The (rnrs syntax-case (6))library provides support for writing low-level macros in a high-level style, with automatic syntax checking, input destructuring, output restructuring, maintenance of lexical scoping and referential transparency (hygiene), and support for controlled identifier capture.
Barendregt’s hygiene condition  for the lambda calculus is an informal notion that requires the free variables of an expression N that is to be substituted into another expression M not to be captured by bindings in M when such capture is not intended. Kohlbecker, et al  propose a corresponding hygiene condition for macro expansion that applies in all situations where capturing is not explicit: “Generated identifiers that become binding instances in the completely expanded program must only bind variables that are generated at the same transcription step”. In the terminology of this document, the “generated identifiers” are those introduced by a transformer rather than those present in the form passed to the transformer, and a “macro transcription step” corresponds to a single call by the expander to a transformer. Also, the hygiene condition applies to all introduced bindings rather than to introduced variable bindings alone.
This leaves open what happens to an introduced identifier that appears outside the scope of a binding introduced by the same call. Such an identifier refers to the lexical binding in effect where it appears (within a syntax <template>; see section 12.4) inside the transformer body or one of the helpers it calls. This is essentially the referential transparency property described by Clinger and Rees . Thus, the hygiene condition can be restated as follows:
A binding for an identifier introduced into the output of a transformer call from the expander must capture only references to the identifier introduced into the output of the same transformer call. A reference to an identifier introduced into the output of a transformer refers to the closest enclosing binding for the introduced identifier or, if it appears outside of any enclosing binding for the introduced identifier, the closest enclosing lexical binding where the identifier appears (within a syntax <template>) inside the transformer body or one of the helpers it calls.
Explicit captures are handled via datum->syntax; see section 12.6.
Operationally, the expander can maintain hygiene with the help of marks and substitutions. Marks are applied selectively by the expander to the output of each transformer it invokes, and substitutions are applied to the portions of each binding form that are supposed to be within the scope of the bound identifiers. Marks are used to distinguish like-named identifiers that are introduced at different times (either present in the source or introduced into the output of a particular transformer call), and substitutions are used to map identifiers to their expand-time values.
Each time the expander encounters a macro use, it applies an antimark to the input form, invokes the associated transformer, then applies a fresh mark to the output. Marks and antimarks cancel, so the portions of the input that appear in the output are effectively left unmarked, while the portions of the output that are introduced are marked with the fresh mark.
Each time the expander encounters a binding form it creates a set of substitutions, each mapping one of the (possibly marked) bound identifiers to information about the binding. (For a lambda expression, the expander might map each bound identifier to a representation of the formal parameter in the output of the expander. For a let-syntax form, the expander might map each bound identifier to the associated transformer.) These substitutions are applied to the portions of the input form in which the binding is supposed to be visible.
Marks and substitutions together form a wrap that is layered on the form being processed by the expander and pushed down toward the leaves as necessary. A wrapped form is referred to as a wrapped syntax object. Ultimately, the wrap may rest on a leaf that represents an identifier, in which case the wrapped syntax object is also referred to as an identifier. An identifier contains a name along with the wrap. (Names are typically represented by symbols.)
When a substitution is created to map an identifier to an expand-time value, the substitution records the name of the identifier and the set of marks that have been applied to that identifier, along with the associated expand-time value. The expander resolves identifier references by looking for the latest matching substitution to be applied to the identifier, i.e., the outermost substitution in the wrap whose name and marks match the name and marks recorded in the substitution. The name matches if it is the same name (if using symbols, then by eq?), and the marks match if the marks recorded with the substitution are the same as those that appear below the substitution in the wrap, i.e., those that were applied before the substitution. Marks applied after a substitution, i.e., appear over the substitution in the wrap, are not relevant and are ignored.
An algebra that defines how marks and substitutions work more precisely is given in section 2.4 of Oscar Waddell’s PhD thesis .
A syntax object is a representation of a Scheme form that contains contextual information about the form in addition to its structure. This contextual information is used by the expander to maintain lexical scoping and may also be used by an implementation to maintain source-object correlation .
A syntax object may be wrapped, as described in section 12.1. It may also be unwrapped, fully or partially, i.e., consist of list and vector structure with wrapped syntax objects or nonsymbol values at the leaves. More formally, a syntax object is:
a pair of syntax objects,
a vector of syntax objects,
a nonpair, nonvector, nonsymbol value, or
a wrapped syntax object.
