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Appendix: Libraries

In the appendix, we explain useful libraries available to the AmbientTalk/2 programmer as part of the AmbientTalk standard library, also known as atlib. These libraries provide abstractions ranging from traditional, established “collections” up to newly researched language constructs, such as “ambient references”.

The Ambientalk standard library (atlib) is part of the AmbientTalk/2 distribution. Note that the Intellij plugin already contains atlib. If you would like to access the atlib source files, please visit the dedicated gitlab project here.

Unit Testing Framework

The file at/unit/ shipped with the AmbientTalk/2 system library defines a unit testing framework for AmbientTalk/2 which is similar in spirit and structure to JUnit and SUnit. Load the module by executing import /.at.unit.test.

Creating a Unit Test

To create your own unit test, make an extension of the UnitTestobject which is exported by the unit testing module. In the extension, define zero-arity methods starting with the prefix test. Here is an example:

def myUnitTest := extend:"my unit test") with: {
  def testSomething() {

You can run a unit test by sending to your unit test object the message runTest(), for example:


This will execute all test* methods in the given unit test (in an undefined order!), and print out which of the tests succeeded or failed. The runTest method can optionally take a “reporter” object as an argument, which can be used to implement a custom strategy for reporting success or failure of a unit test. The default reporter object is a text-based UI.

Like in JUnit and SUnit, it is possible to define two methods named setUp() and tearDown() that are invoked in between each individual test* method. Never rely on the lexical order of your unit test methods for the purposes of initialization, etc.! Unit test methods may be executed in an arbitrary order.


Within a test* method, you can use a number of assertion methods to assert certain properties of your code:

assertMatches(str, pattern)

Each of these methods also takes as an optional last parameter a reason, which is a text string describing what the assertion checks. This string is printed when the assertion fails and can be used to provide more understandable error messages.

Finally, two more useful auxiliary methods exist:

assert: exceptionType raisedIn: closure

The assert:raisedIn: method executes the given closure and checks whether this leads to an exception of type exceptionType. If so, the exception is caught and further ignored. If no exception (or one of the wrong type) is raised, the assertion will fail. The fail method can be used to explicitly make a unit test fail with a given reason.

A common mistake is to invoke the above assertion methods as if they were lexically visible (e.g. invoking assertEquals(…)). However, these methods are not lexically visible, rather they are defined in the UnitTest parent object. Hence, the proper way to invoke them is via a self-send, as shown in the above example.

Asynchronous Unit Tests

Up to now, the unit testing framework assumed that all of your unit tests consisted of purely synchronous method invocations. When running the tests, all test* methods are invoked sequentially, and the unit test ends when the last test* method has been invoked.

To support unit test methods that need to perform asynchronous invocations (e.g. those performing concurrent or distributed unit tests), the unit testing framework introduces a new prefix: all methods that spawn asynchronous computation must be prefixed with testAsync.

When a method is prefixed with testAsync, the unit testing framework expects the method to return a future and will only process subsequent test methods once that future is resolved or ruined. Here is an example that tests whether future-type messaging works:

def testAsyncFutures() {
  import /.at.lang.futures;
  def adder := object: { def inc(x) { x+1 } };
  def f := when: adder<-inc(42)@FutureMessage becomes: { |val|
    self.assertEquals(43, val);

The unit test framework will invoke this method, receive a future f, and only continue once the future f has been resolved. In the above example, the future f is the return value of the when:becomes: function, which means that f implicitly depends on the future associated with the call to ←inc(42).

It is also possible to use makeFuture() to create a fresh future explicitly within the unit test method, and to use the returned resolver to resolve the future at the appropriate time.

See the distributed programming chapter for details about how to simulate network disconnections in distributed unit tests.

Test Suites

It is possible to group multiple unit test objects into what is known as a “test suite”. Running the test suite runs all of the component unit tests. You can create a new test suite as follows:

def myTestSuite :="my test suite",
   ... ]);

The TestSuite object groups the given unit test objects. You can execute all tests in batch by sending the test suite object the runTest message, just like for running a single unit test. It is possible to nest multiple test suites within each other.

