Structured access to bytevector contents.
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README.md

Structured access to bytevector contents

Example

;; define a scheme bytestructure for a C struct
(define my-position-struct (bs:struct `((x ,int) (y ,int))))

;; initialize an instance of `my-position-struct`
(define position (bytestructure my-position-struct))

;; bytestructure-set!
(bytestructure-set! position 'x 42)
(bytestructure-set! position 'y 101)

;; bytestructure-ref
(bytestructure-ref position 'x) ;; => 42

;; retrieve the underlying bytevector
(define bv (bytestructure-bytevector position)) ;; => #vu8(42 0 0 0 101 0 0 0)

;; creating a bytestructure from an existing bytevector
(define position2 (make-bytestructure bv 0 my-position-struct))

There is also a faster macro API.

Introduction

This library offers a system imitating the type system of the C programming language, to be used on bytevectors. C's type system works on raw memory, and ours works on bytevectors which are an abstraction over raw memory in Scheme. The system is in fact more powerful than the C type system, elevating types to first-class status.

A C type corresponds to a "bytestructure descriptor" object in our system.

;; typedef uint8_t uint8_v3_t[3];
(define uint8-v3 (bs:vector 3 uint8))

;; typedef struct { uint16_t x; uint8_v3_t y; } my_struct_t;
(define my-struct (bs:struct `((x ,uint16) (y ,uint8-v3))))

These can then be bundled with a bytevector, yielding a "bytestructure" object on which referencing and assignment work in accordance with the types declared in the descriptor.

;; my_struct_t str;
(define str (bytestructure my-struct))

;; my_struct_t str = { 0, 1 };
(define str (bytestructure my-struct #(0 1)))

;; str.y[2]
(bytestructure-ref str 'y 2)

;; str.y[2] = 42;
(bytestructure-set! str 'y 2 42)

If your Scheme implementation supports syntax-case, then a macro-based API is available as well, for when the procedural API is too slow for your purposes.

(define-bytestructure-accessors my-struct
   my-struct-unwrap my-struct-ref my-struct-set!)

(define foo (make-bytevector ...))

;; foo.y[2]
(my-struct-ref foo y 2)

;; foo.y[2] = 42;
(my-struct-set! foo y 2 42)

(Note that we don't use the bytestructure data type anymore; we work directly on bytevectors. The struct fields are also implicitly quoted and can't be variable references, since their look-up will happen at compile time. The unwrapper will be explained later.)

There are also "dynamic" bytestructure descriptors, whose behavior depends on the bytevector on which they're used. For instance a binary file format may specify that there are tag bytes declaring the lengths of following fields. The system can express this cleanly.

Supported platforms

R7RS and GNU Guile are supported. Detailed instructions per Scheme implementation follow.

Chibi

  • Clone the Larceny source repository:

    git clone https://github.com/larcenists/larceny
    
  • Append $larceny_repo/tools/R6RS to the Chibi load-path via the -A command-line flag.

  • Append this directory to the Chibi load-path via the -A command-line flag.

  • Import (bytestructures r7).

Gauche

  • Clone the Larceny source repository:

    git clone https://github.com/larcenists/larceny
    
  • Go to its tools/R6RS/r6rs/ sub-directory.

  • Run the following shell command in that directory and its sub-directories:

    for file in *.sld; do
       name=${file%.sld}
       ln -s $file $name.scm
    done
  • Add $larceny_repo/tools/R6RS to GAUCHE_LOAD_PATH.

  • Add this directory to GAUCHE_LOAD_PATH.

  • Import (bytestructures r7).

Guile

  • Add this directory to GUILE_LOAD_PATH.

(You can use the -L command line flag instead of augmenting GUILE_LOAD_PATH, but don't use it with a relative path, because include-from-path doesn't work well with that, which we use.)

  • Import (bytestructures guile).

