- Reference manual
- Built-in Predicates
- Notation of Predicate Descriptions
- Character representation
- Loading Prolog source files
- Conditional compilation and program transformation
- Reloading files, active code and threads
- Quick load files
- Editor Interface
- Verify Type of a Term
- Comparison and Unification of Terms
- Control Predicates
- Meta-Call Predicates
- Delimited continuations
- Exception handling
- Printing messages
- Handling signals
- DCG Grammar rules
- Declaring predicate properties
- Examining the program
- Input and output
- Status of streams
- Primitive character I/O
- Term reading and writing
- Analysing and Constructing Terms
- Analysing and Constructing Atoms
- Localization (locale) support
- Character properties
- Character Conversion
- Misc arithmetic support predicates
- Built-in list operations
- Finding all Solutions to a Goal
- Formatted Write
- Global variables
- Terminal Control
- Operating System Interaction
- File System Interaction
- User Top-level Manipulation
- Creating a Protocol of the User Interaction
- Debugging and Tracing Programs
- Debugging and declaring determinism
- Obtaining Runtime Statistics
- Execution profiling
- Memory Management
- Windows DDE interface
- Built-in Predicates
- Reference manual
This section deals with loading Prolog source files. A Prolog source file is a plain text file containing a Prolog program or part thereof. Prolog source files come in three flavours:
- A traditional
- Prolog source file contains Prolog clauses and directives, but no module declaration (see module/1). They are normally loaded using consult/1 or ensure_loaded/1. Currently, a non-module file can only be loaded into a single module.52This limitation may be lifted in the future. Existing limitations in SWI-Prolog's source code administration make this non-trivial.
- A module
- Prolog source file starts with a module declaration. The subsequent Prolog code is loaded into the specified module, and only the exported predicates are made available to the context loading the module. Module files are normally loaded with use_module/[1,2]. See chapter 6 for details.
- An include
- Prolog source file is loaded using the include/1 directive, textually including Prolog text into another Prolog source. A file may be included into multiple source files and is typically used to share declarations such as multifile or dynamic between source files.
Prolog source files are located using absolute_file_name/3 with the following options:
locate_prolog_file(Spec, Path) :- absolute_file_name(Spec, [ file_type(prolog), access(read) ], Path).
file_type(prolog) option is used to determine the
extension of the file using prolog_file_type/2.
The default extension is
.pl. Spec allows for the path alias
construct defined by absolute_file_name/3.
The most commonly used path alias is
The example below loads the library file
(containing predicates for manipulating ordered sets).
SWI-Prolog recognises grammar rules (DCG) as
Melish, 1987. The user may define additional compilation of
the source file by defining the dynamic multifile predicates
term_expansion/2, term_expansion/4, goal_expansion/2
It is not allowed to use assert/1, retract/1
or any other database predicate in term_expansion/2
other than for local computational purposes.53It
does work for normal loading, but not for qcompile/1.
Code that needs to create additional clauses must use compile_aux_clauses/1.
library(library(apply_macros)) for an example.
A directive is an instruction to the compiler. Directives
are used to set (predicate) properties (see section
4.15), set flags (see set_prolog_flag/2)
and load files (this section). Directives are terms of the form
. Here are some examples:
:- use_module(library(lists)). :- dynamic store/2. % Name, Value
The directive initialization/1 can be used to run arbitrary Prolog goals. The specified goal is started after loading the file in which it appears has completed.
SWI-Prolog compiles code as it is read from the file, and directives
are executed as goals. This implies that directives may call
any predicate that has been defined before the point where the directive
appears. It also accepts
as a synonym.
SWI-Prolog does not have a separate reconsult/1 predicate. Reconsulting is implied automatically by the fact that a file is consulted which is already loaded.
The core of the family of loading predicates is load_files/2. The predicates consult/1, ensure_loaded/1, use_module/1, use_module/2 and reexport/1 pass the file argument directly to load_files/2 and pass additional options as expressed in the table 4:
- Equivalent to
load_files(Files,). Same as consult/1, See load_files/2 for supported options.
- load_files(:Files, +Options)
- The predicate load_files/2
is the parent of all the other loading predicates except for include/1.
It currently supports a subset of the options of Quintus load_files/2. Files
is either a single source file or a list of source files. The
specification for a source file is handed to absolute_file_name/2.
See this predicate for the supported expansions. Options is a
list of options using the format OptionName(OptionValue).
The following options are currently supported:
false), indicate that this load is a demand load. This implies that, depending on the setting of the Prolog flag verbose_autoload, the load action is printed at level
silent. See also print_message/2 and current_prolog_flag/2.
true), do not check the first character to be
and skip the first line when found.
- Indicate that the loaded file is derived from File. Used by make/0 to time-check and load the original file rather than the derived file.
- Load Files with enhanced compatibility with the target Prolog system identified by Dialect. See expects_dialect/1 and section C for details.
- Specify the way characters are encoded in the file. Default is taken from the Prolog flag encoding. See section 2.19.1 for details.
true, run the filenames through expand_file_name/2 and load the returned files. Default is
false, except for consult/1 which is intended for interactive use. Flexible location of files is defined by file_search_path/2.
- Used to specify the file format if data is loaded from a stream using
stream(Stream)option. Default is
source, loading Prolog source text. If
qlf, load QLF data (see qcompile/1).
