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5.17.2 Compiler Declarations

It is often useful to be able to give the compiler extra knowledge about the program forms that it is compiling. The language includes special declaration forms that have no effect when interpreted, but are meaningful to the compiler as it traverses the program.

Macro: declare clause…

Offer the information contained in the clause… forms to the compiler, which it may or may not use when compiling the program.

Each clause is a list, the first element of each clause is a symbol defining the type of declaration, the interpretation of any other elements in the clause depends upon the declaration type.

The following table lists the syntax of all currently supported declaration types:

(bound variables…)

This declaration tells the compiler that all symbols variables have lexical bindings for the extent of the current lexical scope. This is often useful to prevent spurious compiler warnings.

(special variables…)

This tells the compiler that all symbols variables have special (dynamic) bindings for the extent of the current lexical scope.

(It is important that the compiler is able to distinguish special bindings from lexical bindings, since different instruction sequences must be generated to access the different types of binding.)

(unused variables…)

Directs the compiler not to warn about bindings for variables… being unreferenced.

(inline names…)

Tells the compiler that it should consider inlining calls to the functions called names…. Inlining will only occur if these functions are declared in the same module as, and after, the declaration itself.

(in-module module-name)

This declaration should occur at the top-level of a program; it tells the compiler that the forms in the program will be evaluated within the context of the module called module-name (a symbol).

(language module)

Obsolete declaration.

Explicitly specifies the particular language dialect that the current module or file body is written for. Language dialects included with the librep distribution include Rep, Scheme and Unscheme. These are also the names of the modules that should be imported to use a particular dialect.

By default, the Rep is assumed for code outside module definitions. For code inside a module definition the list of imported modules is scanned for a known language dialect (i.e. if the module imports rep, then the Rep language dialect is compiled for).


Tell the compiler that it may register-allocate variables, even if it can’t prove that doing so wouldn’t produce incorrect results if call/cc causes a function call to return more than once (see Continuations). This declaration applies to the entire file that it occurs in.

Without this declaration, the compiler will only register-allocate bindings if the following conditions are met:

  • the binding is not accessed from any inner closures, and,
  • the binding is never modified after being initialized (actually, the binding may be modified between being intialized and the next function call)

this declaration is often useful where call/cc isn’t used, and there is a lot of side effecting of local variables.

Declaration forms always evaluate to false.

A second type of declaration is the eval-when-compile form, it allows Lisp forms to be evaluated only at compile-time.

Macro: eval-when-compile form

This form tells the system that form should only be evaluated when the containing code is being compiled.

The compiler knows to recognize forms of the pattern (eval-when-compile (require 'feature)) as marking that feature should be imported at compile-time. Any other forms are simply evaluated in an unspecified environment.

When interpreted, eval-when-compile forms alway evaluate to false, when compiled they evaluate to the result of evaluating the form at compile-time.

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