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\input texinfo          @c -*- texinfo -*-
@c %**start of header
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@setfilename asdf.info
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@settitle ASDF Manual
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@c %**end of header

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@c We use @&key, etc to escape & from TeX in lambda lists --
@c so we need to define them for info as well.
@macro &allow-other-keys
&allow-other-keys
@end macro
@macro &optional
&optional
@end macro
@macro &rest
&rest
@end macro
@macro &key
&key
@end macro
@macro &body
&body
@end macro
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@macro &curly
{
@end macro
@macro &ylruc
}
@end macro
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@c for install-info
@dircategory Software development
@direntry
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* asdf: (asdf).           Another System Definition Facility (for Common Lisp)
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@end direntry

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@copying
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This manual describes ASDF, a system definition facility
for Common Lisp programs and libraries.
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You can find the latest version of this manual at
@url{http://common-lisp.net/project/asdf/asdf.html}.

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ASDF Copyright @copyright{} 2001-2013 Daniel Barlow and contributors.
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This manual Copyright @copyright{} 2001-2013 Daniel Barlow and contributors.
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This manual revised @copyright{} 2009-2013 Robert P. Goldman and Francois-Rene Rideau.
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Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining
a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the
``Software''), to deal in the Software without restriction, including
without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish,
distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to
permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to
the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be
included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED ``AS IS'', WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND,
EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF
MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND
NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE
LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION
OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION
WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

@end copying



@titlepage
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@title ASDF: Another System Definition Facility
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@c The following two commands start the copyright page.
@page
@vskip 0pt plus 1filll
@insertcopying
@end titlepage
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@c Output the table of contents at the beginning.
@contents

@c -------------------

@ifnottex

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@node Top, Introduction, (dir), (dir)
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@top asdf: another system definition facility
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@insertcopying

@menu
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* Introduction::
* Loading ASDF::
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* Configuring ASDF::
* Using ASDF::
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* Defining systems with defsystem::
* The object model of ASDF::
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* Controlling where ASDF searches for systems::
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* Controlling where ASDF saves compiled files::
* Error handling::
* Miscellaneous additional functionality::
* Getting the latest version::
* FAQ::
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* TODO list::
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* Inspiration::
* Concept Index::
* Function and Class Index::
* Variable Index::
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@c @detailmenu
@c  --- The Detailed Node Listing ---
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@c Defining systems with defsystem
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@c * The defsystem form::
@c * A more involved example::
@c * The defsystem grammar::
@c * Other code in .asd files::
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@c The object model of ASDF
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@c * Operations::
@c * Components::
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@c Operations
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@c * Predefined operations of ASDF::
@c * Creating new operations::
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@c Components
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@c * Common attributes of components::
@c * Pre-defined subclasses of component::
@c * Creating new component types::
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@c properties
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@c * Pre-defined subclasses of component::
@c * Creating new component types::
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@c @end detailmenu
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@end menu

@end ifnottex

@c -------------------

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@node Introduction, Loading ASDF, Top, Top
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@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@chapter Introduction
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@cindex ASDF-related features
@vindex *features*
@cindex Testing for ASDF
@cindex ASDF versions
@cindex :asdf
@cindex :asdf2
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@cindex :asdf3
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ASDF is Another System Definition Facility:
a tool for specifying how systems of Common Lisp software
are comprised of components (sub-systems and files),
and how to operate on these components in the right order
so that they can be compiled, loaded, tested, etc.

ASDF presents three faces:
one for users of Common Lisp software who want to reuse other people's code,
one for writers of Common Lisp software who want to specify how to build their systems,
one for implementers of Common Lisp extensions who want to extend the build system.
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@xref{Using ASDF,,Loading a system},
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to learn how to use ASDF to load a system.
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@xref{Defining systems with defsystem},
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to learn how to define a system of your own.
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@xref{The object model of ASDF}, for a description of
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the ASDF internals and how to extend ASDF.
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@emph{Nota Bene}:
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We have released ASDF 2.000 on May 31st 2010,
and ASDF 3.0 on January 31st 2013.
Releases of ASDF 2 and later have since then been included
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in all actively maintained CL implementations that used to bundle ASDF 1,
plus some implementations that didn't use to,
and has been made to work with all actively used CL implementations and a few more.
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@xref{FAQ,,``What has changed between ASDF 1 and ASDF 2?''}.
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Furthermore, it is possible to upgrade from ASDF 1 to ASDF 2 or ASDF 3 on the fly.
For this reason, we have stopped supporting ASDF 1 and ASDF 2.
If you are using ASDF 1 or ASDF 2 and are experiencing any kind of issues or limitations,
we recommend you upgrade to ASDF 3
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--- and we explain how to do that. @xref{Loading ASDF}.