- Load the file only if the specified condition is satisfied. The value
trueloads the file unconditionally,
changedloads the file if it was not loaded before or has been modified since it was loaded the last time,
not_loadedloads the file if it was not loaded before, and
changed, but the call load_files/2 silently if the file does not exist.
- Specify what to import from the loaded module. The default for
all. Import is passed from the second argument of use_module/2. Traditionally it is a list of predicate indicators to import. As part of the SWI-Prolog/YAP integration, we also support Pred as Name to import a predicate under another name. Finally, Import can be the term
except(Exceptions), where Exceptions is a list of predicate indicators that specify predicates that are not imported or Pred as Name terms to denote renamed predicates. See also reexport/2 and use_module/2.bugName/Arity as NewName is currently implemented using a link clause. This harms efficiency and does not allow for querying the relation through predicate_property/2.
If Import equals
all, all operators are imported as well. Otherwise, operators are not imported. Operators can be imported selectively by adding terms
op(Pri,Assoc,Name)to the Import list. If such a term is encountered, all exported operators that unify with this term are imported. Typically, this construct will be used with all arguments unbound to import all operators or with only Name bound to import a particular operator.
- Claim that the source was loaded at TimeStamp without
checking the source. This option is intended to be used together with
stream(Input)option, for example after extracting the time from an HTTP server or database.
- Load the indicated file into the given module, overruling the module
name specified in the
:- module(Name, ...)directive. This currently serves two purposes: (1) allow loading two module files that specify the same module into the same process and force and (2): force loading source code in a specific module, even if the code provides its own module name. Experimental.
true, raise an error if the file is not a module file. Used by use_module/[1,2].
- How to deal with quick-load-file compilation by qcompile/1.
- Default. Do not use qcompile unless called explicitly.
- Use qcompile for all writeable files. See comment below.
- Use qcompile if the file is‘large'. Currently, files larger than 100 Kbytes are considered large.
- If load_files/2
appears in a directive of a file that is compiled into Quick Load Format
the contents of the argument files are included in the
.qlffile instead of the loading directive.
If this option is not present, it uses the value of the Prolog flag qcompile as default.
- Explicitly set the optimization for compiling this module. See optimise.
- Defines what to do if a file is loaded that provides a module that is
already loaded from another file. Action is one of
false(default), which prints an error and refuses to load the file, or
true, which uses unload_file/1 on the old file and then proceeds loading the new file. Finally, there is
ask, which starts interaction with the user.
askis only provided if the stream
user_inputis associated with a terminal.
truere-export the imported predicate. Used by reexport/1 and reexport/2.
false, do not register the load location and options. This option is used by make/0 and load_hotfixes/1 to avoid polluting the load-context database. See source_file_property/2.
- Load the file in sandboxed mode. This option controls the flag sandboxed_load.
The only meaningful value for
falsewhile the Prolog flag is set to
trueraises a permission error.
- Scope style_check/1
to the file and files loaded from the file after the directive. Default
true. The system and user initialization files (see -f and -F) are loading with
true, load the file without printing a message. The specified value is the default for all files loaded as a result of loading the specified files. This option writes the Prolog flag verbose_load with the negation of Bool.
- This SWI-Prolog extension compiles the data from the stream
Input. If this option is used, Files must be a
single atom which is used to identify the source location of the loaded
clauses as well as to remove all clauses if the data is reconsulted.
This option is added to allow compiling from non-file locations such as databases, the web, the user (see consult/1) or other servers. It can be combined with
format(qlf)to load QLF data from a stream.
The load_files/2 predicate can be hooked to load other data or data from objects other than files. See prolog_load_file/2 for a description and
library(http/http_load)for an example. All hooks for load_files/2 are documented in section B.10.
- Read File as a Prolog source file. Calls to consult/1
may be abbreviated by just typing a number of filenames in a list.
% load library lists
% Type program on the terminal
The predicate consult/1 is equivalent to
load_files(File, ), except for handling the special file
user, which reads clauses from the terminal. See also the
stream(Input)option of load_files/2. Abbreviation using
?- [file1,file2].does not work for the empty list (
). This facility is implemented by defining the list as a predicate. Applications may only rely on using the list abbreviation at the Prolog toplevel and in directives.
- If the file is not already loaded, this is equivalent to consult/1.
Otherwise, if the file defines a module, import all public predicates.
Finally, if the file is already loaded, is not a module file, and the
context module is not the global user module, ensure_loaded/1
will call consult/1.
With this semantics, we hope to get as close as possible to the clear semantics without the presence of a module system. Applications using modules should consider using use_module/[1,2].
load_files(Files, [if(not_loaded)]).54On older versions the condition used to be
if(changed). Poor time management on some machines or copying often caused problems. The make/0 predicate deals with updating the running system after changing the source code.
- Textually include the content of File at the position where
:- include(File).appears. The include construct is only honoured if it appears as a directive in a source file. Textual include (similar to C/C++ #include) is obviously useful for sharing declarations such as dynamic/1 or multifile/1 by including a file with directives from multiple files that use these predicates.
Textually including files that contain clauses is less obvious. Normally, in SWI-Prolog, clauses are owned by the file in which they are defined. This information is used to replace the old definition after the file has been modified and is reloaded by, e.g., make/0. As we understand it, include/1 is intended to include the same file multiple times. Including a file holding clauses multiple times into the same module is rather meaningless as it just duplicates the same clauses. Including a file holding clauses in multiple modules does not suffer from this problem, but leads to multiple equivalent copies of predicates. Using use_module/1 can achieve the same result while sharing the predicates.
