Elixir v1.10.0-dev Macro View Source

Macros are compile-time constructs that are invoked with Elixir's AST as input and a superset of Elixir's AST as output.

Let's see a simple example that shows the difference between functions and macros:

defmodule Example do
  defmacro macro_inspect(value) do
    IO.inspect(value)
    value
  end

  def fun_inspect(value) do
    IO.inpect(value)
    value
  end
end

Now let's give it a try:

import Example

macro_inspect(1)
#=> 1
#=> 1

fun_inspect(1)
#=> 1
#=> 1

So far they behave the same, as we are passing an integer as argument. But what happens when we pass an expresion:

macro_inspect(1 + 2)
#=> {:+, [line: 3], [1, 2]}
#=> 3

fun_inspect(1 + 2)
#=> 3
#=> 3

The macro receives the representation of the code given as argument, while a function receives the result of the code given as argument. A macro must return a superset of the code representation. See input/0 and output/0 for more information.

To learn more about Elixir's AST and how to build them programmatically, see quote/2.

Custom Sigils

Macros are also commonly used to implement custom sigils. To create a custom sigil, define a function with the name sigil_{identifier} that takes two arguments. The first argument will be the string, the second will be a charlist containing any modifiers. If the sigil is lower case (such as sigil_x) then the string argument will allow interpolation. If the sigil is upper case (such as sigil_X) then the string will not be interpolated.

Valid modifiers include only lower and upper case letters. Other characters will cause a syntax error.

The module containing the custom sigil must be imported before the sigil syntax can be used.

Examples

defmodule MySigils do
  defmacro sigil_x(term, [?r]) do
    quote do
      unquote(term) |> String.reverse()
    end
  end
  defmacro sigil_x(term, _modifiers) do
    term
  end
  defmacro sigil_X(term, [?r]) do
    quote do
      unquote(term) |> String.reverse()
    end
  end
  defmacro sigil_X(term, _modifiers) do
    term
  end
end

import MySigils

~x(with #{"inter" <> "polation"})
#=>"with interpolation"

~x(with #{"inter" <> "polation"})r
#=>"noitalopretni htiw"

~X(without #{"interpolation"})
#=>"without \#{"interpolation"}"

~X(without #{"interpolation"})r
#=>"}\"noitalopretni\"{# tuohtiw"

Link to this section Summary

Types

A captured remote function in the format of &Mod.fun/arity

The inputs of a macro

A keyword list of AST metadata.

The output of a macro

t()

Abstract Syntax Tree (AST)

Functions

Converts the given string to CamelCase format.

Decomposes a local or remote call into its remote part (when provided), function name and argument list.

Recursively escapes a value so it can be inserted into a syntax tree.

Receives an AST node and expands it until it can no longer be expanded.

Receives an AST node and expands it once.

Generates AST nodes for a given number of required argument variables using Macro.var/2.

Returns true if the given name and arity is an operator.

Pipes expr into the call_args at the given position.

Performs a depth-first, post-order traversal of quoted expressions.

Performs a depth-first, post-order traversal of quoted expressions using an accumulator.

Performs a depth-first, pre-order traversal of quoted expressions.

Performs a depth-first, pre-order traversal of quoted expressions using an accumulator.

Returns true if the given quoted expression represents a quoted literal.

Returns true if the given name and arity is a special form.

Expands the struct given by module in the given env.

Converts the given expression AST to a string.

Performs a depth-first traversal of quoted expressions using an accumulator.

Converts the given atom or binary to underscore format.

Unescapes the given chars.

Unescapes the given chars according to the map given.

Breaks a pipeline expression into a list.

Applies the given function to the node metadata if it contains one.

Validates the given expressions are valid quoted expressions.

Generates an AST node representing the variable given by the atoms var and context.

Link to this section Types

Link to this type

captured_remote_function()

View Source
captured_remote_function() :: (... -> any())

A captured remote function in the format of &Mod.fun/arity

Link to this type

input()

View Source
input() ::
  input_expr() | {input(), input()} | [input()] | atom() | number() | binary()

The inputs of a macro

Link to this type

metadata()

View Source
metadata() :: keyword()

A keyword list of AST metadata.

The metadata in Elixir AST is a keyword list of values. Any key can be used and different parts of the compiler may use different keys. For example, the AST received by a macro will always include the :line annotation, while the AST emitted by quote/2 will only have the :line annotation if the :line option is provided.