Kawa

  • Clone the Larceny source repository:

    git clone  https://github.com/larcenists/larceny
    
  • Run Kawa with a command line flag such as the following to add $larceny_repo/tools/R6RS and this directory to the load path, and to make it look for .sld files:

    -Dkawa.import.path="$bytestructures_repo/*.sld:$larceny_repo/tools/R6RS/*.sld"
    

(The * stands for any number of directories, so sub-directories will also be searched for .sld files.)

  • Import (bytestructures r7).

Larceny

  • Add this directory to LARCENY_LIBPATH.

  • Run Larceny with the -r7rs flag.

  • Import (bytestructures r7).

Specification

A bytestructure descriptor, also called simply a descriptor within this specification, is an object encapsulating information about the layout and meanings of the bytes in a bytevector object.

A bytestructure is an object bundling a bytevector with a bytestructure descriptor so that values can be extracted from that bytevector conveniently, using the information in the descriptor.

A dynamic descriptor is a bytestructure descriptor whose size and/or unwrapper procedures reference their bytevector and/or offset arguments. (See below.)

The argument name descriptor signifies that an argument must be a bytestructure descriptor, bytestructure signifies that it must be a bytestructure, and offset signifies that it must be an exact non-negative integer.

Knowledge of the C programming language is recommended for a proper understanding of this specification. Specifically, example code is often annotated with conceptually equivalent C code.

High-level API

A set of predefined bytestructure descriptors, as well as procedures for creating compound descriptors of certain kinds, are provided to the user, mostly obviating the need to work with the bytestructure descriptor API directly, which is explained further below.

Constructors for compound descriptors

bs:vector
  • (bs:vector length descriptor) procedure

Returns a descriptor for vectors, also called a vector descriptor, of length length and the element descriptor descriptor. This corresponds to an array type in the C programming language.

;; uint16_t vec[3] = { 0, 1, 2 };
(define vec (bytestructure (bs:vector 3 uint16) #(0 1 2)))

;; vec[1]
(bytestructure-ref vec 1)

;; vec[1] = 42;
(bytestructure-set! vec 1 42)

The elements are indexed with exact non-negative integers, and no bounds checking is done; an off-bounds index will either raise an error due to an off-bounds bytevector index, or attempt to decode whatever bytes are found at the relevant place in the bytevector, which might result in a valid value without raising an error.

Vector descriptors are normally meant for indexing through, but also allow direct assignment. The value provided for assignment must be a regular Scheme vector of the same length as the vector descriptor. Each element of that vector is assigned to the corresponding element of the vector bytestructure, using the assignment semantics of the element descriptor.

;; (Reusing 'vec' from the previous example.)

;; Uses bytevector-u16-set! three times.
(bytestructure-set! vec #(21 42 84))

One may also provide a bytevector, in which case as many bytes as the size of the bytestructure will be copied into it.

;; The results of this depend on endianness.
;; Only the first 6 bytes from the bytevector will be copied.
(bytestructure-set! vec #u8(0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8))

These assignment semantics may not be used with the macro API.

Vector descriptors don't accept dynamic descriptors as their element descriptor, because they calculate their total size eagerly and thus need to know the size of their element descriptor independently from the bytevector on which they will be used.

bs:struct
  • (bs:struct fields) procedure
  • (bs:struct pack fields) procedure

Returns a descriptor for structs, also called a struct descriptor. Fields must be a list of field specs (see below). Pack may be #f, #t, or an exact positive integer. If pack is omitted or #f, the struct alignment of the platform's C ABI is used. If pack is #t, there are no padding fields (except for those resulting from bit-fields). If pack is an integer, it specifies the maximum alignment value for the fields, similar to the #pack directive of the GCC C compiler.

A field spec is a list of two or three elements. The first element must be a symbol which names the field (or #f, see below). Every field must have a distinct name (except if #f). The second element must be a bytestructure descriptor which becomes the descriptor of the field. The third element, if present, must be an exact non-negative integer; it signifies that the field is a bit-field of that width. The descriptor of a bit-field must be one that decodes values to exact integers, such as for instance uint8 or int32.

