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TinySCHEME Version 1.38
"Safe if used as prescribed"
-- Philip K. Dick, "Ubik"
This software is open source, covered by a BSD-style license.
Please read accompanying file COPYING.
This Scheme interpreter is based on MiniSCHEME version 0.85k4
(see miniscm.tar.gz in the Scheme Repository)
Original credits in file MiniSCHEMETribute.txt.
D. Souflis (
What is TinyScheme?
TinyScheme is a lightweight Scheme interpreter that implements as large
a subset of R5RS as was possible without getting very large and
complicated. It is meant to be used as an embedded scripting interpreter
for other programs. As such, it does not offer IDEs or extensive toolkits
although it does sport a small top-level loop, included conditionally.
A lot of functionality in TinyScheme is included conditionally, to allow
developers freedom in balancing features and footprint.
As an embedded interpreter, it allows multiple interpreter states to
coexist in the same program, without any interference between them.
Programmatically, foreign functions in C can be added and values
can be defined in the Scheme environment. Being a quite small program,
it is easy to comprehend, get to grips with, and use.
Known bugs
TinyScheme is known to misbehave when memory is exhausted.
Things that keep missing, or that need fixing
There are no hygienic macros. No rational or
complex numbers. No unwind-protect and call-with-values.
Maybe (a subset of) SLIB will work with TinySCHEME...
Decent debugging facilities are missing. Only tracing is supported
Scheme Reference
If something seems to be missing, please refer to the code and
"init.scm", since some are library functions. Refer to the MiniSCHEME
readme as a last resort.
See R5RS. In TinySCHEME, immutable list of association lists.
The environment in effect at the time of the call. An example of its
use and its utility can be found in the sample code that implements
packages in "init.scm":
(macro (package form)
`(apply (lambda ()
,@(cdr form)
The environment containing the (local) definitions inside the closure
is returned as an immutable value.
(defined? <symbol>) (defined? <symbol> <environment>)
Checks whether the given symbol is defined in the current (or given)
Returns a new interned symbol each time. Will probably move to the
library when string->symbol is implemented.
Performs garbage collection immediatelly.
(gcverbose) (gcverbose <bool>)
The argument (defaulting to #t) controls whether GC produces
visible outcome.
(quit) (quit <num>)
Stops the interpreter and sets the 'retcode' internal field (defaults
to 0). When standalone, 'retcode' is returned as exit code to the OS.
(tracing <num>)
1, turns on tracing. 0 turns it off. (Only when USE_TRACING is 1).
Mathematical functions
Since rationals and complexes are absent, the respective functions
are also missing.
Supported: exp, log, sin, cos, tan, asin, acos, atan, floor, ceiling,
trunc, round and also sqrt and expt when USE_MATH=1.
Number-theoretical quotient, remainder and modulo, gcd, lcm.
Library: exact?, inexact?, odd?, even?, zero?, positive?, negative?,
exact->inexact. inexact->exact is a core function.
Type predicates
vector?. Also closure?, macro?.
Types supported:
Numbers (integers and reals)
Eof object
String literals can contain escaped quotes \" as usual, but also
\n, \r, \t, \xDD (hex representations) and \DDD (octal representations).
Note also that it is possible to include literal newlines in string
literals, e.g.
(define s "String with newline here
and here
that can function like a HERE-string")
Character literals contain #\space and #\newline and are supplemented
with #\return and #\tab, with obvious meanings. Hex character
representations are allowed (e.g. #\x20 is #\space).
When USE_ASCII_NAMES is defined, various control characters can be
refered to by their ASCII name.
0 #\nul 17 #\dc1
1 #\soh 18 #\dc2
2 #\stx 19 #\dc3
3 #\etx 20 #\dc4
4 #\eot 21 #\nak
5 #\enq 22 #\syn
6 #\ack 23 #\etv
7 #\bel 24 #\can
8 #\bs 25 #\em
9 #\ht 26 #\sub
10 #\lf 27 #\esc
11 #\vt 28 #\fs
12 #\ff 29 #\gs
13 #\cr 30 #\rs
14 #\so 31 #\us
15 #\si
16 #\dle 127 #\del
Numeric literals support #x #o #b and #d. Flonums are currently read only
in decimal notation. Full grammar will be supported soon.