The following metadata keys are public:

  • :context - Defines the context in which the AST was generated. For example, quote/2 will include the module calling quote/2 as the context. This is often used to distinguish regular code from code generated by a macro or by quote/2.
  • :counter - The variable counter used for variable hygiene. In terms of the compiler, each variable is identified by the combination of either name and metadata[:counter], or name and context.
  • :generated - Whether the code should be considered as generated by the compiler or not. This means the compiler and tools like Dialyzer may not emit certain warnings.
  • :keep - Used by quote/2 with the option location: :keep to annotate the file and the line number of the quoted source.
  • :line - The line number of the AST node.

The following metadata keys are enabled by Code.string_to_quoted/2:

  • :closing - contains metadata about the closing pair, such as a } in a tuple or in a map, or such as the closing ) in a function call with parens. The :closing does not delimit the end of expression if there are :do and :end metadata (when :token_metadata is true)
  • :column - the column number of the AST node (when :columns is true)
  • :delimiter - contains the opening delimiter for sigils, strings, atoms, and charlists as a string (such as "{", "/", ":", etc)
  • :do - contains metadata about the do location in a function call with do/end blocks (when :token_metadata is true)
  • :end - contains metadata about the end location in a function call with do/end blocks (when :token_metadata is true)
  • :end_of_expression - denotes when the end of expression effectively happens. Available for all expressions except the last one inside a __block__ (when :token_metadata is true)

The following metadata keys are private:

  • :alias - Used for alias hygiene.
  • :ambiguous_op - Used for improved error messages in the compiler.
  • :import - Used for import hygiene.
  • :var - Used for improved error messages on undefined variables.

Do not rely on them as they may change or be fully removed in future versions of the language. They are often used by quote/2 and the compiler to provide features like hygiene, better error messages, etc.

If you introduce custom keys into the AST metadata, please make sure to prefix them with the name of your library or application, so that they will not conflict with keys that could potentially be introduced by the compiler in the future.

Link to this type

output()

View Source
output() ::
  output_expr()
  | {output(), output()}
  | [output()]
  | atom()
  | number()
  | binary()
  | captured_remote_function()
  | pid()

The output of a macro

Abstract Syntax Tree (AST)

Link to this section Functions

Link to this function

camelize(string)

View Source
camelize(String.t()) :: String.t()

Converts the given string to CamelCase format.

This function was designed to camelize language identifiers/tokens, that's why it belongs to the Macro module. Do not use it as a general mechanism for camelizing strings as it does not support Unicode or characters that are not valid in Elixir identifiers.

Examples

iex> Macro.camelize("foo_bar")
"FooBar"

If uppercase characters are present, they are not modified in any way as a mechanism to preserve acronyms:

iex> Macro.camelize("API.V1")
"API.V1"
iex> Macro.camelize("API_SPEC")
"API_SPEC"
Link to this function

decompose_call(ast)

View Source
decompose_call(t()) :: {atom(), [t()]} | {t(), atom(), [t()]} | :error

Decomposes a local or remote call into its remote part (when provided), function name and argument list.

Returns :error when an invalid call syntax is provided.

Examples

iex> Macro.decompose_call(quote(do: foo))
{:foo, []}

iex> Macro.decompose_call(quote(do: foo()))
{:foo, []}

iex> Macro.decompose_call(quote(do: foo(1, 2, 3)))
{:foo, [1, 2, 3]}

iex> Macro.decompose_call(quote(do: Elixir.M.foo(1, 2, 3)))
{{:__aliases__, [], [:Elixir, :M]}, :foo, [1, 2, 3]}

iex> Macro.decompose_call(quote(do: 42))
:error
Link to this function

escape(expr, opts \\ [])

View Source
escape(term(), keyword()) :: t()

Recursively escapes a value so it can be inserted into a syntax tree.

Examples

iex> Macro.escape(:foo)
:foo

iex> Macro.escape({:a, :b, :c})
{:{}, [], [:a, :b, :c]}

iex> Macro.escape({:unquote, [], [1]}, unquote: true)
1

Options

  • :unquote - when true, this function leaves unquote/1 and unquote_splicing/1 statements unescaped, effectively unquoting the contents on escape. This option is useful only when escaping ASTs which may have quoted fragments in them. Defaults to false.