The width of a bit-field may be zero, which means padding should be inserted in its place until the next alignment boundary of the descriptor of that bit-field is reached. A zero-width bit-field must have #f as its name.

;; typedef struct { uint8_t x; uint16_t y; } my_struct_t;
(define my-struct (bs:struct `((x ,uint8) (y ,uint16))))

;; my_struct_t str = { 0, 1 };
(define str (bytestructure my-struct #(0 1)))

;; my_struct_t str = { .y = 1, .x = 0 };
(define str (bytestructure my-struct '((y 1) (x 0))))

;; str.y
(bytestructure-ref str 'y)

;; str.y = 42;
(bytestructure-set! str 'y 42)

;; Assuming a 32-bit platform:

;; struct { unsigned int a:16; unsigned int b:16; }
(bs:struct `((a ,uint32 16) (b ,uint32 16)))

;; struct { unsigned int a:16; int :0; signed int b:20; }
(bs:struct `((a ,uint32 16) (#f ,int32 0) (b ,int32 20)))

Struct descriptors are normally meant for indexing through, but also allow direct assignment. The value provided for assignment may be a Scheme vector as long as there are fields in the struct descriptor, which will assign all fields sequentially; or a list of two-element lists, which will assign any number of fields by name.

;; (Reusing 'str' from the previous example.)

;; str = (my_struct_t){ 0, 1 };
(bytestructure-set! str #(0 1))

;; str = (my_struct_t){ .y = 2, .x = 1 };
(bytestructure-set! str '((y 2) (x 1)))

One may also provide a bytevector, in which case as many bytes as the size of the bytestructure will be copied into it.

;; The field 'x' is set to 0; the value of the field 'y' will
;; depend on endianness.
;; Only the first 3 bytes from the bytevector will be copied.
(bytestructure-set! str #u8(0 1 2 3 4 5))

These assignment semantics may not be used with the macro API.

Struct descriptors don't accept dynamic descriptors as field descriptors, because they calculate their total size eagerly.

When using the macro API, the field names are implicitly quoted and looked up at macro-expand time.

(define-bytestructure-accessors my-struct
  my-struct-unwrap my-struct-ref my-struct-set!)

;; foo.y
(my-struct-ref foo-bytevector y)

;; foo.y = 42;
(my-struct-set! foo-bytevector y 42)
bs:union
  • (bs:union fields) procedure

Returns a descriptor for unions, also called a union descriptor. Fields has the same format as in bs:struct.

;; typedef union { uint8_t x; uint16_t y; } my_union_t;
(define my-union (bs:union `((x ,uint8) (y ,uint16))))

;; my_union_t union = { .y = 42 };
(define union (bytestructure my-union '(y 42)))

;; union.y
(bytestructure-ref union 'y)

;; union.y = 42;
(bytestructure-set! union 'y 42)

Union descriptors are normally meant for indexing through, but also allow direct assignment. The value provided for assignment must be a two-element list, whose first element names the field whose descriptor should be used for the assignment, and the second element provides the value to be actually assigned.

;; union.y = 42;
(bytestructure-set! union '(y 42))

Rationale: This syntax isn't shorter than the normal way of assigning a value into the union, but is supported for reasons that should become apparent after reading the specification of the bytestructure constructor procedure.

One may also provide a bytevector, in which case as many bytes as the size of the bytestructure will be copied into it.

;; The value of the y field will depend on endianness.
;; Only the first 2 bytes from the bytevector will be copied.
(bytestructure-set! union #u8(0 1 2 3 4))

These assignment semantics may not be used with the macro API.

Union descriptors don't accept dynamic descriptors as field descriptors, because they calculate their total size eagerly.

bs:pointer
  • (bs:pointer descriptor) procedure

Returns a descriptor for pointers, also called a pointer descriptor, with the content descriptor descriptor. Such a descriptor indicates that the bytes in a given bytevector are to be interpreted as a memory address. The content descriptor is the descriptor for the bytes found at that memory address.