The distinction between the terms “syntax object” and “wrapped syntax object” is important. For example, when invoked by the expander, a transformer (section 12.3) must accept a wrapped syntax object but may return any syntax object, including an unwrapped syntax object.
Syntax objects representing identifiers are always wrapped and are distinct from other types of values. Wrapped syntax objects that are not identifiers may or may not be distinct from other types of values.
In define-syntax (report section on “Syntax definitions”), let-syntax, and letrec-syntax forms (report section on “Binding constructs for syntactic keywords”), a binding for a syntactic keyword is an expression that evaluates to a transformer.
A transformer is a transformation procedure or a variable transformer. A transformation procedure is a procedure that must accept one argument, a wrapped syntax object (section 12.2) representing the input, and return a syntax object (section 12.2) representing the output. The transformer is called by the expander whenever a reference to a keyword with which it has been associated is found. If the keyword appears in the car of a list-structured input form, the transformer receives the entire list-structured form, and its output replaces the entire form. Except with variable transformers (see below), if the keyword is found in any other definition or expression context, the transformer receives a wrapped syntax object representing just the keyword reference, and its output replaces just the reference. Except with variable transformers, an exception with condition type &syntax is raised if the keyword appears on the left-hand side of a set! expression.
Proc should accept one argument, a wrapped syntax object, and return a syntax object.
The make-variable-transformer procedure creates a variable transformer. A variable transformer is like an ordinary transformer except that, if a keyword associated with a variable transformer appears on the left-hand side of a set! expression, an exception is not raised. Instead, proc is called with a wrapped syntax object representing the entire set! expression as its argument, and its return value replaces the entire set! expression.
Implementation responsibilities: The implementation must check the restrictions on proc only to the extent performed by applying it as described. An implementation may check whether proc is an appropriate argument before applying it.
Transformers can destructure their input with syntax-case and rebuild their output with syntax.
Syntax: Each <literal> must be an identifier. Each <syntax-case clause> must take one of the following two forms.
(<pattern> <output expression>)
<Fender> and <output expression> must be <expression>s.
A <pattern> is an identifier, constant, or one of the following.
An identifier appearing within a <pattern> may be an underscore ( _ ), a literal identifier listed in the list of literals (<literal> ...), or an ellipsis ( ... ). All other identifiers appearing within a <pattern> are pattern variables. It is a syntax violation if an ellipsis or underscore appears in (<literal> ...).
_ and ... are the same as in the (rnrs base (6)) library.
Pattern variables match arbitrary input subforms and are used to refer to elements of the input. It is a syntax violation if the same pattern variable appears more than once in a <pattern>.
Underscores also match arbitrary input subforms but are not pattern variables and so cannot be used to refer to those elements. Multiple underscores may appear in a <pattern>.
A literal identifier matches an input subform if and only if the input subform is an identifier and either both its occurrence in the input expression and its occurrence in the list of literals have the same lexical binding, or the two identifiers have the same name and both have no lexical binding.
A subpattern followed by an ellipsis can match zero or more elements of the input.
More formally, an input form F matches a pattern P if and only if one of the following holds:
P is an underscore ( _ ).
P is a pattern variable.
P is a literal identifier and F is an equivalent identifier in the sense of free-identifier=? (section 12.5).
P is of the form (P1 ... Pn) and F is a list of n elements that match P1 through Pn.
P is of the form (P1 ... Pn . Px) and F is a list or improper list of n or more elements whose first n elements match P1 through Pn and whose nth cdr matches Px.
P is of the form (P1 ... Pk Pe <ellipsis> Pm+1 ... Pn), where <ellipsis> is the identifier ... and F is a proper list of n elements whose first k elements match P1 through Pk, whose next m - k elements each match Pe, and whose remaining n - m elements match Pm+1 through Pn.
P is of the form (P1 ... Pk Pe <ellipsis> Pm+1 ... Pn . Px), where <ellipsis> is the identifier ... and F is a list or improper list of n elements whose first k elements match P1 through Pk, whose next m - k elements each match Pe, whose next n - m elements match Pm+1 through Pn, and whose nth and final cdr matches Px.
P is of the form #(P1 ... Pn) and F is a vector of n elements that match P1 through Pn.
P is of the form #(P1 ... Pk Pe <ellipsis> Pm+1 ... Pn), where <ellipsis> is the identifier ... and F is a vector of n or more elements whose first k elements match P1 through Pk, whose next m - k elements each match Pe, and whose remaining n - m elements match Pm+1 through Pn.