Also note that ASDF is not to be confused with ASDF-Install.
ASDF-Install is not part of ASDF, but a separate piece of software.
ASDF-Install is also unmaintained and obsolete.
We recommend you use Quicklisp instead,
which works great and is being actively maintained.
If you want to download software from version control instead of tarballs,
so you may more easily modify it, we recommend clbuild.
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@node Loading ASDF, Configuring ASDF, Introduction, Top
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@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
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@chapter Loading ASDF
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@vindex *central-registry*
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@cindex link farm
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@findex load-system
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@findex require-system
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@findex compile-system
@findex test-system
@cindex system directory designator
@findex operate
@findex oos
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@c @menu
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@c * Installing ASDF::
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@c @end menu


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@section Loading a pre-installed ASDF

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Most recent Lisp implementations include a copy of ASDF 2, and soon ASDF 3.
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You can usually load this copy using Common Lisp's @code{require} function:

@lisp
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(require "asdf")
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@end lisp

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As of the writing of this manual,
the following implementations provide ASDF 2 this way:
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abcl allegro ccl clisp cmucl ecl lispworks mkcl sbcl xcl.
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The following implementation doesn't provide it yet but will in an upcoming release:
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scl.
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The following implementations are obsolete, not actively maintained,
and most probably will never bundle it:
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cormanlisp gcl genera mcl.
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If the implementation you are using doesn't provide ASDF 2 or ASDF 3,
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see @pxref{Loading ASDF,,Loading an otherwise installed ASDF} below.
If that implementation is still actively maintained,
you may also send a bug report to your Lisp vendor and complain
about their failing to provide ASDF.
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NB: all implementations except clisp also accept
@code{(require "ASDF")}, @code{(require 'asdf)} and @code{(require :asdf)}.
For portability's sake, you probably want to use @code{(require "asdf")}.

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@section Checking whether ASDF is loaded

To check whether ASDF is properly loaded in your current Lisp image,
you can run this form:

@lisp
(asdf:asdf-version)
@end lisp

If it returns a string,
that is the version of ASDF that is currently installed.

If it raises an error,
then either ASDF is not loaded, or
you are using an old version of ASDF.

You can check whether an old version is loaded
by checking if the ASDF package is present.
The form below will allow you to programmatically determine
whether a recent version is loaded, an old version is loaded,
or none at all:

@lisp
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(when (find-package :asdf)
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  (let ((ver (symbol-value (or (find-symbol (string :*asdf-version*) :asdf)
                               (find-symbol (string :*asdf-revision*) :asdf)))))
    (etypecase ver
      (string ver)
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      (cons (with-output-to-string (s)
              (loop for (n . m) on ver do (princ n s) (when m (princ "." s)))))
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      (null "1.0"))))
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@end lisp

If it returns @code{NIL} then ASDF is not installed.
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Otherwise it should return a string.
If it returns @code{"1.0"}, then it can actually be
any version before 1.77 or so, or some buggy variant of 1.x.
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If you are experiencing problems with ASDF,
please try upgrading to the latest released version,
using the method below,
before you contact us and raise an issue.
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@section Upgrading ASDF

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If your implementation provides ASDF 3 or later,
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you only need to @code{(require "asdf")}:
ASDF will automatically look whether an updated version of itself is available
amongst the regularly configured systems, before it compiles anything else.
See @pxref{Configuring ASDF} below.

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If your implementation does provide ASDF 2 or later,
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but not ASDF 3 or later,
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and you want to upgrade to a more recent version,
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you need to install and configure your ASDF as above,
and additionally, you need to explicitly tell ASDF to load itself,
right after you require your implementation's old ASDF 2:
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@lisp
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(require "asdf")
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(asdf:load-system :asdf)
@end lisp

If on the other hand, your implementation only provides an old ASDF,
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you will require a special configuration step and an old-style loading.
Take special attention to not omit the trailing directory separator
@code{/} at the end of your pathname:
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@lisp
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(require "asdf")
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(push #p"@var{/path/to/new/asdf/}" asdf:*central-registry*)
(asdf:oos 'asdf:load-op :asdf)
@end lisp

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Note that ASDF 1 won't redirect its output files,
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or at least won't do it according to your usual ASDF 2 configuration.
You therefore need write access on the directory
where you install the new ASDF,
and make sure you're not using it
for multiple mutually incompatible implementations.
At worst, you may have to have multiple copies of the new ASDF,
e.g. one per implementation installation, to avoid clashes.
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Note that to our knowledge all implementations that provide ASDF
provide ASDF 2 in their latest release, so
you may want to upgrade your implementation rather than go through that hoop.
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Finally, if you are using an unmaintained implementation
that does not provide ASDF at all,
see @pxref{Loading ASDF,,Loading an otherwise installed ASDF} below.

Note that there are some limitations to upgrading ASDF:
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@itemize
@item
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Previously loaded ASDF extension becomes invalid, and will need to be reloaded.
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This applies to e.g. CFFI-Grovel, or to hacks used by ironclad, etc.
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Since it isn't possible to automatically detect what extensions are present
that need to be invalidated,
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ASDF will actually invalidate all previously loaded systems
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when it is loaded on top of a different ASDF version,
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starting with ASDF 2.014.8 (as far as releases go, 2.015);
and it will automatically attempt this self-upgrade as its very first step
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starting with ASDF 3.
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@item
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For this an many other reasons,
it important reason to load, configure and upgrade ASDF (if needed)
as one of the very first things done by your build and startup scripts.
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Until all implementations provide ASDF 3 or later,
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it is safer if you upgrade ASDF and its extensions as a special step
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at the very beginning of whatever script you are running,
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before you start using ASDF to load anything else;
even afterwards, it is still a good idea, to avoid having to
load and reload code twice as it gets invalidated.

