[e-lang] Indentation and line breaks in string literals

Kevin Reid kpreid at mac.com
Mon Mar 3 08:29:56 EST 2008

? e`{"abc\ndef"}`
# value: e`{
#            "abc
#            def"
#        }`

? e`{
 >     "abc
 >     def"
 > }`
# value: e`{
#            "abc
#                def"
#        }`

As the above demonstrates, the E parser and printer fail to be  
consistent when given a string literal containing a line break.

For this reason, and for use of multi-line quasiliterals in ordinary  
source, it seems to me that there ought to be a notation for ignoring  
indentation whitespace in string and quasi-literals.

What should this be?

Some prior art I know of:

In Common Lisp format strings, a ~ followed by a newline ignores that  
newline and any following whitespace, with options to not ignore  
either one:

   (format nil "foo~
=> foobar

   (format nil "foo~@
=> foo
=> bar

In Haskell, whitespace surrounded by \ is ignored. This allows for  
leading whitespace to be specified in continuation lines.

   \  foo\n\
   \  bar\n\

=> {
=>   foo
=>   bar
=> }

Then there are the languages (C?) which allow adjacent string  
literals and consider them concatenated:

   "  bar"

=> foo
=>   bar

(This has the advantage of not introducing additional escape-ish  
syntax, but using it in E would require extra backslashes to prohibit  
statement termination, and the quasiliteral form of the preceding  
example would look funny:
   quasiname`foo$\n` \
            `  bar`

Your opinions?

Kevin Reid                            <http://homepage.mac.com/kpreid/>

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