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Status: Proposal STREAM-IS-NIL passed, Jun 89 X3J13


References: CLtL page 422

Category: Clarify

Edit history: 17-Mar-89, Version 1

Problem description:

The documentation for WITH-OPEN-FILE (p 422) says:

"WITH-OPEN-FILE evaluates the Forms of the body (an implict PROGN)

with the variable Stream bound to a stream that reads or writes the

file named by the value of Filename. The options are evaluated and

used as keyword arguments to the function OPEN."

It is not clear what to do when there is no stream

"that reads or writes the file" named by Filename.

Is the body evaluated? What is Stream bound to?


If the result of OPEN does not return a stream (eg returns NIL)

Then the body of WITH-OPEN-FILE is not evaluated, NIL is returned.


The contract that "the body is evaluated with ... bound to a stream"

is maintained in the sense of a vacuous evalation.

The alternatives are:

To let the stream variable be bound to NIL (unintuitive and dangerous).

If users want to Signal-An-Error in this case, they can use

:if-does-not-exist :error

The test for (STREAMP Stream) is probably done anyway,

since the UNWIND-PROTECT cleanup form can't call CLOSE on NIL.


Clarify the documentation to explain that:

Stream is bound to the value returned by OPEN.

Users of :if-does-not-exist NIL should check for a valid stream.


This simple to implement, no extra testing is done.

Users who use :if-does-not-exist NIL can wrap their body forms

with (when (STREAMP Stream) ...)


1. (WITH-OPEN-FILE (foo "no-such-file" :IF-DOES-NOT-EXIST nil)

(READ foo) t)

DONT-EVALUATE: => NIL, no I/O is done, do not read from *standard-input*

STREAM-IS-NIL: => T, reads from *standard-input*

2. (WITH-OPEN-FILE (foo "/no-dir" :direction :output :IF-DOES-NOT-EXIST nil)

(format foo t) t)

DONT-EVALUATE: => NIL, no string is created.

STREAM-IS-NIL: => T, creates a string and writes to it.

Current practice:

Symbolics and Lucid apparently implement STREAM-IS-NIL.

Cost to Implementors:

STREAM-IS-NIL: no cost.


Trivial? to test for :if-does-not-exist NIL and supply a

test for (STREAMP Stream) in that case [or in every case].

Cost to Users:

DONT-EVALUATE: System tests for (STREAMP Stream), possibly extraneously.

STREAM-IS-NIL: User must write a test for (STREAMP Stream).

Probably no portable code uses :if-does-not-exist NIL without

testing explicitly for (STREAMP Stream).

Cost of non-adoption:

The current situation is non-intuitive and/or confusing.


Users would know if the STREAMP test has been done or whether

they must supply it.



GV-Info: CL-Cleanup-mailer@SAIL.Stanford.EDU at 21-Mar-89 16:03:29 from AG

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From: David A. Moon <Moon@STONY-BROOK.SCRC.Symbolics.COM>

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although I agree that CLtL doesn't really say.

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