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@item
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Until all implementations provide ASDF 3 or later,
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it is unsafe to upgrade ASDF as part of loading a system
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that depends on a more recent version of ASDF,
since the new one might shadow the old one while the old one is running,
and the running old one will be confused
when extensions are loaded into the new one.
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In the meantime, we recommend that your systems should @emph{not} specify
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@code{:depends-on (:asdf)}, or @code{:depends-on ((:version :asdf "2.010"))},
but instead that they check that a recent enough ASDF is installed,
with such code as:
@example
(unless (or #+asdf2 (asdf:version-satisfies
                     (asdf:asdf-version) *required-asdf-version*))
  (error "FOO requires ASDF ~A or later." *required-asdf-version*))
@end example
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@item
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Until all implementations provide ASDF 3 or later,
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it is unsafe for a system to transitively depend on ASDF
and not directly depend on ASDF;
if any of the system you use either depends-on asdf,
system-depends-on asdf, or transitively does,
you should also do as well.
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@end itemize

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@section Loading an otherwise installed ASDF

If your implementation doesn't include ASDF,
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if for some reason the upgrade somehow fails,
does not or cannot apply to your case,
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you will have to install the file @file{asdf.lisp}
somewhere and load it with:

@lisp
(load "/path/to/your/installed/asdf.lisp")
@end lisp
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The single file @file{asdf.lisp} is all you normally need to use ASDF.
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You can extract this file from latest release tarball on the
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@url{http://common-lisp.net/project/asdf/,ASDF website}.
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If you are daring and willing to report bugs, you can get
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the latest and greatest version of ASDF from its git repository.
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@xref{Getting the latest version}.

For maximum convenience you might want to have ASDF loaded
whenever you start your Lisp implementation,
for example by loading it from the startup script or dumping a custom core
--- check your Lisp implementation's manual for details.

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@node Configuring ASDF, Using ASDF, Loading ASDF, Top
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
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@chapter Configuring ASDF

@section Configuring ASDF to find your systems

So it may compile and load your systems, ASDF must be configured to find
the @file{.asd} files that contain system definitions.

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Since ASDF 2, the preferred way to configure where ASDF finds your systems is
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the @code{source-registry} facility,
fully described in its own chapter of this manual.
@xref{Controlling where ASDF searches for systems}.
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The default location for a user to install Common Lisp software is under
@file{~/.local/share/common-lisp/source/}.
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If you install software there (it can be a symlink),
you don't need further configuration.
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If you're installing software yourself at a location that isn't standard,
you have to tell ASDF where you installed it. See below.
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If you're using some tool to install software (e.g. Quicklisp),
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the authors of that tool should already have configured ASDF.

The simplest way to add a path to your search path,
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say @file{/home/luser/.asd-link-farm/}
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is to create the directory
@file{~/.config/common-lisp/source-registry.conf.d/}
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and there create a file with any name of your choice,
and with the type @file{conf},
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for instance @file{42-asd-link-farm.conf}
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containing the line:

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@kbd{(:directory "/home/luser/.asd-link-farm/")}
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If you want all the subdirectories under @file{/home/luser/lisp/}
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to be recursively scanned for @file{.asd} files, instead use:

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@kbd{(:tree "/home/luser/lisp/")}
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Note that your Operating System distribution or your system administrator
may already have configured system-managed libraries for you.

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The required @file{.conf} extension allows you to have disabled files
or editor backups (ending in @file{~}), and works portably
(for instance, it is a pain to allow both empty and non-empty extension on CLISP).
Excluded are files the name of which start with a @file{.} character.
It is customary to start the filename with two digits
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that specify the order in which the directories will be scanned.

ASDF will automatically read your configuration
the first time you try to find a system.
You can reset the source-registry configuration with:
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@lisp
(asdf:clear-source-registry)
@end lisp

And you probably should do so before you dump your Lisp image,
if the configuration may change
between the machine where you save it at the time you save it
and the machine you resume it at the time you resume it.
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Actually, you should use @code{(asdf:clear-configuration)}
before you dump your Lisp image, which includes the above.
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@section Configuring ASDF to find your systems --- old style
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The old way to configure ASDF to find your systems is by
@code{push}ing directory pathnames onto the variable
@code{asdf:*central-registry*}.

You must configure this variable between the time you load ASDF
and the time you first try to use it.
Loading and configuring ASDF presumably happen
as part of some initialization script that builds or starts
your Common Lisp software system.
(For instance, some SBCL users used to put it in their @file{~/.sbclrc}.)

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The @code{asdf:*central-registry*} is empty by default in ASDF 2 or ASDF 3,
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but is still supported for compatibility with ASDF 1.
When used, it takes precedence over the above source-registry@footnote{
It is possible to further customize
the system definition file search.
That's considered advanced use, and covered later:
search forward for
@code{*system-definition-search-functions*}.
@xref{Defining systems with defsystem}.}.