  • :prune_metadata - when true, removes metadata from escaped AST nodes. Note this option changes the semantics of escaped code and it should only be used when escaping ASTs, never values. Defaults to false.

    As an example, ExUnit stores the AST of every assertion, so when an assertion fails we can show code snippets to users. Without this option, each time the test module is compiled, we get a different MD5 of the module byte code, because the AST contains metadata, such as counters, specific to the compilation environment. By pruning the metadata, we ensure that the module is deterministic and reduce the amount of data ExUnit needs to keep around.

Comparison to Kernel.SpecialForms.quote/2

The escape/2 function is sometimes confused with Kernel.SpecialForms.quote/2, because the above examples behave the same with both. The key difference is best illustrated when the value to escape is stored in a variable.

iex> Macro.escape({:a, :b, :c})
{:{}, [], [:a, :b, :c]}
iex> quote do: {:a, :b, :c}
{:{}, [], [:a, :b, :c]}

iex> value = {:a, :b, :c}
iex> Macro.escape(value)
{:{}, [], [:a, :b, :c]}

iex> quote do: value
{:value, [], __MODULE__}

iex> value = {:a, :b, :c}
iex> quote do: unquote(value)
{:a, :b, :c}

escape/2 is used to escape values (either directly passed or variable bound), while Kernel.SpecialForms.quote/2 produces syntax trees for expressions.

Receives an AST node and expands it until it can no longer be expanded.

Note this function does not traverse the AST, only the root node is expanded.

This function uses expand_once/2 under the hood. Check it out for more information and examples.

Receives an AST node and expands it once.

The following contents are expanded:

If the expression cannot be expanded, it returns the expression itself. This function does not traverse the AST, only the root node is expanded.

expand_once/2 performs the expansion just once. Check expand/2 to perform expansion until the node can no longer be expanded.

Examples

In the example below, we have a macro that generates a module with a function named name_length that returns the length of the module name. The value of this function will be calculated at compilation time and not at runtime.

Consider the implementation below:

defmacro defmodule_with_length(name, do: block) do
  length = length(Atom.to_charlist(name))

  quote do
    defmodule unquote(name) do
      def name_length, do: unquote(length)
      unquote(block)
    end
  end
end

When invoked like this:

defmodule_with_length My.Module do
  def other_function, do: ...
end

The compilation will fail because My.Module when quoted is not an atom, but a syntax tree as follows:

{:__aliases__, [], [:My, :Module]}

That said, we need to expand the aliases node above to an atom, so we can retrieve its length. Expanding the node is not straightforward because we also need to expand the caller aliases. For example:

alias MyHelpers, as: My

defmodule_with_length My.Module do
  def other_function, do: ...
end

The final module name will be MyHelpers.Module and not My.Module. With Macro.expand/2, such aliases are taken into consideration. Local and remote macros are also expanded. We could rewrite our macro above to use this function as:

defmacro defmodule_with_length(name, do: block) do
  expanded = Macro.expand(name, __CALLER__)
  length = length(Atom.to_charlist(expanded))

  quote do
    defmodule unquote(name) do
      def name_length, do: unquote(length)
      unquote(block)
    end
  end
end
Link to this function

generate_arguments(amount, context)

View Source (since 1.5.0)
generate_arguments(0, context :: atom()) :: []
generate_arguments(pos_integer(), context) :: [{atom(), [], context}, ...]
when context: atom()

Generates AST nodes for a given number of required argument variables using Macro.var/2.

Examples

iex> Macro.generate_arguments(2, __MODULE__)
[{:arg1, [], __MODULE__}, {:arg2, [], __MODULE__}]
Link to this function

operator?(name, arity)

View Source (since 1.7.0)
operator?(name :: atom(), arity()) :: boolean()

Returns true if the given name and arity is an operator.

Link to this function

pipe(expr, call_args, position)

View Source
pipe(t(), t(), integer()) :: t()

Pipes expr into the call_args at the given position.

Link to this function

postwalk(ast, fun)

View Source
postwalk(t(), (t() -> t())) :: t()

Performs a depth-first, post-order traversal of quoted expressions.

Link to this function

postwalk(ast, acc, fun)

View Source
postwalk(t(), any(), (t(), any() -> {t(), any()})) :: {t(), any()}

Performs a depth-first, post-order traversal of quoted expressions using an accumulator.

