Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tcl Case Analysis Lunacy

This goes way back to the roots of this blog. Complaining about Tcl, and complaining about code that breaks down into unnecessary and confusing case analysis -- those topics were the first three posts here.

Unsurprisingly, the toy language that is Tcl is serving me up some ridiculous case analysis. It has to do with the C++-side of a Tcl integration. When you look at the internals of the language objects created by the Tcl interpreter, some things that are conceptually the same have different internal representations. It's bad enough that I have to succumb to case analysis to figure out what's what: but on the other side of that wall, Tcl had to do some case analysis to put them all in different representations! Bad, naughty Tcl.

Here's what's bugging me. When you look at a Tcl_Obj over in the C world, it has a typePtr member to distinguish different types of things:

  • A simple name like A has a NULL typePtr.
  • So does a list of things in braces, like { A B }.
  • A name with some special characters like A[0] has type "string".
  • So does a list of things in braces which extends over a few lines, like:
    { A \
          B }
  • An explicit list like [list A] has type "list".
  • A quoted string like "A B" has NULL. At least I think so. I lost track.
So obviously there are a bunch of if statements in the back-end tangling stuff up like this. But it's nearly impossible to untangle it on the C side.

Stupid Tcl. Stupid case analysis.

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