For instance, if you wanted ASDF to find the @file{.asd} file
@file{/home/me/src/foo/foo.asd} your initialization script
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could after it loads ASDF with @code{(require "asdf")}
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configure it with:

@lisp
(push "/home/me/src/foo/" asdf:*central-registry*)
@end lisp

Note the trailing slash: when searching for a system,
ASDF will evaluate each entry of the central registry
and coerce the result to a pathname@footnote{
ASDF will indeed call @code{EVAL} on each entry.
It will also skip entries that evaluate to @code{NIL}.

Strings and pathname objects are self-evaluating,
in which case the @code{EVAL} step does nothing;
but you may push arbitrary SEXP onto the central registry,
that will be evaluated to compute e.g. things that depend
on the value of shell variables or the identity of the user.

The variable @code{asdf:*central-registry*} is thus a list of
``system directory designators''.
A @dfn{system directory designator} is a form
which will be evaluated whenever a system is to be found,
and must evaluate to a directory to look in.
By ``directory'' here, we mean
``designator for a pathname with a supplied DIRECTORY component''.
}
at which point the presence of the trailing directory name separator
is necessary to tell Lisp that you're discussing a directory
rather than a file.

Typically, however, there are a lot of @file{.asd} files, and
a common idiom was to have to put
a bunch of @emph{symbolic links} to @file{.asd} files
in a common directory
and push @emph{that} directory (the ``link farm'')
to the
@code{asdf:*central-registry*}
instead of pushing each of the many involved directories
to the @code{asdf:*central-registry*}.
ASDF knows how to follow such @emph{symlinks}
to the actual file location when resolving the paths of system components
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(on Windows, you can use Windows shortcuts instead of POSIX symlinks;
if you try aliases under MacOS, we are curious to hear about your experience).
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For example, if @code{#p"/home/me/cl/systems/"} (note the trailing slash)
is a member of @code{*central-registry*}, you could set up the
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system @var{foo} for loading with asdf with the following
commands at the shell:

@example
$ cd /home/me/cl/systems/
$ ln -s ~/src/foo/foo.asd .
@end example

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This old style for configuring ASDF is not recommended for new users,
but it is supported for old users, and for users who want to programmatically
control what directories are added to the ASDF search path.

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@section Configuring where ASDF stores object files
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@findex clear-output-translations
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ASDF lets you configure where object files will be stored.
Sensible defaults are provided and
you shouldn't normally have to worry about it.

This allows the same source code repository may be shared
between several versions of several Common Lisp implementations,
between several users using different compilation options
and without write privileges on shared source directories, etc.
This also allows to keep source directories uncluttered
by plenty of object files.

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Starting with ASDF 2, the @code{asdf-output-translations} facility
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was added to ASDF itself, that controls where object files will be stored.
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This facility is fully described in a chapter of this manual,
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@ref{Controlling where ASDF saves compiled files}.
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The simplest way to add a translation to your search path,
say from @file{/foo/bar/baz/quux/}
to @file{/where/i/want/my/fasls/}
is to create the directory
@file{~/.config/common-lisp/asdf-output-translations.conf.d/}
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and there create a file with any name of your choice and the type @file{conf},
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for instance @file{42-bazquux.conf}
containing the line:

@kbd{("/foo/bar/baz/quux/" "/where/i/want/my/fasls/")}

To disable output translations for source under a given directory,
say @file{/toto/tata/}
you can create a file @file{40-disable-toto.conf}
with the line:

@kbd{("/toto/tata/")}

To wholly disable output translations for all directories,
you can create a file @file{00-disable.conf}
with the line:

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@kbd{(t t)}
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Note that your Operating System distribution or your system administrator
may already have configured translations for you.
In absence of any configuration, the default is to redirect everything
under an implementation-dependent subdirectory of @file{~/.cache/common-lisp/}.
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@xref{Controlling where ASDF searches for systems}, for full details.
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The required @file{.conf} extension allows you to have disabled files
or editor backups (ending in @file{~}), and works portably
(for instance, it is a pain to allow both empty and non-empty extension on CLISP).
Excluded are files the name of which start with a @file{.} character.
It is customary to start the filename with two digits
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that specify the order in which the directories will be scanned.

ASDF will automatically read your configuration
the first time you try to find a system.
You can reset the source-registry configuration with:
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@lisp
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(asdf:clear-output-translations)
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@end lisp

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And you probably should do so before you dump your Lisp image,
if the configuration may change
between the machine where you save it at the time you save it
and the machine you resume it at the time you resume it.
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(Once again, you should use @code{(asdf:clear-configuration)}
before you dump your Lisp image, which includes the above.)
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Finally note that before ASDF 2,
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other ASDF add-ons offered the same functionality,
each in subtly different and incompatible ways:
ASDF-Binary-Locations, cl-launch, common-lisp-controller.
ASDF-Binary-Locations is now not needed anymore and should not be used.
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cl-launch 3.000 and common-lisp-controller 7.2 have been updated
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to just delegate this functionality to ASDF.
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@node Using ASDF, Defining systems with defsystem, Configuring ASDF, Top
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
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@section Resetting Configuration

