdir) and (make-temporary-file [format]).

A new (unfinished) framework supports multiple languages. The command-line option –elisp selects Emacs Lisp, while –scheme (the default) selects Scheme. (The only difference so far is the reader syntax; that will change.)

The ‘format’ function now provides fairly complete functionality for CommonLisp-style formatting. (See the Comon Lisp hyperspec at The floating point formatters (~F, ~E, ~G, ~$) now pass the formatst.scm test (from Slib, but with some "fixes"; in the testsuite directory). Also, output ports now track column numbers, so ~T and ~& also work correctly.

A new package gnu.emacs provides various building blocks for building an Emacs-like text editor. These classes are only compiled when Kawa is configured with the new –with-swing configuration option. This is a large initial step towards "JEmacs" - an Emacs re-implemented to use Kawa, Java, and Swing, but with full support (using gnu.elisp) for traditional Emacs Lisp. For more imformation see gnu/emacs/overview.html.

A new configuration option –with-swing can be used if Swing is available. It is currently only used in gnu.emacs, but that may change.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.56 to 1.6.58

Kawa is now "properly tail-recursive" if you invoke it with the –full-tail-calls flag. (Exception: the eval procedure does not perform proper tail calls, in violation of R5RS. This will be fixed in a future release.) Code compiled when –full-tail-calls is in effect is also properly tail-recursive. Procedures compiled with –full-tail-calls can call procedures compiled without it, and vice versa (but of course without doing proper tail calls). The default is still –no-full-tail-calls, partly because of performance concerns, partly because that provides better compatibility with Java conventions and tools.

The keywords let (including named let), let*, and letrec support type specifiers for the declared variables For example:

    (let ((lst :: <list> (foo x))) (reverse lst))

Square brackets [ ... ] are allowed as a synonym of parentheses ( ... ).

Changes from Kawa 1.6.55 to 1.6.57

A new command-line flag –server PORT specifies that Kawa should run as a telnet server on the specified PORT, creating a new read-eval-print loop for each connection. This allows you to connect using any telnet client program to a remote "Kawa server".

A new front-end program, written in C, that provides editing of input lines, using the GNU readline library. This is a friendlier interface than the plain "java kawa.repl". However, because kawa.c needs readline and suitable networking library support, it is not built by default, but only when you configure Kawa with the –enable-kawa-frontend flag.

The way Scheme names are mapped ("mangled") into Java identifiers is now more natural. E.g. "foo-bar?" now is mapped to "isFooBar".

New syntax (object (SUPERS ...) FIELD-AND-METHODS ...) for creating a new object instance of an anonymous class. Now fairly powerful.

New procedures field and static-field for more convenient field access.

Syntactic sugar: (lambda args <type> body) -> (lambda args (as <type> body)). This is especially useful for declaring methods in classes.

A new synchonized form allows you to synchronize on an arbitrary Java object, and execute some forms while having an exclusive lock on the object. (The syntax matches that used by Skij.)

Changes from Kawa 1.6.53 to 1.6.55

New –debug-dump-zip option writes out a .zip file for compilation. (Useful for debugging Kawa.)

You can now declare parameter types.

Lot of work on more efficient procedure representation and calling convention: Inlining, directly callable statics method, plus some procedures no longer generate a separate Class.

Local functions that are only called from one locations, except for tail-recursion, are now inlined. This inlines do loops, and most "named let" loops.

New representation of closures (closures with captured local variables). We no longer use an array for the closure. Instead we store the captured variables in the Procedure itself. This should be faster (since we can use field accesses rather than array indexing, which requires bounds checking), and avoids a separate environment object.

If the compiler sees a function call whose (non-lexically-bound) name matches an existing (globally-defined) procedure, and that procedure instance has a static method named either "apply" or the mangled procedure name, them the compiler emits a direct call to that method. This can make a very noticable speed difference, though it may violate strict Scheme sementics, and some code may break.

Partial support for first-class "location" variables.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.53 to 1.6.54

Created new packages gnu.mapping and gnu.expr. Many classes were moved from kawa.lang to the new packages. (This is part of the long-term process of splitting Kawa into more manageable chunks, separating the Scheme-specific code from the language-independent code, and moving classes under the gnu hierarchy.)

You can now write keywords with the colon first (e.g. :KEYWORD), which has exactly the same effect and meaning as putting the colon last (e.g. KEYWORD:). The latter is preferred is being more consistent with normal English use of punctuation, but the former is allowed for compatibility with soem other Scheme implementations and Common Lisp.

Changes from Kawa 1.6.52 to 1.6.53

The new package gnu.text contains facilities for reading, formatting, and manipulating text. Some classes in kawa.lang where moved to there.

Added string-upcase!, string-downcase!, string-capitalize!, string-upcase, string-downcase, and string-capitalize; compatible with Slib.

Character constants can now use octal notation (as in Guile). Writing a character uses octal format when that seems best.

A format function, similar to that in Common Lisp (and Slib) has been added.

The default parameter of a #!optional or #!key parameter can now be #!null.

