The Falcon Programming Language in a Nutshell

Falcon is based on an open coding approach that seamlessly merges procedural, object-oriented, functional and message-oriented programming.
Falcon Object-Oriented Programming

A Falcon script can define classes and instantiate objects from them, create singleton objects (with or without base classes) and apply transversal attributes to the instances. The provides keyword checks for properties being exposed by the instances:

// A class
class Something( initval1, initval2 )
  // Simple initialization can be done directly
  prop1 = initval1
  prop2 = nil

  // init takes the parameters of the class
  // and performs more complex initialization
     self.prop2 = initval
     > "Initializer of class Something"

  function showMe()
     > "Something says: ", self.prop1, "; ", self.prop2

// A singleton instance.
object Alone
  function whoAmI()
     > "I am alone"

// an instance
instance = Something( "one", "two" )

//"Alone" is already an instance
if Alone provides whoAmI

Falcon has a Basic Object Model (BOM), which is available in all the items. Objects and classes can override some methods. For example, passing an item to the > print operator causes its toString BOM method to be called, and that can be overridden as follows:

object different
  function toString()
     return "is different..."

> "the object... ", different

Falcon supports multiple inheritance, but it disambiguates it by forcing inheritance initialization and priority, depending on the order of the inheritance declarations.

Classes also support static members that can be shared between objects of the same class and methods with static blocks that can work as class-wide initializers. Methods can be retrieved and also called directly from classes when they don't need to access the self object, providing the semantic of C++/Java/C# static methods.

It is possible to merge normal procedures with methods by assigning procedures to properties:

function call_me()
  if self and self provides my_name
     > self.my_name
     > "Sorry, you didn't call me right."

object test
  prop1 = nil
  my_name = "I am a test!"

  function hello()
     > "Hello world from ", self.my_name

// normal calls

// using the procedure as a method
test.prop1 = call_me

// or a method as a procedure
proc = test.hello
test.my_name = "a renamed thing"

// see: proc will dynamically use the right "self"


Attributes are binary properties that can be either present or not present for a specific instance or object, regardless of its class.

Attributes have a great expressive power, and in Falcon, they indicate what an object is, what it has and what it belongs to, depending on the context. For example, we can define a ready attribute that indicates the objects ready for elaboration:

// declaring an attribute "ready"
attributes: ready

class Data( name )
  name = name

  function process()
     > "Processing ",, "..."

// create 10 processors
processors = []
for i in [0:10]
  processors += Data(i)
  if i > 5: give ready to processors[i]

// work with the ready ones
for d in ready

RTL provides several functions to manipulate attributes.

The has and hasnt operators check for the presence of an attribute. For example:

attributes: ready
class SomeClass
  //... other class data ...
  // born ready!
  has ready

item = SomeClass()
if item has ready
  > "Item was born ready!"

Functional Programming

The base construct of Falcon functional programming is the callable sequence, also known as Sigma. At the moment, the only sequence supported is the array, but other types of sequences (such as lists) should be supported soon.

Basically, a Sigma is a delayed call that can work like this:

function test( a, b, c )
  > "Parameters:"
  > a
  > b
  > c

// direct
test( "one", "two", "three" )

// indirect
cached = [ test, "four", "five", "six" ]

The call respects the procedural paradigm (variable parameters), and the array is still a normal vector that can be accessed and modified through the standard language operators and RTL functions.

This delayed call is still not a full “functional context evaluation”. The proper functional evaluation process is called Sigma reduction. It recursively resolves Sigmas from inner to outer and left to right when they are at the same level, substituting them with their return value.

Special functions known by the VM as Etas start and control functional evaluation; the simplest Eta function is eval(), which initializes and performs a basic Sigma reduction.

For example, the expression “(a+b) * (c+d)” can be written in a Lisp-like sequence:

function add( a, b ): return a+b
function mul( a, b ): return a*b

> "(2+3)*(4+5)= ", eval(.[mul .[add 2 3] .[add 4 5]])

The .[] notation is shorthand for array declarations whose elements are separated by white space instead of an explicit “,”.

Falcon RTL comes with a rich set of Etas, such as iff (functional if), cascade (which joins more standard calls in a single sequence), floop and times (different styles of functional loops), map, filter, reduce and many others.

Functional sequences can be parameterized through closure and references. For example, the above example can be made parametric in this way:

// add and mul as before...
function evaluator( a, b, c, d )
  return .[eval .[mul .[add a b] .[add c d]]]

tor = evaluator( 2,3,4,5 )
> "(2+3)*(4+5)= ", tor()

Traditional functional operators, such as map, filter and reduce, are supported, but the out-of-band item system expands their functionality.

Out-of-band items are items marked with a special flag through the oob() function. Although they are normal items in every other aspect, this special mark indicates that they hold unexpected, special or somehow extraordinary value traveling through functional sequences. Although this is not a direct support for monadic calculus, monads can be implemented at the script (or binary module) level through this mechanism.

Falcon also supports Lambda expressions and nested functions.

We currently are working on some extensions to make Sigmas even more configurable—for example, parameter naming (similar to Lisp field naming) and access from the outside to the unbound variables used in the sequence.

Falcon functional programming merges with OOP, as Sigmas can be set as object properties, and object methods can be used as Kappas (Sigma-callable header symbols):

object SomeObj
  a_property = 10
  function myProp( value )
     return self.a_property * value

> "5*10=", eval( .[SomeObj.myProp 5] )


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