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Sender: Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Mon, 31 Aug 2009 21:09:27 +0100
Reply-To: Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: xparse
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From: Joseph Wright <[log in to unmask]>
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Lars Hellström wrote:
> I was thinking more about single spaces, as in
>   \moveto 0 0 \curveto 47 0 100 53 100 100
> (the idea being to express a bunch of graphic data compactly while still
> allowing the code to survive reflowing in a text editor), but this is of
> course on the boundary of what can be considered LaTeX2e-ish syntax.

Personally, I'm not a fan of that input syntax: I prefer something like
the pgf approach.  However, I did a quick test and as I hoped you can do
this with

\DeclareDocumentCommand \moveto { u{~} u{~} } { ... }

Not sure how robust this is, but if you really want to do it you can at
least have a go.

> OK, I think I understand how this part of the system works now:
> 1. Processors occur as \xparse_process_arg:n{<code>} items in the
> sequence of grabbers (the thing being constructed in
> \l_xparse_signature_toks), _before_ the grabber for the argument to
> which they will be applied.
> 2. At _runtime_ these pieces of code are placed into scratch functions
> with names on the form \xparse_processor_<N>:n, where N=1,2,3,...
> depending on how many processors there are.
> \l_xparse_processor_total_int is the number of processors stored so far
> (for the current argument).
> 3. When a grabber has successfully grabbed an argument, it hands it over
> to \xparse_add_arg:n. This function applies the processors that have
> been stored (if any), incrementing \l_xparse_processor_use_int as it
> goes. Only after all processors have been applied will it append the
> result to \l_xparse_args_toks.

You'll see that I've now revised this code to make things both (1)
clearer and (2) actually work! It turned out I was overcomplicating
things, resulting in non-functioning code.

> One noticable difference to what I believe was discussed is in the order
> of processors. If ">{A} o" means "grab optional argument, then apply A",
> then I think it stands to reason that ">{B} >{A} o" should mean "grab
> optional argument, then apply A, finally apply B", but as implemented in
> revision 1494 it's B before A. (Reversing the processing order would
> allow one to do without \l_xparse_processor_use_int.)

Things should now work "as advertised" so that ">{B} >{A} o" applies A
first, then B.

> Finally, there is the issue that a processor has to put the argument in
> a toks register. I understand this is for generality (only sane way to
> pass along # tokens), but my experience with this type of API is that
> one should make it easy to use commands that happen to already exist. In
> this case, it would mean to also support a processor that would store
> its result in a macro rather than a toks register, since I'm quite sure
> this is what people tend to do unless they definitely need a toks register.
> In the current implementation, such processors could be supported by
> defining a relative of >{CODE} that instead of
> \xparse_process_arg:n{CODE} puts \xparse_process_tl_arg:n{CODE} in the
> signature, where
>   \cs_new:Nn \xparse_process_tl_arg:n {
>      \int_incr:N \l_xparse_processor_total_int
>      \cs_set:cn {
>         xparse_processor_ \int_use:N \l_xparse_processor_total_int :n
>      } {
>         #1 {##1}
>         \toks_set:No \l_xparse_arg_toks \l_xparse_arg_tl
>      }
>   }
> With a continuation-style implementation of processors, it would not
> even be necessary to take the detour over \l_xparse_arg_toks.

I can see your point, but I'm also wary of making things too
complicated. I'll give this some more thought and see if there is a
better way around the entire business to avoid the variable issue.

>>>  * \l_xparse_processor_int and \l_xparse_processor_use_int are
>>> documented as "For keeping a count of post-processors and then using
>>> them." Well, I could guess about as much from the names alone. What
>>> would be more interesting to see spelt out is /how/ these keeps a track
>>> of post-processors; what does actual values of these variables mean? At
>>> what stage in the process are they used?
>> I've tried to improve the documentation on this (whether I have I leave
>> to others). I've also altered the name \l_xparse_processor_int to
>> \l_xparse_processor_total_int. Trying to explain what has to happen here
>> is not easy, at least for me. 
> That is a catch of literate programming: you can't do it if you can't
> explain how your program works. (Of course, it might be argued that one
> shouldn't write programs that one cannot explain, period. :-) ) At least
> for me, this puts a restriction on how sleepy I can be when programming,
> as my ability to produce text tends to disappear before my ability to
> produce code...

As I've pointed out, this particular piece of code was broken in any
case: no wonder I could not explain it! I hope the fixed version also
has better comments (I'm concentrating on this to hopefully improve my

>> the user functions. I've divided internal functions
>> into what seem to me to be logical "blocks", 
> They could do with finer divisions. 12 pages is quite a lot.

I've done some re-arrangement, which I hope breaks the code up more
logically and also makes the flow a little clearer.

> In the typeset form, there is an index which should provide the same
> functionality via hyperlinks (although for some reason all the links
> seem to go to page 1; is that just for me or is it broken in l3doc in
> general?)

I'd noticed that too: Will is in charge of l3doc! (Seriously, I think
l3doc needs a good overhaul but Will did take charge of that part of
expl3, so for the moment I'm leaving well alone. He has lots of plans, I

Thanks again for the comments: they are proving to be very useful, and I
think will result in a better xparse all round.
Joseph Wright