When you dump and restore an image, or when you tweak your configuration,
you may want to reset the ASDF configuration.
For that you may use the following function:

@defun clear-configuration
   undoes any ASDF configuration,
   regarding source-registry or output-translations.
@end defun

If you use SBCL, CMUCL or SCL, you may use this snippet
so that the ASDF configuration be cleared automatically as you dump an image:

@example
#+(or cmu sbcl scl)
(pushnew 'clear-configuration
         #+(or cmu scl) ext:*before-save-initializations*
         #+sbcl sb-ext:*save-hooks*)
@end example

For compatibility with all Lisp implementations, however,
you might want instead your build script to explicitly call
@code{(asdf:clear-configuration)} at an appropriate moment before dumping.


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@chapter Using ASDF

@section Loading a system

The system @var{foo} is loaded (and compiled, if necessary)
by evaluating the following Lisp form:
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@example
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(asdf:load-system :@var{foo})
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@end example

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On some implementations (namely recent versions of
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ABCL, Allegro CL, Clozure CL, CMUCL, ECL, GNU CLISP,
LispWorks, MKCL, SBCL and XCL),
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ASDF hooks into the @code{CL:REQUIRE} facility
and you can just use:

@example
(require :@var{foo})
@end example

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In older versions of ASDF, you needed to use
@code{(asdf:oos 'asdf:load-op :@var{foo})}.
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If your ASDF is too old to provide @code{asdf:load-system} though
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we recommend that you upgrade to ASDF 3.
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@xref{Loading ASDF,,Loading an otherwise installed ASDF}.
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Note the name of a system is specified as a string or a symbol,
typically a keyword.
If a symbol (including a keyword), its name is taken and lowercased.
The name must be a suitable value for the @code{:name} initarg
to @code{make-pathname} in whatever filesystem the system is to be found.
The lower-casing-symbols behaviour is unconventional,
but was selected after some consideration.
Observations suggest that the type of systems we want to support
either have lowercase as customary case (unix, mac, windows)
or silently convert lowercase to uppercase (lpns),
so this makes more sense than attempting to use @code{:case :common},
which is reported not to work on some implementations

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@section Other Operations
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ASDF provides three commands for the most common system operations:
@code{load-system}, @code{compile-system} or @code{test-system}.
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It also provides @code{require-system}, a version of @code{load-system}
that skips trying to update systems that are already loaded.
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Because ASDF is an extensible system
for defining @emph{operations} on @emph{components},
it also provides a generic function @code{operate}
(which is usually abbreviated by @code{oos}).
You'll use @code{oos} whenever you want to do something beyond
compiling, loading and testing.
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Output from ASDF and ASDF extensions are supposed to be sent
to the CL stream @code{*standard-output*},
and so rebinding that stream around calls to @code{asdf:operate}
should redirect all output from ASDF operations.
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Reminder: before ASDF can operate on a system, however,
it must be able to find and load that system's definition.
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@xref{Configuring ASDF,,Configuring ASDF to find your systems}.
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For the advanced users, note that
@code{require-system} calls @code{load-system}
with keyword arguments @code{:force-not (loaded-systems)}.
@code{loaded-systems} returns a list of the names of loaded systems.
@code{load-system} applies @code{operate} with the operation from
@code{*load-system-operation*}, which by default is @code{load-op},
the system, and any provided keyword arguments.
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@section Summary

To use ASDF:

@itemize
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@item
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Load ASDF itself into your Lisp image, either through
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@code{(require "asdf")} or else through
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@code{(load "/path/to/asdf.lisp")}.
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@item
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Make sure ASDF can find system definitions
thanks to proper source-registry configuration.
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@item
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Load a system with @code{(asdf:load-system :my-system)}
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or use some other operation on some system of your choice.
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@end itemize

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@section Moving on
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That's all you need to know to use ASDF to load systems written by others.
The rest of this manual deals with writing system definitions
for Common Lisp software you write yourself,
including how to extend ASDF to define new operation and component types.

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@node Defining systems with defsystem, The object model of ASDF, Using ASDF, Top
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@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@chapter Defining systems with defsystem

This chapter describes how to use asdf to define systems and develop
software.


@menu
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* The defsystem form::
* A more involved example::
* The defsystem grammar::
* Other code in .asd files::
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@end menu

@node  The defsystem form, A more involved example, Defining systems with defsystem, Defining systems with defsystem
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@section The defsystem form

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Systems can be constructed programmatically
by instantiating components using @code{make-instance}.
Most of the time, however, it is much more practical to use
a static @code{defsystem} form.
This section begins with an example of a system definition,
then gives the full grammar of @code{defsystem}.
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Let's look at a simple system.
This is a complete file that would
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usually be saved as @file{hello-lisp.asd}:
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@lisp
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(in-package :asdf)
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(defsystem "hello-lisp"
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  :description "hello-lisp: a sample Lisp system."
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  :version "0.2.1"
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  :author "Joe User <joe@@example.com>"
  :licence "Public Domain"
  :components ((:file "packages")
               (:file "macros" :depends-on ("packages"))
               (:file "hello" :depends-on ("macros"))))
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@end lisp

