TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Forth Structures
Volume Number:2
Issue Number:9
Column Tag:Threaded Code

Adding Record Structures to Forth

By Jörg Langowski, EMBL, c/o I.L.L., Grenoble, Cedex, France, MacTutor Editorial Board

Records with local field names

Data representation is a field that is neglected by many Forth dialects. Basic Forth-83 doesn't even provide for simple one and two dimensional matrices, neither are more complex types of data supported, such as Pascal records or C structs. These latter forms of data representation play a most important role in Toolbox programming, since very many traps expect pointers to records as parameters.

A letter received through BITNET from a reader who was wondering how to install a way to handle such data structures in Forth got me started on this month's column:

"I posted the following article to the USENET, but got little in the way of a response. Any help you can give will be much appreciated. By the way, I know that the rectangle definitions given below are inaccurate for the Mac, but I was trying to be machine independent in posting to the Forth language newsgroup.

From postnews Thu Jun 12 15:23:34 1986

Subject: Defining a structure in FORTH?

Newsgroups: net.lang.forth

Distribution: net

I am very much a novice FORTH programmer, and I don't even have a good textbook to go by. I recently purchased a FORTH for my Macintosh at home (MACH1, distributed by the Palo Alto Shipping Co.), and would like some advice. Professionally I do a lot of work with LISP, and I would like to implement something similar to a `DEFSTRUCT' package in FORTH. In other words, I'd like to be able to do something like:

    DEFSTRUCT[ RECTANGLE
           TOP    2
           LEFT   2
           BOTTOM 2
           RIGHT  2 ]ENDSTRUCT

Which would automatically define the following:

    8 CONSTANT RECTANGLE-SIZE
    : RECTANGLE-TOP@ ( a - n ) @ ;
    : RECTANGLE-TOP! ( n a - ) ! ;
    : RECTANGLE-LEFT@ ( a - n ) 2 + @ ;
    : RECTANGLE-LEFT! ( n a - ) 2 + ! ;
    : RECTANGLE-BOTTOM@ ( a - n ) 4 + @ ;
    : RECTANGLE-BOTTOM! ( n a - ) 4 + ! ;
    : RECTANGLE-RIGHT@ ( a - n ) 6 + @ ;
    : RECTANGLE-RIGHT! ( n a - ) 6 + ! ;
    : MAKE-RECTANGLE ( whatever code
 necessary to allocate 8 bytes of variable storage and assign a dictionary 
entry to the word which follows.This I guess would be implementation 
specific. ) ;

While I'm sure that this could be done by defining 'DEFSTRUCT[' so that it constructs all of the necessary dictionary headers etc. at the bit and byte level, this would doubtless be complicated and not very portable. I wonder then, if there is a higher level method of defining such a beast? Any help (even "no that can't be done") would be appreciated."

--Bruce Florman florman@rand-unix.ARPA

Since I think the question put forward by Bruce Florman is of very general interest to Macintosh Forth programmers, I'll try to show a way how such data structures may be implemented in MacForth or Mach2.

Structures in MacForth (CSI method)

MacForth (Kernel 2.4) provides a simple and effective way to implement structure definitions. A structure definition is a way to assemble information about a data structure (the lengths of the various fields and the total length of the structure). Example:

structure testrec
 long: ^date
 long: ^time
 byte: ^flag
   20 string: ^description
structure.end 

defines the data structure testrec with four fields, date, time, flag, and description. testrec is not a defining word. When executed, it merely leaves on the stack the length of the structure that is going to be defined; this number can then be used to allot an appropriate number of bytes in the dictionary. So, creation of a testrec would be done like:

create myrec testrec allot

The words that are used to access the field, ^date, ^time, ^flag, and ^description, simply add an offset to the number on top of stack. If this number is the address of a valid structure, like myrec,

myrec  ^flag

would indeed yield the address of the flag field in myrec. [Note that the circumflex in front of the field names is purely a MacForth convention, you could name the fields as you like].

This solution is beautifully simple and helps very much improving the readability of your program text if you are working with lots of structured data types. There is one drawback, however, that the field name definitions are global to the program and therefore violate the conventional definition of a Pascal record, in which field names are always local to the structure.