P is a pattern datum (any nonlist, nonvector, nonsymbol datum) and F is equal to P in the sense of the equal? procedure.
Semantics: A syntax-case expression first evaluates <expression>. It then attempts to match the <pattern> from the first <syntax-case clause> against the resulting value, which is unwrapped as necessary to perform the match. If the pattern matches the value and no <fender> is present, <output expression> is evaluated and its value returned as the value of the syntax-case expression. If the pattern does not match the value, syntax-case tries the second <syntax-case clause>, then the third, and so on. It is a syntax violation if the value does not match any of the patterns.
If the optional <fender> is present, it serves as an additional constraint on acceptance of a clause. If the <pattern> of a given <syntax-case clause> matches the input value, the corresponding <fender> is evaluated. If <fender> evaluates to a true value, the clause is accepted; otherwise, the clause is rejected as if the pattern had failed to match the value. Fenders are logically a part of the matching process, i.e., they specify additional matching constraints beyond the basic structure of the input.
Pattern variables contained within a clause’s <pattern> are bound to the corresponding pieces of the input value within the clause’s <fender> (if present) and <output expression>. Pattern variables can be referenced only within syntax expressions (see below). Pattern variables occupy the same name space as program variables and keywords.
If the syntax-case form is in tail context, the <output expression>s are also in tail position.
Note: #’<template> is equivalent to (syntax <template>).
A syntax expression is similar to a quote expression except that (1) the values of pattern variables appearing within <template> are inserted into <template>, (2) contextual information associated both with the input and with the template is retained in the output to support lexical scoping, and (3) the value of a syntax expression is a syntax object.
A <template> is a pattern variable, an identifier that is not a pattern variable, a pattern datum, or one of the following.
A <subtemplate> is a <template> followed by zero or more ellipses.
The value of a syntax form is a copy of <template> in which the pattern variables appearing within the template are replaced with the input subforms to which they are bound. Pattern data and identifiers that are not pattern variables or ellipses are copied directly into the output. A subtemplate followed by an ellipsis expands into zero or more occurrences of the subtemplate. Pattern variables that occur in subpatterns followed by one or more ellipses may occur only in subtemplates that are followed by (at least) as many ellipses. These pattern variables are replaced in the output by the input subforms to which they are bound, distributed as specified. If a pattern variable is followed by more ellipses in the subtemplate than in the associated subpattern, the input form is replicated as necessary. The subtemplate must contain at least one pattern variable from a subpattern followed by an ellipsis, and for at least one such pattern variable, the subtemplate must be followed by exactly as many ellipses as the subpattern in which the pattern variable appears. (Otherwise, the expander would not be able to determine how many times the subform should be repeated in the output.) It is a syntax violation if the constraints of this paragraph are not met.
A template of the form (<ellipsis> <template>) is identical to <template>, except that ellipses within the template have no special meaning. That is, any ellipses contained within <template> are treated as ordinary identifiers. In particular, the template (... ...) produces a single ellipsis. This allows macro uses to expand into forms containing ellipses.
The output produced by syntax is wrapped or unwrapped according to the following rules.
the copy of (<t1> . <t2>) is a pair if <t1> or <t2> contain any pattern variables,
the copy of (<t> <ellipsis>) is a list if <t> contains any pattern variables,
the copy of #(<t1> ... <tn>) is a vector if any of <t1>, ..., <tn> contain any pattern variables, and
the copy of any portion of <t> not containing any pattern variables is a wrapped syntax object.
The input subforms inserted in place of the pattern variables are wrapped if and only if the corresponding input subforms are wrapped.
The following definitions of or illustrate syntax-case and syntax. The second is equivalent to the first but uses the #’ prefix instead of the full syntax form.
The examples below define identifier macros, macro uses supporting keyword references that do not necessarily appear in the first position of a list-structured form. The second example uses make-variable-transformer to handle the case where the keyword appears on the left-hand side of a set! expression.
(define p (cons 4 5))
Returns #t if obj is an identifier, i.e., a syntax object representing an identifier, and #f otherwise.
The identifier? procedure is often used within a fender to verify that certain subforms of an input form are identifiers, as in the definition of rec, which creates self-contained recursive objects, below.
The procedures bound-identifier=? and free-identifier=? each take two identifier arguments and return #t if their arguments are equivalent and #f otherwise. These predicates are used to compare identifiers according to their intended use as free references or bound identifiers in a given context.