If include/1 is used to load files holding clauses, and if these files are loaded only once, then these include/1 directives can be replaced by other predicates (such as consult/1). However, there are several cases where either include/1 has no alternative, or using any alternative also requires other changes. An example of the former is using include/1 to share directives. An example of the latter are cases where clauses of different predicates are distributed over multiple files: If these files are loaded with include/1, the directive discontiguous/1 is appropriate, whereas if they are consulted, one must use the directive multifile/1.
To accommodate included files holding clauses, SWI-Prolog distinguishes between the source location of a clause (in this case the included file) and the owner of a clause (the file that includes the file holding the clause). The source location is used by, e.g., edit/1, the graphical tracer, etc., while the owner is used to determine which clauses are removed if the file is modified. Relevant information is found with the following predicates:
- Declare that this file/module requires the specified predicates to be
defined “with their commonly accepted definition''. Predicates
is either a list of predicate indicators or a comma-list of
predicate indicators. First, all built-in predicates are removed from
the set. The remaining predicates are searched using the library index
used for autoloading and mapped to a set of autoload/2
directives. This implies that the targets will be loaded lazily if
autoloading is not completely disabled and loaded using use_module/2
The require/1 directive provides less control over the exact nature and location of the predicate. As autoload/2, it prevents a local definition of this predicate. As SWI-Prolog guarantees that the set of built-in predicates and predicates available for autoloading is unambiguous (i.e., has no duplicates) the specification is unambiguous. It provides four advantages over autoload/2: (1) the user does not have to remember the exact library, (2) the directive can be supported in other Prolog systems55SICStus provides it, providing compatibility despite differences in library and built-in predicate organization, (3) it is robust against changes to the SWI-Prolog libraries and (4) it is less typing.
- This directive can appear anywhere in a source file to define how characters are encoded in the remainder of the file. It can be used in files that are encoded with a superset of US-ASCII, currently UTF-8 and ISO Latin-1. See also section 2.19.1.
- Consult all source files that have been changed since they were
consulted. It checks all loaded source files: files loaded
into a compiled state using
pl -c ...and files loaded using consult/1 or one of its derivatives. The predicate make/0 is called after edit/1, automatically reloading all modified files. If the user uses an external editor (in a separate window), make/0 is normally used to update the program after editing. In addition, make/0 updates the autoload indices (see section 2.14) and runs list_undefined/0 from the
library(check)library to report on undefined predicates.
- Dynamic predicate used to specify library directories. Defaults to
app_config(lib)(see file_search_path/2) and the system's library (in this order) are defined. The user may add library directories using assertz/1, asserta/1 or remove system defaults using retract/1. Deprecated. New code should use file_search_path/2.
- file_search_path(+Alias, -Path)
- Dynamic multifile hook predicate used to specify‘path aliases'.
This hook is called by absolute_file_name/3
to search files specified as
library(lists). This feature is best described using an example. Given the definition:
the file specification
demo(myfile)will be expanded to
/usr/lib/prolog/demo/myfile. The second argument of file_search_path/2 may be another alias.
Below is the initial definition of the file search path. This path implies
swi(<Path>)and refers to a file in the SWI-Prolog home directory. The alias
foreign(<Path>)is intended for storing shared libraries (
.DLLfiles). See also use_foreign_library/1.
user:file_search_path(library, X) :- library_directory(X). user:file_search_path(swi, Home) :- current_prolog_flag(home, Home). user:file_search_path(foreign, swi(ArchLib)) :- current_prolog_flag(arch, Arch), atom_concat('lib/', Arch, ArchLib). user:file_search_path(foreign, swi(lib)). user:file_search_path(path, Dir) :- getenv('PATH', Path), ( current_prolog_flag(windows, true) -> atomic_list_concat(Dirs, (;), Path) ; atomic_list_concat(Dirs, :, Path) ), member(Dir, Dirs). user:file_search_path(user_app_data, Dir) :- '$xdg_prolog_directory'(data, Dir). user:file_search_path(common_app_data, Dir) :- '$xdg_prolog_directory'(common_data, Dir). user:file_search_path(user_app_config, Dir) :- '$xdg_prolog_directory'(config, Dir). user:file_search_path(common_app_config, Dir) :- '$xdg_prolog_directory'(common_config, Dir). user:file_search_path(app_data, user_app_data('.')). user:file_search_path(app_data, common_app_data('.')). user:file_search_path(app_config, user_app_config('.')). user:file_search_path(app_config, common_app_config('.')).
The '$xdg_prolog_directory'/2 uses either the XDG Base Directory or win_folder/2 on Windows. On Windows, user config is mapped to roaming appdata (CSIDL_APPDATA), user data to the non-roaming (CSIDL_LOCAL_APPDATA) and common data to (CSIDL_COMMON_APPDATA).
The Prolog flag verbose_file_search can be set to
trueto help debugging Prolog's search for files.
- [nondet]expand_file_search_path(+Spec, -Path)
- Unifies Path with all possible expansions of the filename specification Spec. See also absolute_file_name/3.
- prolog_file_type(?Extension, ?Type)
- This dynamic multifile predicate defined in module
userdetermines the extensions considered by file_search_path/2. Extension is the filename extension without the leading dot, and Type denotes the type as used by the
file_type(Type)option of file_search_path/2. Here is the initial definition of prolog_file_type/2:
user:prolog_file_type(pl, prolog). user:prolog_file_type(Ext, prolog) :- current_prolog_flag(associate, Ext), Ext \== pl. user:prolog_file_type(qlf, qlf). user:prolog_file_type(Ext, executable) :- current_prolog_flag(shared_object_extension, Ext).