Some notes about this example:

@itemize
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@item
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The file starts with an @code{in-package} form
to use package @code{asdf}.
You could instead start your definition by using
a qualified name @code{asdf:defsystem}.
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@item
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If in addition to simply using @code{defsystem},
you are going to define functions,
create ASDF extension, globally bind symbols, etc.,
it is recommended that to avoid namespace pollution between systems,
you should create your own package for that purpose,
for instance replacing the above @code{(in-package :asdf)} with:

@lisp
(defpackage :foo-system
  (:use :cl :asdf))

(in-package :foo-system)
@end lisp
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@item
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The @code{defsystem} form defines a system named @code{hello-lisp}
that contains three source files:
@file{packages}, @file{macros} and @file{hello}.
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@item
The file @file{macros} depends on @file{packages}
(presumably because the package it's in is defined in @file{packages}),
and the file @file{hello} depends on @file{macros}
(and hence, transitively on @file{packages}).
This means that ASDF will compile and load @file{packages} and @file{macros}
before starting the compilation of file @file{hello}.
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@item
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The files are located in the same directory
as the file with the system definition.
ASDF resolves symbolic links (or Windows shortcuts)
before loading the system definition file and
stores its location in the resulting system@footnote{
It is possible, though almost never necessary, to override this behaviour.}.
This is a good thing because the user can move the system sources
without having to edit the system definition.
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@c FIXME: Should have cross-reference to "Version specifiers" in the
@c defsystem grammar, but the cross-referencing is so broken by
@c insufficient node breakdown that I have not put one in.
@item
Make sure you know how the @code{:version} numbers will be parsed!  They
are parsed as period-separated lists of integers.  I.e., in the example,
@code{0.2.1} is to be interpreted, roughly speaking, as @code{(0 2 1)}.
In particular, version @code{0.2.1} is interpreted the same as
@code{0.0002.1} and is strictly version-less-than version @code{0.20.1},
even though the two are the same when interpreted as decimal fractions.
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Instead of a string representing the version,
the @code{:version} argument can be an expression that is resolved to
such a string using the following trivial domain-specific language:
in addition to being a literal string, it can be an expression of the form
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@code{(:read-file-form <pathname-or-string> :at <access-at-specifier>)},
which will be resolved by reading a form
in the specified pathname
(read as a subpathname of the current system if relative or a unix-namestring).
You may use an access-at specifier with the (optional) :at keyword,
by default the specifier is 0, meaning the first form is returned.

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@cindex :version

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@end itemize

@node  A more involved example, The defsystem grammar, The defsystem form, Defining systems with defsystem
@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@section A more involved example

Let's illustrate some more involved uses of @code{defsystem} via a
slightly convoluted example:

@lisp
(defsystem "foo"
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  :version "1.0.0"
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  :components ((:module "mod"
                            :components ((:file "bar")
                                                  (:file"baz")
                                                  (:file "quux"))
                            :perform (compile-op :after (op c)
                                                  (do-something c))
                            :explain (compile-op :after (op c)
                                            (explain-something c)))
                         (:file "blah")))
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@end lisp

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The @code{:module} component named @code{"mod"} is a collection of three files,
which will be located in a subdirectory of the main code directory named
@file{mod} (this location can be overridden; see the discussion of the
@code{:pathname} option in @ref{The defsystem grammar}).

The method-form tokens provide a shorthand for defining methods on
particular components.  This part
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@lisp
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                :perform (compile-op :after (op c)
                          (do-something c))
                :explain (compile-op :after (op c)
                          (explain-something c))
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@end lisp

has the effect of

@lisp
(defmethod perform :after ((op compile-op) (c (eql ...)))
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           (do-something c))
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           (explain-something c))
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@end lisp

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where @code{...} is the component in question.
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In this case @code{...} would expand to something like
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@lisp
(find-component (find-system "foo") "mod")
@end lisp

For more details on the syntax of such forms, see @ref{The defsystem
grammar}.
For more details on what these methods do, @pxref{Operations} in
@ref{The object model of ASDF}.

@c The following plunge into the weeds is not appropriate in this
@c location. [2010/10/03:rpg]
@c note that although this also supports @code{:before} methods,
@c they may not do what you want them to ---
@c a @code{:before} method on perform @code{((op compile-op) (c (eql ...)))}
@c will run after all the dependencies and sub-components have been processed,
@c but before the component in question has been compiled.
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@node  The defsystem grammar, Other code in .asd files, A more involved example, Defining systems with defsystem
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@comment  node-name,  next,  previous,  up
@section The defsystem grammar

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@c FIXME: @var typesetting not consistently used here.  We should either expand
@c its use to everywhere, or we should kill it everywhere.