Basic Collections

The modules /.at.collections.vector and /.at.collections.list define a Vector and List datastructure respectively.


A vector is a dynamically resizable AmbientTalk table (aka array). Indexed reading from and writing to a vector is fast (O(1)). Adding elements to a vector is mostly fast, but sometimes requires a resize of the vector. Vectors support the traditional stack operations push and pop and may be turned into sets by invoking their uniq method (note that a uniq-ed vector is not permanently a Set: subsequent duplicates added to the vector will not be filtered).

Vectors may be created as follows:

import /.at.collections.vector;
def v :=; // a vector with starting length 10

The constructor optionally takes a comparator as a second argument. A comparator is a binary function returning a boolean whose job is to compare elements of the Vector. This comparator is used among others when sorting the vector. The Vector's interface is as follows:

// returns the number of elements in the vector (not its capacity!)

// returns whether the vector contains elements or not

// is the vector at max. capacity?

// return idx'th element or raise an IndexOutOfBounds exception

// write idx'th element or raise IndexOutOfBounds exception
atPut(idx, val)

// iterate over the vector
each: iterator, returns nil

// map a unary function over the vector, returns a new vector
map: fun

// accumulate a function with a given starting value
inject: init into: accum;

// returns a new vector whose elements satisfy "cond"
filter: cond;

// implode a vector of character strings into one text string

// join a vector of character strings together with the given string

// returns a range [start,stop[ as a table
select(start, stop)

// appends an element to the back of the vector. Returns the vector itself
// alias for add(element)

// insert an element at a given position, causing subsequent elements to shift one pos to the right. Returns this vector
insert(atPos, element)

// delete the element at the given position, shifts all following elements one pos to the left. Returns the value of the element at the deleted position.

// adds elements to the back of the vector

// deletes elements from the back of the vector

// return the index of the first element matching the unary predicate or nil if none is found
find: filter

// remove the given element from the vector, return true if the element was actually found and deleted, false otherwise
remove(elt, cmp := defaultComparator)

// remove all objects for which filter(elt) returns true
removeAll: filter

// destructively appends otherVector to self. Returns this vector

// empties the vector

// Return a new vector whose elements form the set-union of all elements in self U otherVector
union(otherVector, cmp := defaultComparator)

// Return a new vector whose elements form the set-intersection of all elements in self ^ otherVector
intersection(otherVector, cmp := defaultComparator)

// Return a new vector whose elements form the set-difference of self \ otherVector
difference(otherVector, cmp := defaultComparator)

// Quicksort the vector in-place. The comparator defines the ordering among elements.
sort(cmp := { |e1,e2| e1 < e2 })

// Turn the vector into a set without duplicates in O(nlogn + n)
// The vector's ordering is lost (it becomes sorted)
uniq(cmp := defaultComparator, ordercmp := {|e1,e2| e1 < e2 })

// return an element drawn randomly using a uniform distribution from the array or raise an EmptyVector exception.

// return a table containing all elements of the vector

The file at/collections/ contains a unit tests that further helps to illustrate the usage of this Vector abstraction.


The module /.at.collections.list implements Scheme-like list datastructures. The module exports the prototype NIL, which is bound to the empty list. Non-empty lists are defined as a chain of cons-cells.

The list module defines two styles to manipulate cons-cells: an object-oriented and a functional style. The object-oriented style represents cons-cells as Cons prototypes. Given a cons-cell c, a new one can be constructed by invoking, cdr). The car and cdr part of the cons-cell can be extracted by means of and c.cdr.

