Libraries and Modules

As you create a program, you will often discover subsets of your code that are candidates for sharing, reuse, or resale. Alternatively, you may be working on a large program that has been divided into pieces that can be implemented separately, either to allow parallel development, or to make the programming task more manageable. For either of these reasons, you can package your code into a reusable software component so that

Two important principles of software engineering apply here: information hiding and protocols. The principle of information hiding says that you should try to minimize the information that is passed between components in a system, thus minimizing the interdependencies of components. A protocol is the interface definition of a software component. The purpose of establishing protocols is to define a uniform interface that clients can use, even if the implementation of a component is enhanced or modified. Dylan supports software components, information hiding, and protocols in terms of libraries and modules.

Many Dylan environments support simple or exploratory programming with a dylan-user module that includes both the standard Dylan language facilities and a common subset of Dylan libraries. Because all but the simplest programs usually grow into projects or are reused in new projects, it is good practice to create a unique library and module for each program or component. If you are writing a simple, stand-alone program or a simple component, you can use the simple library and module structure illustrated in A complete Dylan program. You may want to skim this chapter, however, so you have an idea of the options available for more complex situations.

In this chapter, we start by describing the basic concepts of libraries (Libraries), modules and namespaces ( Modules), and programs and source records (Source code, modules, and libraries). In the remainder of the chapter, we illustrate the concepts of libraries and modules by considering the classes and methods for times that we defined in A Simple Library, and showing how they might be packaged into a reusable software component or library. We also show how the sixty-unit classes and methods could be a component substrate that the time library uses and shares with an angle library. Finally, we illustrate how to implement a say protocol that works with either or both of the time and angle libraries by creating a separate library that defines the shared protocol.

Libraries

A Dylan library defines a software component — a separately compilable unit that can be either a stand-alone program or a component (library) of some larger program. The elements of the core Dylan language are in a library called dylan. The simplest Dylan program consists of at least two libraries: the original program source in the program library, and the dylan library, which supplies the predefined Dylan language elements used by the program library. A simple Dylan component may consist of only a single library — the component library. The component library will be used by other libraries. The component library will use definitions from the dylan library (and possibly other components). Hence, when combined with other components into a complete program, the program will consist of several libraries.

In each Dylan implementation, a library is associated with implementation-specific export information that is automatically maintained by the compiler. The library export information completely describes whatever implementation-specific information is needed for other software components to use the library. Thus, you can use libraries to deliver components in compiled form, keeping the implementation of the library confidential.

Comparison with C++ and Modula:

Dylan libraries are similar to C++ libraries in that they both are potentially shared components of many programs. Unlike C++ libraries, Dylan libraries include all the information needed to be used by another Dylan library — there is no companion header file that must be kept up to date.

Dylan libraries are analogous to Modula packages — all the information necessary to use a library is contained in the library.

Modules

A library is made up of modules, which hold the definitions of the library. Each module specifies an independent namespace for Dylan constants and variables. Each module can use definitions from other modules in the same library or in other libraries, and each module can provide definitions to other modules in the same or in other libraries. Each module controls the visibility of the names within a module from outside the module. You can use modules both to do information hiding and to prevent name clashes between constants and variables.

Namespaces

We mentioned in Variables and constants, that Dylan has module variables and module constants. Every module contains its own set of module variables and constants. Two independent modules a and b might both have variables named *x*. These are two different variables with possibly different values. Within module a, a reference to module variable *x* is a reference to a ’s variable *x*. Within module b, a reference to module variable *x* is a reference to b ’s variable *x*. In this sense, a module defines its own namespace.

Definitions

A module variable or module constant is declared and initialized by a definition. We have already seen that define variable is a definition that establishes a module variable, and define constant is a definition that establishes a module constant. Dylan also uses module constants to refer to classes, generic functions, and macros. The definition for a class, define class, establishes a module constant whose name is the class name and whose value is the class object. Similarly, the definitions for a generic function and a macro establish module constants. When we say that a module contains definitions, we mean that the classes, generic functions, macros, and other objects defined in that module are the values of variables and constants in that module.

Export and import of names by modules

Within each module, every name refers either to a definition owned by that module, or possibly to a definition owned by another module. Modules make the names of their definitions available to other modules by exporting those names. A module can refer to the names of another module by using the other module. Note that no module can access a definition in another module that is not exported; hence, modules provide a form of access control.

When a module exports its names and a second module uses the first module, importing the names of the first module, then the definitions of the second module can use the names of the first module, just as they can use any other name in their own module.

When one module uses a second module, it can use all the names exported from the second module, or it can specify a subset of those exports to import. In addition, imported names can be renamed — they can be given different names when imported. You can use renaming to document which definitions are from another module, by giving them all a uniform prefix; you can use renaming to resolve name conflicts; or you can use renaming to give nicknames or shorthand names for imported names.

