This patch changes the behavior of metadata when used in conjunction with macros. The metadata &form is now merged with the metadata of the macro call sexpr. This allows users to either type-hint the inner or the outer form in a macro call and have somewhat better results. In the past, the metadata from the macroexpand was used as-is. This disallowed code like the following, to work without reflection:
(.trim ^String (when true "hello "))
Screened by: Timothy Baldridge
--------- Implementation Details ----------
As discussed in http://groups.google.com/group/clojure/browse_thread/thread/2690cb6ca0e8beb8 there is a "surprise factor" when type-hinting an expression that represents a macro, such as with (.length ^String (doto (identity "x") prn)). Here the doto macro discards the metadata on &form, causing a reflective lookup. This has the effect that while expressions representing function calls can be type-hinted, expressions representing macros in general cannot. The doto macro could be rewritten to respect its &form metadata, but doing this for every macro in existence would be tedious and error-prone. Instead, I propose a change to the compiler, to cause macroexpansion to hang onto the metadata automatically.
The first patch attached adds a test for the behavior I propose: this test fails. After applying the second patch, the test passes.
There are a couple points that merit further consideration before accepting my patch:
- I'm not sure I actually got the Java code formatted correctly. My editor is not well-configured to get the clojure/core style right automatically.
- My solution is to take the &form metadata, drop :line/:file keys, and then merge with the returned metadata, with &form taking precedence. I'm not sure whether this is the right approach in all cases, even though it works for :tag metadata.
- I achieved this with a change to the compiler, which makes it fairly heavy-weight. It should be possible to instead adjust defmacro if changes to the compiler are not desirable. However, I believe this would involve substantially more work and be harder to test (for example, multiple arities complicate things). It seems nicer to treat the macroexpansion as a black box and then make metadata tweaks to the result, rather than modifying their actual defmacro code.
- If a macro expands to something that is not an IObj, such as an Integer, then my patch silently discards the caller's metadata. Would it be better to throw an exception?