This means you have to exercise a lot of discipline when you work with structures defined in this way. On executing a field operator, it is not checked whether the address on top of stack is really the address of a structure, so bugs that leave unexpected values on the stack would be harder to detect. Furthermore, since all the field names are global, they may not occur in several different structure definitions in different contexts.

Therefore, I'd like to present an alternative to CSI's implementation of structures which uses local field names. This is slower during compilation, since every structure definition will have its own local dictionary that has to be searched, but in most cases has the same speed during execution. It offers the additional advantage that by a very simple modification, a rudimentary NEON-like class behavior may be built in.

Record definition with local field names

From now on, we'll call the type of data structure dealt with a record, to emphasize the similarity with Pascal records. A record definition will be a template from which an arbitrary number of instances of this record can be built (note that this already strongly resembles NEON's terminology). Each instance will consist of a reference to its template and the data fields as defined in the template (Fig. 1).

A record definition (Listing 1) then consists of:

- the word :record, which sets up a defining word for the instances and initializes the stack for the field name definitions following;

- field name definitions (>long, >word, etc.), which add names to the record template and store (after the name) the length of the data field and its position within the record;

- ;record, which closes the definition, stores a 16-bit zero and the total length of the record at the end of the template, and checks for completeness of the definition.

An example definition is given at the end of Listing 1.

Run-time behavior of records

The run-time behavior of a record template defined through :record is given by the word do.record. This word scans the list of field names in the record template and creates a new instance of the record with a pointer to the template in its first four bytes and space for the data fields following it.

The run-time behavior of the record instance is just to place its base address (the pointer to the template) on the stack. Access to the record fields is provided through ^field, which expects an address of a record instance and a string address on the stack. ^field will search the record template for the field name and leave the (absolute) field address on the stack or abort with an error message if the string does not match any field name in that particular record.

The operator ^ is provided for readability; executing

r1 ^ date

will give the same result as executing

r1 " date" ^field.

So far, we have only talked about execution time behavior of records. However, most of the times one would want to compile references to record fields into Forth definitions rather than execute them directly. For inclusion into Forth definitions, one way is to write

: test1 [ r1 ^ date ] literal ....... ;

which compiles the address of the date field of r1 into the definition as a literal. If a run-time reference to an arbitrary record is to be made, one can either write

: test2 ( record addr -- addr of date field )
  " date" ^field ;

which also checks at runtime for the validity of the date reference (something like 'late binding'), or, for faster execution, one writes

: test3 (record addr -- addr of date field )
  [ r1 dup ^ date - ] literal + ;

which assumes that the record address passed at run time refers to a record of the same type as r1. But in that case, CSI's structure definition is, of course, equivalent and easier to read.

From record to class definitions - using record fields as vectors

A simple, again very rudimentary, implementation of a NEON class like structure can be obtained using the record definition given here. If the data contained in a >long field (lets say with the field name print) is the cfa of a Forth word, writing

r1 ^ print @ execute (Mach2) or

r1 ^ print @ make.token execute
  (MacForth)

will execute the word that the print field of r1 points to. (In MacForth, one might also reserve a >word field and store a token there, then say r1 ^ print @ execute).

Vectors within records are very similar to methods associated with objects. Of course, method inheritance from superclasses has not been implemented here, so the resemblance to 'real' object oriented languages is not very strong.

Some extensions to Mach2 for MacForth compatibility

At the beginning of Listing 1 I have included some definitions for MacForth words that are not included in Mach2. Those are the words =cells, needed, and -string. The latter, a string comparison operator, has been implemented in two different ways; in both cases, the top two stack items are string addresses, and the flag returned is 0 if the strings are equal and 1 if not. =string uses the IUMagIDString routine from the international utilities package, which does a better job in comparing name strings that contain umlauts, diacritical marks etc., but is slower. -string uses the _Cmpstring trap, which is much faster and the recommended one to use for applications like this one.