The functional style allows one to manipulate lists by means of the following functions:

cons(car,cdr) -> a new cons-cell
car(conscell) -> the car
cdr(conscell) -> the cdr
list(@items) -> a cons-cell representing the head of a list

Lists (cons-cells or the empty list) support the following operations:

// accessors for car and cdr

// the length of the list

// whether the list is empty or not

// returns the nth element of the list

// apply a unary function to each element of the list
each: fun

// apply a function to each element and its index in the list
// i.e. list.eachWithIndex: { |elt, idx| ... }
eachWithIndex: fun

// map a unary function over the list, returning a new list
 map: fun

// accumulate a value over a list
inject: init into: accum

// return a new list whose elements satisfy the unary predicate
filter: cond

// does the list contain the element?
contains(elt, cmp := DEFAULTCOMPARATOR)

// implode or join a list of text strings

// drop the first n elements from the list

// prepend an element to the list

// insert an element in the list (functionally)
insert(atPos, element)

// return a new list where the element atPos is deleted

// functional append

// return the index of the first matching element, or nil if none is found
find: filter
// return the index in the list of the element or nil of not found
indexOf(elt, cmp := DEFAULTCOMPARATOR)

// return a list where the given element is removed
remove(elt, cmp := DEFAULTCOMPARATOR)

// return a new list where all objects for which filter(elt) is true are removed
removeAll: filter

// convert the list into a table

The file at/collections/ contains a unit test that further illustrates the usage of the list datastructure.

Top-level functions

The file at/init/ shipped with the AmbientTalk/2 system library contains the code that is evaluated on startup within every actor created in the system. Because the definitions are evaluated in every actor's top-level scope, these definitions will be globally visible in every file. Below, we describe the standard functionality provided by AmbientTalk/2's default init file.

Asynchronous control structures

The init file defines a number of useful control structures that operate asynchronously.

loop: defines an infinite asynchronous loop. That is, the block closure is executed, then asynchronously applied again:

loop: {

An if-test on a future for a boolean:

whenTrue: booleanFuture then: { ... } else: { ... }

Asynchronous while loop over future-type conditional:

asLongAs: { /* asynchronous computation returning a future */ } do: { ... }

Mobile code

The function script:carrying: can be used to define a “pass-by-copy” closure, as follows:

def mobileAdder(x) {
  script: { |n| x + n } carrying: [`x]

A call to mobileAdder(5) returns a closure which, when applied to a number, returns that number incremented with 5. Unlike regular closures, which are pass-by-far-reference when passing them to another actor, the above closure is pass-by-copy. The result is that a remote actor can apply the closure synchronously. The catch is that for this to work, the closure must specifically list all of its lexically free variables in the carrying: parameter. These variables will be copied along with the closure when it is parameter-passed.

The constructor function isolate:passAs: allows you to define an isolate object with a custom serialization strategy. For example,

def foo := 42;
def i := isolate: {
} passAs: { |foo|

The above code defines an isolate object i which, when passed between actors, becomes a some.Object on the other side. Note that state (foo in the example) can be transferred as usual via the parameter list of the closure.

Custom Exceptions

The module /.at.exceptions defines a number of auxiliary methods which can be used to define one's own custom exceptions. Here is how to define a custom exception FooException. First, define a new type tag with which clients of your code can catch the exception:

deftype FooException;

Next, define a prototype exception object using the createException function exported by the exception module. As a convention, an exception prototype object is prefixed with X:

def XFooException := createException(FooException);

XFooException is now bound to an object which is tagged with the given type tag, and which implements two methods: stackTrace, which returns an AmbientTalk stack trace for the exception, and message, which returns a string indicating what went wrong. The object also has a constructor taking a new message as an argument. You can now raise your custom exception as follows:

raise:"reason for what went wrong");

If your custom exception requires additional state, you can define it as an extension of the prototype exception. If you define a custom constructor, do not forget to initialise the parent object, as follows:

deftype IndexOutOfBounds;
def XIndexOutOfBounds := createException(IndexOutOfBounds) with: {
  def min;
  def max;
  def idx;
  def init(min, max, idx) {
    super^init("Index out of bounds: given " + idx + " allowed: [" + min + "," + max + "]");
    self.min := min;
    self.max := max;
    self.idx := idx;

The exception module also exports an auxiliary function error(msg) which can be used to raise a “quick and dirty” runtime exception with a given message. It also exports the prototypes of a number of standard exceptions that can be raised by the language runtime itself.