Comparison with C:

Exported variables in Dylan are like external variables and functions in C. (By external, we do not mean the extern storage declaration, but rather the concept of an external variable — one that is available for linking to.)

Unexported variables in Dylan are like static variables and functions in C.

Comparison with C++:

Dylan modules are similar to C++ namespaces in that they eliminate the problem of global namespace pollution or clashes between names used in individual libraries. Unlike C++ namespaces, Dylan modules also define a level of access control: Each module decides what names are externally visible, and no module can create or access names in another module, unless that other module explicitly exports those names. In contrast, the C++ using declaration allows the client of a namespace to access any name in that namespace.

Export and import of modules by libraries

Just as a module specifies a namespace for definitions, each library specifies an independent namespace of modules and controls the visibility of its modules. Within each library, every module refers either to a module owned by that library, or to a module owned by another library. Libraries make their modules available to other libraries by exporting those modules. A library can refer to the modules of another library by using the other library. No library can refer to the modules of another library that are not exported.

When a library exports a module and a second library uses the first library, importing its modules, then the modules of the second library can use the modules of the first library, just as they can use any other modules in their own library.

When one library uses another library, it can use all the modules exported from the second library, or it can specify a subset of those exports to import. Imported modules can be renamed as they are imported, just as imported module names can be removed.

You can see that libraries and modules together provide a two-level structure of naming, information hiding, and access control. The designers of Dylan believed that only a single level would not give sufficient flexibility, but that more than two levels was unnecessary. In essence, modules give a fine level of control that lets you organize within a single component, and libraries give a higher level of control that lets you organize components into a program. Also, libraries are the Dylan compilation unit — they are the level at which components can be exchanged without source code being exchanged. A software publisher would typically sell its wares as Dylan libraries.

Simple example of libraries and modules

To illustrate these concepts, we repeat the definition of the library.dylan file, first shown in Quick Start. Here, we have used a more verbose, but also more precise, format.

The library file: library.dylan.

module: dylan-user

define library hello
  use dylan, import: { dylan };
  use format-out, import: { format-out };
end library hello;

define module hello
  use dylan, import: all;
  use format-out, import: all;
end module hello;

The first line of library.dylan states that the expressions and definitions in this file are in the dylan-user module. In this predefined module, you define the modules and library that make up your component or program. Every library has a unique dylan-user module. In the file library.dylan, we define a library named hello and a module named hello.

The module definition names the other modules whose names the hello module will use. In this case, the hello module uses the dylan and format-out modules. Here, we have explicitly stated that we are importing all the names from the modules that we use — using the import: all clause is not strictly necessary, because it is the default that is used if we do not specify what to import. By using another module, we import the names exported from that module, making them available in our namespace. For example, format-out is exported from the format-out module, so the use format-out clause enables our program to call the format-out function. The use dylan clause in the module definition makes available all the built-in Dylan language elements exported from the dylan module. When we define a module, it must use all the modules that export the definitions used by the definitions in our module.

The library definition tells the compiler which other libraries our program uses. Here, we have explicitly stated that we are interested in only the dylan and format-out modules from these other libraries. This clause is not strictly necessary, since the module definition tells the compiler which modules it uses; but it is good practice to document our intent. For example, the format-out module is in the format-out library. Therefore, our hello library must use the format-out library, and must import the format-out module for the hello module to use the format-out module. Similarly, the dylan module is in the dylan library, and therefore our hello library must use the dylan library and import the dylan module in order for the hello module to use the dylan module. When we define a library, it must use all the libraries that export the modules used by the modules in our library.

The module definition also specifies which variables and constants are exported from the module for use by other modules. The library definition specifies which modules are exported from the library for use by other libraries. In our simple example, the hello module exports no variables or constants, and the hello library exports no modules.

Libraries and modules illustrates the relationships between libraries and modules in our example program. In Libraries and modules, and in the other figures in this chapter, we draw libraries as heavy bold boxes and modules as light boxes. We have tried to illustrate how libraries and modules build on one another through their “use” relationships. A library that uses another library is shown above the library that it uses, so we show the hello library above the format-out and dylan libraries. An exported module is illustrated as being on top of (overlapping) the library that

_images/figure-13-1.png

Libraries (heavy boxes) and modules (light boxes) in “Hello, world”.

exports it (we have also shaded them, to illustrate this overlap). And a module that uses another module is illustrated as being on top of (overlapping) the used module. Try to envision the modules as semitransparent overlays, layered up from the surface of the paper. Thus, the hello module overlays the format-out and dylan modules that it uses.

Note that we intentionally do not show all the modules in the format-out and dylan libraries in Libraries and modules,. The format-out and dylan libraries might well have other modules, but either those modules are not exported or our program does not use them.