MacForth Plus - no more Level 1,2,3

Readers of the CSI newsletter might have received an announcement of their latest update to MacForth by the time this is in print. Anyway, I'll tell you a few things about it that I was told in a letter at the time I wrote this (June).

• MacForth Plus, to be released at the end of August, will supersede all previous versions and levels of MacForth. Its version of the kernel will "...execute considerably faster than K2.4 It will execute faster than Mach1."

• Normal text file editing will be supported, as well as block file editing.

• Multitasking, which was undocumented, but in principle possible with MacForth, will be fully supported in MacForth Plus.

• The documentation will contain in one single manual the Level 1,2 and 3 informations, as well as the new features.

• Stand-alone applications can be produced by a built-in turnkey mechanism.

• The upgrade from Level 2 will be available for (scheduled) $49 upgrade fee, which includes the manual. Level 3 users will receive a free upgrade.

This sounds very interesting. I hope I'll soon have a test copy to write about.

Listing 1: record structures in Forth
( Structures, Mach-2 version                  
----------
Adding a structure compiler to Forth. JL 26.6.86.
This file defines a Pascal-like 'record' structure;
a record is a template for instances of the structure.
Example
:record a
    >long field1
    >word field2
;record

myrec r1 \this creates an instance r1 of myrec whose fields
          may be accessed through myrec ^ field1 etc..

for 'late binding' usage, the word ^field is provided)

only forth also assembler
decimal
( some MacForth definitions that Mach1 is missing )
: =cells dup 2 mod + ;
: needed depth 1- > abort" NEEDED- not enough stack items" ;

CODE =string 
      count rot count rot swap  
      MOVE.W    #0,-(A7)
      MOVE.L    $C(A6),-(A7)
      MOVE.L    $8(A6),-(A7)
      MOVE.W    $6(A6),-(A7)
      MOVE.W    $2(A6),-(A7)
      MOVE.W    #12,-(A7)
      _pack6 
      ADDQ.L    #8,A6
      ADDQ.L    #8,A6
      MOVE.W    (A7)+,-(A6)
      MOVE.W    #0,-(A6)
      RTS
END-CODE

CODE -string 
      count rot count swap  
      MOVE.L    (A6)+,A0
      MOVE.L    (A6)+,D0
      SWAP.W    D0
      MOVE.L    (A6)+,D1
      MOVE.W    D1,D0   
      MOVE.L    (A6)+,A1
      _cmpstring
      MOVE.L    D0,-(A6)
      RTS
END-CODE

( do.record, creating one instance of a record )  ( 062686 jl )
: do.record  ( addr of master | -- )
    create  dup ,
        begin dup c@ dup while ( not zero, i.e. end)
            1+ =cells 4 + + ( next field in template )
        repeat
    drop 2+ w@ ( length stored here ) allot
    does>  ( nothing special )
;

( :record ;record and friends)                    ( 062686 jl )

:  :record  create 13579 4 does> do.record ;

:  ;record  2 needed
    0 w, ( end of list) w, ( total length )
    13579 = 0= abort" ;record without :record"
;

:  put.fieldname
    32 word here over c@ 1+ dup =cells allot cmove ;


( field defining words )                          ( 062686 jl )
: >long ( addr | addr+4)
        put.fieldname dup w, 4 w, 4 + ;
: >word ( addr | addr+2)
        put.fieldname dup w, 2 w, 2+ ;
: >byte ( addr | addr+1)
        put.fieldname dup w, 1 w, 1+ ;
: >bytes ( addr \ n | addr+n )
        put.fieldname over w, dup w, + ;
 
( ^field, addressing a field within a record )    ( 062686 jl )
: ^field ( addr name | address of field )
    over @ ( addr name master )
        begin 2dup -string while ( no match )
            dup c@ 6 + =cells +
            dup c@ 0= ( end of list )
                abort" RECORD- specified field does not exist"
        repeat
    ( match found )
    dup c@ 1+ =cells + w@ ( start within record )
    swap drop   +  ( address of field )
;

( ^ )                                   ( 062686 jl )

: ^   32 word ^field ;

