Re: Fruit basket program in Boo, Other Script Langs

  • From: "rrdinger" <rrdinger@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2007 08:44:38 -0700


Thanks for the BOO manifesto, BOO is a very exciting new language. It appears that BOO has all the advantages of Python and has removed some of the disadvantages. As someone with 25 years or so of C/C++ experience, I tend to like the static typing aspects of BOO and I really like the idea of letting the compiler take over most of the tedious work.

I may finally buy MS visual studios just to play with this and Iron Python.

Thanks again for being the one who keeps up with all this new development in languages.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Jamal Mazrui" <empower@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2007 6:43 AM
Subject: Re: Fruit basket program in Boo, Other Script Langs

I am posting the "Boo Manifesto" below, converted from a PDF.  It includes
an interesting discussion of the strengths of static versus dynamic


The boo Programming Language

Copyright  2004-2005 Rodrigo Barreto de Oliveira (rbo@xxxxxxx)

When and Why

boo was born almost a year ago out of my frustation with existing
programming language
systems and my growing love for the Common Language Infrastructure and the
architectural beauty of the entire .net framework.

I was frustrated mainly because I could not use the language I wanted to
use (python at
the time) to build the kind of systems I needed to within the
technological framework my
company has settled on. I had two options: I could either use a different
framework (such
as the python standard libraries and runtime environment) or a different
language (C# was the logical choice for such a long time C++ programmer
like myself).

I tried both and was completely satisfied by none.

When I was programming in full python mode I missed some of the things I'd
get from a more statically typed environment such as compile time error
checking (good
when you're refactoring a large user interface code base such as my
company's) but what
I missed the most was the well thought out .net architecture and its great
support for
unicode, globalization and web style applications.

After a not-so-successful python attempt that had put us way behind the
schedule I
started C# coding like hell. I programmed a lot and by that I mean no xmas
or carnival or
6 hour sleep nights. Some pretty good tools came to light during those
intense times,
Bamboo.Prevalence being just one of them. To make a long story short we
delivered what we had to using C# and the .net framework. That's the
holywood ending.
In the alternate ending I was stressed and couldn't avoid those mixed
feelings about C# in
the light of my previous python experience:

Nice syntax but do I really have to type in all those casts? What a clean
and event system design but can't YOU just create that delegate for me,
Compiler? Great, true multidimensional arrays! I need a list with the
tasks marked
done, couldn't it be a little easier? Thanks for the warning but couldn't
I just type
in some code and see the results, please? Write a class? What do you mean
a class!"?

Imagine those sentences spinning really fast inside your caffeinated ADD
brain at 3 AM
and you'll start getting a picture.

Now I missed the wrist-friendly python syntax and the ability to easily
test my ideas with
running code. And I wanted more! I wanted a language I could extend with
my own
constructs. I wanted a compiler system that could be taught new things,
taught how to
automagically generate common code for me. I should be able to do that,
right? We all
should. We are programmers! We're entitled to that, it's all there in the
big old book of

programmers, right at the end if I recall it correctly... Well, more than
anything else, I
needed some old-fashioned quality sleep and time to put my head straight.

Being such a hard case of not-invented-here syndrome it all became clear
to me: I had to
build a new programming language system for the CLI, one that allowed
programmers to
take advantage of the wonderful .net framework features without getting in
their way.
One that could be used, extended and modified by developers according to
their specific

I had to build boo.


A clean and wrist-friendly syntax


I got hooked on python the time I wrote my first program with it and that
had much to do
with the language's syntax. There were some minor things I didn't like and
I also had to
account for the needs of a statically typed language such as exact method
declarations and such.

Syntactic sugar for common programming patterns

List, hash and array literals were only some of the typing saving things I
knew boo should
have. Common programming patterns such as object initialization, string
formatting and
regular expression matching should all be supported as well.

Automatic Variable Declaration

It can be good, it can be bad. But it always worked for me: assignments
should be able to
introduce new locally scoped variables.

