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6.6 Working with definition stacks

Thanks to pushdef, manipulation of a stack is an intrinsic operation in m4. Normally, only the topmost definition in a stack is important, but sometimes, it is desirable to manipulate the entire definition stack.

Composite: stack_foreach (macro, action)
Composite: stack_foreach_lifo (macro, action)

For each of the pushdef definitions associated with macro, invoke the macro action with a single argument of that definition. stack_foreach visits the oldest definition first, while stack_foreach_lifo visits the current definition first. action should not modify or dereference macro. There are a few special macros, such as defn, which cannot be used as the macro parameter.

A sample implementation of these macros is distributed in the file ‘m4-1.4.17/examples/stack.m4’.

$ m4 -I examples
include(`stack.m4')
⇒
pushdef(`a', `1')pushdef(`a', `2')pushdef(`a', `3')
⇒
define(`show', ``$1'
')
⇒
stack_foreach(`a', `show')dnl
⇒1
⇒2
⇒3
stack_foreach_lifo(`a', `show')dnl
⇒3
⇒2
⇒1

Now for the implementation. Note the definition of a helper macro, _stack_reverse, which destructively swaps the contents of one stack of definitions into the reverse order in the temporary macro ‘tmp-$1’. By calling the helper twice, the original order is restored back into the macro ‘$1’; since the operation is destructive, this explains why ‘$1’ must not be modified or dereferenced during the traversal. The caller can then inject additional code to pass the definition currently being visited to ‘$2’. The choice of helper names is intentional; since ‘-’ is not valid as part of a macro name, there is no risk of conflict with a valid macro name, and the code is guaranteed to use defn where necessary. Finally, note that any macro used in the traversal of a pushdef stack, such as pushdef or defn, cannot be handled by stack_foreach, since the macro would temporarily be undefined during the algorithm.

$ m4 -I examples
undivert(`stack.m4')dnl
⇒divert(`-1')
⇒# stack_foreach(macro, action)
⇒# Invoke ACTION with a single argument of each definition
⇒# from the definition stack of MACRO, starting with the oldest.
⇒define(`stack_foreach',
⇒`_stack_reverse(`$1', `tmp-$1')'dnl
⇒`_stack_reverse(`tmp-$1', `$1', `$2(defn(`$1'))')')
⇒# stack_foreach_lifo(macro, action)
⇒# Invoke ACTION with a single argument of each definition
⇒# from the definition stack of MACRO, starting with the newest.
⇒define(`stack_foreach_lifo',
⇒`_stack_reverse(`$1', `tmp-$1', `$2(defn(`$1'))')'dnl
⇒`_stack_reverse(`tmp-$1', `$1')')
⇒define(`_stack_reverse',
⇒`ifdef(`$1', `pushdef(`$2', defn(`$1'))$3`'popdef(`$1')$0($@)')')
⇒divert`'dnl

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