You might ask why we take the trouble to compute an expansion for a macro and then evaluate the expansion. Why not have the macro body produce the desired results directly? The reason has to do with compilation.
When a macro call appears in a Lisp program being compiled, the Lisp compiler calls the macro definition just as the interpreter would, and receives an expansion. But instead of evaluating this expansion, it compiles the expansion as if it had appeared directly in the program. As a result, the compiled code produces the value and side effects intended for the macro, but executes at full compiled speed. This would not work if the macro body computed the value and side effects itself—they would be computed at compile time, which is not useful.
In order for compilation of macro calls to work, the macros must
already be defined in Lisp when the calls to them are compiled. The
compiler has a special feature to help you do this: if a file being
compiled contains a
defmacro form, the macro is defined
temporarily for the rest of the compilation of that file.
Byte-compiling a file also executes any
require calls at
top-level in the file, so you can ensure that necessary macro
definitions are available during compilation by requiring the files
that define them (see Features). To avoid loading the macro
definition files when someone runs the compiled program, write
eval-when-compile around the
require calls (see Evaluation During Compilation).