;; foo_struct *ptr = 0x12345678;
(define ptr (bytestructure (bs:pointer foo-struct) #x12345678))

For void pointers, the symbol void may be used in place of a content descriptor:

;; void *ptr;
(define ptr (bytestructure (bs:pointer 'void)))

As a special case, the descriptor argument to bs:pointer may be a promise, which must evaluate to a descriptor when forced. This is to allow creating self-referencing descriptors:

;; typedef struct linked_uint8_list_s {
;;   uint8_t head;
;;   struct linked_uint8_list_s *tail;
;; } *linked_uint8_list_t;
(define linked-uint8-list
  (bs:pointer (delay (bs:struct `((head ,uint8)
                                  (tail ,linked-uint8-list))))))

The symbol * can be used as an index to dereference the pointer. (It's implicitly quoted when used in the macro API.) An array of bytes as large as the size of the content descriptor, starting from the memory address of the pointer, are reified into a bytevector object, and bundled with the content descriptor, to yield a new bytestructure object.

;; linked_uint8_list_t u8list;
(define u8list (bytestructure linked-uint8-list))

;; (*u8list).head
(bytestructure-ref u8list '* 'head)

;; (*u8list).head = 42;
(bytestructure-set! u8list '* 'head 42)

One may however also provide any other index, which will cause an implicit dereference.

;; u8list->head
(bytestructure-ref u8list 'head)

;; u8list->head = 42;
(bytestructure-set! u8list 'head 42)

Since pointers are also values themselves, pointer descriptors also have direct referencing and assignment semantics. Referencing the pointer yields the numeric value of the address.

;; linked_uint8_list_t u8lists[3];
(define u8lists (bytestructure (bs:vector 3 linked-uint8-list)))

;; Returns the address stored in u8lists[1].
(bytestructure-ref u8lists 1)

Assignment with a pointer descriptor allows a variety of values. Firstly, a numeric value (taken to be a memory address) may be given, which causes that value itself to be written.

;; uint8_t (*u8v3-ptr)[3];
(define u8v3-ptr (bytestructure (bs:pointer (bs:vector 3 uint8))))

;; u8v3-ptr = 0xdeadbeef;
(bytestructure-set! u8v3-ptr #xdeadbeef)

A bytevector may be given, in which case the memory address of the first byte of the bytevector is written.

;; Makes the pointer point to 'a-bytevector'.
(bytestructure-set! u8v3-ptr a-bytevector)

Lastly, providing a bytestructure is equivalent to providing the bytevector of that bytestructure.

;; Makes the pointer point to the bytevector of 'a-bytestructure'.
(bytestructure-set! u8v3-ptr a-bytestructure)

These assignment semantics may be used with the macro API as well.

Pointers don't accept dynamic descriptors as their content descriptor.

Rationale: The bytevector that is pointed to is reified "on the fly" during referencing operations, for which its size needs to be known in advance. Needing the bytevector to already exist for calculating its size (as is the case for dynamic descriptors) imposes a problem of circularity.

Note: Having an address written into a bytevector may not protect it from garbage collection. Thus using pointer descriptors might make a Scheme program memory unsafe even if the Scheme implementation is otherwise memory safe.

Numeric descriptors

The following descriptors for numeric types are provided: [u]int(8,16,32,64)[le,be], float(32,64)[le,be], complex(64,128)[le,be]

On platforms with little-endian byte order, the descriptors whose name ends in le are equivalent as per eqv? to their variant without an explicit endianness marker. The same applies for the big-endian descriptors on big-endian platforms.

The following are each equivalent as per eqv? to one of the above listed descriptors, depending on the platform on which the Scheme program is run: [unsigned-](short,int,long,long-long), [u]intptr_t, [s]size_t, ptrdiff_t, float, double

These descriptors cannot be indexed through as for instance vectors and structs can; they can only be used to directly reference or assign values.

