UG Markup

Unholy Grail lets you write Unicode characters using a simple ASCII markup. The markup can be used to define and use Unicode variables, Unicode operators and -- of course -- Unicode strings without having to worry about how to type them.
First, a limited number of specific character sequences translate to the characters they look like:
<< « open guillemet >> » close guillemet
<- left arrow -> right arrow
<= left double arrow => right double arrow
>= greater than =< less than
<> diamond /= not equal
[| left double square bracket |] right double square bracket
{| left double curly bracket |} right double curly bracket
<| left triangle |> right triangle
`` ` backtick `br`E1 newline
In a nutshell, suppose you have the following line of code:
print["x >= 0 and x =< 10"]
When executed, it will print the following to the terminal:
x ≥ 0 and x ≤ 10
As indicated in the table, >= turned into and =< turned into . If you want to actually print out ">=" or "=<", you can escape one of the characters like this:
print["x `>`= 0 and x `=`< 10"]
;; x >= 0 and x =< 10
Besides the special characters listed in the table, you can write any Unicode character by putting its name between backticks. For instance:
print["`alpha` `in` `beta``gamma`"]
;; α ∈ βγ
The names available are the same as the HTML symbol entities. You can also specify a character by decimal (`number`) or hexadecimal number (`^number`).
print["`65` `^2194` `66`"]
;; A ↔ B
If you had to remember only one thing, though, it would be that newlines, in strings, are encoded as `br`. \n will not work. In fact, \\ escapes nothing at all in Unholy Grail (escape " by doubling it).
;; line1
;; line2\na"bc\

Literals and special values

0, 1, 2613, 100000, 100_000          ;; Base 10 integers
9.999, 4e10, .5, 5.                  ;; Base 10 floats
2r1_100_100, 3r10_201, 16r64, 30r3A  ;; Other bases integers
2r11.01, 36RZzZ.zZzZzZz              ;; Other bases floats

"these", "are", "strings"
.these, .are, .strings, .too

"He came in and said: ""I farted"""  ;; " is escaped by doubling it
""""                                 ;; so this is the " character

True, False, None
Void, ()                             ;; Void == ()

Data structures

Basic data structures in UG are lists:
[], [1], ["a", "b", "c"]
And dictionaries:
{"a" => 1}, {0 => "zero", 1 => "one"}
;; alternative syntax when keys are strings
{a = 1, b = 2}
;; IMPORTANT: notation for empty dictionaries is as follows:
{=}, {=>}
Both of them can be indexed using the ? operator.
xs = [1, 2, 3, 4]
print[xs?0]        ;; 1
xs?0 := 11         ;; xs is now [11, 2, 3, 4]

d = {Balthazar = 27, Julie = 25}
print["Balthazar is", d?"Balthazar", "years old."]
{1, 2, 3, 4}, {"set", "of", "words", "words"}
{} ;; empty
Sets and dictionaries do not specify any iteration order. You can however define ordered dicts, which do preserve the order of keys:
["a" => 1], [0 => "zero", 1 => "one"]
[a = 1, b = 2]
[=], [=>]
See Python's documentation for operations on these structures.

Ad hoc labeled structs

Ever needed to pack together a few values, but did not care to make a specific class for it? So you put them in a dictionary, or in a list, but perhaps you lose some information in the process. UG's ad hoc structs can help:
p = #point[1, 2]
print[p?0, p?1]

p = #point[x = 1, y = 2]
print[p.x, p.y]
`#label defines a type named "label". These types are cached as they are created, so each use of `#label refers to the same type. They can then be initiated with any sequence of arguments or keyword arguments you like, keeping an internal vector for positional fields and an internal dictionary for the named fields.

Frozen data structures

In addition to all this, UG provides immutable versions of each structure via the frz keyword (which means "frozen"):
frz [1, 2]         ;; tuple (immutable list)
frz [a = 1, b = 2] ;; immutable ordered dict
frz {1, 2}         ;; frozenset (immutable set)
frz {a = 1, b = 2} ;; immutable dict
frz #point[1, 2]   ;; immutable struct

Variables and assignment

Variables are declared with the = operator. They can be given an initial value. However, from that moment, assignment must use the := operator. Assignment to properties or indices must also use :=.
x = None
x = [1, 2, 3]  ;; NOT OK! x already exists
x := [1, 2, 3] ;; ok
x ? 0 = 111    ;; NOT OK!
x ? 0 := 111   ;; ok
UG does not allow shadowing existing variables*. If the variable x exists in scope, then x = y is an error. (*Unless you use let).
You can declare or assign to multiple variables at once:
[x, y, z] = [1, 2, 3]
[obj.attr1, obj.attr2] := [True, False]
Mind that the priority of the comma operator is lower than that of assignment. In fact, its priority is dead last. Always.
x, y = 1, 2 ;; NOT OK: parses as x, (y = 1), z
The language will likely complain about x not being defined, so you can just keep in mind that this might be the cause of the error.