Users can add extensions for Prolog source files to avoid conflicts (for example with perl) as well as to be compatible with another Prolog implementation. We suggest using
.profor avoiding conflicts with perl. Overriding the system definitions can stop the system from finding libraries.
- True if File is a loaded Prolog source file. File is the absolute and canonical path to the source file.
- source_file(:Pred, ?File)
- True if the predicate specified by Pred is owned by file File, where File is an absolute path name (see absolute_file_name/2). Can be used with any instantiation pattern, but the database only maintains the source file for each predicate. If Pred is a multifile predicate this predicate succeeds for all files that contribute clauses to Pred.56The current implementation performs a linear scan through all clauses to establish this set of files. See also clause_property/2. Note that the relation between files and predicates is more complicated if include/1 is used. The predicate describes the owner of the predicate. See include/1 for details.
- source_file_property(?File, ?Property)
- True when Property is a property of the loaded file File.
If File is non-var, it can be a file specification that is
valid for load_files/2.
Defined properties are:
- derived_from(Original, OriginalModified)
- File was generated from the file Original, which
was last modified at time OriginalModified at the time it was
loaded. This property is available if File was loaded using
derived_from(Original)option to load_files/2.
- includes(IncludedFile, IncludedFileModified)
- File used include/1 to include IncludedFile. The last modified time of IncludedFile was IncludedFileModified at the time it was included.
- included_in(MasterFile, Line)
- File was included into MasterFile from line Line.
This is the inverse of the
- load_context(Module, Location, Options)
- Module is the module into which the file was loaded. If File
is a module, this is the module into which the exports are imported.
Otherwise it is the module into which the clauses of the non-module file
are loaded. Location describes the file location from which
the file was loaded. It is either a term <file>:<line>
or the atom
userif the file was loaded from the terminal or another unknown source. Options are the options passed to load_files/2. Note that all predicates to load files are mapped to load_files/2, using the option argument to specify the exact behaviour.
- Count is the number of times the file have been loaded, i.e., 1 (one) if the file has been loaded once.
- File modification time when File was loaded. This is used by make/0 to find files whose modification time is different from when it was loaded.
- One of
fileif the source was loaded from a file,
resourceif the source was loaded from a resource or
stateif the file was included in the saved state.
- File is a module file that declares the module Module.
- Count is the number of clauses associated with File. Note that clauses loaded from included files are counted as part of the main file.
- Present if the file is currently being reloaded.
- True if Source (a term valid for load_files/2)
exists. Fails without error if this is not the case. The predicate is
intended to be used with conditional compilation (see
:- if(exists_source(library(error))). :- use_module_library(error). :- endif.
The implementation uses absolute_file_name/3 using
- [semidet]exists_source(+Source, -File)
- As exists_source/1, binding File to an atom describing the full absolute path to the source file.
- Remove all clauses loaded from File. If File
loaded a module, clear the module's export list and disassociate it from
the file. File is a canonical filename or a file indicator
that is valid for load_files/2.
This predicate should be used with care. The multithreaded nature of SWI-Prolog makes removing static code unsafe. Attempts to do this should be reserved for development or situations where the application can guarantee that none of the clauses associated to File are active.
- prolog_load_context(?Key, ?Value)
- Obtain context information during compilation. This predicate can be
used from directives appearing in a source file to get information about
the file being loaded as well as by the term_expansion/2
hooks. See also source_location/2
The following keys are defined:
Directory in which
Compatibility mode. See expects_dialect/1.
source, but returns the file being included when called while an include file is being processed
Module into which file is loaded
trueif the file is being reloaded. Not present on first load
Boolean that indicates whether the file is loaded as a script file (see -s)
File being loaded. If the system is processing an included file, the value is the main file. Returns the original Prolog file when loading a
Stream identifier (see current_input/1)
Start position of last term read. See also stream_property/2 (
positionproperty and stream_position_data/3.57Up to version 7.1.22, the position term carried fake data except for the
line_countand had five arguments, where the position property of a stream only has four.
Term being expanded by expand_term/2.
A list of‘Name = Var’of the last term read. See read_term/2 for details.
:- dynamic user:file_search_path/2. :- multifile user:file_search_path/2. :- prolog_load_context(directory, Dir), asserta(user:file_search_path(my_program_home, Dir)). ... absolute_file_name(my_program_home('README.TXT'), ReadMe, [ access(read) ]), ...
- source_location(-File, -Line)
- If the last term has been read from a physical file (i.e., not from the
useror a string), unify File with an absolute path to the file and Line with the line number in the file. New code should use prolog_load_context/2.
- Register Goal to be run from PL_cleanup(), which is called when the system halts. The hooks are run in the reverse order they were registered (FIFO). Success or failure executing a hook is ignored. If the hook raises an exception this is printed using print_message/2. An attempt to call halt/[0,1] from a hook is ignored. Hooks may call cancel_halt/1, causing halt/0 and PL_halt(0) to print a message indicating that halting the system has been cancelled.
- If this predicate is called from a hook registered with at_halt/1, halting Prolog is cancelled and an informational message is printed that includes Reason. This is used by the development tools to cancel halting the system if the editor has unsaved data and the user decides to cancel.