Language Extensions

The files in the at/lang directory define custom language features which mostly use AmbientTalk/2's reflective facilities to extend the language. In what follows, we describe the most relevant ones.

Futures and Multifutures


The module /.at.lang.futures provides support for futures. Futures have already been described as part of the concurrency section in the tutorial.

The module exports the type tags OnewayMessage, FutureMessage and Due:

  • Tagging an asynchronous message with FutureMessage will attach a future to the message.
  • Tagging a message with OnewayMessage ensures no future will ever be attached to the message.
  • Tagging a message with @Due(timeout) associates a future with the message that is automatically ruined with a TimeoutException after the given timeout period (in milliseconds) has elapsed.

Messages can be automatically associated with a future by invoking the enableFutures() function, which enables futures for all messages, except those tagged as a OnewayMessage.

The futures module also exports the function when:becomes: to await the resolution of a future, and auxiliary when:becomes:catch:using: functions.

Futures can also be created and resolved manually:

import /.at.lang.futures;
def [fut, res] := makeFuture();
when: someAsynchronousComputation() becomes: { |value|
  res.resolve(value); // resolve the future manually
fut // return the future to a client

The makeFuture function can also take a timeout. If a timeout is given it returns a returns a pair [lease, resolver] where the lease timer gets immediately activated. If the future is not resolved within the given timeout, the lease expires and ruins the future with a TimeoutException. Note that this means a lease will get parameter-passed rather than the future if given to other actors.

Auxilary functions in the futures module

The futures module also provides some auxiliary functions, of which group: is often a very useful one. The group: construct groups a table of futures into a single future which is resolved with a table of values or ruined with an exception:

when: (group: [ a<-m()@FutureMessage, b<-n()@FutureMessage ]) becomes: { |values|
  def [aResult, bResult] := values;

Another useful auxilary function is future: construct which returns a future which is resolved with the value passed to the 'reply' closure:

future: { |return|
  // some computation

This is actually equivalent to the slightly more verbose code:

def [fut,res] := makeFuture();
try: { // some computation
} catch: Exception using: { |e| res.ruin(e) }


The module /.at.lang.multifutures provides support for multifutures. A multifuture is a future that can be resolved multiple times. We distinguish between 'bounded multifutures', which can be resolved up to a maximum number and 'unbounded multifutures' which have no upper bound.

A multifuture is constructed as follows:

def [mf, resolver] := makeMultiFuture(n, timeout);

The parameter n indicates the maximum number of values/exceptions with which the future can be resolved/ruined. If n is nil, the multifuture is unbounded. The timeout parameter is optional. If not nil, it is a timeout period in milliseconds that causes the multifuture to automatically become fully resolved after the provided timeout. Once fully resolved, a multifuture will not accept any new values/exceptions, even if it has not reached its “upper bound” n yet.

A multifuture accepts the following listeners:

whenEach: multiFuture becomes: { |val| ... }

The above listener is invoked whenever the future is resolved with a new value. Its code can thus be executed multiple times.

whenAll: multiFuture resolved: { |values|
} ruined: { |exceptions| ... }

The above listener is invoked if all results have been gathered (only possible if the maximum number of results is known) or when the timeout period associated with the future has elapsed. values refers to a table of all resolved values. If there are no exceptions, only the first code block is triggered. If there are only exceptions, the first block is still invoked with an empty table.