Changes since Kawa 1.6.51

The "record" feature has been changed to that a "record-type descriptor" is now a gnu.bytecode.ClassType (a <record-type>), rather than a java.lang.Class. Thus make-record-type now returns a <record-typee>, not a Class, and record-type-descriptor takes a <record-typee>, not a Class.

More robust Eval interfaces.

New Lexer abstract class. New ScmRead class (which extends Lexer) now contains the Scheme reader (moved from Inport). Now read errors are kept in queue, and can be recovered from.

Comparing an exact rational and an inexact real (double) is now done as if by first converting the double to exact, to satisfy R5RS.

Changes since Kawa 1.6.1

The compile virtual method in Expression now takes a Target object, representing the "destination". The special ConditionalTarget is used to evaluate the test of an ’if expression. This allows us to generate much better code for and, or, eq?, not and nested if inside an if.

Added port-line, port-column, and set-port-line! to match Guile.

The Makefiles have been written so all out-of-date .java (or .scm). files in a directory are compiled using a single invocation of javac (or kawa). Building Kawa should now be much faster. (But note that this depends on unreleased recent autoamke changes.)

How the Kawa version number is compiled into Kawa was changed to make it easier for people who want to build from source on non-Unix-like systems.

A new gnu.ecmascript package contains an extremely incomplete implementation of ECMSScript, the ECMA standardized version of JavaScript. It includes an ECMAScript lexer (basically complete), parser (the framework is there but most of the language is missing), incomplete expression evaluation, and a read-eval-print-loop (for testing only).

Changes in Kawa 1.6.1

Improved Kawa home page with extra links, pointer to Java-generated api docs, and homepages for gnu.math and gnu.bytecode.

Implemented system, make-process, and some related procedures.

Added macros for primitive access to object fields, static fields, and Java arrays. Added constant-fold syntax, and used it for the other macros.

The –main flag compiles Scheme code to an application (containing a main method), which can be be invoked directly by a Java interpreter.

Implemented –version (following GNU standards) as kawa.repl command-line flag.

Changes since Kawa 1.5.93

Adding make procedure to create new objects/records.

Extended (set! (f . args) value) to be equivalent to ((setter f) value . args). Implemented setter, as well as (setter car) and (setter cdr).

Can now get and set a record field value using an application: (rec ’fname) gets the value of the field named fname in record rec. (set! (rec ’fname) value) sets the value of the field named fname in rec.

A partial re-write of the implementation of input ports and the Scheme reader, to fix some problems, add some features, and improve performance.

Compiled .class files are now installed in $(datadir)/java, rather than $(prefix)/java. By default, that means they are installed in /usr/local/shared/java, rather than /usr/local/java.

There is now internal infrastructure to support inlining of procedures, and general procedure-specific optimized code generation.

There is better testing that the right number of arguments are passed to a procedure, and better error messages when you don’t. If the procedure is inlined, you get a compile-time error message.

The functions created by primitive-constructor, primitive-virtual-method, primitive-static-method, and primitive-interface-method are now first-class procedure values. They use the Java reflection facily, except when the compiler can directly inline them (in which case it generates the same efficient bytecodes as before).

New functions instance? (tests type membership) and as (converts).

The kawa.html is now split into several files, one per chapter. The table of contents is now kawa_toc.html.

The syntactic form try-catch provides low-level exception handler support. It is basically the same as Java’s try/catch form, but in Scheme syntax. The new procedure primitive-throw throws an exception object.

The higher-level catch and throw procedures implement exception handling where the handler is specified with a "key" (a symbol). These functions were taken from Guile.

The error function has been generalized to take multiple arguments (as in Guile). It is now a wrapper around (throw ’misc-error ...).

There is a new "friendly" GUI access to the Kawa command-line. If you invoke kawa.repl with the -w flag, a new interaction window is created. This is uses the AWT TextArea class. You can create multiple "consoles". They can either share top-level enevironments, or have separate environments. This window interface has some nice features, including editing. Added a scheme-window procedure, which is another way to create a window.

Changes since Kawa 1.5

The default prompt now shows continuations lines differently.

The copy-file function was added.

The variable port-char-encoding controls how external files are converted to/from internal Unicode characters. It also controls whether CR and CR-LF are converted to LF.

The reader by default no longer down-cases letters in symbols. A new variable symbol-read-case control how case is handled: ’P (the default) preserves case; ’U upper-cases letters; ’D or -" down-cases letters; and ’I inverts case.

The gnu.bytecode package now supports exception handlers. The new syntactic form try-finally supports a cleanup hook that is run after some other code finishes (normally or abnormally). Try-finally is used to implement dynamic-wind and fluid-let.

The environment handling has been improved to support thread-specific environments, a thread-safe fluid-let, and multiple top-levels. (The latter still needs a bit of work.)

The gnu.bytecode package has been extensively changed. There are new classes representing the various standard Attributes, and data associated with an attribute is now stored there.

Added new procedures environment-bound? and scheme-implementation-version.