- [ISO]:- initialization(:Goal)
- Call Goal after loading the source file in which
this directive appears has been completed. In addition, Goal
is executed if a saved state created using qsave_program/1
The ISO standard only allows for using
:- Termif Term is a directive. This means that arbitrary goals can only be called from a directive by means of the initialization/1 directive. SWI-Prolog does not enforce this rule.
The initialization/1 directive must be used to do program initialization in saved states (see qsave_program/1). A saved state contains the predicates, Prolog flags and operators present at the moment the state was created. Other resources (records, foreign resources, etc.) must be recreated using initialization/1 directives or from the entry goal of the saved state.
Up to SWI-Prolog 5.7.11, Goal was executed immediately rather than after loading the program text in which the directive appears as dictated by the ISO standard. In many cases the exact moment of execution is irrelevant, but there are exceptions. For example, load_foreign_library/1 must be executed immediately to make the loaded foreign predicates available for exporting. SWI-Prolog now provides the directive use_foreign_library/1 to ensure immediate loading as well as loading after restoring a saved state. If the system encounters a directive
:- initialization(load_foreign_library(...)), it will load the foreign library immediately and issue a warning to update your code. This behaviour can be extended by providing clauses for the multifile hook predicate
prolog:initialize_now(Term, Advice), where Advice is an atom that gives advice on how to resolve the compatibility issue.
- initialization(:Goal, +When)
- Similar to initialization/1,
but allows for specifying when Goal is executed while loading
the program text:
- Execute Goal immediately.
- Execute Goal after loading the program text in which the directive appears. This is the same as initialization/1.
- Execute Goal as part of qsave_program/2. This hook can be used for example to eagerly execute initialization that is normally done lazily on first usage.
- Do not execute Goal while loading the program, but only
when restoring a saved state.58Used
to be called
restoreis still accepted for backward compatibility.
- Execute Goal once after executing the -g goals at program startup. Registered goals are executed in the order encountered and a failure or exception causes the Prolog to exit with non-zero exit status. These goals are not executed if the -l is given to merely load files. In that case they may be executed explicitly using initialize/0. See also section 188.8.131.52.
- When Prolog starts, the last goal registered using
initialization(Goal, main)is executed as main goal. If Goal fails or raises an exception, the process terminates with non-zero exit code. If not explicitly specified using the -t the toplevel goal is set to halt/0, causing the process to exit with status 0. An explicitly specified toplevel is executed normally. This implies that
-t prologcauses the application to start the normal interactive toplevel after completing Goal. See also the Prolog flag toplevel_goal and section 184.108.40.206.
- Run all initialization goals registered using
initialization(Goal, program). Raises an error
initialization_error(Reason, Goal, File:Line)if Goal fails or raises an exception. Reason is
failedor the exception raised.
- True if the system is compiling source files with the -c option or qcompile/1 into an intermediate code file. Can be used to perform conditional code optimisations in term_expansion/2 (see also the -O option) or to omit execution of directives during compilation.
ISO Prolog defines no way for program transformations such as macro expansion or conditional compilation. Expansion through term_expansion/2 and expand_term/2 can be seen as part of the de-facto standard. This mechanism can do arbitrary translation between valid Prolog terms read from the source file to Prolog terms handed to the compiler. As term_expansion/2 can return a list, the transformation does not need to be term-to-term.
- term_expansion(+Term1, -Term2)
- Dynamic and multifile predicate, normally not defined. When defined by
the user all terms read during consulting are given to this predicate.
If the predicate succeeds Prolog will assert Term2 in the
database rather than the read term (Term1). Term2
may be a term of the form
:- Goal. Goal is then treated as a directive. If Term2 is a list, all terms of the list are stored in the database or called (for directives). If Term2 is of the form below, the system will assert Clause and record the indicated source location with it:
When compiling a module (see chapter 6 and the directive module/2), expand_term/2 will first try term_expansion/2 in the module being compiled to allow for term expansion rules that are local to a module. If there is no local definition, or the local definition fails to translate the term, expand_term/2 will try term_expansion/2 in module
user. For compatibility with SICStus and Quintus Prolog, this feature should not be used. See also expand_term/2, goal_expansion/2 and expand_goal/2.
It is possible to act on the beginning and end of a file by expanding the terms
end_of_file. The latter is supported by most Prolog systems that support term expansion as read_term/3 returns
end_of_fileon reaching the end of the input. Expanding
begin_of_filemay be used to initialise the compilation, for example base on the file name extension. It was added in SWI-Prolog 8.1.1.
The current macro-expansion mechanism originates from Prolog systems in the 1980s and 1990s. It has several flaws, (1) the hooks act globally (except for definitions in a module), (2) it is hard to deal with interactions between transformations, (3) macros can not be reused between modules using the normal module export/import protocol and (4) it is hard to make source code aware tools such as the graphical debugger act properly in the context of macro expansion. Several Prolog implementations have tried to implement better expansion mechanisms. None of these solve all problems and all are largely incompatible with our current macro expansion. Future versions may provide a new mechanism to solve these issues.
Controlled interaction is provided between macro expansion defined in a module and the
systemmodules. Here, SWI-Prolog uses a pipeline where the result of local module expansion is the input for the expansion in
user, which is the input for the expansion in
system. See also section 6.10.
Scoping, i.e., make a rule defined in a module only active if this module is imported into the module being compiled, can be emulated by defining the macro globally in the
usermodule and using prolog_load_context/2 and some logic to verify the macro expansion should apply. If (goal) expansion effectively defined inlining it is good practice to also define the predicate and have the macro expansion check that the predicate is in scope. Here is an example.
