Oil Language Warts

This documents describes parts of the Oil language that may be surprising.

All languages have warts, but most of them don't document them for you! Even a nice language like Python has surprising cases like 42, and f(x), being a 1-tuple (because of the trailing comma).

Oil's goal is to remove the many warts of shell, documented at Shell WTFs. Nonetheless it has some of its own.

Table of Contents
For Bash Compatibility
C-Escaped Strings
Two Left Parens Should be Separated By Space
Case Patterns are in Parens, But They're Words, Not Expressions
Function Sub Isn't Allowed in Double Quoted Strings
Two Different Syntaxes For Block and Expr Literals
In read :x, The Colon is a "Pseudo-Sigil"
Related

For Bash Compatibility

C-Escaped Strings

The $'line\n' syntax is confusing because of the $ character.

It's also not consistent with raw strings like r'foo', while c'foo' would be.

If we were starting from scratch, I would have chosen a different prefix, but it isn't worth the breakage and complexity. All string literals exist in both command and expression mode, which is tricky to implement.

Two Left Parens Should be Separated By Space

No:

if ((x + 1) < n) {  # note ((
  echo 'less'
}

Yes:

if ( (x + 1) < n) {  # add a space
  echo 'less'
}

This is because the (( token is for bash arithmetic, which is disallowed in Oil.

Case Patterns are in Parens, But They're Words, Not Expressions

Code inside () without sigils is usually parsed as an expression:

if (x > 0) { echo 'positive' }
while (x > 0) { echo 'hi' }
for x in (mydict) { echo 'hi' }

See Command vs. Expression Mode. But this isn't true of case patterns, which are parsed as words:

case $x {
  (*.py) echo 'Python' ;;
  (*.sh) echo 'Shell'  ;;
  (*)    echo 'Other'  ;;
}

This syntax, including the ;; operator, is inherited from shell. (Aside: In Oil, the left paren is required. Matchin parens are easier for tools to understand.)

Function Sub Isn't Allowed in Double Quoted Strings

You can do

echo $f(x)

but not

echo "_ $f(x) _"   # means the variable $f and then literals '(x)' !

Instead you have to use an expression sub:

echo "_ $[f(x)] _"

You can also factor it out:

var s = f(x)
echo "_ $s _"

To disambiguate the cases, use explicit braces:

echo "_ ${f}(x) _"  # variable f
echo "_ $[f(x)] _"  # function call f

Two Different Syntaxes For Block and Expr Literals

Blocks look different in command vs expression mode:

cd /tmp {                   # command mode { }
  echo $PWD
}
var myblock = ^(echo $PWD)  # expression mode, lazy ^( )

So do expressions:

myproc | where (age > 10)   # command mode, lazy ( )
var myval = age > 10        # expression mode
var myexpr = ^[age > 10]    # expression mode, lazy ^[ ]

It would have been nicer if they were consistent, but shell is already inconsistent with $(echo hi) and { echo hi; }.

There is consistency in other directions:

Most users won't see these literal forms very much. They're more useful for testing and frameworks rather than simple scripts/applications.

In read :x, The Colon is a "Pseudo-Sigil"

Sigils like $ and @ are statically parsed, but the optional : is dynamically parsed by every builtin that supports it.

This is a minor inconsistency, but I like having a symbol for a variable to be mutated.

Related


Generated on Wed Sep 21 22:55:48 EDT 2022