Next Previous Contents

1. Preface

S-Lang is an interpreted language that was designed from the start to be easily embedded into a program to provide it with a powerful extension language. Examples of programs that use S-Lang as an extension language include the jed text editor and the slrn newsreader. Although S-Lang does not exist as a separate application, it is distributed with a quite capable program called slsh (``slang-shell'') that embeds the interpreter and allows one to execute S-Lang scripts, or simply experiment with S-Lang at an interactive prompt. Many of the the examples in this document are presented in the context of one of the above applications.

S-Lang is also a programmer's library that permits a programmer to develop sophisticated platform-independent software. In addition to providing the S-Lang interpreter, the library provides facilities for screen management, keymaps, low-level terminal I/O, etc. However, this document is concerned only with the extension language and does not address these other features of the S-Lang library. For information about the other components of the library, the reader is referred to the S-Lang Library C Programmer's Guide.

1.1 A Brief History of S-Lang

I first began working on S-Lang sometime during the fall of 1992. At that time I was writing a text editor (jed), which I wanted to endow with a macro language. It occurred to me that an application-independent language that could be embedded into the editor would prove more useful because I could envision embedding it into other programs. As a result, S-Lang was born.

S-Lang was originally a stack language that supported a postscript-like syntax. For that reason, I named it S-Lang, where the S was supposed to emphasize its stack-based nature. About a year later, I began to work on a preparser that would allow one unfamiliar with stack based languages to make use of a more traditional infix syntax. Currently, the syntax of the language resembles C, nevertheless some postscript-like features still remain, e.g., the `%' character is still used as a comment delimiter.

1.2 Acknowledgements

Since I first released S-Lang, I have received a lot feedback about the library and the language from many people. This has given me the opportunity and pleasure to interact with a number of people to make the library portable and easy to use. In particular, I would like to thank the following individuals:

Luchesar Ionkov for his comments and criticisms of the syntax of the language. He was the person who made me realize that the low-level byte-code engine should be totally type-independent. He also improved the tokenizer and preparser and impressed upon me that the language needed a grammar.

Mark Olesen for his many patches to various aspects of the library and his support on AIX. He also contributed a lot to the pre-processing (SLprep) routines.

John Burnell for the OS/2 port of the video and keyboard routines. He also made value suggestions regarding the interpreter interface.

Darrel Hankerson for cleaning up and unifying some of the code and the makefiles.

Dominik Wujastyk who was always willing to test new releases of the library.

Michael Elkins for his work on the curses emulation.

Hunter Goatley, Andy Harper, Martin P.J. Zinser, and Jouk Jansen for their VMS support.

Dave Sims and Chin Huang for Windows 95 and Windows NT support, and Dino Sangoi for the Windows DLL support.

I am also grateful to many other people who send in bug-reports, bug-fixes, little enhancements, and suggestions, and so on. Without such community involvement, S-Lang would not be as well-tested and stable as it is. Finally, I would like to thank my wife for her support and understanding while I spent long weekend hours developing the library.

Next Previous Contents