:- module(m1, [double/2]). double(X, D) :- D is X*2. user:goal_expansion(double(X,D), D is X*2) :- prolog_load_context(module, M), predicate_property(M:double(_,_), imported_from(m1)).
For term expansion that is not related to a specific predicate we can define a sentinel predicate rather than using the goal predicate and check it is imported into the current module to verify that the module that defines the expansion is imported into the current compilation context.
- expand_term(+Term1, -Term2)
- This predicate is normally called by the compiler on terms read from the
input to perform preprocessing. It consists of four steps, where each
step processes the output of the previous step.
- Test conditional compilation directives and translate all input to
if we are in a‘false branch' of the conditional compilation. See section 220.127.116.11.
- Call term_expansion/2.
This predicate is first tried in the module that is being compiled and
then in modules from which this module inherits according to default_module/2.
The output of the expansion in a module is used as input for the next
module. Using the default setup and when compiling a normal application
module M, this implies expansion is executed in M,
userand finally in
system. Library modules inherit directly from
systemand can thus not be re-interpreted by term expansion rules in
- Call DCG expansion (dcg_translate_rule/2).
- Call expand_goal/2 on each body term that appears in the output of the previous steps.
- Test conditional compilation directives and translate all input to
- goal_expansion(+Goal1, -Goal2)
- Like term_expansion/2, goal_expansion/2
provides for macro expansion of Prolog source code. Between expand_term/2
and the actual compilation, the body of clauses analysed and the goals
are handed to expand_goal/2,
which uses the goal_expansion/2
hook to do user-defined expansion.
The predicate goal_expansion/2 is first called in the module that is being compiled, and then follows the module inheritance path as defined by default_module/2, i.e., by default
system. If Goal is of the form Module:Goal where Module is instantiated, goal_expansion/2 is called on Goal using rules from module Module followed by default modules for Module.
Only goals appearing in the body of clauses when reading a source file are expanded using this mechanism, and only if they appear literally in the clause, or as an argument to a defined meta-predicate that is annotated using‘0' (see meta_predicate/1). Other cases need a real predicate definition.
The expansion hook can use prolog_load_context/2 to obtain information about the context in which the goal is expanded such as the module, variable names or the encapsulating term.
- expand_goal(+Goal1, -Goal2)
- This predicate is normally called by the compiler to perform
preprocessing using goal_expansion/2.
The predicate computes a fixed-point by applying transformations until
there are no more changes. If optimisation is enabled (see -O
simplifies the result by removing unneeded calls to true/0
as well as trivially unreachable branches.
If goal_expansion/2 wraps a goal as in the example below the system still reaches fixed-point as it prevents re-expanding the expanded term while recursing. It does re-enable expansion on the arguments of the expanded goal as illustrated in t2/1 in the example.59After discussion with Peter Ludemann and Paulo Moura on the forum.
:- meta_predicate run(0). may_not_fail(test(_)). may_not_fail(run(_)). goal_expansion(G, (G *-> true ; error(goal_failed(G),_))) :- may_not_fail(G). t1(X) :- test(X). t2(X) :- run(run(X)).
Is expanded into
t1(X) :- ( test(X) *-> true ; error(goal_failed(test(X)), _) ). t2(X) :- ( run((run(X)*->true;error(goal_failed(run(X)), _))) *-> true ; error(goal_failed(run(run(X))), _) ).
Note that goal expansion should not bind any variables in the clause. Doing so may impact the semantics of the clause if the variable is also used elsewhere. In the general case this is not verified. It is verified for \+/1 and ;/2, resulting in an exception.
- Compile clauses on behalf of goal_expansion/2.
This predicate compiles the argument clauses into static predicates,
associating the predicates with the current file but avoids changing the
notion of current predicate and therefore discontiguous warnings.
Note that in some cases multiple expansions of similar goals can share the same compiled auxiliary predicate. In such cases, the implementation of goal_expansion/2 can use predicate_property/2 using the property
definedto test whether the predicate is already defined in the current context.
- dcg_translate_rule(+In, -Out)
- This predicate performs the translation of a term
Head-->Bodyinto a normal Prolog clause. Normally this functionality should be accessed using expand_term/2.
- var_property(+Var, ?Property)
- True when Property is a property of Var. These
properties are available during goal- and term-expansion. Defined
properties are below. Future versions are likely to provide more
properties, such as whether the variable is referenced in the remainder
of the term. See also goal_expansion/2.
- Bool has the value
trueif the variable is guaranteed to be unbound at entry of the goal, otherwise its value is false. This implies that the variable first appears in this goal or a previous appearance was in a negation (\+/1) or a different branch of a disjunction.
- Bool has the value
trueif the variable is a syntactic singleton in the term it appears in. Note that this tests that the variable appears exactly once in the term being expanded without making any claim on the syntax of the variable. Variables that appear only once in multiple branches are not singletons according to this property. Future implementations may improve on that.
- True when variable appears with the given name in the source.
This sections documents extended versions of the program transformation predicates that also transform the source layout information. Extended layout information is currently processed, but unused. Future versions will use for the following enhancements:
- More precise locations of warnings and errors
- More reliable setting of breakpoints
- More reliable source layout information in the graphical debugger.
