SRFI 110: Sweet-expressions (t-expressions)

by David A. Wheeler and Alan Manuel K. Gloria

status: final (2013-09-09)

keywords: Reader Syntax


This SRFI describes a set of syntax extensions for Scheme, called sweet-expressions (t-expressions), that has the same descriptive power as s-expressions but is designed to be easier for humans to read. The sweet-expression syntax enables the use of syntactically-meaningful indentation to group expressions (similar to Python), and it builds on the infix and traditional function notation defined in SRFI-105 (curly-infix-expressions). Unlike nearly all past efforts to improve s-expression readability, sweet-expressions are general (the notation is independent from any underlying semantic) and homoiconic (the underlying data structure is clear from the syntax). This notation was developed by the “Readable Lisp S-expressions Project” and can be used for both programs and data.

Sweet-expressions can be considered a set of additional abbreviations, just as 'x already abbreviates (quote x). Sweet-expressions and traditionally formatted s-expressions can be freely mixed; this provides backwards compatibility, simplifies transition, and enables developers to maximize readability. Here is an example of a sweet-expression and its equivalent s-expression (note that a sweet-expression reader would accept either format):

sweet-expression s-expression
define fibfast(n)   ; Typical function notation
  if {n < 2}        ; Indentation, infix {...}
     n              ; Single expr = no new list
     fibup n 2 1 0  ; Simple function calls
(define (fibfast n)
  (if (< n 2)
      (fibup n 2 1 0)))