;; uint32_t x;
(define x (bytestructure uint32))

;; x = 42;
(bytestructure-set! x 42)

;; uint32_t xs[3];
(define xs (bytestructure (bs:vector 3 uint32)))

;; xs[1] = 42;
(bytestructure-set! xs 1 42)

String descriptors

  • (bs:string size encoding) procedure

Returns a descriptor for a string occupying size bytes, encoded in encoding (a symbol). Currently supported encodings:

  • ascii
  • utf8
  • utf16le
  • utf16be
  • utf32le
  • utf32be

If the ASCII encoding is specified, an error is raised if a non-ASCII character is encountered during encoding or decoding.

Byte-order marks are not supported (yet).

(define x (bytestructure (bs:string 8 'utf16le)))

(bytestructure-set! x "1234")

(bytestructure-ref x)  ;=> "1234"

When writing a string into a bytevector via such a descriptor, the given string must fit into the given size after encoding, otherwise an error is raised. If the string is shorter than the size, the remaining bytes of the bytevector are zeroed if the specified encoding is variable-width (UTF-8 and UTF-16), otherwise an error is raised.

(define x (bytestructure (bs:string 4 'utf8)))

(bytestructure-set! x "12345")  ;error

(bytestructure-set! x "123")
(bytestructure-ref x)  ;=> "123\x00"

Null-terminated C strings

Currently only supported on Guile.

The cstring-pointer descriptor can be used to represent a pointer to a null-terminated string. A reference operation will return that string as a Scheme string. The setter only takes addresses to existing C strings however, due to the difficulty of holding a reference to the associated pointer object in Scheme.

(import (prefix (system foreign) ffi:))  ;use Guile FFI module

(define bs (bytestructure cstring-pointer))

;; This creates a null-terminated string "foobar\0" in memory, giving
;; us a pointer object holding its address.
(define ptr (ffi:string->pointer "foobar"))

;; Write the address of "foobar\0" into the backing bytevector.
(bytestructure-set! bs (ffi:pointer-address ptr))

;; Get the null-terminated string whose address is found in the
;; backing bytevector.
(bytestructure-ref bs)  ;=> "foobar"

The bytestructure data type

  • (make-bytestructure bytevector offset descriptor) procedure

Returns a bytestructure object with the given bytevector, offset into the bytevector, and bytestructure descriptor.

Rationale: Any bytestructure descriptor can be used with any bytevector to work on it momentarily in accordance with the descriptor, but in most cases a bytevector is dedicated to a certain structure, so it makes sense to bundle a descriptor with the bytevector. Or only a portion of the bytevector, starting from a certain offset, might be dedicated to the structure, so being able to bundle that offset is also useful.

  • (bytestructure? obj) procedure

Returns a Boolean indicating whether obj is a bytestructure.

  • (bytestructure-bytevector bytestructure) procedure
  • (bytestructure-offset bytestructure) procedure
  • (bytestructure-descriptor bytestructure) procedure

These procedures return the bytevector, offset, and descriptor values respectively, with which bytestructure was created.

  • (bytestructure-size bytestructure) procedure

Returns the size of the structure contained within bytestructure.

  • (bytestructure descriptor) procedure
  • (bytestructure descriptor initial-value) procedure

Creates a bytestructure with a newly allocated bytevector of the right size for descriptor and an offset of 0, and optionally initializes it with values.

The following two expressions are equivalent:

(define bs (bytestructure descriptor))
(define bs (make-bytestructure
            (make-bytevector (bytestructure-descriptor-size
                              descriptor))
            0
            descriptor))

The optional second argument is passed to bytestructure-set! to assign the given values to the bytestructure after creation, meaning the following two expressions are equivalent:

(define bs (bytestructure descriptor values))

(let ((bs (bytestructure descriptor)))
  (bytestructure-set! bs values)
  bs)

Since the setter procedures of compound descriptors tend to delegate the assignment of individual elements to their respective descriptors, one can easily initialize structures to arbitrary depth.