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@example
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system-definition := ( defsystem system-designator @var{system-option}* )

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system-option := :defsystem-depends-on system-list
                 | :weakly-depends-on @var{system-list}
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                 | :class class-name (see discussion below)
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                 | module-option
                 | option

module-option := :components component-list
                 | :serial [ t | nil ]
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option :=
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        | :pathname pathname-specifier
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        | :default-component-class class-name
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        | :perform method-form
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        | :explain method-form
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        | :output-files method-form
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        | :operation-done-p method-form
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        | :if-feature feature-expression
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        | :depends-on ( @var{dependency-def}* )
        | :in-order-to ( @var{dependency}+ )
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system-list := ( @var{simple-component-name}* )

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component-list := ( @var{component-def}* )
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component-def  := ( component-type simple-component-name @var{option}* )
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component-type := :system | :module | :file | :static-file | other-component-type
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other-component-type := symbol-by-name (@pxref{The defsystem grammar,,Component types})
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dependency-def := simple-component-name
               | ( :feature name )
               | ( :version simple-component-name version-specifier)

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dependency := (dependent-op @var{requirement}+)
requirement := (required-op @var{required-component}+)
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             | (feature feature-name)
dependent-op := operation-name
required-op := operation-name | feature
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simple-component-name := string
                      |  symbol
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pathname-specifier := pathname | string | symbol

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method-form := (operation-name qual lambda-list @&rest body)
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qual := method qualifier
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component-dep-fail-option := :fail | :try-next | :ignore
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feature-expression := keyword | (:and @var{feature-expression}*)
                      | (:or @var{feature-expression}*) | (:not @var{feature-expression})
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@end example
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@subsection Component names

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Component names (@code{simple-component-name})
may be either strings or symbols.
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@subsection Component types
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Component type names, even if expressed as keywords, will be looked up
by name in the current package and in the asdf package, if not found in
the current package.  So a component type @code{my-component-type}, in
the current package @code{my-system-asd} can be specified as
@code{:my-component-type}, or @code{my-component-type}.

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@subsection System class names

A system class name will be looked up in the same way as a Component
type (see above).  Typically, one will not need to specify a system
class name, unless using a non-standard system class defined in some
ASDF extension, typically loaded through @code{DEFSYSTEM-DEPENDS-ON},
see below.  For such class names in the ASDF package, we recommend that
the @code{:class} option be specified using a keyword symbol, such as

@example
:class :MY-NEW-SYSTEM-SUBCLASS
@end example

This practice will ensure that package name conflicts are avoided.
Otherwise, the symbol @code{MY-NEW-SYSTEM-SUBCLASS} will be read into
the current package @emph{before} it has been exported from the ASDF
extension loaded by @code{:defsystem-depends-on}, causing a name
conflict in the current package.

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@subsection Defsystem depends on
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@cindex :defsystem-depends-on
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The @code{:defsystem-depends-on} option to @code{defsystem} allows the
programmer to specify another ASDF-defined system or set of systems that
must be loaded @emph{before} the system definition is processed.
Typically this is used to load an ASDF extension that is used in the
system definition.

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@subsection Weakly depends on 
@cindex :weakly-depends-on

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We do @emph{NOT} recommend you use this feature.
If you are tempted to write a system @var{foo}
that weakly-depends-on a system @var{bar},
we recommend that you should instead
write system @var{foo} in a parametric way,
and offer some special variable and/or some hook to specialize its behavior;
then you should write a system @var{foo+bar}
that does the hooking of things together.

The (deprecated) @code{:weakly-depends-on} option to @code{defsystem}
allows the programmer to specify another ASDF-defined system or set of systems
that ASDF should @emph{try} to load,
but need not load in order to be successful.
Typically this is used if there are a number of systems
that, if present, could provide additional functionality,
but which are not necessary for basic function.
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Currently, although it is specified to be an option only to @code{defsystem},
this option is accepted at any component, but it probably
only makes sense at the @code{defsystem} level.
Programmers are cautioned not
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to use this component option except at the @code{defsystem} level, as
this anomalous behavior may be removed without warning.

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@subsection Pathname specifiers
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@cindex pathname specifiers
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A pathname specifier (@code{pathname-specifier})
may be a pathname, a string or a symbol.
When no pathname specifier is given for a component,
which is the usual case, the component name itself is used.

If a string is given, which is the usual case,
the string will be interpreted as a Unix-style pathname
where @code{/} characters will be interpreted as directory separators.
Usually, Unix-style relative pathnames are used
(i.e. not starting with @code{/}, as opposed to absolute pathnames);
they are relative to the path of the parent component.
Finally, depending on the @code{component-type},
the pathname may be interpreted as either a file or a directory,
and if it's a file,
a file type may be added corresponding to the @code{component-type},
or else it will be extracted from the string itself (if applicable).

For instance, the @code{component-type} @code{:module}
wants a directory pathname, and so a string @code{"foo/bar"}
will be interpreted as the pathname @file{#p"foo/bar/"}.
On the other hand, the @code{component-type} @code{:file}
wants a file of type @code{lisp}, and so a string @code{"foo/bar"}
will be interpreted as the pathname @file{#p"foo/bar.lisp"},
and a string @code{"foo/bar.quux"}
will be interpreted as the pathname @file{#p"foo/bar.quux.lisp"}.
Finally, the @code{component-type} @code{:static-file}
wants a file without specifying a type, and so a string @code{"foo/bar"}
will be interpreted as the pathname @file{#p"foo/bar"},
and a string @code{"foo/bar.quux"}
will be interpreted as the pathname @file{#p"foo/bar.quux"}.

