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HELP AUTOLOAD                                    John Williams, Jan 1991

This file explains the POP-11 "autoload" facility.

         CONTENTS - (Use <ENTER> g to access required sections)

 -- Introduction
 -- Note On Filenames
 -- Related Files

-- Introduction --------------------------------------------------------

When the POP-11 compiler, or the procedure *VALOF, comes across an
undeclared identifier, it will attempt to "autoload" a definition of
that identifier. This involves searching the directories listed in the
variable *POPAUTOLIST for a file whose name (apart from the '.p' suffix)
matches the identifier. The file (which should contain a definition of
the identifier) is then compiled.

For example, if

    (a) the file 'extrafeature.p' defines a procedure or other object
        called "extrafeature"

    (b) the file 'extrafeature.p' is in a directory whose name is in

then any of the following may cause that file to be compiled if the
variable "extrafeature" has not already been declared.

    valof("extrafeature") =>

    extrafeature(x, y);

    extrafeature -> foo;

Since autoloading can involve searching a number of directories, and
attempts will be made to autoload a file whenever an undeclared
identifier is met by the compiler, using variables without first
declaring them can slow down compilation considerably.

If an identifier has been declared using *VARS, then it will not be
autoloaded. If declared using *LVARS then it will not be loaded if read
within the scope of the declaration.

-- POPAUTOLIST --------------------------------------------------------

POPAUTOLIST should contain a list of strings which are the names of
directories. Its default value (on UNIX systems) is something like:

    [ '$poplocalauto' '$popautolib' '$popvedlib' '$popvedlib/term'
        '$usepop/pop/lib/database' '$usepop/pop/lib/turtle']

You can modify POPAUTOLIST in your INIT.P file, which is automatically
loaded when you start POP-11. (See HELP * INITIAL). This makes it
possible for a group of users to share a set of directories that extend
POP-11's libraries.

POPAUTOLIST can also contain procedures, identifiers, and embedded
lists. These are explained in HELP * POPAUTOLIST.

-- SYS_AUTOLOAD --------------------------------------------------------

Autoloading is done by the procedure SYS_AUTOLOAD, defined thus:

    sys_autoload(WORD) -> TRUE, DIR or FALSE

It returns TRUE if WORD is already declared as an identifier, otherwise
it tries loading WORD from a directory in POPAUTOLIST, returning the
library directory if found, and returns FALSE otherwise.

-- SYSLIBCOMPILE -------------------------------------------------------

SYS_AUTOLOAD makes use of the procedure *SYSLIBCOMPILE (as does the LIB
command). SYSLIBCOMPILE is called like this:

    syslibcompile(WORD, DIR_LIST) -> DIR or FALSE

This looks for a file named 'WORD.p' in each of the directories in
DIR_LIST (in left-to-right order). If such a file is found, it is
compiled, and the directory in which it was found is returned as the
result. If a file called 'WORD.p' couldn't be found, SYSLIBCOMPILE
returns false.

argument. The LIB and USES commands call SYSLIBCOMPILE with *POPUSESLIST
as the second argument.

-- POP_AUTOLOAD --------------------------------------------------------

Autoloading can be temporarily or permanently suppressed by:

    false -> pop_autoload;

although this should normally be done locally inside a procedure with

    dlocal pop_autoload = false;

-- PRAUTOLOADWARN ------------------------------------------------------

If SYSLIBCOMPILE successfully locates a library file, then just before
it is compiled, the procedure held in the variable *PRAUTOLOADWARN is
applied to the identifier name.

The default value of PRAUTOLOADWARN is the procedure ERASE, which does
nothing with its argument. If the procedure SYSPRAUTOLOADWARN is
assigned instead, then a warning message will be printed out.

-- Note On Filenames ---------------------------------------------------

On most systems there is a limit to the length of file names whereas
there is no limit to the length of POP-11 identifiers. Hence there can
be a problem finding the file defining an identifier with a long name.
The autoload mechanism copes with this by truncating the identifier name
(on the right) until it is short enough, after adding the suffix '.p' to
be a legal file name. (For Prolog the suffix added is '.pl').

The (possibly truncated) name with the suffix is then used in searching
the directories given in POPAUTOLIST. (In earlier versions of VMS POPLOG
the underscore character was translated to the digit '9' since VMS did
not accept underscores in file names. This changed in VMS version 4.0.)

Notice that on VMS 'sign' variables, such as '++', cannot be autoloaded
because of restrictions on file names. UNIX is more flexible.

The main problem at present is that versions of AT&T UNIX (System V and
derivatives) allow file names with only up to 14 characters. This makes
it impossible to use autoloading for POP-11 identifiers longer than 12
characters if two or more identifiers differ only after the 12th
character. On Berkeley Unix 4.2 or later, the length allowed is 256
characters, which normally suffices. On VMS 39 characters are allowed in
the file name and a further 39 in the suffix. That also normally

Notice that the truncation of file names, used on some machines, may
have unfortunate side effects. Suppose there is file in the library
which contains the definition of FOOBAZGRUMMING then the file name will
be FOOBAZGRUMMI.P (truncated so that after '.P' is added the total is 14
characters.) If the user uses a variable FOOBAZGRUMMIT without first
declaring it then the POP-11 system will 'autoload' the file
FOOBAZGRUMMI.P in order to see whether this declares FOOBAZGRUMMIT.

-- Related Files -------------------------------------------------------

See also
    REF * LIBRARY               - Full explanation of autoloading
    HELP * LIBFILES             - Overview of built-in libraries
    HELP * LOAD                 - Command for loading a file
    HELP * LIB                  - Command for loading a library
    HELP * USES                 - Another command for loading a library
    HELP * POPAUTOLIST           - Search list for autoloadable files
    HELP * POPUSESLIST          - Search list for all POP-11 libraries

--- C.all/help/autoload
--- Copyright University of Sussex 1991. All rights reserved. ----------