Quote, quasiquote etc.
As usual.
Immutable values
Immutable pairs cannot be modified by set-car! and set-cdr!.
Immutable strings cannot be modified via string-set!
As per R5RS, plus String Ports (see below).
current-input-port, current-output-port,
close-input-port, close-output-port, input-port?, output-port?,
open-input-file, open-output-file.
read, write, display, newline, write-char, read-char, peek-char.
char-ready? returns #t only for string ports, because there is no
portable way in stdio to determine if a character is available.
Also open-input-output-file, set-input-port, set-output-port (not R5RS)
Library: call-with-input-file, call-with-output-file,
with-input-from-file, with-output-from-file and
with-input-output-from-to-files, close-port and input-output-port?
(not R5RS).
String Ports: open-input-string, open-output-string,
open-input-output-string. Strings can be used with I/O routines.
make-vector, vector, vector-length, vector-ref, vector-set!, list->vector,
vector-fill!, vector->list, vector-equal? (auxiliary function, not R5RS)
string, make-string, list->string, string-length, string-ref, string-set!,
substring, string->list, string-fill!, string-append, string-copy.
string=?, string<?, string>?, string>?, string<=?, string>=?.
(No string-ci*? yet). string->number, number->string. Also atom->string,
string->atom (not R5RS).
symbol->string, string->symbol
integer->char, char->integer.
char=?, char<?, char>?, char<=?, char>=?.
(No char-ci*?)
Pairs & Lists
cons, car, cdr, list, length, map, for-each, foldr, list-tail,
list-ref, last-pair, reverse, append.
Also member, memq, memv, based on generic-member, assoc, assq, assv
based on generic-assoc.
head, tail, cons-stream
Control features
Apart from procedure?, also macro? and closure?
map, for-each, force, delay, call-with-current-continuation (or call/cc),
eval, apply. 'Forcing' a value that is not a promise produces the value.
There is no call-with-values, values, nor dynamic-wind. Dynamic-wind in
the presence of continuations would require support from the abstract
machine itself.
Property lists
TinyScheme inherited from MiniScheme property lists for symbols.
put, get.
Dynamically-loaded extensions
(load-extension <filename without extension>)
Loads a DLL declaring foreign procedures.
Esoteric procedures
Returns the oblist, an immutable list of all the symbols.
(macro-expand <form>)
Returns the expanded form of the macro call denoted by the argument
(define-with-return (<procname> <args>...) <body>)
Like plain 'define', but makes the continuation available as 'return'
inside the procedure. Handy for imperative programs.
(new-segment <num>)
Allocates more memory segments.
See "Environments"
(get-closure-code <closure>)
Gets the code as scheme data.
(make-closure <code> <environment>)
Makes a new closure in the given environment.
Obsolete procedures
(print-width <object>)
Programmer's Reference
The interpreter state is initialized with "scheme_init".
Custom memory allocation routines can be installed with an alternate
initialization function: "scheme_init_custom_alloc".
Files can be loaded with "scheme_load_file". Strings containing Scheme
code can be loaded with "scheme_load_string". It is a good idea to
"scheme_load" init.scm before anything else.
External data for keeping external state (of use to foreign functions)
can be installed with "scheme_set_external_data".
Foreign functions are installed with "assign_foreign". Additional
definitions can be added to the interpreter state, with "scheme_define"
(this is the way HTTP header data and HTML form data are passed to the
Scheme script in the Altera SQL Server). If you wish to define the
foreign function in a specific environment (to enhance modularity),
use "assign_foreign_env".
The procedure "scheme_apply0" has been added with persistent scripts in
mind. Persistent scripts are loaded once, and every time they are needed
to produce HTTP output, appropriate data are passed through global
definitions and function "main" is called to do the job. One could
add easily "scheme_apply1" etc.
The interpreter state should be deinitialized with "scheme_deinit".
DLLs containing foreign functions should define a function named
init_<base-name>. E.g. foo.dll should define init_foo, and
should define init_bar. This function should assign_foreign any foreign
function contained in the DLL.