Link to this function

prewalk(ast, fun)

View Source
prewalk(t(), (t() -> t())) :: t()

Performs a depth-first, pre-order traversal of quoted expressions.

Link to this function

prewalk(ast, acc, fun)

View Source
prewalk(t(), any(), (t(), any() -> {t(), any()})) :: {t(), any()}

Performs a depth-first, pre-order traversal of quoted expressions using an accumulator.

Link to this function

quoted_literal?(term)

View Source (since 1.7.0)
quoted_literal?(t()) :: boolean()

Returns true if the given quoted expression represents a quoted literal.

Atoms, numbers, and functions are always literals. Binaries, lists, tuples, maps, and structs are only literals if all of their terms are also literals.

Examples

iex> Macro.quoted_literal?(quote(do: "foo"))
true
iex> Macro.quoted_literal?(quote(do: {"foo", 1}))
true
iex> Macro.quoted_literal?(quote(do: {"foo", 1, :baz}))
true
iex> Macro.quoted_literal?(quote(do: %{foo: "bar"}))
true
iex> Macro.quoted_literal?(quote(do: %URI{path: "/"}))
true
iex> Macro.quoted_literal?(quote(do: URI.parse("/")))
false
iex> Macro.quoted_literal?(quote(do: {foo, var}))
false
Link to this function

special_form?(name, arity)

View Source (since 1.7.0)
special_form?(name :: atom(), arity()) :: boolean()

Returns true if the given name and arity is a special form.

Link to this function

struct!(module, env)

View Source (since 1.8.0)
struct!(module, Macro.Env.t()) :: %module{} when module: module()

Expands the struct given by module in the given env.

This is useful when a struct needs to be expanded at compilation time and the struct being expanded may or may not have been compiled. This function is even capable of expanding structs defined under the module being compiled.

It will raise CompileError if the struct is not available.

Link to this function

to_string(tree, fun \\ fn _ast, string -> string end)

View Source
to_string(t(), (t(), String.t() -> String.t())) :: String.t()

Converts the given expression AST to a string.

The given fun is called for every node in the AST with two arguments: the AST of the node being printed and the string representation of that same node. The return value of this function is used as the final string representation for that AST node.

This function discards all formatting of the original code.

Examples

iex> Macro.to_string(quote(do: foo.bar(1, 2, 3)))
"foo.bar(1, 2, 3)"

iex> Macro.to_string(quote(do: 1 + 2), fn
...>   1, _string -> "one"
...>   2, _string -> "two"
...>   _ast, string -> string
...> end)
"one + two"
Link to this function

traverse(ast, acc, pre, post)

View Source
traverse(t(), any(), (t(), any() -> {t(), any()}), (t(), any() -> {t(), any()})) ::
  {t(), any()}

Performs a depth-first traversal of quoted expressions using an accumulator.

Link to this function

underscore(atom)

View Source
underscore(atom() | String.t()) :: String.t()

Converts the given atom or binary to underscore format.

If an atom is given, it is assumed to be an Elixir module, so it is converted to a binary and then processed.

This function was designed to underscore language identifiers/tokens, that's why it belongs to the Macro module. Do not use it as a general mechanism for underscoring strings as it does not support Unicode or characters that are not valid in Elixir identifiers.

Examples

iex> Macro.underscore("FooBar")
"foo_bar"

iex> Macro.underscore("Foo.Bar")
"foo/bar"

iex> Macro.underscore(Foo.Bar)
"foo/bar"

In general, underscore can be thought of as the reverse of camelize, however, in some cases formatting may be lost:

iex> Macro.underscore("SAPExample")
"sap_example"

iex> Macro.camelize("sap_example")
"SapExample"

iex> Macro.camelize("hello_10")
"Hello10"
Link to this function

unescape_string(chars)

View Source
unescape_string(String.t()) :: String.t()

Unescapes the given chars.

This is the unescaping behaviour used by default in Elixir single- and double-quoted strings. Check unescape_string/2 for information on how to customize the escaping map.

In this setup, Elixir will escape the following: \0, \a, \b, \d, \e, \f, \n, \r, \s, \t and \v. Bytes can be given as hexadecimals via \xNN and Unicode code points as \uNNNN escapes.

This function is commonly used on sigil implementations (like ~r, ~s and others) which receive a raw, unescaped string.