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ASDF does not interpret the string @code{".."} to designate the parent
directory.  This string will be passed through to the underlying
operating system for interpretation.  We @emph{believe} that this will
work on all platforms where ASDF is deployed, but do not guarantee this
behavior.  A pathname object with a relative directory component of
@code{:up} or @code{:back} is the only guaranteed way to specify a
parent directory.

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If a symbol is given, it will be translated into a string,
and downcased in the process.
The downcasing of symbols is unconventional,
but was selected after some consideration.
Observations suggest that the type of systems we want to support
either have lowercase as customary case (Unix, Mac, windows)
or silently convert lowercase to uppercase (lpns),
so this makes more sense than attempting to use @code{:case :common}
as argument to @code{make-pathname},
which is reported not to work on some implementations.

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Such objects are typically specified using reader macros such as @code{#p}
or @code{#.(make-pathname ...)}.
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Note however, that @code{#p...} is a shorthand for @code{#.(parse-namestring ...)}
and that the behavior of @code{parse-namestring} is completely non-portable,
unless you are using Common Lisp @code{logical-pathname}s
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(@pxref{The defsystem grammar,,Using logical pathnames}, below).
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Pathnames made with @code{#.(make-pathname ...)}
can usually be done more easily with the string syntax above.
The only case that you really need a pathname object is to override
the component-type default file type for a given component.
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Therefore, pathname objects should only rarely be used.
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Unhappily, ASDF 1 didn't properly support
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parsing component names as strings specifying paths with directories,
and the cumbersome @code{#.(make-pathname ...)} syntax had to be used.
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An alternative to @code{#.} read-time evaluation is to use
@code{(eval `(defsystem ... ,pathname ...))}.
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Note that when specifying pathname objects,
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ASDF does not do any special interpretation of the pathname
influenced by the component type, unlike the procedure for
pathname-specifying strings.
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On the one hand, you have to be careful to provide a pathname that correctly
fulfills whatever constraints are required from that component type
(e.g. naming a directory or a file with appropriate type);
on the other hand, you can circumvent the file type that would otherwise
be forced upon you if you were specifying a string.
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@subsection Version specifiers
@cindex version specifiers
@cindex :version

Version specifiers are parsed as period-separated lists of integers.  I.e., in the example,
@code{0.2.1} is to be interpreted, roughly speaking, as @code{(0 2 1)}.
In particular, version @code{0.2.1} is interpreted the same as
@code{0.0002.1} and is strictly version-less-than version @code{0.20.1},
even though the two are the same when interpreted as decimal fractions.

System definers are encouraged to use version identifiers of the form
@var{x}.@var{y}.@var{z} for major version, minor version (compatible
API) and patch level.

@xref{Common attributes of components}.

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@subsection Using logical pathnames
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@cindex logical pathnames
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We do not generally recommend the use of logical pathnames,
especially not so to newcomers to Common Lisp.
However, we do support the use of logical pathnames by old timers,
when such is their preference.
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To use logical pathnames,
you will have to provide a pathname object as a @code{:pathname} specifier
to components that use it, using such syntax as
@code{#p"LOGICAL-HOST:absolute;path;to;component.lisp"}.

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You only have to specify such logical pathname
for your system or some top-level component.
Sub-components' relative pathnames,
specified using the string syntax for names,
will be properly merged with the pathnames of their parents.
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The specification of a logical pathname host however is @emph{not}
otherwise directly supported in the ASDF syntax
for pathname specifiers as strings.
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The @code{asdf-output-translation} layer will
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avoid trying to resolve and translate logical pathnames.
The advantage of this is that
you can define yourself what translations you want to use
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with the logical pathname facility.
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The disadvantage is that if you do not define such translations,
any system that uses logical pathnames will behave differently under
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asdf-output-translations than other systems you use.
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If you wish to use logical pathnames you will have to configure the
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translations yourself before they may be used.
ASDF currently provides no specific support
for defining logical pathname translations.
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Note that the reasons we do not recommend logical pathnames are that
(1) there is no portable way to set up logical pathnames before they are used,
(2) logical pathnames are limited to only portably use
a single character case, digits and hyphens.
While you can solve the first issue on your own,
describing how to do it on each of fifteen implementations supported by ASDF
is more than we can document.
As for the second issue, mind that the limitation is notably enforced on SBCL,
and that you therefore can't portably violate the limitations
but must instead define some encoding of your own and add individual mappings
to name physical pathnames that do not fit the restrictions.
This can notably be a problem when your Lisp files are part of a larger project
in which it is common to name files or directories in a way that
includes the version numbers of supported protocols,
or in which files are shared with software written
in different programming languages where conventions include the use of
underscores, dots or CamelCase in pathnames.

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@subsection Serial dependencies
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@cindex serial dependencies
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If the @code{:serial t} option is specified for a module,
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ASDF will add dependencies for each child component,
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on all the children textually preceding it.
This is done as if by @code{:depends-on}.