(define my-struct
  (bs:struct `((x ,uint16) (y ,(bs:vector 3 uint8)))))

(define bs (bytestructure my-struct '((x 0) (y #(0 1 2)))))

Referencing and assignment

  • (bytestructure-ref bytestructure index ...) syntax

Traverses through bytestructure using bytestructure-unwrap with the given indices to acquire a triple of a bytevector, offset, and descriptor. Then, applies the getter of that descriptor to the bytevector and offset. Or if the getter is #f, then a bytestructure encapsulating that bytevector, offset, and descriptor is returned.

Note that this means that calling bytestructure-ref with zero index arguments will return a bytestructure identical to the one provided.

  • (bytestructure-set! bytestructure index ... value) syntax

Traverses through bytestructure using bytestructure-unwrap with the given indices to acquire a triple of a bytevector, offset, and descriptor. Then, applies the setter of that descriptor to the bytevector, offset, and value. Or if the setter is #f, then value must be a bytevector; as many bytes as the size of the descriptor are copied from it into the bytevector, starting from the offset.

  • (bytestructure-ref* bytevector offset descriptor index ...) syntax
  • (bytestructure-set!* bytevector offset descriptor index ... value) syntax

These macros have the same semantics as bytestructure-ref and bytestructure-set! respectively, except that they start the referencing process with the given bytevector, offset, and descriptor, instead of the bytevector, offset, and descriptor of a given bytestructure.

  • (bytestructure-unwrap bytestructure index ...) syntax

This macro executes the following algorithm:

  1. Extract the bytevector, offset, and descriptor of bytestructure. Let us call the triple of these values the working set.

  2. If no indices are left, return the working set as three values.

  3. Apply the unwrapper procedure of the descriptor to the bytevector, the offset, and the first index. The return values replace the working set. Pop the index from the list of indices.

  4. Go to step 2.

Note: bytestructure-unwrap can be used with zero indices to destructure a bytestructure into its contents.

(let-values (((bytevector offset descriptor)
              (bytestructure-unwrap bytestructure)))
  ...)
  • (bytestructure-unwrap* bytevector offset descriptor index ...) syntax

This macro has the same semantics as bytestructure-unwrap, except that it starts the traversal process with the given bytevector, offset, and descriptor, instead of the bytevector, offset, and descriptor of a given bytestructure.

When a descriptor is not a dynamic descriptor, bytestructure-unwrap* may be given a bogus bytevector argument.

(bytestructure-unwrap* #f 0 uint8-v3-v5 2)
=> #f, 6, uint8-v3 ;; Two uint8-v3s were skipped, so offset 6.

(bytestructure-unwrap* #f 0 uint8-v3-v5 2 1)
=> #f, 7, uint8 ;; Two uint8-v3s and one uint8 was skipped.
  • (bytestructure-ref/dynamic bytestructure index ...) procedure
  • (bytestructure-set!/dynamic bytestructure index ... value) procedure

These procedures are equivalent to the macros bytestructure-ref and bytestructure-set! respectively.

Rationale: Since these procedures take a variable number of arguments, they have to allocate rest-arguments lists, which might be undesirable in the general case.

Macro-based API

For when maximal efficiency is desired, a macro-based API is offered, so that the bulk of the work involved in offset calculation can be offloaded to the macro-expand phase.

  • (define-bytestructure-accessors descriptor unwrapper getter setter) syntax

The descriptor expression is evaluated during the macro-expand phase to yield a bytestructure descriptor. The unwrapper, getter, and setter identifiers are bound to a triple of macros implementing the indexing, referencing, and assignment semantics of the given descriptor.

(define-bytestructure-accessors (bs:vector 5 (bs:vector 3 uint8))
  uint8-v3-v5-unwrap uint8-v3-v5-ref uint8-v3-v5-set!)