The first dynamically loaded extension available for TinyScheme is
a regular expression library. Although it's by no means an
established standard, this library is supposed to be installed in
a directory mirroring its name under the TinyScheme location.
Foreign Functions
The user can add foreign functions in C. For example, a function
that squares its argument:
pointer square(scheme *sc, pointer args) {
if(args!=sc->NIL) {
if(sc->isnumber(sc->pair_car(args))) {
double v=sc->rvalue(sc->pair_car(args));
return sc->mk_real(sc,v*v);
return sc->NIL;
Foreign functions are now defined as closures:
sc->interface->mk_foreign_func(sc, square));
Foreign functions can use the external data in the "scheme" struct
to implement any kind of external state.
External data are set with the following function:
void scheme_set_external_data(scheme *sc, void *p);
As of v.1.17, the canonical way for a foreign function in a DLL to
manipulate Scheme data is using the function pointers in sc->interface.
Usage: tinyscheme -?
or: tinyscheme [<file1> <file2> ...]
followed by
-1 <file> [<arg1> <arg2> ...]
-c <Scheme commands> [<arg1> <arg2> ...]
assuming that the executable is named tinyscheme.
Use - in the place of a filename to denote stdin.
The -1 flag is meant for #! usage in shell scripts. If you specify
#! /somewhere/tinyscheme -1
then tinyscheme will be called to process the file. For example, the
following script echoes the Scheme list of its arguments.
#! /somewhere/tinyscheme -1
(display *args*)
The -c flag permits execution of arbitrary Scheme code.
Error Handling
Errors are recovered from without damage. The user can install his
own handler for system errors, by defining *error-hook*. Defining
to '() gives the default behavior, which is equivalent to "error".
USE_ERROR_HOOK must be defined.
A simple exception handling mechanism can be found in "init.scm".
A new syntactic form is introduced:
(catch <expr returned exceptionally>
<expr1> <expr2> ... <exprN>)
"Catch" establishes a scope spanning multiple call-frames
until another "catch" is encountered.
Exceptions are thrown with:
(throw "message")
If used outside a (catch ...), reverts to (error "message").
Example of use:
(define (foo x) (write x) (newline) (/ x 0))
(catch (begin (display "Error!\n") 0)
(write "Before foo ... ")
(foo 5)
(write "After foo"))
The exception mechanism can be used even by system errors, by
(define *error-hook* throw)
which makes use of the error hook described above.
If necessary, the user can devise his own exception mechanism with
tagged exceptions etc.
Reader extensions
When encountering an unknown character after '#', the user-specified
procedure *sharp-hook* (if any), is called to read the expression.
This can be used to extend the reader to handle user-defined constants
or whatever. It should be a procedure without arguments, reading from
the current input port (which will be the load-port).
Colon Qualifiers - Packages
The lexer now recognizes the construction <qualifier>::<symbol> and
transforms it in the following manner (T is the transformation function):
T(<qualifier>::<symbol>) = (*colon-hook* 'T(<symbol>) <qualifier>)
where <qualifier> is a symbol not containing any double-colons.
As the definition is recursive, qualifiers can be nested.
The user can define his own *colon-hook*, to handle qualified names.
By default, "init.scm" defines *colon-hook* as EVAL. Consequently,
the qualifier must denote a Scheme environment, such as one returned
by (interaction-environment). "Init.scm" defines a new syntantic form,
PACKAGE, as a simple example. It is used like this:
(define toto
(define foo 1)
(define bar +)))
foo ==> Error, "foo" undefined
(eval 'foo) ==> Error, "foo" undefined
(eval 'foo toto) ==> 1
toto::foo ==> 1
((eval 'bar toto) 2 (eval 'foo toto)) ==> 3
(toto::bar 2 toto::foo) ==> 3
(eval (bar 2 foo) toto) ==> 3
If the user installs another package infrastructure, he must define
a new 'package' procedure or macro to retain compatibility with supplied
Note: Older versions used ':' as a qualifier. Unfortunately, the use
of ':' as a pseudo-qualifier in existing code (i.e. SLIB) essentially
precludes its use as a real qualifier.
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