You can type variables as you declare them.
str s = 1 ;; NOT OK! 1 is not a string!
int i = 1
i := 80
i := "hello" ;; NOT OK! UG remembers the type!
The type checks are dynamic: they are done at runtime and not at compile time. While later optimizers may take advantage of the type annotations, for the time being, mind that they will slow your code down rather than speed it up. They will however help make your code safer, more robust, and will give you nicer errors.

Indent rules

Like Python, UG has significant indent. However, it can be used much more generally than in Python. Indent and line breaks obey two very simple rules:
  1. Any indented block is equivalent to putting ( at the end of the line right before it,and ) at the end of its last line.
    • Unless it is within any type of brackets. Inside (), [] and {} all indent is ignored.
  2. There is an implicit comma (,) at the end of every line, unless it is continuated on the next line, or if the comma would come right after an opening bracket or right before a closing bracket.
Therefore, the following:
if something:
    g.bla["bla", "bla"]
Is equivalent to:
if something: (
    f[] ,
    g.bla["bla", "bla"] ) ,
else: (
    12345 ) ,
Using these rules, any piece of UG code can be rewritten to fit on a single line, though doing so is not recommended.


The if statement looks the same in UG as it does in Python, the only difference being that parentheses are required around the condition if it involves an operator (comparison, and, etc.)
if (x < 0):
elif (x > 0):
There are a few ways to write a conditional expression:
result =
    if (x < 0): "negative"
    else: "nonnegative"
print[(if (x < 0): "negative", else: "nonnegative")]
print[if[x < 0, "negative", "nonnegative"]]
Be careful, though: the first way will not work if you put if on the same line as result =. The second way requires the parentheses, because if/else must be comma-separated in a (...) block. The third way will work everywhere.


While loops work like in Python. Parentheses are required around the condition if it involves an operator (comparison, and, etc.)
i = 10
while (i > 0):
    i := i - 1
print["Blast off!"]


There are two iteration operators: each and map. each executes a function on every element of a collection, like Python's for loop:
people = "Balthazar Peter Julie Olaf Eve Hildegarde".split[]
people each person ->
    print["Hello,", person + "!"]
You can deconstruct the argument, and even use pattern matching on it:
enumerate[people] each
    [0, person] -> print[person, "is 1st"]
    [1, person] -> print[person, "is 2nd"]
    [2, person] -> print[person, "is 3rd"]
    [n, person] when (n < 20) ->
        print[person, "is", str[i] + "th"]
    _ -> ValueError["I can't count that high!"]
map returns a generator: it does not do anything until it is asked to. You can call the list function on it to get a list of results.
numbers = 1 to 100 ;; upper bound not inclusive
squares = list! numbers map i -> i ** 2
The right hand side of each or map can be a function, but there is a caveat: most functions with a single argument take a tuple of length one. To illustrate:
[1, 2, 3] each print       ;; FAILS: print 1, print 2, etc.
[[1], [2], [3]] each print ;; WORKS: print[1], print[2], etc.
To solve this, you can use wrap as an intermediary step:
[1, 2, 3] map wrap each print ;; WORKS!

Break and continue

When used in the body of a loop, break will stop the iteration. continue will skip to the next element, yielding nothing if it is in map.
numbers = 1 to 100
even_squares = list! numbers map i ->
    if (i > 10):
    elif (i mod 2):
        i ** 2
print! even_squares ;; [4, 16, 36, 64]
However, there is a shorter way to write this using guards:
even_squares = list! numbers map
    i when (i > 10) -> break
    i when not (i mod 2) -> i ** 2
The first clause will stop the loop when i is greater than 10. The second will generate even squares. Odd numbers below 10 will fall through to an implicit continue` clause, so nothing is produced.

Pattern matching

The match construct implements a powerful pattern matching language. You can use it to implement a simple calculator, for instance:
calc = [instruction] ->
    match instruction:
        int x -> x
        float x -> x
        #plus[x] -> +calc[x]
        #plus[x, y] -> calc[x] + calc[y]
        #minus[x] -> -calc[x]
        #minus[x, y] -> calc[x] - calc[y]
        #times[x, y] -> calc[x] * calc[y]
        #div[x, y] -> calc[x] / calc[y]
        #mod[x, y] -> calc[x] mod calc[y]
        _ -> raise TypeError["Unknown instruction", instruction]

print ! calc[#plus[#times[5, 20], #div[77, 7]]]