Scheme symbols are represented as java.lang.String objects. Interned symbols are interned Strings; uninterned symbols are uninterned Strings. Note that Java strings literals are automatically interned in JDK 1.1. This change makes symbols slightly more efficient, and moves Kawa closer to Java.

Ports now use the JDK 1.1 character-based Reader and Writer classes, rather than the byte-oriented InputStream and OutputStream classes. This supports different reading and writing different character encodings [in theory - there is no support yet for other than Ascii or binary files].

An interactive input port now has a prompt function associated with it. It is settable with set-input-port-prompter!. The prompt function takes one argument (the input port), and returns a prompt string. There are also user functions for inquiring about the current line and column number of an input port.

The R4RS procedures transcript-on and transcript-off are implemented.

Standard types can be referred to using syntax similar to RScheme. For example Scheme strings now have the type <string> which is preferred to "kawa.lang.FString" (which in addition to being longer, is also more suspectible to changes in internal implementation). Though these types are first-class values, this is so far mainly useful for invoking primitive methods.

Changes from Kawa 1.4 to 1.5

Execute a ~/.kawarc.scm file on startup, if it exists.

Add a number of functions for testing, renaming, and deleting files. These are meant to be compatible with scsh, Guile, and MIT Scheme: file-exists?, file-directory?, file-readable?, file-writable?, delete-file, rename-file, create-diretory, and the variable home-directory.

Fixed some small bugs, mainly in gnu.math and in load.

Generalize apply to accept an arbitrary Sequence, or a primitive Java array.

Changes from Kawa 1.2 to 1.4

The codegen package has been renamed gnu.bytecode. The kawa.math package has been moved to gnu.math. Both packages have new license: No restrictions if you use an unmodified release, but GNU General Public License. Let me know if that causes problems. The rest of Kawa still has the old license.

Implement defmacro and gentemp.

Implement make-record-type and related functions to create and use new record types. A record type is implemented as a java.lang.Class object, and this feature depends on the new reflection features of JDK 1.1.

Implement keywords, and extend lambda parameter lists to support #!optional #!rest and #!keyword parameters (following DSSSL).

Added more primitives to call arbitrary interface and constructor methods.

Changes from Kawa 1.0 to 1.2

Added primitives to make it easy to call arbitrary Java methods from Scheme.

Exact rational arithetic is now fully implemented. All integer functions now believed to correctly handle bignums. Logical operations on exact integers have been implemented. These include all the logical functions from Guile.

Complex numbers are implemented (except {,a}{sin,cos,tan}). Quantities (with units) are implemented (as in DSSSL).

Eval is available, as specified for R5RS. Also implemented are scheme-report-environment, null-environment, and interaction-environment.

Internal define is implemented.

Rough support for multiple threads is implemented.

Moved kawa class to kawa/repl. Merged in kawac (compiler) functionality. A ’kawa’ shell-script is now created. This is now the preferred interface to both the interactive evaluator and the compiler (on Unix-like systems).

Now builds "without a snag" using Cafe 1.51 under Win95. (Symantec JIT (ver 2.00b19) requires disabling JIT - JAVA_COMPCMD=disable.) Compiles under JDK 1.1 beta (with some warnings).

A testsuite (and testing framework) was added.

Documentation moved to doc directory. There is now an internals overview, in doc/

Changes since 0.4

The numeric classes have been re-written. There is partial support for bignums (infinite-precision integers), but divide (for example) has not been implemented yet. The representation of bignums uses 2’s complement, where the "big digits" are laid out so as to be compatible with the mpn functions of the GNU Multi-Precision library (gmp). (The intent is that a future version of Kawa will support an option to use gmp native functions for speed.)

The kawa application takes a number of useful command-line switches.

Basically all of R4RS has been implemented. All the essential forms and functions are implemented. Almost all of the optional forms are implemented. The exceptions are transcript-on, transcript-off, and the functions for complex numbers, and fractions (exact non-integer rationals).

Loading a source file with load now wraps the entire file in a lambda (named "atFileLevel"). This is for better error reporting, and consistency with compile-file.

Changes since 0.3

The hygienic macros described in the appendix to R4RS are now impemented (but only the define-syntax form). They are used to implement the standard "do" form.

The R5RS multiple value functions values and call-with-values are implemented.

Macros (and primitive syntax) can now be autoloaded as well as procedures.

New kawac application compiles to one or more .class files.

Compile time errors include line numbers. Uncaught exceptions cause a stack trace that includes .scm line numbers. This makes it more practical to debug Kawa with a Java debugger.

Quasiquotation is implemented.

Various minor bug fixes and optimizations.

Changes since 0.2

The biggest single change is that Scheme procedures are now compiled to Java bytecodes. This is mainly for efficiency, but it also allows us to do tail-recursion-elimination in some cases.

The "codegen" library is included. This is a toolkit that handles most of the details needed to generate Java bytecode (.class) files.

The internal structure of Kawa has been extensively re-written, especially how syntax transforms, eval, and apply are done, largely due to the needs for compilation.

Almost all the R4RS procedures are now implemented, except that there are still large gaps in Section 6.5 "Numbers".