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Parameter module, $functions, and autoloading

A while back somebody asked about having local functions, i.e. functions
that become unset when the function that defined them finishes.

It struck me that this ought to be possible with the $functions parameter:

    zmodload parameter
    function bar() { echo bar at top level }
    function foo() {
	typeset +h functions
	function bar() { echo bar inside foo }

zagzig% foo
bar inside foo
zagzig% bar
bar at top level

Unfortunately, this has an unwanted side-effect:  All autoloaded functions
that are still undefined, become defined to run the command "undefined".

A workaround occurred to me:

    function foo() {
	alias undefined='unfunction $0 ; autoload -U $0 ; $0 "$@"'
	typeset +h functions
	function bar() { echo bar inside foo }

This works just fine provided that (a) FUNCTION_ARGZERO is set and (b) you
were expecting "autoload -U" behavior on the function in question.  There
is currently no way to determine whether an autoload had -U or not.

Combined with previous observations about vared (see zsh-users/2687), a fix
for the `functions' parameter seems to be in order ... or does it?  There's
another long-standing "bug" that is related:

    eval "$(functions)"

With autoloaded functions present, this produces a bodiless function named
"undefined", along with empty functions replacing all autoloaded functions.
This is even more insidious,as you don't even get an error when attempting
to run one of the no-longer-autoloaded functions.

An interesting solution to both problems occurred to me today:  Create a
builtin "undefined" that works like the alias above.  That builtin could
have access to the function name and argv independent of FUNCTION_ARGZERO, 
and would simply perform the autoload and execute.  It could even take an
option -U having the same meaning as "autoload -U".

Then we change "functions" to output "foo() { undefined }" instead of the
present format, et voila.  One could then create an autoloaded function by


which is exactly what happens when the $functions AA is restored on exit 
from a local context.  It's a shortcut for "unfunction foo; autoload foo".
And the output for a function that was declared with "autoload -U" is
"foo() { undefined -U }".

A more complicated solution involves a minor parsing rewrite:  Create a
new reserved word "undefined".  Parse it in a manner almost identical to
the parsing for "function", except that an empty function body is required.
That function is marked autoloaded.  Then, one last bit of magic:  If the
function does not have a name -- which is already possible, e.g. look at
the parse of "function foo() { function }" -- then the function containing
the nameless function is marked autoloaded instead.

With that in place, both

	undefined foo() { }
	foo() { undefined }

mean that foo is autoloaded, and then we don't have to change the output
of the "functions" builtin.  But that leaves unanswered the question of how
to represent "autoload -U", because a reserved word can't "take options".
I like the builtin-command idea better.

Any comments?

One final thought:  It was also previously asked (by Adam?) whether there
is some way to cause an autoloaded function to become defined without
actually executing it.  That could become an operation of the "undefined"
command:  Called with no arguments, it behaves as above, and gives an
error if not in a function context; called with arguments, it resolves
them as autoloads (or gives an error if it can't) but doesn't exectute.

(We could of course choose another name than "undefined" for any of this.)

Bart Schaefer                                 Brass Lantern Enterprises
http://www.well.com/user/barts              http://www.brasslantern.com

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