Examples

iex> Macro.unescape_string("example\\n")
"example\n"

In the example above, we pass a string with \n escaped and return a version with it unescaped.

Link to this function

unescape_string(chars, map)

View Source
unescape_string(String.t(), (non_neg_integer() -> non_neg_integer() | false)) ::
  String.t()

Unescapes the given chars according to the map given.

Check unescape_string/1 if you want to use the same map as Elixir single- and double-quoted strings.

Map

The map must be a function. The function receives an integer representing the code point of the character it wants to unescape. Here is the default mapping function implemented by Elixir:

def unescape_map(unicode), do: true
def unescape_map(hex), do: true
def unescape_map(?0), do: ?0
def unescape_map(?a), do: ?\a
def unescape_map(?b), do: ?\b
def unescape_map(?d), do: ?\d
def unescape_map(?e), do: ?\e
def unescape_map(?f), do: ?\f
def unescape_map(?n), do: ?\n
def unescape_map(?r), do: ?\r
def unescape_map(?s), do: ?\s
def unescape_map(?t), do: ?\t
def unescape_map(?v), do: ?\v
def unescape_map(e), do: e

If the unescape_map/1 function returns false, the char is not escaped and the backslash is kept in the string.

Hexadecimals and Unicode code points will be escaped if the map function returns true for ?x. Unicode code points if the map function returns true for ?u.

Examples

Using the unescape_map/1 function defined above is easy:

Macro.unescape_string("example\\n", &unescape_map(&1))
Link to this function

unpipe(expr)

View Source
unpipe(t()) :: [t()]

Breaks a pipeline expression into a list.

The AST for a pipeline (a sequence of applications of |>) is similar to the AST of a sequence of binary operators or function applications: the top-level expression is the right-most :|> (which is the last one to be executed), and its left-hand and right-hand sides are its arguments:

quote do: 100 |> div(5) |> div(2)
#=> {:|>, _, [arg1, arg2]}

In the example above, the |> pipe is the right-most pipe; arg1 is the AST for 100 |> div(5), and arg2 is the AST for div(2).

It's often useful to have the AST for such a pipeline as a list of function applications. This function does exactly that:

Macro.unpipe(quote do: 100 |> div(5) |> div(2))
#=> [{100, 0}, {{:div, [], [5]}, 0}, {{:div, [], [2]}, 0}]

We get a list that follows the pipeline directly: first the 100, then the div(5) (more precisely, its AST), then div(2). The 0 as the second element of the tuples is the position of the previous element in the pipeline inside the current function application: {{:div, [], [5]}, 0} means that the previous element (100) will be inserted as the 0th (first) argument to the div/2 function, so that the AST for that function will become {:div, [], [100, 5]} (div(100, 5)).

Link to this function

update_meta(quoted, fun)

View Source
update_meta(t(), (keyword() -> keyword())) :: t()

Applies the given function to the node metadata if it contains one.

This is often useful when used with Macro.prewalk/2 to remove information like lines and hygienic counters from the expression for either storage or comparison.

Examples

iex> quoted = quote line: 10, do: sample()
{:sample, [line: 10], []}
iex> Macro.update_meta(quoted, &Keyword.delete(&1, :line))
{:sample, [], []}
Link to this function

validate(expr)

View Source
validate(term()) :: :ok | {:error, term()}

Validates the given expressions are valid quoted expressions.

Checks the Macro.t/0 for the specification of a valid quoted expression.

It returns :ok if the expression is valid. Otherwise it returns a tuple in the form of {:error, remainder} where remainder is the invalid part of the quoted expression.

Examples

iex> Macro.validate({:two_element, :tuple})
:ok
iex> Macro.validate({:three, :element, :tuple})
{:error, {:three, :element, :tuple}}

iex> Macro.validate([1, 2, 3])
:ok
iex> Macro.validate([1, 2, 3, {4}])
{:error, {4}}
Link to this function

var(var, context)

View Source
var(var, context) :: {var, [], context} when var: atom(), context: atom()

Generates an AST node representing the variable given by the atoms var and context.

Examples

In order to build a variable, a context is expected. Most of the times, in order to preserve hygiene, the context must be __MODULE__/0:

iex> Macro.var(:foo, __MODULE__)
{:foo, [], __MODULE__}

However, if there is a need to access the user variable, nil can be given:

iex> Macro.var(:foo, nil)
{:foo, [], nil}