Library for serializing OCaml values to and from S-expressions
* Sexplib - S-Expressions for OCaml =sexplib= contains functionality for parsing and pretty-printing s-expressions. S-expressions are defined by the following type: #+begin_src ocaml type sexp = Atom of string | List of sexp list #+end_src ** Usage example In this example we build an s-expression that corresponds to =(This (is an) (s expression))=, serialize that into a string, and then parse the string back into an s-expression. #+begin_src ocaml open Sexplib let () = (* Build an Sexp from: (This (is an) (s expression)) *) let exp1 = Sexp.(List [ Atom "This"; List [Atom "is"; Atom "an"]; List [Atom "s"; Atom "expression"] ]) in (* Serialize an Sexp object into a string *) print_endline (Sexp.to_string exp1); (* Parse a string and produce a Sexp object *) let exp2 = Sexp.of_string "(This (is an) (s expression))" in (* Ensure we parsed what we expected. *) assert (Sexp.compare exp1 exp2 = 0) #+end_src ** About This library is often used in conjunction with =ppx_sexp_conv=, a syntax extension which generates code from type definitions for efficiently converting OCaml-values to s-expressions and vice versa. Together, these two libraries make it easy to convert your OCaml values to and from a human-readable serializable form, without the tedium of having to write your own converters. The library also offers functionality for extracting and replacing sub-expressions in s-expressions. Here, we'll only document =sexplib= proper. If you want to know more about the way in which OCaml types are mapped on to s-expressions, you should look at the documentation for [[https://github.com/janestreet/ppx_sexp_conv][=ppx_sexp_conv=]]. ** Lexical conventions of s-expression Whitespace, which consists of the space, newline, horizontal tab, and form feed characters, is ignored unless within an OCaml-string, where it is treated according to OCaml-conventions. The left parenthesis opens a new list, the right one closes it again. Lists can be empty. The double quote denotes the beginning and end of a string following the lexical conventions of OCaml (see the [[http://caml.inria.fr/pub/docs/manual-ocaml/][OCaml-manual]] for details). All characters other than double quotes, left and right parentheses, whitespace, carriage return, and comment-introducing characters or sequences (see next paragraph) are considered part of a contiguous string. ** Comments There are three kinds of comments: - /line comments/ are introduced with =;=, and end at the newline. - /sexp comments/ are introduced with =#;=, and end at the end of the following s-expression. - /block comments/ are introduced with =#|= and end with =|#=. These can be nested, and double-quotes within them must be balanced and be lexically correct OCaml strings. ** Grammar of s-expressions S-expressions are either strings (= atoms) or lists. The lists can recursively contain further s-expressions or be empty, and must be balanced, i.e., parentheses must match. ** Examples #+begin_src scheme this_is_an_atom_123'&^%! ; this is a comment "another atom in an OCaml-string \"string in a string\" \123" ; empty list follows below () ; a more complex example ( ( list in a list ; comment within a list (list in a list in a list) 42 is the answer to all questions #; (this S-expression (has been commented out) ) #| Block comments #| can be "nested" |# |# ) ) #+end_src ** I/O and Type Conversions There are multiple ways to perform I/O with s-expressions. If exact error locations are required when type conversions fail, s-expressions need to be parsed with location annotations. The associated parser is slower, however, and needs more memory. In most cases users may therefore want to use functions like =load_sexp_conv= or =load_sexp_conv_exn=, which load s-expressions from files and convert them. They initially read the file without location annotations for performance reasons. Only if conversions fail will the file be reparsed with location annotations. Type errors can then be reported accurately with file name, line number, column, and file position. ** Custom converters In addition to the converters provided automatically by =ppx_sexp_conv=, it's possible to write one's own sexp-converter. For such converters to be available by other automatically generated converters, it should follow the convention of being defined in the same scope as the type, and should be named =sexp_of_[type]= and =[type]_of_sexp=. You must report failures by raising the =Of_sexp_error=-exception so that then =sexplib='s tools for pinpointing the location of type errors within an s-expression file will work properly. ** Pretty-printers for OCaml toplevel To get s-expressions pretty-printed in an OCaml toplevel (e.g. utop), you need to install a pretty printer. If you use [[https://github.com/janestreet/base][=base=]], then you should look at =Base.Pretty_printer.all= and get those pretty-printers registered. If not, then =#install_printer Sexplib.Sexp.pp_hum= should work.
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