Note the following properties of multifutures:

  • It is allowed to register a whenAll:resolved:ruined: listener an 'unbounded' multifuture. However, for such multifutures, this listener will only trigger if a timeout was specified during the multifuture's creation. The listener is invoked upon timeout, and later incoming results are discarded.
  • As with futures, it is legal to send asynchronous messages to the multifuture, which are in turn propagated to all resolved values. If some values are ruined, asynchronous messages containing a multifuture are ruined. Hence, exceptions only propagate through a pipeline of multifutures.
  • When a multifuture A is resolved with a multifuture B, all of B's eventual values/exceptions become values/exceptions of A.
  • A whenEach:becomes: observer automatically returns a multifuture itself. This multifuture has the same arity as the original and is resolved/ruined with the return values of the multiple invocations of the becomes: or catch: closures.
  • Like with futures, multifutures can be explicitly created, e.g.:
def [ multifut, resolver ] := makeMultiFuture(upperBound);
  • Multifutures can be attached to messages by annotating an asynchronous message with the @Gather(n) type tag.
  • Adding a when:becomes: listener on a multifuture is allowed but only triggers for the first value/exception of the multifuture. This allows multifutures to be used wherever regular futures are expected.

The multifutures module also exports an abstraction known as a “multireference”. The expression multiref: [ ref1, ref2,… ], where refi are far references, returns a multireference. Any message sent to a multireference is sent to all constituent references, and a multifuture is returned which can trap the results.

When the message sent to a multireference is annotated with @Due(t), the timeout is applied to the implicit multifuture, causing whenAll observers to trigger automatically. Note that the implicit multifuture of a multireference is bounded, so whenAll observers trigger automatically when all replies have been received.

Leased Object References

The module /.at.lang.leasedrefs provides support for leased object references. Leased object references have already been described as part of the distributed programing section in the tutorial.

The implementation of leased object references actually consists of two files: /.at.lang.leasedrefs and /at.lang.leasedrefstrait. leasedrefstrait module implements the behaviour common to the different types of leased references. This module is imported in the leasedrefs module which provides the public API for creating and managing leased object references.

The leasedrefs module exports language constructs to create three different types of leased object references:

  • lease:for:returns a leased reference that remains valid for the indicated time interval.
  • renewOnCallLease:for: returns a leased reference that is automatically renewed (with the specified time interval) each time the remote object receives a message.
  • singleCallLease:for: returns a leased reference that remains valid for only a single method call on the remote object.

Variations of these constructs are also provided to allow developers to specify the renewal time interval in renew-on-call leased references and the name(s) of the method(s) which trigger expiration of a single-call leased reference.

The leasedrefs module also provides the following constructs to explicitly manage the lifetime of leased references:

renew: leasedRef for: interval; // renews a lease
revoke: leasedRef; // revokes a lease
leaseTimeLeft: leasedRef; // return time left until lease expires
when: lease expired: {...}; // trigger a closure when the lease expires

The when:expired: construct is provided to schedule clean-up actions with a leased reference upon its expiration.

Finally, the leasedrefs module exports support primitives to manipulate time intervals (i.e. minutes, seconds, millisecs) so that developers do not need to explicitly import the timer module to use leased references.


The module /.at.lang.totam provides an implementation for TOTAM, a tuple space model geared towards mobile ad hoc networks which combines a replication-based tuple space model with a dynamic scoping mechanism that limits the transportation of tuples.

Please have a look to Scoped Tuples for the Ambient (TOTAM) for further details on the model and its API.

Dynamic Variables

The module /.at.lang.dynvars provides support for defining and using 'Dynamic Variables'. Dynamic variables 'simulate' dynamically scoped variables and are often used to parameterize large parts of code. For example, the 'current output stream'. A dynamic variable has the advantage over a simple global variable that it can only be assigned a value for the extent of a block of code.

A dynamic variable can be defined as follows:

def name := dynamicVariable: initialValue;

It can be read as follows:

?name or name.value

It can be assigned only within a limited dynamic scope, as follows:

with: name is: newval do: { code }
// or newval in: { code }

When code terminates (either normally or via an exception), the dynamic variable is automatically reset to its previous value.

