package parsexp

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S-expression parsing library


Dune Dependency






This library provides generic parsers for parsing S-expressions from strings or other medium.

The library is focused on performances but still provide full generic parsers that can be used with strings, bigstrings, lexing buffers, character streams or any other sources effortlessly.

It provides three different class of parsers:

  • the normal parsers, producing [Sexp.t] or [Sexp.t list] values
  • the parsers with positions, building compact position sequences so that one can recover original positions in order to report properly located errors at little cost
  • the Concrete Syntax Tree parsers, produce values of type [Parsexp.Cst.t] which record the concrete layout of the s-expression syntax, including comments

This library is portable and doesn't provide IO functions. To read s-expressions from files or other external sources, you should use parsexp_io.

Published: 20 Mar 2018


* Parsexp - S-expression parser

=Parsexp= contains functionality for parsing s-expressions, which are
defined in the [[][Base]] library as follows:

#+begin_src ocaml
module Sexp : sig
  type t = Atom of string | List of t list

=Parsexp= is platform independent and as such doesn't provide IO
operations. The companion library [[][Parsexp_io]] provides facilities for
loading s-expressions from files.

** Syntax of s-expression

*** Lexical conventions of s-expression

Whitespace, which consists of space, newline, horizontal tab, and form
feed, is ignored unless within an OCaml-string, where it is treated
according to OCaml-conventions.  The left parenthesis opens a new
list, the right one closes it.  Lists can be empty.

The double quote denotes the beginning and end of a string using
similar lexing conventions to the ones of OCaml (see the
[[][OCaml-manual]] for details). Differences are:

- octal escape sequences (=\o123=) are not supported by parsexp
- backslash that's not a part of any escape sequence is kept as it is instead of 
  resulting in parse error
- a backslash followed by a space does not form an escape sequence, so it's 
  interpreted as is, while it is interpreted as just a space by OCaml

All characters other than double quotes, left- and right parentheses,
whitespace, carriage return, and comment-introducing characters or
sequences (see next paragraph) are considered part of a contiguous

*** Comments

There are three kinds of comments:

- _line comments_ are introduced with =;=, and end at the newline.
- _sexp comments_ are introduced with =#;=, and end at the end of the
  following s-expression
- _block comments_ are introduced with =#|= and end with =|#=.  These
  can be nested, and double-quotes within them must be balanced and be
  lexically correct OCaml strings.

*** Grammar of s-expressions

s-expressions are either strings (= atoms) or lists.  The lists can
recursively contain further s-expressions or be empty, and must be
balanced, /i.e./ parentheses must match.

*** Examples

#+begin_src scheme
  this_is_an_atom_123'&^%!  ; this is a comment
  "another atom in an OCaml-string \"string in a string\" \123"

  ; empty list follows below

  ; a more complex example
      list in a list  ; comment within a list
      (list in a list in a list)
      42 is the answer to all questions
      #; (this S-expression
           (has been commented out)
      #| Block comments #| can be "nested" |# |#

** API

=Parsexp= offers a few different parsers. Each of them comes in 3

1. =single=, for parsing a source expected to contain a single
   s-expression. Zero or more than 1 s-expressions is considered an
   error and reported as such.
2. =many=, for parsing a source expected to contain multiple
   s-expressions, returned as a list
3. =eager=, for reporting s-expressions to the user as soon as they
   are found in the input source

Parsers all implement the same API. For each parsers, =Parsexp= offers
a low-level API, where one feeds characters one-by-one to the parser,
as well as a convenience functions to parse a whole string.

*** Low-level API

With the low-level API, ones must create a parser state and feed it
characters one by one. This allows =Parsexp= to be used with any kind
of input as well as to be =Lwt= or =Async= friendly.

Essentially, if you want to parse from a different input source, you
have to write the fetch-character-feed-to-parser loop yourself.

*** Parsers

=Parsexp= offers the following parsers:

- _normal parsers_ returning values of type =Sexp.t=
- _with positions_ returning s-expressions as well as a set of
  positions (see next section)
- _just positions_ returning only a set of positions
- _CST_ return a concrete syntax tree, including all comment and

In addition, it provides convenience functions for parsing strings and
converting the result with a =Sexp.t -> 'a= function, reporting errors
with accurate locations.

Each parsing/conversion functions comes in two variants: one raising
exception in case of error and one returning a =Result.t= value. In
general you should use the latter since parsing is an operation that
can always fail.

*** Positions sets and error reporting

To deal with error locations when converting S-expressions to OCaml
values, =Parsexp= introduces the notion of compact positions sets.

A positions set represents positions in the input source of all
s-expressions. It has a small memory footprint and is relatively cheap
to construct. Using a positions set and the corresponding
s-expression, one can reconstruct the location of any sub
s-expressions in the input source.

Depending on the input source, one can either:

- parse a first time without recording positions and parse a second
  time only producing positions in case of error
- parse only once producing both the s-expressions and the positions

The first method has the advantage that it is faster where there are
no errors, however it is not suitable for sources that can't guarantee
repeatable reads such as files.

Dependencies (3)

  1. jbuilder >= "1.0+beta18.1"
  2. sexplib0 >= "v0.11" & < "v0.12"
  3. ocaml >= "4.04.1" & < "4.13"

Dev Dependencies


Used by (9)

  1. bap-frontend >= "1.6.0" & < "2.1.0"
  2. bap-primus >= "1.6.0" & < "2.1.0"
  3. bap-recipe
  4. bap-recipe-command
  5. bare >= "1.6.0" & < "2.1.0"
  6. odep
  7. parsexp_io = "v0.11.0"
  8. sexplib = "v0.11.0"
  9. tezos-tooling >= "13.0"




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