Source code, modules, and libraries

How is Dylan source code associated with modules and libraries? In Sections Libraries and Modules, we looked at a Dylan program from the top down: A program contains libraries; a library contains modules; and a module contains variables and their definitions. We now look at a program from the bottom up, to see how source code is organized into modules, modules into libraries, and libraries into programs.

Source records and modules

All the Dylan source code for a program is organized into units called source records. How source records are stored is dependent on the implementation. Some implementations may store source records in a database, others may simply use interchange format files (see Interchange files). No matter how they are stored, each source record is in a module; therefore,

  • All the module’s variables and constants, including those imported by using other modules, are visible to, and can be used by, the code in the source record.
  • The module controls which definitions in the source record are exported, and therefore are visible, to other modules.
  • Variables and constants in other modules that are not exported, or ones that are exported but are not imported by the source record’s module, are not visible to the source record.

Dylan implementations can associate a source record with a module in different ways. The interchange format has a header at the front that specifies the module for its source records.

Modules and libraries

Every module is in a library; therefore,

  • All the library’s modules, including those imported by using other libraries, are visible to, and can be used by, the module.
  • The library controls whether the module is exported, and therefore is visible, to other libraries.
  • Modules in other libraries that are not exported, or ones that are exported but are not imported by the module’s library, are not visible to the module.

Dylan implementations can associate a module with a library in different ways. The library-interchange definition (LID) format lists the interchange files that make up a library. The module definitions in those interchange files are thus in that library.

Libraries and programs

Every library is in a set of libraries that can be combined into a program; therefore,

  • The library can import the exported modules of any other available library.
  • The library’s exported modules are visible to, and can be imported by, other available libraries.

The Dylan implementation determines what libraries are available; how they are combined into a program; and how they are compiled, linked, and run. Consult your implementation documentation for further information.

We have presented a simple hierarchical model: All Dylan code resides in source records; every source record resides in a module; every module resides in a library. Every module must be completely defined within its library, because the library is the Dylan unit of compilation. So that this restriction is enforced, every source record in a library must be in a module that is defined in the library; no source record can be in a module that is imported by the library. Within a library, it is possible for a name to be owned by one module and for that name’s definition to be provided by another module. This flexibility helps us to structure code, as we shall see in Module definition.

Module definition

Enough theory. Let’s see how modules and libraries can be used in practice by considering the classes and methods for representing and manipulating times that we defined in A Simple Library, and showing how they might be packaged into a reusable software component.

First, let’s examine what the external protocol of our time library might be. We have defined two kinds of time that can be created: <time-of-day> and <time-offset>. We have a generic function for printing times, say, and one, perhaps not so obvious, utility function for creating new times, encode-total-seconds.

We define a method, \+, for adding times, but a method is not a protocol. The protocol for the generic function \+ is defined by the Dylan library, which already exports it, for any Dylan program. When we define our method for adding times, we are extending that protocol; we are not creating a new one.

The decode-total-seconds function, the <sixty-unit> class, and several other functions are used internally only, so they are not part of the external protocol.

Although <time> is used internally only within our library, it is good practice to make abstract superclasses such as <time> part of a library interface. When we do so, a client of the library that does not care which specific kind of time is being manipulated can simply use <time>.

Thus, five items (<time>, <time-of-day>, <time-offset>, say, and encode-total-seconds) define the external protocol of the time library.

Roles of modules

In our experience, we have found it useful to consider modules as having roles: interface, implementation, or client. These roles lead to a simple, low-maintenance structure. An interface module creates names that are to be visible to other modules and at a library interface. An implementation module contains the definitions that make up the library (including those visible through an interface module). A client module is a module that depends on other modules’ definitions.

It is possible for a module to play more than one role — for example, a client module may also implement a higher-level interface. We recommend thinking of modules as having these roles, and in this chapter we use that design convention.

When illustrating the roles of modules, we use the conventions shown in The roles of modules: interface, implementation, and client.. In The roles of modules: interface, implementation, and client., we show a library with three modules: an interface module (with its interface sticking out of the top of the library), an implementation module (overlapping the interface, because it implements the interface by giving definitions to the names the interface exports), and a client module overlapping another library’s interface module (using its exported interface module to import definitions from another library). As we noted, the implementation and client are often the same module, and the interface of one library is used by the clients of other libraries. Dylan modules and libraries are not allowed to have mutual dependencies, so we can use the convention of drawing at the top the interfaces that a library exports, and of drawing at the bottom the interfaces that a library uses. It is difficult simultaneously to illustrate the module “use” relationships in only two dimensions — the overlapping of one module by another is intended to depict usage.

_images/figure-13-2.png

The roles of modules: interface, implementation, and client.

The interface module

We can now write a first draft of the interface module for our library:

define module time
  // Classes
  create <time>, <time-of-day>, <time-offset>;
  // Generics
  create say, encode-total-seconds;
end module time;

In the preceding definition, the time interface module creates and exports (makes visible) three classes and two functions. We use the create clause, because we do not intend to define any implementations in the time-library interface module itself — that will be done in an implementation module, which will use the time-library module as its interface. The create clause causes the names to be reserved in the time interface module, with the requisite that definitions be provided by some other module in the same library.