Automatic type inference

Nothing more tiresome than writing the same type name over and over just
to make the
compiler happy. I'm not talking against static typing in general (boo is
statically typed),
I'm talking against being coerced by a tyrannical compiler to say things
it should already
know. Take for instance this simple little program:

def one():

return 1

um = one()

The method one is clearly returning an integer value. The newly declared
variable um is
also clearly holding an integer value. The compiler should fill in all the
blanks. On the
other hand, I'm all for programmer's power, the programmer should be able
to say what

he/she means:

def one() as int:

return 1

uno as int = one()

In that case the compiler should just check if the programmer had a good
night of sleep
and is making sense at all. In other words, a compiler error should be
expected for code
such as:

def one():

return "1"

ichi as int = one()

Automatic type casting

If a type casting operation could succeed in runtime I don't want to write
it. I'll rely on
unit tests to make sure my code works.

Classes are not needed

The guys who came up with public static void main were probably kidding,
problem is that most people didn't get it was a joke. The infamous
HelloWorld in all its
boo glory:

print("Hello, world!")

public static void main, that was a good one!


First class functions

Granted I am no functional programming expert, far from that actually but
I certainly can
appreciate the expressiveness boost provided by functional composition.

Functions are first class passengers of the boo wagon and as such they can
be used as
return values:

def ignore(item):


def selectAction(item as int):
return print if item % 2
return ignore

for i in range(10):

Used as arguments:

def x2(item as int):
return item*2

print(join(map(x2, range(11))))

Stored in variables:

p = print
p("Hello, world!")

Functions as objects:

print.Invoke("Hello, world!")

With all this power at hand the asynchronous delegate pattern couldn't be
any easier:

import System

def callback(result as IAsyncResult):

def run():


result = run.BeginInvoke(callback, null)


It is also possible to describe function types exactly and explicitly
through callable type
definitions making it feasible to write gems such as:

callable Malkovich() as Malkovich

def malkovich() as Malkovich:

return malkovich


First class generators

From time to time there is the need to represent closed sets such as the
customers in So
Paulo or open sets like the numbers in the Fibonacci series in a suscint
and memory
conservative way. Enter generators.

Generators are language constructs capable of producing more than one
value when used
in a iteration context such as the for in loop.

Generator expressions

Generator expressions are defined through the pattern:

<expression> for <declarations> in <iterator> [if|unless <condition>]

Generator expressions can be used as return values:

def GetCompletedTasks():
return t for t in _tasks if t.IsCompleted

Generator expressions can be stored in variables:

oddNumbers = i for i in range(10) if i % 2

Generator expressions can be used as arguments to functions:

print(join(i*2 for i in range(10) if 0 == i % 2))

In all cases the evaluation of each inner expression happens only on
demand as the
generator is consumed by a for in loop.

Generator methods

Generator methods are constructed with the yield keyword:

def fibonacci():
a, b = 0, 1
while true:

yield b
a, b = b, a+b

Given the definition above the following program would print the first
five elements of
the Fibonacci series:

for index as int, element in zip(range(5), fibonacci()):
print("${index+1}: ${element}")

So although the generator definition itself is unbounded (a while true
loop) only the
necessary elements will be computed, five in this particular case as the
zip builtin will
stop asking for more when the range is exausted.

Generator methods are also a great way of encapsulating iteration logic:

def selectElements(element as XmlElement, tagName as string):
for node as XmlNode in element.ChildNodes:
if node isa XmlElement and tagName == node.Name:
yield node

Duck Typing

Sometimes it is appropriate to give up the safety net provided by static
typing. Maybe
you just want to explore an API without worrying too much about method
signatures or
maybe you're creating code that talks to external components such as COM
Either way the choice should be yours not mine:

import System.Threading

def CreateInstance(progid):
type = System.Type.GetTypeFromProgID(progid)
return type()

ie as duck = CreateInstance("InternetExplorer.Application")
ie.Visible = true

Thread.Sleep(50ms) while ie.Busy

document = ie.Document
print("${document.title} is ${document.fileSize} bytes long.")