- expand_goal(+Goal1, ?Layout1, -Goal2, -Layout2)
- goal_expansion(+Goal1, ?Layout1, -Goal2, -Layout2)
- expand_term(+Term1, ?Layout1, -Term2, -Layout2)
- term_expansion(+Term1, ?Layout1, -Term2, -Layout2)
- dcg_translate_rule(+In, ?LayoutIn, -Out, -LayoutOut)
- These versions are called before their 2-argument counterparts.
The input layout term is either a variable (if no layout information is
available) or a term carrying detailed layout information as returned by
subterm_positionsof read_term/2. The output layout should be a variable if no layout information can be computed for the expansion; a sub-term can also be a variable to indicate “don't know''.
Conditional compilation builds on the same principle as term_expansion/2, goal_expansion/2 and the expansion of grammar rules to compile sections of the source code conditionally. One of the reasons for introducing conditional compilation is to simplify writing portable code. See section C for more information. Here is a simple example:
:- if(\+source_exports(library(lists), suffix/2)). suffix(Suffix, List) :- append(_, Suffix, List). :- endif.
Note that these directives can only appear as separate terms in the
input. SWI-Prolog accomodates syntax extensions under conditional
compilation by silently ignoring syntax errors when in the
false branch. This allow, for example, for the code below. With
rational number support
1r3 denotes the rational number 1/3
while without it is a syntax error. Note that this only works properly
if (1) the syntax error still allows to re-synchronize on the full stop
of the invalid clause and (2) the subsequent conditional compilation
directive is valid.
:- if(current_prolog_flag(bounded, false)). one_third(1r3). :- endif.
Typical usage scenarios include:
- Load different libraries on different dialects.
- Define a predicate if it is missing as a system predicate.
- Realise totally different implementations for a particular part of the code due to different capabilities.
- Realise different configuration options for your software.
- :- if(:Goal)
- Compile subsequent code only if Goal succeeds. For enhanced portability, Goal is processed by expand_goal/2 before execution. If an error occurs, the error is printed and processing proceeds as if Goal has failed.
- :- elif(:Goal)
- Equivalent to
:- else. :-if(Goal)....
:- endif.In a sequence as below, the section below the first matching
elifis processed. If no test succeeds, the else branch is processed.
:- if(test1). section_1. :- elif(test2). section_2. :- elif(test3). section_3. :- else. section_else. :- endif.
- :- else
- Start‘else' branch.
- :- endif
- End of conditional compilation.
Traditionally, Prolog environments allow for reloading files holding currently active code. In particular, the following sequence is a valid use of the development environment:
- Trace a goal
- Find unexpected behaviour of a predicate
- Enter a break using the b command
- Fix the sources and reload them using make/0
- Exit the break, retry executing the now fixed predicate using the r command
Reloading a previously loaded file is safe, both in the debug scenario above and when the code is being executed by another thread. Executing threads switch atomically to the new definition of modified predicates, while clauses that belong to the old definition are (eventually) reclaimed by garbage_collect_clauses/0.60As of version 7.3.12. Older versions wipe all clauses originating from the file before loading the new clauses. This causes threads that executes the code to (typically) die with an undefined predicate exception. Below we describe the steps taken for reloading a file to help understanding the limitations of the process.
- If a file is being reloaded, a reload context is associated to the file administration. This context includes a table keeping track of predicates and a table keeping track of the module(s) associated with this source.
- If a new predicate is found, an entry is added to the context
predicate table. Three options are considered:
- The predicate is new. It is handled the same as if the file was loaded for the first time.
- The predicate is foreign or thread local. These too are treated as if the file was loaded for the first time.
- Normal predicates. Here we initialise a pointer to the current clause.
- New clauses for‘normal predicates' are considered as follows:
- If the clause's byte-code is the same as the predicates current clause, discard the clause and advance the current clause pointer.
- If the clause's byte-code is the same as some clause further into the clause list of the predicate, discard the new clause, mark all intermediate clauses for future deletion, and advance the current clause pointer to the first clause after the matched one.
- If the clause's byte-code matches no clause, insert it for future activation before the current clause and keep the current clause.
- Properties such as
meta_predicateare in part applied immediately and in part during the fixup process after the file completes loading. Currently,
thread_localare applied immediately.
- New modules are recorded in the reload context. Export declarations (the module's public list and export/1 calls) are both applied and recorded.
- When the end-of-file is reached, the following fixup steps are taken
- For each predicate
- The current clause and subsequent clauses are marked for future deletion.
- All clauses marked for future deletion or creation are (in)activated by changing their‘erased' or‘created' generation. Erased clauses are (eventually) reclaimed by the clause garbage collector, see garbage_collect_clauses/0.
- Pending predicate property changes are applied.
- For each module
- Exported predicates that are not encountered in the reload context are removed from the export list.
- For each predicate
The above generally ensures that changes to the content of source files can typically be activated safely using make/0. Global changes such as operator changes, changes of module names, changes to multi-file predicates, etc. sometimes require a restart. In almost all cases, the need for restart is indicated by permission or syntax errors during the reload or existence errors while running the program.
In some cases the content of a source file refers‘to itself'.
This is notably the case if local rules for goal_expansion/2
are defined or goals are executed using
directives.61Note that initialization/1
directives are executed after loading the file. SWI-Prolog
allows for directives that are executed while loading the file
:- Goal. or initialization/2.