(uint8-v3-v5-unwrap #f 0 3 2)  ;the #f is a bogus bytevector
                               ;the 0 is the initial offset
=> 11 (3 * 3 + 2)

(define bv (apply bytevector (iota 15)))
(uint8-v3-v5-ref bv 2 1) => 7
(uint8-v3-v5-set! bv 2 1 42)
(uint8-v3-v5-ref bv 2 1) => 42
  • (bytestructure-unwrap/syntax bytevector-syntax offset-syntax descriptor indices-syntax) procedure

The semantics are akin to bytestructure-unwrap*, except that some arguments are syntax objects, and the return value is a syntax object that would evaluate to two values: the bytevector and offset that are the result of the indexing process.

  • (bytestructure-ref/syntax bytevector-syntax offset-syntax descriptor indices-syntax) procedure

The semantics are akin to bytestructure-ref*, except that some arguments are syntax objects, and the return value is a syntax object that would evaluate to the decoded value.

  • (bytestructure-set!/syntax bytevector offset descriptor indices value) procedure

The semantics are akin to bytestructure-set!*, except that some arguments are syntax objects, and a syntax object is returned that would perform the actual assignment when evaluated.

The bytestructure descriptors API

  • (make-bytestructure-descriptor size alignment unwrapper getter setter) procedure

Size must be an exact non-negative integer, or a procedure taking three arguments and returning an exact non-negative integer (this is for dynamic descriptors). The first argument to the procedure is a Boolean indicating whether the call to the procedure is happening in the macro-expand phase. If it's false, the other two arguments are a bytevector and an offset into the bytevector respectively. If it's true, then the two arguments are instead syntax objects that would evaluate to a bytevector and an offset respectively. The offset is the position in the bytevector at which the bytes belonging to the descriptor start. The procedure should return the size of the structure described by the descriptor, or return a syntax object that would evaluate to the size.

Alignment must be an exact positive integer specifying the type's preferred memory alignment.

Unwrapper must be #f or a procedure taking four arguments: a Boolean indicating whether the call to the procedure is happening in the macro-expand phase, a bytevector (or syntax object thereof), an offset (or syntax object thereof), and an index object (or syntax object thereof). The procedure must return three values: the same or another bytevector (or syntax object thereof), a new offset (or syntax object thereof), and a bytestructure descriptor (NOT a syntax object thereof). This procedure implements the indexing semantics of compound types. The bytevector argument is provided to satisfy dynamic descriptors; the unwrapper of non-dynamic descriptors should ignore its value and return it back untouched.

Getter must be #f or a procedure taking three arguments: a Boolean indicating whether the call to the procedure is happening in the macro-expand phase, a bytevector (or syntax object thereof), and an offset (or syntax object thereof). The procedure should decode the bytes at the given offset in the given bytevector (or return a syntax object whose evaluation would do this), thus implementing the referencing semantics of the descriptor.

Setter must be #f or a procedure taking four arguments: a Boolean indicating whether the call to the procedure is happening in the macro-expand phase, a bytevector (or syntax object thereof), an offset (or syntax object thereof), and a value (or syntax object thereof). The procedure should encode the given value into given offset in the given bytevector (or return a syntax object whose evaluation would do this), thus implementing the assignment semantics of the descriptor.

  • (bytestructure-descriptor-size descriptor) procedure
  • (bytestructure-descriptor-size descriptor bytevector offset) procedure

Returns the size of descriptor. If descriptor is a dynamic descriptor, then the bytevector and offset arguments must be provided, which will be passed to the size procedure of descriptor, with the macro-expand Boolean argument set to false.

(bytestructure-descriptor-size uint8-v3-v5)
=> 15, because 3×5 8-bit integers in total.

