Module: builtins

defineClass/1 — specify an ObjectPro class


:- defineClass(SpecEqns) .


Used as a directive to specify an ObjectPro class. SpecEqns is a list of equations of the form

     Keyword = Value

The acceptable keywords, together with their associated Value types, are the following :

name - atom

subclassOf - atom (name of an existing class to serve as parent)

addl_slots - list of atoms (to serve as names of local slots)

defaults - list of default values for slots

constrs - list of constraint expressions for slots

export - yes [or] no

action - atom

The name equation and the subclassOf equation are both required. The single top-level pre-defined class is called genericObjects. Atoms on the addl_slots list specify slots in the structure defining the state of objects which are instances of this class. These slot names must be distinct from slot names in any of the ancestor classes from which the new class inherits. The __state-schema__ of a class is the union of the local addl_slots of the class with the addl_slots of all classes of which the class is a subclass. An object which is instance of a class has a slot in its state structure corresponding to each entry in the state-schema for the class.

Class definitions can supply default values for slots using an equation of the type

defaults = [..., <SlotName> = <Value>, ...]

where each <SlotName> is any one of the slot names from the complete state schema of the class, and <Value> is any appropriate value for that slot. Omitting this keyword in a class definition is equivalent to including

defaults = []

If the export = yes equation appears on SpecEqns, the class methods and other information concerning the class are exported from the module in which the directive is executed.

The constraints equation is used to impose constraints on the values of particular slots in the states of objects which instances of the class. The general form of a constraint specification is

    constrs = list of constraint expressions

Three types of constraint expressions are supported:

The left side of each of the the equations is the name of a slot occurring in the complete state-schema of the class being defined. The first two types of expressions are special cases of the third.

In the first constraint expression, slotName = value, value is any Prolog term, and specifies a fixed value for this slot.

The second constraint expression, slotName < valueList, requires the values installed under slotName to be among the Prolog terms appearing on the list valueList. Here '<' is a short hand for ‘is an element of’.

The third constraint expression subsumes the first two. Var is a Prolog variable, and Condition is an arbitrary Prolog call in which Var occurs. The test is imposed by binding the incoming candidate value to the variable Var, and then calling the test Conditon. Installation of the incoming value in the slot named slotName takes place only if the test Condition succeeds.

If an equation action = Name occurs on SpecEqns, where Name is an atom, then methods of this class must be implemented by a binary predicate Name/2. If this equation is absent, the methods predicate for this class will be


where <className> is the name of the class(i.e., name = <className> occurs on SpecEqns). The format of the calls to this predicate is

    <className> Action(Message, State)

where State is the state of an object of this class, and Message is an arbitrary Prolog term.

The structure of a State is opaque. Access to the slots is provided by two predicates:

setObjStruct(SlotDescrip, State, Value)

accessObjStruct(SlotDescrip, State, VarOrValue)

SlotDescrip is a slot description, which is either a slot name, or an expression of the form


The latter is used in cases of compound objects in which the value installed in a slot may be the state of another object. Thus,

     <what>ObjStruct(Slot1^Slot2, State, Value)

is equivalent to

     accessObjStruct(Slot1, State, Obj1),
     <what>ObjStruct(Slot2, Obj1, Value)

The call

    setObjStruct(SlotName, State, Value)

destructively updates the slot SlotName of State to contain Value, provided that:

However, note that Value can be a term containing uninstantiated variables.

The second call

    accessObjStruct(SlotName, State, ValueOrValue)

accesses the slot SlotName of State and unifies the value obtained with VarOrValue. For compactness, the following syntactic sugar is provided:

     State^SlotDescrip := Value


     setObjStruct(SlotDescrip, State, Value)


     VarOrValue := State^SlotDescrip


     accessObjStruct(SlotDescrip, State, VarOrValue)

The bodies of clauses defining the action predicate of a class can contain calls on accessObjStruct/3, setObjStruct/3, :=, send/2, send_self/2, and any other built-in or program-defined Prolog predicate.


:- defineClass(
     [ name = stacker,
       subclassOf = [genericObjects],
       addl_slots = [theStack, depth]
     ] ).

stackerAction(push(Item), State)
     accessObjStruct(theStack, State, CurStack),
     setObjStruct(theStack, State, [Item | CurStack ]),
     accessObjStruct(depth, State, CurDepth),
     NewDepth is CurDepth + 1,
     setObjStruct(depth, State, NewDepth).

stackerAction(pop(Item), State)
     accessObjStruct(theStack, State, [Item | RestStack ]),
     setObjStruct(theStack, State, RestStack),
     accessObjStruct(depth, State, CurDepth),
     NewDepth is CurDepth - 1,
     setObjStruct(depth, State, NewDepth).

stackerAction(cur_stack(Stack), State)
     accessObjStruct(theStack, State, Stack).

stackerAction(cur_depth(Depth), State)
     accessObjStruct(depth, State, Depth).

...create_object([name=stack, instanceOf=stacker, values=[theStack=[], depth=0] ], Obj),...