By convention, we prefix the names of dynamic variables with a d, e.g. dTimeoutPeriod. This makes it easier to remember to access these variables by means of ? or .value.

You can find more usage examples of dynamic variables in the unit test included in the file at/lang/

Ambient References

Ambient references are defined in the module /.at.lang.ambientrefs . An ambient reference is a special kind of far reference which refers to an ever-changing collection of objects of a certain type. For example:

import /.at.lang.ambientrefs;
deftype Printer;
def printers := ambient: Printer;

In the above code, printers refers to all nearby objects exported by means of the Printer type tag. An more in-depth explanation of ambient references can be found on the research page of ambient references.

Ambient references ship with two so-called “implementation modules”: the module /.at.ambient.ar_extensional_impl and the module /.at.m2mi.ar_intensional_impl. By default, the extensional implementation is used, but this can be changed by passing the desired implementation module as a parameter to the /.at.lang.ambientrefs module.

Structural Types

The module /.at.lang.structuraltypes implements a small library to use structural typing. The library allows for the creation of 'protocols', which are first-class structural types. A structural type is simply a set of selectors. An object o conforms to a protocol P ⇔ for all selectors s of P, o respondsTo s where respondsTo is determined by o's mirror.

A structural type can be branded with type tags. In this case, objects only conform to the type if they are structurally conformant and if they are tagged with the structural type's brands.

Use the protocol: function to create a new protocol:

def PersonProtocol := protocol: {
  def name;
  def age;
} named: `Person;

The `Person argument is used to give the protocol a name simply for display purposes. The object:implements: function automatically checks whether an object conforms to any declared types:

def tom := object: {
  def name := "Tom";
  def age() { 24 };
} implements: PersonProtocol;

You can also create a protocol from an object:

def tomsProtocol := protocolOf: tom;

You can test protocol conformance in either of two styles:

  • does: tom implement: PersonProtocol ⇒ true or false
  • PersonProtocol <? tom ⇒ true or false

You can also force a StructuralTypeMismatch exception to be raised if the object does not conform to the type:

  • ensure: tom implements: PersonProtocol ⇒ true or exception
  • PersonProtocol.checkConformance(tom) ⇒ true or exception

More usage examples of structural types can be found in the unit test defined in the file at/lang/


The module /.at.lang.traits exports a small library to use AmbientTalk's traits in a more structured manner. In the literature, traits are described as reusable components with two interfaces: an interface of methods that are provided by the trait to the composite and an interface of methods that are required by the trait from the composite. AmbientTalk's traits only make the provided interface explicit. The required interface remains implicit and unchecked at composition time.

Using the traits module, a trait can specify that it requires its composite to adhere to a certain protocol (i.e. a structural type, cf. the previous section). Using traits in this way requires an explicit composition step where the trait's requirements are checked.

To define a “structured” trait, define your trait objects as follows:

trait: {
} requiring: Protocol;

The above code creates a trait that can only be composed into an object adhering to the specified protocol. To compose traits, use the following language construct:

object: {
  use: {
    import T1 exclude ...;
    import T2 alias ...;	

The use: block can only include import statements. It simply executes the import statements, but in addition checks whether the composite, after having imported all of its traits, provides all of the methods specified in the required protocol of its imported traits.

Note that the place where use: is used inside an object matters: if one of the traits requires a method m() that is defined only later in the composite, the check will fail. To avoid this, place the use: block at the bottom of the object declaration.

Usage examples can be found in the unit tests in the file at/lang/


The files in the at/support subdirectory of the standard library implement various utilities of use to the AmbientTalk programmer. We discuss the most useful modules below.

Timing Utilities

The module / provides utility functions to schedule code for execution at a later point in time. Its most useful control construct is the following:

def subscription := when: timeoutPeriod elapsed: {

The when:elapsed: function takes as its arguments a timeout period (in milliseconds) and a block closure and schedules the closure for execution after the given timeout period. The function returns a subscription object whose single cancel method can be used to abort the execution of the scheduled code. Once cancel has been invoked, it is guaranteed that the closure will no longer be executed by the timer module.