Comparison with C:

The Dylan create clause is roughly analogous to the C extern declaration.

The implementation module

Our time interface module specifies the names that are visible to clients of our library. It also serves to specify the names that must be defined in our implementation. To prepare to define those names, we create a separate implementation module:

define module time-implementation
  // Interface module
  use time;
  // Substrate modules
  use format-out;
  use dylan;
end module time-implementation;

In the preceding definition, the implementation module uses the time interface module so that it can give definitions to the names that the interface created. The implementation module is also a client module: It is a client of the dylan module, because its definitions use definitions such as define class, <integer>, and * (which are defined by the dylan module of the dylan library); it is also a client of the format-out module, because the say methods are implemented using the format-out function (which is defined in the format-out module of the format-out library).

We can start to envision the time library as shown in Initial time library.. In a library more complicated than the time library, we might decompose the construction of the library into several implementation modules. For example, we might want to assign the implementation of the <sixty-unit> substrate to another programmer, and to create an interface between that substrate and the rest of the implementation so that work on either side of the interface can proceed in parallel. In that case, we might use the following module definitions:

define module sixty-unit
  // External interface
  use time;
  // Internal interface
  export <sixty-unit>, total-seconds, decode-total-seconds;
  // Substrate module
  use dylan;
end module sixty-unit;
_images/figure-13-3.png

Initial time library.

define module time-implementation
  // External interface
  use time;
  // Substrate modules
  use sixty-unit;
  use format-out;
  use dylan;
end module time-implementation;

Here, because the sixty-unit module is an internal interface, we forgot the formality of creating a separate implementation module; we simply export the definitions that we expect to be used by other modules within the library. This approach is perhaps a short-sighted one. If later we want the sixty-unit functionality to be available to another library, we will be faced with reorganizing its module definitions (as we shall see in Component library). Even within a library, it is good practice to organize modules as interface and implementation.

Notice the distinction between the way that we handled the external time interface, and the shortcut we took with sixty-unit. Although the sixty-unit module will define encode-total-seconds, which is part of the time interface, it does not export encode-total-seconds; rather, it uses the time interface module, which created encode-total-seconds (without defining that function). Because sixty-unit uses time, the name encode-total-seconds is the same object in both modules. Effectively, encode-total-seconds is owned by the time module, although it is defined by the sixty-unit module.

This organization of the external interface may appear odd at first, but it reduces duplication that would otherwise have to occur: If sixty-unit exported encode-total-seconds, then, for it to be visible at the interface of the library, either the sixty-unit module would have to be exported from the library as an interface (which export is undesirable, because the sixty-unit module has other exports that are not intended to be visible outside the library), or the time interface module would have to use sixty-unit and to re-export encode-total-seconds. The create clause provides the cleaner solution of allowing a name to be exported from only the one interface module, defined in a separate implementation module (without exposing the implementation module), and used by many client modules.

Dylan requires that all the variables exported via the create clause be defined by some module in the same library; however, they can be defined in any module, and the interface definitions can be spread over several implementation modules. The compiler will verify that the interface is implemented completely, even if its implementation is spread over several modules, by checking when the library is compiled that each created name has a definition.

The sixty-unit module exports the class <sixty-unit>, because time-implementation will subclass that class. The sixty-unit module also exports the generic functions total-seconds, and decode-total-seconds. The export of total-seconds might seem surprising at first, because, in many object-oriented languages, access to a class includes access to all the slots of a class. In Dylan, slots are simply methods on generic functions and names in the module namespace; hence, the functions must be exported if slot access from outside the module is to be allowed. Note that exporting total-seconds allows other modules only to get the current value of the total-seconds slot. To allow other modules also to set the slot value, we would have to export total-seconds-setter. It is not necessary to export the init keyword total-seconds:, which allows the initial value of the slot to be set when objects are created. Keywords, or symbols, all exist in a single global namespace that is separate from module variables.

Comparison with C++:

Dylan modules provide access control similar to that provided by the private: and public: keywords in C++ classes, but Dylan access control is done at the module, rather than at the class, level. Dylan has no equivalent to protected: access control, in that a class that subclasses a class from another module does not have access to slots or other generic functions on its superclass from the other module, unless they are explicitly exported from that module.

Dylan does support multiple interfaces, however; different levels of access can be provided by having more than one interface module, each supplying the access needed for the particular interface.

One way to think of Dylan access control in C++ terms is that all definitions in a module are friend‘s of all classes in the module, and the exported definitions of the module are public.

Breaking out the sixty-unit substrate to a separate module creates a slightly more complicated structure to our diagram, as shown in Internal modules of time library..

_images/figure-13-4.png

Internal modules of time library.