(bytestructure-descriptor-size a-dynamic-descriptor)
;;; error

(bytestructure-descriptor-size
 a-dynamic-descriptor bytevector offset)
=> 42
  • (bytestructure-descriptor-size/syntax descriptor) procedure
  • (bytestructure-descriptor-size/syntax descriptor bytevector-syntax offset-syntax) procedure

Returns a syntax object that would evaluate to the size of descriptor. If descriptor is a dynamic descriptor, then the bytevector-syntax and offset-syntax arguments must be provided, which will be passed to the size procedure of descriptor, with the macro-expand Boolean argument set to true.

  • (bytestructure-descriptor-alignment descriptor) procedure
  • (bytestructure-descriptor-unwrapper descriptor) procedure
  • (bytestructure-descriptor-getter descriptor) procedure
  • (bytestructure-descriptor-setter descriptor) procedure

These procedures return the alignment, unwrapper, getter, and setter values respectively, with which descriptor was created.

Performance

Macro API

The macro API incurs zero run-time overhead for normal referencing and assignment operations, since most things happen in the macro-expand phase.

Plain bytevector reference:

> (define times (iota 1000000)) ;A million
> (define bv (make-bytevector 1))
> (define-inlinable (ref x) (bytevector-u8-ref bv 0))
> ,time (for-each ref times)
;; ~0.14s real time

Bytestructure reference:

> (define bv (make-bytevector 1000))
> (define-bytestructure-accessors
    (bs:vector 5 (bs:vector 5 (bs:struct `((x ,uint8)
                                           (y ,uint8)
                                           (z ,uint8)))))
    bs-unwrap bs-ref bs-set!)
> (define-inlinable (ref x) (bs-ref bv 4 4 z))
> ,time (for-each ref times)
;; ~0.14s real time

(Ignoring the jitter for both.)

Procedural API

When descriptors are statically apparent, an aggressively constant propagating and partial evaluating optimizer might be able to turn bytestructure references into direct bytevector references, yielding identical results to the macro API. That is the most optimal outcome, but more realistic is that most of the work happens at run-time.

The offset calculation avoids allocation, which will make its speed predictable. It takes linear time with regard to the depth of a structure. For structs and unions, it's also linear with regard to the position of the referenced field, but the constant factor involved in that is so small that this should usually not be noticed unless you have a very large number of struct or union fields.

If performance becomes an issue but you can't or don't want to switch to the macro API, you can improve performance by hoisting as much work to outside of your tight loops or other performance critical sections of your code. E.g. if you were doing (bytestructure-ref bs x y z) within a loop, you can instead do

(let-values (((bytevector offset descriptor)
              (bytestructure-unwrap bs x y z)))
  (loop
    (bytestructure-ref* bytevector offset descriptor)))

or if for instance the last index in that example, z, changes at every iteration of the loop, you can do

(let-values (((bytevector offset descriptor)
              (bytestructure-unwrap bs x y)))
  (loop (for z in blah)
    (bytestructure-ref* bytevector offset descriptor z)))

so at least you don't repeat the indexing of x and y at every iteration.

Following are some benchmark figures from Guile 2.2.2 on an Intel i5. (These are only meant for a broad comparison against plain bytevector reference.)

Prelude:

(import
  (bytestructures guile)
  (rnrs bytevectors))
(define million-times (iota 1000000))

Plain bytevector reference:

(define bv (make-bytevector 1))
(define-inlinable (ref x) (bytevector-u8-ref bv 0))
,time (for-each ref million-times)
;; ~0.06s real time

Equivalent bytestructure reference:

(define bs (bytestructure (bs:vector 1 uint8)))
(define-inlinable (ref x) (bytestructure-ref bs 0))
,time (for-each ref million-times)
;; ~0.35s real time  (5.8 times of plain bytevector ref)

Showcasing the effect of a deeper structure:

(define bs (bytestructure (bs:vector 1
                             (bs:vector 1
                               (bs:vector 1 uint8)))))
(define-inlinable (ref x) (bytestructure-ref bs 0 0 0))
,time (for-each ref million-times)
;; ~0.59s real time  (9.8 times of plain bytevector ref)