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Next: Bugs + Fixes Up: EMME/2 NEWS 17May 1995 Previous: Benchmark Update


Macro Tech-Tips

The macro tech-tips in this issue are dedicated to the compound macro commands. Since their introduction in Release 6, these commands have become very popular with many macro writers. Today, we will look at some of their more interesting uses and by doing so, shed some light on their internal workings.

tex2html_wrap_inline187 Using compound macro command to implement error tests

The compound macro commands (``~+XlineX...Xline'') are a very convenient way to pack several macro commands into a single line in the macro file. This command is often used to render the macro files more compact, but it is also particularly useful when a condition (``~?...'') is to be applied to more than a single macro command. A typical example for this is the processing needed when an error condition has been detected.

The following excerpt from macro demadjt.mac shows how compound statements can be used to catch foreseeable errors efficiently, using an error test followed by a single compound command:

   2.42 /##### create extra attribute @stmpx
   2          /create attribute
   4          /at segment level
   ~+|~/No space for extra segment attribute!|q|~$STOP
   ~+|~/Extra attribute @stmpx exists already!||q|~$STOP
   temporary attr. used by macro DEMADJT
The compound command combines in a single line the display of an explanatory error message, any cleaning work needed to return to the main menu, and finally a goto command branching to the end of the macro.

tex2html_wrap_inline187 Substitutions in compound macro commands

Compound statements are not limited to simple dialog answers, but can contain any combination of macro commands, except for label commands and other compound commands. Thus, it is possible to combine several short lines of a macro file not containing ``~+'' and ``~:'' commands into a single compound command line. The character immediately following the ``~+'' defines the separator, which can be any character not appearing in the lines to be combined.

However, care must be taken when combining commands which change the value of a register values and then use it in a substitution. All ``%...%'' substitutions in a compound command are processed before its individual commands are executed. Hence, combining the sequence

   ~/Value of X is %x%
into the compound command
   ~+|~x+1|~/Value of X is %x%
will not work as expected, since ``%x%'' is substituted before the command ``~x+1'' is executed. In order to have the compound statement work correctly, we have to make sure that the substitution of ``%x%'' will not be done at the level of the compound command, but only when the corresponding subcommand (here ``~/Value of X is %x%'') is executed. This can be done by replacing the ``%'' characters by the substitution ``%%%'', which will be transformed into a single ``%'' by the substitution mechanism. This way, the string ``%%%x%%%'' will be replaced by ``%x%'' when the substitutions are processed at the level of the compound command, and the actual substitution by the value of register x is carried out before the corresponding subcommand is executed. Thus, in the above example, the command
   ~+|~x+1|~/Value of X is %%%x%%%
gives the desired result.

tex2html_wrap_inline187 Implementing fast loops with compound statements

Loops can be implemented in the EMME/2 macro language by combining conditional (``~?...''), branching (``~$label'') and label (``~:label'') commands. Since each branching command ``~$label''causes the macro file to be scanned from the beginning until the specified label is found, this kind of loop implementation is rather expensive in terms of execution time. Especially when a loop is positioned toward the end of a long macro file, and is repeated many times, branching overhead can become an issue. Of course, for loops involving heavy computations (such as assignments, matrix operations or network computations) the CPU time spent always exceeds the loop overhead by far. However, for short loops, as often used for ``housekeeping'' or formatting tasks within a larger macro, the branching overhead may become noticeable.

Compound statements can be used to implement small loops very efficiently, avoiding the time consuming file searching for a given label. This is done using a ``label-less'' branch command ``~$'', which causes a branch back to the beginning of the current compound command, i.e. the entire compound command is started over. As this type of branching does not imply any file access at all, it is always very fast, regardless of its position within the macro file.

The following example uses this kind of loop for shifting the contents of text register t1 to the right until it lines up with column 72:

   ~+|~t1= %%%t1.72%%%|~?t1=%%%t1.72%%%|~$
The execution of the above loop is almost instantaneous. If the same loop is implemented with the standard labeled branching and appears at the end of a macro with 500 lines, it can well take several seconds to complete. (Note again the need for the %%%'s, as explained in the point above.)

next up previous
Next: Bugs + Fixes Up: EMME/2 NEWS 17May 1995 Previous: Benchmark Update

Heinz Spiess, EMME/2 Support Center, Thu Jun 6 15:01:15 MET DST 1996