( example of a record structure )                 ( 062686 jl )
:record testrec
    >long date
    >long time
    >byte flag
    >word counts
 30 >bytes description
;record

testrec r1
testrec r2
 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Live Home 3D Pro 3.6.2 - $49.99
Live Home 3D Pro is powerful yet intuitive home design software that lets you build the house of your dreams right on your Mac, iPhone or iPad. It has every feature of Live Home 3D, plus some... Read more
RapidWeaver 8.2 - Create template-based...
RapidWeaver is a next-generation Web design application to help you easily create professional-looking Web sites in minutes. No knowledge of complex code is required, RapidWeaver will take care of... Read more
Opera 60.0.3255.109 - High-performance W...
Opera is a fast and secure browser trusted by millions of users. With the intuitive interface, Speed Dial and visual bookmarks for organizing favorite sites, news feature with fresh, relevant content... Read more
DEVONthink Pro 3.0beta2 - Knowledge base...
DEVONthink Pro is your essential assistant for today's world, where almost everything is digital. From shopping receipts to important research papers, your life often fills your hard drive in the... Read more
Tunnelblick 3.7.9 - GUI for OpenVPN.
Tunnelblick is a free, open source graphic user interface for OpenVPN on OS X. It provides easy control of OpenVPN client and/or server connections. It comes as a ready-to-use application with all... Read more
Carbon Copy Cloner 5.1.9 - Easy-to-use b...
Carbon Copy Cloner backups are better than ordinary backups. Suppose the unthinkable happens while you're under deadline to finish a project: your Mac is unresponsive and all you hear is an ominous,... Read more
Dropbox 73.4.118 - Cloud backup and sync...
Dropbox is an application that creates a special Finder folder that automatically syncs online and between your computers. It allows you to both backup files and keeps them up-to-date between systems... Read more
Postbox 6.1.18 - Powerful and flexible e...
Postbox is a new email application that helps you organize your work life and get stuff done. It has all the elegance and simplicity of Apple Mail, but with more power and flexibility to manage even... Read more
Wireshark 3.0.2 - Network protocol analy...
Wireshark is one of the world's foremost network protocol analyzers, and is the standard in many parts of the industry. It is the continuation of a project that started in 1998. Hundreds of... Read more
BetterTouchTool 2.856 - Customize multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more

AFK Arena guide - Everything you need to...
Ok, so if you're like me, you've been playing (and sometimes waiting) your way through AFK Arena, only to learn there's a lot more to it than there appears on the surface. There's guilds, a PvP arena, and all sorts of other systems and game modes... | Read more »
Explore an epic fantasy world in MMORPG...
Webzen have just announced the official launch date for its stunning MMORPG ‘MU Origin 2’ which will arrive for iOS and Android on May 28th. It will be the second spinoff from the classic PC-based MU Online, and it looks to further refine the... | Read more »
Solar Explorer: New Dawn guide - Tips an...
Solar Explorer: New Dawn is a lunar lander game that really ratchets the intensity up to 11. With all of the asteroids flying around as you fly around at seemingly breakneck speeds, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed bythe whole thing. | Read more »
The Dalaran Heist - How Hearthstone...
I am someone who wrote Hearthstone off a while ago. It was hard not to try and stick with it. The game has incredible production values and a core of really great talent working on the game continuously to keep it feeling fresh and fun (full... | Read more »
Steam Link App - Everything You Need to...
Steam Link has finally released for iOS! That’s right, you can play your epic backlog of PC games on the go now. Well… sort of. While the Steam Link app was announced seemingly ages ago, it only got actual approval for release last night. Check out... | Read more »
Pre-register now for endless superhero r...
Talking Tom Hero Dash is set to take the ever-popular Talking Tom and Friends franchise in a brand new direction as it opens pre-registration to players worldwide. Not only does it promise to be a beautifully rendered, fast-paced, action-packed... | Read more »
AFK Arena - Guild Wars guide
Ok, so if you're like me, you've been playing (and sometimes waiting) your way through AFK Arena, only to learn there's a lot more to it than there appears on the surface. There's guilds, a PvP arena, and all sorts of other systems and game modes... | Read more »
Superhero-themed Talking Tom Hero Dash i...
One of the exciting releases that we’re looking forward to is Talking Tom Hero Dash, an upcoming superhero-themed runner created by Outfit7. This new game is an action-packed endless runner that takes you on an epic adventure to assemble the... | Read more »
Kingdom Rush Vengeance Update Guide 2 -...
Kingdom Rush: Vengeance just got updated once again to add more content to the game. This addition, called The Frozen Nightmare, adds three new levels, five new enemies, two new heroes, and some new achievements. | Read more »
Save the world with SCIENCE in the upcom...
Previous versions of space colonization game TerraGenesis encouraged you to explore the galaxy and settle its planets. The eagerly-awaited 5.0 update will try to smash them to bits. Yep, with a new "world killers" setting, you can unleash... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

