[OpenSCAD] Openscad Indirect Functions

Carsten Arnholm arnholm at arnholm.org
Sat Oct 15 06:30:23 EDT 2016

On 15. okt. 2016 00:58, Parkinbot wrote:
> nice: :
>> a = 10;
>> a();
>> module a(){
>>   a = a;
>>   echo(a);
>>   echo(a());
>>   a();
>>   function a() = 20;
>>   module a(){
>>     a = a;
>>     echo(a);
>>     echo(a());
>>     function a() = 20;
>>   }
>> }

Very good! Everything is obvious from the context, right?

The problem is implicit, but separate namespaces for variables, 
functions and modules. It is confusing to the human reader, such code 
will lead to unexpected results. It doesn't matter if the compiler is 
'right' if the user expects something else. This kind of confusion is 
best avoided (IMHO), and in several other languages it is an error 
(example below).

My first idea would be to use an existing front end language with such 
issues already handled instead of inventing a new one for OpenSCAD, but 
since that is too late perhaps one may at least consider what other 
languages do to resolve such issues.

Perhaps in OpenSCAD one could make explicit that 3 namespaces always 
exist, for example:

variables : where variable names exist
functions : where function names exist
modules : where module names exist

As long as all symbols used in the OpenSCAD user code are unique across 
namespaces, there are no issues and all is working as before. However, 
once the same symbol names appear in different namespaces, a warning 
could be issued. To remove the warning, the user would use other names 
or alternatively use explicit namespace prefixing to make the 
interpretation clear, for example:

a = 10;
module a(){
   a = a;
   function a() = 20;

   module a(){
     a = a;
     function a() = 30;

The fact that modules can be nested, makes it even more confusing to a 
reader, the prefixes are supposed to be local in this example.

To compare, I just did a small test. The following code (some irrelevant 
code not shown) causes errors in C++ and AngelScript because of name 
resolution issues as in your OpenSCAD example. First code line is line 4:

double a = 10;
double a() { return 20; }
void language_test()
    print(' ');

Tryng it with 2 C++ compilers and the AngelScript interpreter gave 
consistent errors:

MSVC2013 C++ (windows):
main.cpp(5) : error C2365: 'a' : redefinition; previous definition was 
'data variable'
main.cpp(8) : error C2064: term does not evaluate to a function taking 0 

GNU g++ (linux):
main.cpp:5:10: error: ‘double a()’ redeclared as different kind of symbol
main.cpp:8:12: error: ‘a’ cannot be used as a function

  asERR : (line 5, col 1) : Name conflict. 'a' is a global property.

However, when introducing an explicit namespace, all are ok:

double a = 10;
namespace functions { double a() { return 20; } }
void language_test()
    print(' ');

the output is :  20 10

As always, this is just food for thought.

Carsten Arnholm

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