In Internal modules of time library., we show the definitions of sixty-unit in a separate module. The sixty-unit module is a client of dylan, an interface and implementation of definitions used by time-implementation (that is, time-implementation is a client of sixty-unit), and an implementation of part of the interface created by time.

Library definition

We can now give the definition of the library:

define library time
  // Interface module
  export time;
  // Substrate libraries
  use format-out;
  use dylan;
end library time;

In the preceding definition, we declare that the interface to our library is defined by the time interface module. By exporting that module, we make all the exported names from that module accessible to clients of this library. We also declare that the time library relies on the format-out and dylan libraries (that is, that those libraries have interface modules of which our modules will be clients). Notice that no mention is made of the time-implementation, or sixty-unit modules, because they are completely internal to our library and are not visible to any clients of our library.

Recall that constant and variable names, module names, and library names are distinct, so it is possible to have a library, module, and constant all of the same name. A common convention in a library with only one interface module is to give them the same name, as we have done here.

To build our library, we would need to define the library, define all the modules, specify where and how the definitions or source records that implement our library are to be found, specify where the object code that results from compiling the source records are to be stored, and provide any particular instructions to the compiler regarding how to build the library. The details of how to provide this information vary from one Dylan implementation to the next.

To use our library, we would need to specify where to find the object code and the implementation-dependent export information that allows another library to use our library without access to our source records. The details of this information also depend on the Dylan implementation that we are using.

Comparison with C++:

The library definition, which names the modules exported and libraries used by a library, is similar to C++ header files and includes. The main difference is that the Dylan development environment extracts the information that it needs about exported and imported variables directly, rather than requiring exports to be duplicated in a set of header files, and requiring those header files to be included in every source file that uses the imports.

Interchange files

Source records in Dylan do not have to be stored in files. Certain environments use a database for storing source records, and a hypertextlike mechanism for exploring them. Dylan does, however, specify a portable interchange format, based on files, for exchanging Dylan source records among Dylan implementations.

A file in interchange format has a header and a body. The header consists of consecutive lines of keywords and values. The body consists of Dylan source records, and is separated from the header by at least one blank line. The only required keyword is one to specify to what module the source records in the file belong. Each file contains source records of a single module, although the source records of each module can be stored in any number of files. Standard keywords are also defined for author, copyright, and version, although an implementation may ignore them, or may define additional keywords.

So, for instance, if we wanted to publish our library source records, we might create the files shown in the following sections.

The time-library file

The time-library file: time-library.dylan.

Module: dylan-user

// Library definition
define library time
  // Interface module
  export time;
  // Substrate libraries
  use format-out;
  use dylan;
end library time;

// Interface module
define module time
  // Classes
  create <time>, <time-of-day>, <time-offset>;
  // Generics
  create say, encode-total-seconds;
end module time;

// Internal substrate module
define module sixty-unit
  // External interface
  use time;
  // Internal interface
  export <sixty-unit>, total-seconds, decode-total-seconds;
  // Substrate module
  use dylan;
end module sixty-unit;

// Implementation module
define module time-implementation
  // External interface
  use time;
  // Substrate modules
  use sixty-unit;
  use format-out;
  use dylan;
end module time-implementation;

Because every file has to name the module to which its source records belong, you might wonder where to start. Every library implicitly defines a dylan-user module for this purpose. The dylan-user module imports all of the dylan module, so any Dylan definition can be used. You can think of dylan-user as being a scratch version of dylan. Each library has a private copy of dylan-user, so there is no concern that definitions in one library’s dylan-user could be confused with those of another.

The purposes of the library file are to communicate to the Dylan compiler the structure of the module namespaces, to state which other libraries to search for the modules that are used in the implementation of this library, and to determine which modules implemented by this library are visible to other libraries (and programs) that use this library. The details of how these tasks are done depend on the implementation, but each environment will provide a mechanism for reading library and module definitions, either directly from an interchange file, or after conversion of the interchange file to an implementation-dependent format.

The sixty-unit implementation file

The sixty-unit implementation file: sixty-unit.dylan.

Module: sixty-unit

define abstract class <sixty-unit> (<object>)
  slot total-seconds :: <integer>,
    required-init-keyword: total-seconds:;
end class <sixty-unit>;

define method encode-total-seconds
    (max-unit :: <integer>, minutes :: <integer>, seconds :: <integer>)
 => (total-seconds :: <integer>)
  ((max-unit * 60) + minutes) * 60 + seconds;
end method encode-total-seconds;

define method decode-total-seconds
    (sixty-unit :: <sixty-unit>)
 => (max-unit :: <integer>, minutes :: <integer>, seconds :: <integer>)
  decode-total-seconds(sixty-unit.total-seconds);
end method decode-total-seconds;

define method decode-total-seconds
    (total-seconds :: <integer>)
 => (hours :: <integer>, minutes :: <integer>, seconds :: <integer>)
  let (total-minutes, seconds) = truncate/(abs(total-seconds), 60);
  let (hours, minutes) = truncate/(total-minutes, 60);
  values(hours, minutes, seconds);
end method decode-total-seconds;

The preceding implementation file is the first file in which we use one of our own modules. The header statement Module: sixty-unit tells the Dylan compiler where to look to resolve the names that we are using — it tells Dylan that, when we say define class or <integer> or *, we mean the Dylan definitions of define class, <integer>, and *, because sixty-unit uses the dylan module. When we define encode-total-seconds, we mean the encode-total-seconds created by the time module, because sixty-unit uses that module.

