SRFI 0: Feature-based conditional expansion construct

by Marc Feeley

status: final (1999/5/7)


It is desirable that programs which depend on additions to standard Scheme name those additions. SRFIs provide the specifications of these additions ("features"), and SRFI 0 provides the means to actually check that these features are present in the Scheme system by means of the cond-expand construct. It is anticipated that there will be two main classes of features:

("Reader syntax" refers to aspects of the syntax described by the grammars in the Scheme reports.)

The former class of features will probably include most SRFIs, exemplified by the list library specified in SRFI 1. The latter class includes Unicode source code support and different kinds of parentheses.

Control over the presence of individual features will vary over different Scheme systems. A given feature may be absent or provided by default in some Scheme systems and in others some mechanism (such as an "import" clause in the code or a program configuration file, a command line option, a dependency declaration in a module definition, etc.) will be required for the feature to be present in the system.

Moreover, in some systems a given feature may be in effect throughout the entire program if it is in effect anywhere at all. Other systems may have more precise mechanisms to control the scope of a feature (this might be the case for example when a module system is supported). In general it is thus possible that a feature is in effect in some parts of the program and not in others. This allows conflicting SRFIs to be present in a given program as long as their scope do not intersect.

SRFI 0 does not prescribe a particular mechanism for controlling the presence of a feature as it is our opinion that this should be the role of a module system. We expect that future module system SRFIs will need to extend the semantics of SRFI 0 for their purposes, for example by defining feature scoping rules or by generalizing the feature testing construct.