Up to version 7.5.12 it was typically needed to reload the file twice,
once for updating the code that was used for compiling the remainder of
the file and once to effectuate this. As of version 7.5.13, conventional transaction
semantics apply. This implies that for the thread performing the
reload the file's content is first wiped and gradually rebuilt, while
other threads see an atomic update from the old file content to
the new.62This feature was
implemented by Keri Harris.
Errors and warnings reported while compiling a file are reported using print_message/2. Typical errors are syntax errors, errors during macro expansion by term_expansion/2 and goal_expansion/2, compiler errors such as illegal clauses or an attempt to redefine a system predicate and errors caused by executing directives, notably using initialization/1 and initialization/2.
Merely reporting error messages and warnings is typically desirable for interactive usage. Non-interactive applications often require to be notified of such issues, typically using the exit code of the process. We can distinguish two types of errors and warnings: (1) those resulting from loading an invalid program and (2) messages that result from running the program. A typical example is user code that wishes to try something and in case of an error report this and continue.
..., E = error(_,_), catch(do_something, E, print_message(error, E)), ...
User code may be (and often is) started from directives, while running user code may involve compilation due to autoloading, loading of data files, etc. As a result, it is unclear whether an error message should merely be printed, should result in a non-zero exit status at the end or should immediately terminate the process.
The default behaviour is defined by the Prolog flags
on_error and on_warning.
It can be fine tuned by defining the hook predicate message_hook/3.
The compiler calls print_message/2
using the level
silent and the message below if errors or
warnings where printed during the execution of
- load_file_errors(File, Errors, Warnings)
- Here, File is the raw file specification handed to load_files/2,
library(lists), Errors is the number of errors printed while loading and Warnings is the number of warnings printed while loading. Note that these counts include messages from (initialization) directives.
This allows the user to fine tune the behaviour on errors and, for example, halt the process on a non-zero error count right after loading the file wth errors using the code below.
:- multifile user:message_hook/3. user:message_hook(load_file_errors(_File, Errors, _Warnings), _Level, _Lines) :- Errors > 0, halt(1).
Large programs are generally split into multiple files. If file A
accesses predicates from file B which accesses predicates
A, we consider this a mutual or circular dependency. If
traditional load predicates (e.g., consult/1)
are used to include file B from A and A
from B, loading either file results in a loop. This is
is mapped to load_files/2
using the option
if(true)(.) Such programs are typically
loaded using a load file that consults all required
(non-module) files. If modules are used, the dependencies are made
explicit using use_module/1
predicate, however, maps to load_files/2
with the option
if(not_loaded)(.) A use_module/1
on an already loaded file merely makes the public predicates of the used
Summarizing, mutual dependency of source files is fully supported with no precautions when using modules. Modules can use each other in an arbitrary dependency graph. When using consult/1, predicate dependencies between loaded files can still be arbitrary, but the consult relations between files must be a proper tree.
This section discusses compiling files for the first time. For reloading, see section 4.3.2.
Multiple threads can compile files concurrently. This requires special precautions only if multiple threads wish to load the same file at the same time. Therefore, load_files/2 checks whether some other thread is already loading the file. If not, it starts loading the file. If a thread detects that another thread is already loading the file the thread blocks until the other thread finishes loading the file. After waiting, and if the file is a module file, it imports the exported predicates and operators from the module.
Note that this schema does not prevent deadlocks under all situations. Consider two mutually dependent (see section 18.104.22.168) module files A and B, where thread 1 starts loading A and thread 2 starts loading B at the same time. Both threads will deadlock when trying to load the used module.
The current implementation does not detect such cases and the involved threads will freeze. This problem can be avoided if a mutually dependent collection of files is always loaded from the same start file.
SWI-Prolog supports compilation of individual or multiple Prolog
source files into‘Quick Load Files'. A‘Quick Load File' (
file) stores the contents of the file in a precompiled format.
These files load considerably faster than source files and are normally more compact. They are machine-independent and may thus be loaded on any implementation of SWI-Prolog. Note, however, that clauses are stored as virtual machine instructions. Changes to the compiler will generally make old compiled files unusable.
Quick Load Files are created using qcompile/1.
They are loaded using
or one of the other file-loading predicates described in
section 4.3. If consult/1
is given an explicit
.pl file, it will load the Prolog
source. When given a
.qlf file, it will load the file. When
no extension is specified, it will load the
.qlf file when present and the
- Takes a file specification as consult/1,
etc., and, in addition to the normal compilation, creates a Quick
Load File from File. The file extension of this file is
.qlf. The basename of the Quick Load File is the same as the input file.
If the file contains‘
:- load_files(+File, [qcompile(part), ...])’statements, the referred files are compiled into the same
.qlffile. Other directives will be stored in the
.qlffile and executed in the same fashion as when loading the
Conditional execution or optimisation may test the predicate compiling/0.
Source references (source_file/2) in the Quick Load File refer to the Prolog source file from which the compiled code originates.
- qcompile(:File, +Options)
- As qcompile/1,
but processes additional options as defined by
are passed to load_files/2.
In addition the following options are processed:
- What to include into the QLF file. Currently accepts only a single
value: the atom
user. When specified, files loaded indirectly from File that to not come from the Prolog library are included into the
.qlffile. This may be used to generate a single file from an application. The result is comparable to a save state (see qsave_program/2) with the folowing differences:
- Only your application code is included. The Prolog libraries and boot files are not.
- Only Prolog code is included,
.qlffiles cannot include arbitrary resources.
- The file can be loaded into a running Prolog process, while a saved state can only be loaded into a virgin Prolog virtual machine.