A duck typed expression will have all its method calls and property
accesses resolved in
runtime. So if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck...


Syntactic Attributes

Very few languages have a good way of automating micro code patterns,
those little lines
of code we programmers are generally required to write in order to expose
fields as
properties, properly validate method arguments, check pre/post conditions
among other
things. Enter syntactic attributes:

class Person:


_fname as string

_lname as string

def constructor([required] fname, [required] lname):

_fname = fname

_lname = lname

Look carefully at the code above, although getter and required look just
like regular .net
custom attributes they would be recognized by the compiler as syntactic
attribute classes that implement the IAstAttribute interface. The compiler
will treat such
attributes in a very special way, it will give them a chance to transform
the in memory
code representation (the abstract syntax tree, ast for short). After this
process the code
tree would look as if the programmer had actually typed:

class Person:

_fname as string

_lname as string

def constructor(fname, lname):

raise ArgumentNullException("fname") if fname is null

raise ArgumentNullException("lname") if lname is null

_fname = fname

_lname = lname

FirstName as string:
return _fname

LastName as string:
return _lname

Anyone can write syntactic attributes just as anyone can write classes
that implement
interfaces. This opens up for entirely new ways of expression and code

Syntactic Macros

Syntactic macros are pretty much like syntactic attributes in the sense
that they are
external objects invoked by the compiler to transform the code tree
although they serve a
different purpose: syntactic macros augment the language with new
constructs. Take for

instance the following code:

using reader=File.OpenText(fname):

using is not a builtin language construct (like in C# for instance), it is
a syntactic macro
that causes the above code to be interpreted by the compiler as:


reader = File.OpenText(fname)



if (__disposable__ = (reader as System.IDisposable))


__disposable__ = null

reader = null

The good thing is that you don't really have to know that to take
advantage of it, you just
have to know that using makes sure that any listed resources are properly
disposed of.
And that's the great thing about macros, once you've captured a specific
solution to a
problem (deterministic disposing of resources) in a code pattern, you can
give this code
pattern a name (write a macro) and start using that name whenever you need
the pattern.

Extensible Compilation Pipeline

An extensible syntax is only part of what I wanted. The compiler, the
compilation process
itself should be extensible. Programmers should be able to introduce new
actions where
appropriate to execute and automate a variety of tasks such as producing
and reports, checking coding conventions, applying program transformations
to better
support debugging or specific execution environments just to cite a few.
should also be able to reuse and/or replace specific compiler components
such as the
source code parser.

These requirements are realized in boo through an extensible compilation
defined by a set of loosely coupled objects (the steps) communicating
through a well
defined data structure (the compilation context).

New pipelines and steps can be defined at will the limitating factors
being only the
programmer's understanding of the compiler inner workings and the feature
set exposed
by the public API.

The following code defines a new step which checks that every class
defined in a
program has its name starting with a capital letter, the code also defines
accompanying pipeline as an extension to the standard CompileToFile

namespace StyleChecker

import Boo.Lang.Compiler
import Boo.Lang.Compiler.Ast
import Boo.Lang.Compiler.Steps
import Boo.Lang.Compiler.Pipelines

class StyleCheckerStep(AbstractVisitorCompilerStep):

override def Run():

override def LeaveClassDefinition(node as ClassDefinition):

if not char.IsUpper(node.Name[0]):
msg = "Class name '${node.Name}' should start with uppercase letter!"
Errors.Add(CompilerError(node, msg))

class StyleCheckerPipeline(CompileToFile):

def constructor():
self.Insert(1, StyleCheckerStep())

The Common Language Infrastructure

A wrist friendly syntax, expressiveness and extensibility. That's not all.
I want my code to play nice with modules written in other languages.
I want a rich programming environment with a well thought out class
I want to be able to run my programs in multiple platforms.
I want the CLI.

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