Calling functions

A function is called simply by putting the function and its argument next to each other. Usually, you want to give the function a list of arguments, so you just write a list next to it, using the list syntax. Sometimes, you want to give it keyword arguments, so you write a dictionary. And then sometimes you want to do both, which is fine too.
f[]             ;; Calling f with no arguments
f[x]            ;; Calling f with one argument
f{a = x, b = y} ;; Calling f with two keyword arguments
f[a = x, b = y] ;; That's fine too
f[x, y, a = z]  ;; Calling f with two positional args and a keyword arg
But! You can also "call" a function on something that's neither a list nor a dict. For instance, if you want to get an attribute, perhaps you could simply call the function on the attribute's name!
f "x"           ;; Calling f with a *string*
f.x             ;; Exactly the same as the previous

f (?0)          ;; Calling f on the *index* 0
f?0             ;; Exactly the same as the previous
UG is quite free form. For instance, you can very well do this:
obj = "hello"
method = .replace
arguments = ["e", "u"]
print[obj method arguments]
In Python, the same thing would have to be written much less elegantly:
obj = "hello"
method = "replace"
arguments = ["e", "u"]
print(getattr(obj, method)(*arguments))
Lastly, you can use the ! operator to transform what follows into a list. For instance:
print! "hello"    ;; instead of print["hello"]
"HELLO".lower!    ;; instead of "HELLO".lower[]
! has low priority and is right associative:
list! reversed! sorted! [7, 3, 1, 7, 99, 12]
;; is equivalent to:
list[reversed[sorted[[7, 3, 1, 7, 99, 12]]]]
If there is an indented block after !, each line will be interpreted as an element of a list:

Defining functions

Functions are defined using the -> operator. On the left: a pattern. On the right: an expression. Usually the pattern will just mirror the form of the expected arguments:
add = [x, y] -> x + y
print! add[11, 22]
Keyword arguments must be declared as such using =>
div = [=> num, => denum] -> num / denum
print! div[num = 1, denum = 2]
Default values for arguments with =
increment = [x, inc = 1] -> x + inc
    increment[10, 2]

Pattern matching

It is possible to define multiple clauses, with one arrow per clause. Look at this recursive implementation of fibonacci numbers, for instance:
fib =
    [0] -> 0
    [1] -> 1
    [n] when (n > 1) ->
        fib[n - 1] + fib[n - 2]
This can be easily used to implement single or multiple dispatch:
add =
    [int x, int y] -> x + y
    [str x, y] -> add[int!x, y]
    [x, str y] -> add[x, int!y]

    add[1, 2]     ;; 3
    add["1", 2]   ;; 3
    add[1, "2"]   ;; 3
    add["1", "2"] ;; 3
Any legal clause for match is a legal clause for a function. The calculator example seen earlier can be rewritten without match:
calc =
    [int x] -> x
    [float x] -> x
    [#plus[x]] -> +calc[x]
    [#plus[x, y]] -> calc[x] + calc[y]
    [#minus[x]] -> -calc[x]
    [#minus[x, y]] -> calc[x] - calc[y]
    [#times[x, y]] -> calc[x] * calc[y]
    [#div[x, y]] -> calc[x] / calc[y]
    [_] -> raise TypeError["Unknown instruction", instruction]


There are two ways to define objects in UG. The first way is to simply define them as a closure:
@class Point = [$, x, y] ->
    ;; lala
    prop["x", action] ->
      match action:
        .get -> x
        .set -> x := value
        .del -> x := None

    ;; Getters
    "x" -> x
    "y" -> y

    ;; Setters
    #assign["x", value] -> x := value
    #assign["y", value] -> y := value

    ;; Methods
    "add" -> [other] ->
        Point[x + other.x, y + other.y]

    "__str__" -> [] ->
        "Point[%s, %s]" mod [x, y]

p1 = Point[1, 2]
p2 = Point[3, 4]
p1.x := 11
print[p1.x + p2.y]  ;; 15
print[p1.add[p2]]   ;; Point[14, 6]

@class Point = [$, x, y] ->
    .x -> x
    .y -> y
    <- {=}
For those familiar with Python,


Exceptions are caught with the !! operator. On the left is the expression that might throw an exception. On the right is either an expression to evaluate if there is an error or a function.
For instance, this tries to fetch the key "Julie" from a dictionary, but if there is no such key, it will return None instead:
d = {Paul = "paul.txt", Jeanne = "jeanne.txt"}
julie = d?.Julie !! None
If you want to print or manipulate the error, you can declare a function that will be given the error as an argument:
julie = d?.Julie !! e -> (print[e], None)
Perhaps more than one thing could go wrong! Just like you can define functions with multiple clauses, you can define several clauses for your exception handler, one for every kind of exception:
open[d?.Julie] !!
    KeyError e ->
        print["Julie not found."]
    IOError e ->
        print["File not found."]
There are two kinds of special clauses you can add. The success clause will be executed if there is no error, with the result of the expression as its argument (akin to the else clause in Python's try/except). The finally clause will always be executed at the end, no matter what happens.
;; Prints "finally", then "abc"
print! "a" + "b" !!
    e -> None
    success v -> v + "c"
    finally -> print["finally"]
code() takes exactly 4 arguments (3 given)
File "/home/olivier/py/quaint/", line 306, in execute return f(self, ptree, **args) File "/home/olivier/py/quaint/", line 46, in f2 result = f(engine, node, *args, **kwargs)