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5.16 Environmental Queries

ANS Forth introduced the idea of “environmental queries” as a way for a program running on a system to determine certain characteristics of the system. The Standard specifies a number of strings that might be recognised by a system.

The Standard requires that the header space used for environmental queries be distinct from the header space used for definitions.

Typically, environmental queries are supported by creating a set of definitions in a word list that is only used during environmental queries; that is what Gforth does. There is no Standard way of adding definitions to the set of recognised environmental queries, but any implementation that supports the loading of optional word sets must have some mechanism for doing this (after loading the word set, the associated environmental query string must return true). In Gforth, the word list used to honour environmental queries can be manipulated just like any other word list.

environment?       c-addr u – false / ... true         core       “environment-query”

c-addr, u specify a counted string. If the string is not recognised, return a false flag. Otherwise return a true flag and some (string-specific) information about the queried string.

environment-wordlist       – wid         gforth       “environment-wordlist”

wid identifies the word list that is searched by environmental queries.

gforth       – c-addr u         gforth-environment       “gforth”

Counted string representing a version string for this version of Gforth (for versions>0.3.0). The version strings of the various versions are guaranteed to be ordered lexicographically.

os-class       – c-addr u         gforth-environment       “os-class”

Counted string representing a description of the host operating system.

Note that, whilst the documentation for (e.g.) gforth shows it returning two items on the stack, querying it using environment? will return an additional item; the true flag that shows that the string was recognised.

Here are some examples of using environmental queries:

     s" address-unit-bits" environment? 0=
          cr .( environmental attribute address-units-bits unknown... ) cr
          drop \ ensure balanced stack effect
     \ this might occur in the prelude of a standard program that uses THROW
     s" exception" environment? [IF]
        0= [IF]
           : throw abort" exception thrown" ;
     [ELSE] \ we don't know, so make sure
        : throw abort" exception thrown" ;
     s" gforth" environment? [IF] .( Gforth version ) TYPE
                             [ELSE] .( Not Gforth..) [THEN]
     \ a program using v*
     s" gforth" environment? [IF]
       s" 0.5.0" compare 0< [IF] \ v* is a primitive since 0.5.0
        : v* ( f_addr1 nstride1 f_addr2 nstride2 ucount -- r )
          >r swap 2swap swap 0e r> 0 ?DO
            dup f@ over + 2swap dup f@ f* f+ over + 2swap
          2drop 2drop ;
     [ELSE] \
       : v* ( f_addr1 nstride1 f_addr2 nstride2 ucount -- r )

Here is an example of adding a definition to the environment word list:

     get-current environment-wordlist set-current
     true constant block
     true constant block-ext

You can see what definitions are in the environment word list like this:

     environment-wordlist >order words previous