The time implementation file

The time implementation file: time.dylan.

Module: time-implementation

// Define nonnegative integers as integers that are >= zero
define constant <nonnegative-integer> = limited(<integer>, min: 0);

define abstract class <time> (<sixty-unit>)
end class <time>;

define method say (time :: <time>) => ()
  let (hours, minutes) = decode-total-seconds(time);
  format-out("%d:%s%d",
             hours, if (minutes < 10) "0" else " " end, minutes);
end method say;

// A specific time of day from 00:00 (midnight) to before 24:00 (tomorrow)
define class <time-of-day> (<time>)
end class <time-of-day>;

define method total-seconds-setter
    (total-seconds :: <integer>, time :: <time-of-day>)
 => (total-seconds :: <nonnegative-integer>)
  if (total-seconds >= 0)
    next-method();
  else
    error("%d cannot be negative", total-seconds);
  end if;
end method total-seconds-setter;

define method initialize (time :: <time-of-day>, #key)
  next-method();
  if (time.total-seconds < 0)
    error("%d cannot be negative", time.total-seconds);
  end if;
end method initialize;

// A relative time between -24:00 and +24:00
define class <time-offset> (<time>)
end class <time-offset>;

define method past? (time :: <time-offset>) => (past? :: <boolean>)
  time.total-seconds < 0;
end method past?;

define method say (time :: <time-offset>) => ()
  format-out("%s ", if (time.past?) "minus" else "plus" end);
  next-method();
end method say;

define method \+
    (offset1 :: <time-offset>, offset2 :: <time-offset>)
 => (sum :: <time-offset>)
  let sum = offset1.total-seconds + offset2.total-seconds;
  make(<time-offset>, total-seconds: sum);
end method \+;

define method \+
    (offset :: <time-offset>, time-of-day :: <time-of-day>)
 => (sum :: <time-of-day>)
  make(<time-of-day>,
       total-seconds: offset.total-seconds + time-of-day.total-seconds);
end method \+;

define method \+ (time-of-day :: <time-of-day>,
                  offset :: <time-offset>)
 => (sum :: <time-of-day>)
  offset + time-of-day;
end method \+;

define method \< (time1 :: <time-of-day>, time2 :: <time-of-day>)
  time1.total-seconds < time2.total-seconds;
end method \<;

define method \< (time1 :: <time-offset>, time2 :: <time-offset>)
  time1.total-seconds < time2.total-seconds;
end method \<;

define method \= (time1 :: <time-of-day>, time2 :: <time-of-day>)
  time1.total-seconds = time2.total-seconds;
end method \=;

define method \= (time1 :: <time-offset>, time2 :: <time-offset>)
  time1.total-seconds = time2.total-seconds;
end method \=;

// Two useful time constants
define constant $midnight
  = make(<time-of-day>, total-seconds: encode-total-seconds(0, 0, 0));

define constant $tomorrow
  = make(<time-of-day>,
         total-seconds: encode-total-seconds(24, 0, 0));

In the preceding implementation file, it is the time-implementation module that specifies what we mean when we write Dylan expressions, and in which module namespace our definitions will appear.

The library-interchange definition (LID)

As described in Files of a Dylan program, most Dylan implementations also accept a LID file that enumerates the files of a library and the order in which those files will be initialized, if there are any top-level forms. The LID file for our time library would be as follows.

The LID file: time.lid.

library: time
files: library
       sixty-unit
       time

In a LID file, only the base file name is given. Information about the folder or directory where the files are stored, and about the file extension (.dylan in our examples), is implementation dependent and must be supplied by the individual implementation.

Component library

In previous examples, we have shown how the <angle> class can use the <sixty-unit> class as a base class. We could have simply included the <angle> class in our time library (presumably calling it a time-and-angle library), but it seems plausible that clients might not want both classes all the time. Another organization would be to make an angle library that uses the time library, which would be burdensome only to clients who want angles without time. Clearly, the right solution is to make a separate sixty-unit library that is shared by the time and angle libraries.

Because we had already broken out sixty-unit into a separate module and file, we can create this new organization by

  • Moving the sixty-unit module to its own library file
  • Updating the time library file
  • Opening the <sixty-unit> class

Note that no changes are required to the time implementation file, so we do not present it again.

