References: CLtL p. 312-314
Edit History: V1, 5 Aug 1988, Sandra Loosemore
V2, 15 Sep 1988, Sandra Loosemore
V3, 7 Dec 1988, Masinter
CLtL doesn't make clear whether defstructs that :INCLUDE another
structure type and do not specify a :PRINT-FUNCTION inherit the
:PRINT-FUNCTION of the parent structure type. While it is stated on
page 314 that #S syntax is used if a :PRINT-FUNCTION is not specified,
the language on page 313 indicates that all operations on the parent
type will also work on objects of the child type. Because of the
ambiguity, existing implementations have gone both ways, and users
cannot depend on either #S syntax or the parent type's :PRINT-FUNCTION
Clarify that defstruct types which :INCLUDE another type but do not
specify an explicit :PRINT-FUNCTION inherit the structure print
function from the :INCLUDE'd type. A print function that uses the
default #S syntax (overriding any print function for the parent type)
can be specified by providing the :PRINT-FUNCTION option without an
Supplying a :PRINT-FUNCTION in a DEFSTRUCT is equivalent
to defining an appropriate method on the PRINT-OBJECT generic
Users typically specify a print function for a structure type because
its slots will contain circular objects or large internal data
structures which are confusing when printed. Any structure type that
:INCLUDEs this type will also contain the same slots; it seems more
reasonable to inherit the parent's print function than to use the
default #S syntax.
Lucid Common Lisp makes structures inherit print functions.
VaxLisp uses #S syntax unless an explicit :PRINT-FUNCTION
Cost to implementors:
The changes to non-conforming implementations should be fairly minor
Cost to users:
It can't be any worse than the status quo.
An area of ambiguity in the language will be removed.
Pitman and VanRoggen support this proposal.
The original version of the proposal did not provide for a way to
force #S syntax to be used. This functionality was added to the
current version because there seemed to be general agreement that it
would be useful. Other alternatives would be to name the function
that does what the #S printer does, or to provide a function that
returns the #S information as a list (as suggested by Waters) so users
can write their own.