Id1 and id2 must be identifiers. The procedure bound-identifier=? returns #t if a binding for one would capture a reference to the other in the output of the transformer, assuming that the reference appears within the scope of the binding, and #f otherwise. In general, two identifiers are bound-identifier=? only if both are present in the original program or both are introduced by the same transformer application (perhaps implicitly—see datum->syntax). Operationally, two identifiers are considered equivalent by bound-identifier=? if and only if they have the same name and same marks (section 12.1).
The bound-identifier=? procedure can be used for detecting duplicate identifiers in a binding construct or for other preprocessing of a binding construct that requires detecting instances of the bound identifiers.
Id1 and id2 must be identifiers. The free-identifier=? procedure returns #t if and only if the two identifiers would resolve to the same binding if both were to appear in the output of a transformer outside of any bindings inserted by the transformer. (If neither of two like-named identifiers resolves to a binding, i.e., both are unbound, they are considered to resolve to the same binding.) Operationally, two identifiers are considered equivalent by free-identifier=? if and only the topmost matching substitution for each maps to the same binding (section 12.1) or the identifiers have the same name and no matching substitution.
The syntax-case and syntax-rules forms internally use free-identifier=? to compare identifiers listed in the literals list against input identifiers.
(let ([fred 17])
The following definition of unnamed let uses bound-identifier=? to detect duplicate identifiers.
The argument #’(i ...) to unique-ids? is guaranteed to be a list by the rules given in the description of syntax above.
With this definition of let:
(let ([a 3] [a 4]) (+ a a))
since the identifier a introduced by dolet and the identifier a extracted from the input form are not bound-identifier=?.
The following definition of case is equivalent to the one in section 12.4. Rather than including else in the literals list as before, this version explicitly tests for else using free-identifier=?.
With either definition of case, else is not recognized as an auxiliary keyword if an enclosing lexical binding for else exists. For example,
(let ([else #f])
since else is bound lexically and is therefore not the same else that appears in the definition of case.
Strips all syntactic information from a syntax object and returns the corresponding Scheme datum.
Identifiers stripped in this manner are converted to their symbolic names, which can then be compared with eq?. Thus, a predicate symbolic-identifier=? might be defined as follows.
Template-id must be a template identifier and datum should be a datum value. The datum->syntax procedure returns a syntax-object representation of datum that contains the same contextual information as template-id, with the effect that the syntax object behaves as if it were introduced into the code when template-id was introduced.
The datum->syntax procedure allows a transformer to “bend” lexical scoping rules by creating implicit identifiers that behave as if they were present in the input form, thus permitting the definition of macros that introduce visible bindings for or references to identifiers that do not appear explicitly in the input form. For example, the following defines a loop expression that uses this controlled form of identifier capture to bind the variable break to an escape procedure within the loop body. (The derived with-syntax form is like let but binds pattern variables—see section 12.8.)
Were loop to be defined as
the variable break would not be visible in e ....
The datum argument datum may also represent an arbitrary Scheme form, as demonstrated by the following definition of include.
(include "filename") expands into a begin expression containing the forms found in the file named by "filename". For example, if the file flib.ss contains (define f (lambda (x) (g (* x x)))), and the file glib.ss contains (define g (lambda (x) (+ x x))), the expression
evaluates to 50.
The definition of include uses datum->syntax to convert the objects read from the file into syntax objects in the proper lexical context, so that identifier references and definitions within those expressions are scoped where the include form appears.
Using datum->syntax, it is even possible to break hygiene entirely and write macros in the style of old Lisp macros. The lisp-transformer procedure defined below creates a transformer that converts its input into a datum, calls the programmer’s procedure on this datum, and converts the result back into a syntax object scoped where the original macro use appeared.
Transformers can introduce a fixed number of identifiers into their output simply by naming each identifier. In some cases, however, the number of identifiers to be introduced depends upon some characteristic of the input expression. A straightforward definition of letrec, for example, requires as many temporary identifiers as there are binding pairs in the input expression. The procedure generate-temporaries is used to construct lists of temporary identifiers.
L must be be a list or syntax object representing a list-structured form; its contents are not important. The number of temporaries generated is the number of elements in l. Each temporary is guaranteed to be unique, i.e., different from all other identifiers.
A definition of letrec equivalent to the one using syntax-rules given in report appendix on “Sample definitions for derived forms” is shown below.
This version uses generate-temporaries instead of recursively defined helper to generate the necessary temporaries.
The forms and procedures described in this section can be defined in terms of the forms and procedures described in earlier sections of this chapter.