The sixty-unit-library file

The sixty-unit library file: sixty-unit-library.dylan.

Module: dylan-user

// Library definition
define library sixty-unit
  // Interface module
  export sixty-unit;
  // Substrate library
  use dylan;
end library sixty-unit;

// Interface module
define module sixty-unit
  // External interface
  create <sixty-unit>;
  create total-seconds, encode-total-seconds, decode-total-seconds;
end module sixty-unit;

// Implementation module
define module sixty-unit-implementation
  // External interface
  use sixty-unit;
  // Substrate module
  use dylan;
end module sixty-unit-implementation;

Notice that we have taken this opportunity to reorganize the sixty-unit module into a separate interface and implementation. We also have to create encode-total-seconds in the sixty-unit module, rather than to create it in the time interface and to define it in sixty-unit. Recall that all created names must be defined in the library in which they are created; we cannot use the create–define structure across libraries. We still want encode-total-seconds to be part of the interface of the time library, so we will have to change the time interface module to import it and to re-export it from the time library, as shown in The updated time-library file.

If we had followed our own recommendations in The implementation module, we would probably have discovered that encode-total-seconds belonged in the sixty-unit interface, and we would have avoided most of this reorganization.

The updated time-library file

The time-library file: time-library.dylan.

Module: dylan-user

// Library definition
define library time
  // Interface module
  export time;
  // Substrate libraries
  use sixty-unit;
  use format-out;
  use dylan;
end library time;

// Interface module
define module time
  // Classes
  create <time>, <time-of-day>, <time-offset>;
  // Generics
  create say;
  // Shared protocol
  use sixty-unit, import: { encode-total-seconds }, export: all;
end module time;

// Implementation module
define module time-implementation
  // External interface
  use time;
  // Substrate modules
  use sixty-unit;
  use format-out;
  use dylan;
end module time-implementation;

Note that the time interface module imports only encode-total-seconds from sixty-unit. It then re-exports all the names that it has imported — in this case, just encode-total-seconds. In this way, the time interface is acting as a filter and is passing on only a subset of the sixty-unit interface to its clients.

At this point, we need to open the <sixty-unit> class. Because it is now in a separate library, it must be defined to be open to allow other libraries, such as time or angle, to subclass it. Opening a class simply amounts to changing the define class to define open class. The exact implications of this declaration are discussed in Performance and Flexibility.

The updated sixty-unit implementation file

The sixty-unit implementation file: sixty-unit.dylan.

Module: sixty-unit-implementation

define open abstract class <sixty-unit> (<object>)
  slot total-seconds :: <integer>,
    required-init-keyword: total-seconds:;
end class <sixty-unit>;

define method encode-total-seconds
    (max-unit :: <integer>, minutes :: <integer>, seconds :: <integer>)
 => (total-seconds :: <integer>)
  ((max-unit * 60) + minutes) * 60 + seconds;
end method encode-total-seconds;

define method decode-total-seconds
    (sixty-unit :: <sixty-unit>)
 => (max-unit :: <integer>, minutes :: <integer>, seconds :: <integer>)
  decode-total-seconds(sixty-unit.total-seconds);
end method decode-total-seconds;

define method decode-total-seconds
    (total-seconds :: <integer>)
 => (hours :: <integer>, minutes :: <integer>, seconds :: <integer>)
  let (total-minutes, seconds) = truncate/(abs(total-seconds), 60);
  let (hours, minutes) = truncate/(total-minutes, 60);
  values(hours, minutes, seconds);
end method decode-total-seconds;

sixty-unit as a separate library. shows the relationships among our libraries and modules at this point. Note that sixty-unit is now a separate library. It uses the dylan library and is used by the time library. We illustrate the time module importing and re-exporting part of the sixty-unit interface module (the method encode-total-seconds) by the darker grey area.

_images/figure-13-5.png

sixty-unit as a separate library.

Two LID files

Here, we show the LID files for each library.

The LID file: sixty-unit.lid.

library: sixty-unit
files: sixty-unit-library
       sixty-unit

The LID file: time.lid.

library: time
files: time-library
       time

Protocol design

We can now define the angle library as another client of the sixty-unit library. The interface of the angle library consists of the classes <angle> and <directed-angle>, and the say method. Uh-oh! We want that say method to be another method on the say generic function defined by the time library, so that a client of the time and angle libraries sees a single generic function, say, that applies to either times or angles. This situation illustrates the value of putting a lot of thought into designing our protocols before we get too deep into an implementation. The say generic function is a separate protocol that could apply to many classes in our system. To permit separate libraries to add methods to a Dylan generic function, the module defining the protocol (that is, the module defining the generic function) needs to be defined first, in a separate, common library. Other libraries then use this component library to define their particular implementation of the protocol.

To create the say protocol, we define a library and implementation file as shown in Sections The say-library file through The angle library.