12″ 1.2GHz MacBooks on sale for $999, $300 of...
Amazon has current-generation 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $300 off Apple’s MSRP. Shipping is free: 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook: $999.99 $300 off MSRP 12″ 1.2GHz Silver MacBook: $999.99 $... Read more
Here’s how to save $200 on Apple’s new 8-Core...
Apple has released details of their Education discount associated with the new 2019 15″ 6-Core and 8-Core MacBook Pros. Take $200 off the price of the new 8-Core model (now $2599) and $150 off the 15... Read more
Price drops! 2018 15″ 2.2GHz 6-Core MacBook P...
Amazon has dropped prices on clearance 2018 15″ 2.2GHz 6-Core Touch Bar MacBook Pros by $300 with models now available for $2099. These are the same models sold by Apple in their retail and online... Read more
Apple drops prices on 2018 13″ 2.3GHz Quad-Co...
Apple has dropped prices on Certified Refurbished 2018 13″ 2.3GHz 4-Core Touch Bar MacBook Pros with prices now starting at $1489. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, shipping is free, and each... Read more
Apple drops prices on 2018 Certified Refurbis...
Apple has dropped prices on clearance 2018 15″ 6-Core Touch Bar MacBook Pro, Certified Refurbished, with models available starting at only $1999. Each model features a new outer case, shipping is... Read more
Price drops! Clearance 2018 13″ Quad Core Mac...
Amazon has dropped prices on 2018 13″ Apple Quad-Core MacBook Pros with models now available for $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free. Select Amazon as the seller, rather than a third-party, to... Read more
How Much Is ‘Solace’ Of Mind Worth When Buyin...
COMMENTARY: 05.22.19- Smartphone cases give us peace of mind by providing ample protection for such a fragile gadget and the sky’s the limit as far as choices go with a plethora of brands, styles,... Read more
Get a 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pro for the lowes...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ 3.1GHz Dual-Core i5 Touch Bar MacBook Pros available starting at $1439, ranging up to $390 off original MSRP. Each MacBook features a new outer case, shipping... Read more
Apple adds new 15″ 8-Core MacBook Pro to line...
Apple has added a new 15″ MacBook Pro to its lineup featuring a 9th generation 2.3GHz 8-Core Intel i9 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory for $2799.... Read more
21″ 2.3GHz iMac available for $999 at B&H...
B&H Photo has the 2018 21″ 2.3GHz Apple iMac on sale for $100 off MSRP. This is the same model offering by Apple in their retail and online stores. Shipping is free: – 21″ 2.3GHz iMac (MMQA2LL/A... Read more

Jobs Board

Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**690427BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Sales **Location Number:** 000860-Charlottesville-Store **Job Description:** **What Read more
*Apple* Mobile Master - Best Buy (United Sta...
**696430BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobile Master **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 001012-Bismarck-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Read more
Manager - *Apple* Team - SHI International...
…opportunity available in the Hardware & Advanced Solutions Department as the Manager of the Apple Team The Manager must be familiar with all aspects of Apple Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**696375BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Sales **Location Number:** 000203-North Austin-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Read more
Geek Squad *Apple* Master Consultation Agen...
**696286BR** **Job Title:** Geek Squad Apple Master Consultation Agent **Job Category:** Services/Installation/Repair **Location Number:** 000172-Rivergate-Store Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.