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2 points by shader 3864 days ago | link | parent

The lexical environment is (mostly) accessible at run time. The problem is when you're returning a macro from a function, instead of just renaming it.

Suppose you implement packages as tables of symbols. Suppose also that you have a macro stored in said package. There are two ways to use the macro


  (= newmac package!newmac)
  (newmac args)

  (package!newmac args)
I think that most people would like to use the second form, because it doesn't require importing the macro into the current namespace. Unfortunately, the second version requires first class macros.

Obviously, since the compiler can't easily determine that an expression is going to be a macro, it won't have the advantage of compile time optimization. I'm not sure how important that is. Given that arc is already a "slow" language, why not give it more expressive power at the cost of slightly lower speed? Especially since the user can choose whether or not to use them.

So, as I see it first class macros give you several features:

1. easy to make a package system that can contain macros 2. macros fit in better with functions; no wrapping of macros in functions 3. anonymous macros created for mapping across expressions, etc.

2 points by aw 3864 days ago | link

Oh, I think I sort of get it now...

In an interpreter,

  (expr1 expr2 expr3)
evaluation of expr2 and expr3 can be delayed until after expr1 is evaluated. If expr1 turns out to evaluate to a macro, then the literal expr2 and expr3 can be passed to the macro.