The say-library file

The say-library file: say-library.dylan.

Module: dylan-user

// Library definition
define library say
  // Interface modules
  export say, say-implementor;
  // Substrate libraries
  use format-out;
  use dylan;
end library say;

// Protocol interface
define module say
  create say;
end module say;

// Implementor interface
define module say-implementor
  use say, export: all;
  use format-out, export: all;
end module say-implementor;

// Implementation module
define module say-implementation
  use say;
  use dylan;
end module say-implementation;

The say implementation file

The say implementation file: say.dylan.

Module: say-implementation

define open generic say (object :: <object>) => ();

Here, we have created the recommended interface and implementation structure, having learned our lesson with the sixty-unit module. Even though it looks like overkill to have a separate implementation module for a single generic function definition, we have planned for future expansion.

The say protocol library is an example of the multiple-interface capability of Dylan libraries. The say library has two interfaces that it makes available: say defines the say protocol, and say-implementor provides the substrate for protocol implementors. This interface is cleaner than the one that we used for sixty-unit, where encode-total-seconds played more of an interface role, and <sixty-unit> and decode-total-seconds played more of a substrate role. The result is seen in the clients of the sixty-unit library, who must split out these roles for themselves.

Note that the say-implementor module is both a client and an interface module. It is the interface of the say protocol for clients who will implement say methods, and it is a client of the format-out module. Because most say methods use format-out in their implementations, it makes sense to re-export all of the format-out module for say-implementor clients.

The explicit definition of the say generic function is good protocol documentation. It is also required: All module variables must have a definition for a library to be complete. (An alternative would have been to define a default method for say, which would also create an implicit generic-function definition. However, implicit generic-function definitions are sealed, and, for a protocol, we need an open generic function, because we intend clients to add methods to it. The exact implications of this declaration are discussed in Performance and Flexibility.) The designer of the say protocol still has to choose whether to require each type to define its own say method, or to provide a universal default. In this case, we choose not to provide a default, so that an error will be signaled if say is called on a type that does not either provide or inherit a say method.

Comparison with C++:

Dylan modules enforce a structured design of protocols. To create a shared protocol, to which methods can be added from independent libraries, we must ensure that the module defining the protocol (the module defining the generic function) is defined first, in a separate, common library. The common library defines the protocol in one place, easing documentation and maintenance.

In C++ however, a using directive can create a local alias to overload a function in any other library, even if it is in another namespace.

The library-use relationships of Dylan modules form a directed graph, centralizing shared functionality, whereas C++ namespaces can be interconnected arbitrarily, making documentation and maintenance of shared protocols difficult.

To complete our restructuring, we must reorganize the time library and module files to use the say protocol, so that the say protocol is shared with the angle library that we intend to build.

The updated time-library file

The time-library file: time-library.dylan.

Module: dylan-user

// Library definition
define library time
  // Interface module
  export time;
  // Substrate libraries
  use sixty-unit;
  use say;
  use dylan;
end library time;

// Interface module
define module time
  // Classes
  create <time>, <time-of-day>, <time-offset>;
  // Shared protocol
  use say, export: all;
  use sixty-unit, import: { encode-total-seconds }, export: all;
end module time;

// Implementation module
define module time-implementation
  // External interface
  use time;
  // Substrate modules
  use sixty-unit;
  use say-implementor;
  use dylan;
end module time-implementation;

The time module is modified to use say, which it exports to its clients. The implementation module is modified to use say-implementor, which includes format-out, so it would be superfluous to continue to include format-out in time-implementation. Similarly, the time library definition replaces its use of the format-out library with the say library.

Note that the compiler recursively finds all the libraries necessary for compilation. In this case, the format-out library will be included in the compilation of the time library, even though it is not directly named.

The angle library

At this point, we are ready to define the angle library, which will share the sixty-unit and say libraries with the time library. In Four Complete Libraries, we present the consolidated changes to the sixty-unit, say, and time libraries that we have developed in this chapter, followed by the complete definition of the angle library.

Summary

In this chapter, we covered the following:

  • We illustrated Dylan modules and libraries.
  • We showed how to design modules using three roles: interface modules, implementation modules, and client modules.
  • We described how a library might appear in Dylan interchange format.
  • We showed how to create a component library.
  • We illustrated the complexity of component and protocol design.
  • We discussed how to create a protocol that can be extended by multiple client libraries.
  • We discussed namespaces in Dylan, and their applicable scope; see Namespace scopes..
  • We described the roles of modules and the definition clauses that modules use; see Module roles..
Namespace scopes.
Namespace Scope
library global
module per library
constant or variable per module
symbol or keyword global
Module roles.
Role Example clause
interface
// Interface class
create <time>;
// Re-exported interface
use say, export: all;
client
// Substrate module
use dylan;
implementation
// Interface module
use time;
implementation and interface
// Interface protocol
export say;