The with-syntax form is used to bind pattern variables, just as let is used to bind variables. This allows a transformer to construct its output in separate pieces, then put the pieces together.
Each <pattern> is identical in form to a syntax-case pattern. The value of each <expression> is computed and destructured according to the corresponding <pattern>, and pattern variables within the <pattern> are bound as with syntax-case to the corresponding portions of the value within <body>.
The with-syntax form may be defined in terms of syntax-case as follows.
The following definition of cond demonstrates the use of with-syntax to support transformers that employ recursion internally to construct their output. It handles all cond clause variations and takes care to produce one-armed if expressions where appropriate.
The quasisyntax form is similar to syntax, but it allows parts of the quoted text to be evaluated, in a manner similar to the operation of quasiquote (report section on “Quasiquotation”).
Within a quasisyntax template, subforms of unsyntax and unsyntax-splicing forms are evaluated, and everything else is treated as ordinary template material, as with syntax. The value of each unsyntax subform is inserted into the output in place of the unsyntax form, while the value of each unsyntax-splicing subform is spliced into the surrounding list or vector structure. Uses of unsyntax and unsyntax-splicing are valid only within quasisyntax expressions.
A quasisyntax expression may be nested, with each quasisyntax introducing a new level of syntax quotation and each unsyntax or unsyntax-splicing taking away a level of quotation. An expression nested within n quasisyntax expressions must be within n unsyntax or unsyntax-splicing expressions to be evaluated.
As noted in report section on “Abbreviations”, #‘<template> is equivalent to (quasisyntax <template>), #,<template> is equivalent to (unsyntax <template>), and #,@<template> is equivalent to (unsyntax-splicing <template>).
The quasisyntax keyword can be used in place of with-syntax in many cases. For example, the definition of case shown under the description of with-syntax above can be rewritten using quasisyntax as follows.
Uses of unsyntax and unsyntax-splicing with zero or more than one subform are valid only in splicing (list or vector) contexts. (unsyntax template ...) is equivalent to (unsyntax template) ..., and (unsyntax-splicing template ...) is equivalent to (unsyntax-splicing template) .... These forms are primarily useful as intermediate forms in the output of the quasisyntax expander.
Note: Uses of unsyntax and unsyntax-splicing with zero or more than one subform enable certain idioms , such as #,@#,@, which has the effect of a doubly indirect splicing when used within a doubly nested and doubly evaluated quasisyntax expression, as with the nested quasiquote examples shown in section on “Quasiquotation”.
Note: Any syntax-rules form can be expressed with syntax-case by making the lambda expression and syntax expressions explicit, and syntax-rules may be defined in terms of syntax-case as follows.
(syntax-case x ()
[(_ (lit ...) [(k . p) t] ...)
(for-all identifier? #’(lit ... k ...))
(syntax-case x (lit ...)
[(_ . p) #’t] ...))])))
Note: The identifier-syntax form of the base library (see report section on “Macro transformers”) may be defined in terms of syntax-case, syntax, and make-variable-transformer as follows.
(syntax-case x ()
[id (identifier? #’id) #’e]
[(_ x (... ...)) #’(e x (... ...))]))]
[(_ (id exp1) ((set! var val) exp2))
(and (identifier? #’id) (identifier? #’var))
(syntax-case x (set!)
[(set! var val) #’exp2]
[(id x (... ...)) #’(exp1 x (... ...))]
[id (identifier? #’id) #’exp1])))]))
Who must be #f or a string or a symbol. Message must be a string. Form must be a syntax object or a datum value. Subform must be a syntax object or a datum value. The syntax-violation procedure raises an exception, reporting a syntax violation. Who should describe the macro transformer that detected the exception. The message argument should describe the violation. Form should be the erroneous source syntax object or a datum value representing a form. The optional subform argument should be a syntax object or datum value representing a form that more precisely locates the violation.
If who is #f, syntax-violation attempts to infer an appropriate value for the condition object (see below) as follows: When form is either an identifier or a list-structured syntax object containing an identifier as its first element, then the inferred value is the identifier’s symbol. Otherwise, no value for who is provided as part of the condition object.
The condition object provided with the exception (see chapter 7) has the following condition types:
If who is not #f or can be inferred, the condition has condition type &who, with who as the value of its field. In that case, who should identify the procedure or entity that detected the exception. If it is #f, the condition does not have condition type &who.
The condition has condition type &message, with message as the value of its field.
The condition has condition type &syntax with form and subform as the value of its fields. If subform is not provided, the value of the subform field is #f.