GameLisp's main associative data structure is the table. Tables are HashMaps which can use arbitrary GameLisp data for their keys.

The basic operations are similar to those for an array. You can read or write table entries using square brackets, [tbl key]. Assignment will create an entry if it doesn't already exist. The has? function will tell you whether a key is already present, and the del! and remove! functions will delete an existing entry. len, empty? and clear! all work as expected.

(let strengths (tab))
(= [strengths 'goblin] 3)
(= [strengths 'dragon] 8)

(prn (has? strengths 'goblin)) ; prints #t
(prn (has? strengths 'kobold)) ; prints #f

(prn [strengths 'goblin]) ; prints 3
(prn [strengths 'manticore]) ; an error

(prn (len strengths)) ; prints 2
(clear! strengths)
(prn (empty? strengths)) ; prints #t

Table Construction

Recall that the syntax for table literals is #((key0 value0) (key1 value1)).

To construct a new table dynamically, you can use the tab macro. It receives a number of array forms of length two, and optionally a number of forms which evaluate to tables, each prefixed with ... Each array form, and each entry from each of the tables, is treated as a (key value) pair which is inserted into the table.

(let basic (tab ('a 'b) ('c 'd)))
(let more (tab ('e 'f) ..basic))

(prn more) ; prints #((a b) (c d) (e f)), not necessarily in that order

The extend! function receives a table as its first argument, followed by any number of (key value) two-element arrays. Those key-value pairs are each inserted into the table, overwriting elements which already exist. It's typically used to copy the full contents of one table into another, by treating the source table as an iterator:

(extend! dst-table ..src-table)

Nonexistent Elements

GameLisp is normally very strict when it comes to whether or not an element of a collection exists. If you attempt to access a nonexistent table entry (or a nonexistent global, array index, object field, class field, or function parameter), it's an error.

This is in contrast to some other scripting languages, which return nil or undefined for nonexistent elements. I find that this is not a sensible default: it can cause errors to silently propagate, making refactoring and debugging more difficult.

If you need to access an element which may or may not exist, various macros support the special syntax (? form). This syntax can be used in place of a key or an index. It will cause the operation to succeed and return #n when an element is missing, rather than triggering an error.

(let heights (tab ('mira 165) ('paul 178)))

(prn [heights 'sara]) ; an error
(prn [heights (? 'sara)]) ; prints #n

(let ar (arr 10 20 30 40 50))

(= [ar -8] -20) ; an error
(= [ar (? -8)] -20) ; a silent no-op

(prn (remove! ar 2)) ; prints 30
(prn (remove! ar 7)) ; an error
(prn (remove! ar (? 7))) ; prints #n

(prn (global (? 'possibility))) ; prints #n
(bind-global! 'possibility 100)
(prn (global (? 'possibility))) ; prints 100

Key Equivalence

All hash tables need to enforce an equivalence relation on their keys. They use this equivalence relation to establish whether, when key B is inserted into the table, it should overwrite the entry previously created for key A.

Our hash tables can use any GameLisp data as a key, including #n and NaN floats. The equivalence relation is represented by the function keys-eqv?. This function is very similar to eq?, with a few small changes:

  • Numbers and characters act as distinct keys, even if they're numerically equal. 65, 65.0 and \A are all == to one another, but they're not key-equivalent.

  • For performance reasons, tables have to be compared for key-equivalence using same? rather than eq?. This means that two tables can have identical contents, but still be considered distinct when used as table keys.

  • Objects and Rust data can overload eq?, but there's no way to overload keys-eqv?.

Otherwise, table keys mostly work as you would expect. Arrays and strings are key-equivalent when they have the same contents. Other reference types are key-equivalent when they refer to the same object. Value types are equivalent when they have the same type and the same contents.