The milliseconds used to define the timeout period must be provided as a Java long value. To construct such a value from an AmbientTalk number, the timer module defines the following auxiliary functions:

  • millisec(ms) ⇒ convert AmbientTalk number to a Java long value representing a timeout period in milliseconds.
  • seconds(s) ⇒ convert AmbientTalk number to a Java long value representing a timeout period in seconds.
  • minutes(m) ⇒ convert AmbientTalk number to a Java long value representing a timeout period in minutes.

Additionally, the timer module defines a function now() which returns the current system time as a Java long value.

The timer module also defines a function whenever:elapsed: which repetitively invokes the given block closure every time the timeout period has elapsed. The returned subscription object can be used to eventually stop the repetitive invocation of the closure.

Finally, there is a variant of when:elapsed: called when:elapsedWithFuture: which returns a future that will be resolved or ruined by executing the given closure after the given timeout. This variant is very useful in unit tests, e.g:

def testAsyncNearbyPlayerReply(){
  def nearbyPlayers := // search 2 nearby player orjbects;
  // wait a bit so that there are the 2 members.
  when: 2.seconds elapsedWithFuture:{
	self.assertEquals(2, nearbyPlayers.getReceivedAnswers);

Logging Framework

The module / defines a tiny logging framework akin to the well-known Log4J logging framework for Java.

Here's a typical example of how to use a logger:

import /;
def log := makeLogger("my prefix", INFO); // do not log DEBUG
log("a message", ERROR); // message level is optional and defaults to INFO

The makeLogger function returns a function which can be used to log messages to an output object. It takes three arguments, all of which are optional: a string to be prefixed to every logged message (default “”), a logging level (default DEBUG) and an output object (default system).

The logging level determines which messages are shown on the output log. The available error levels are: NONE, DEBUG, WARNING, INFO, ERROR and FATAL in order of exceeding importance. Hence, a log whose default is WARNING will not show DEBUG-level messages.

The output object is an object that understands println(string). It is used by the logging framework to write its log to the screen, a file, etc.

Object Inspector

The module /.demo.inspector implements a graphical object inspector. The module requires java.awt and javax.swing support from the underlying JVM running AmbientTalk. To inspect an object o, execute:

import /.demo.inspector;

This will pop up a graphical inspector on the object, listing the object's fields and methods. The object's fields and methods can recursively be inspected through the graphical user interface of the object inspector.

Symbiosis Utilities

The module / defines a number of utility functions with respect to the symbiosis with the JVM. It defines the following functions which can be used to quickly create a wrapped Java value of the given primitive type:

long(anAmbientTalkNumber) -> aJavaLong
short(anAmbientTalkNumber) -> aJavaShort
float(anAmbientTalkFraction) -> aJavaFloat
byte(anAmbientTalkNumber) -> aJavaByte

The module also defines the following function:

cast: obj into: Interface

The Interface argument should be a Java class wrapper for an interface type. The function returns a Java proxy object implementing the given interface, wrapping the given AmbientTalk object. If this proxy is subsequently passed to Java code, it will hold that proxy instanceof Interface.


The module / is a utility module grouping several miscellaneous tasks.

Random Numbers

The utility module defines functions for easily generating random numbers. Its implementation uses the random number generators from the underlying JVM. The following functions are the most useful:

// generate a random integer in the interval [min, max[
def randomNumberBetween(min, max)
// generate a random fraction in the interval [min, max[
def randomFractionBetween(min, max)

Custom Object Serialization

The method uponArrivalBecome: exported by the utility module creates a transporter object which can be used in pass meta-level methods to execute code upon deserialization. The closure passed to this function should return the object with which the transported object should be replaced. For example:

//inside a mirror
def instancevar := ...;
def pass() {
  uponArrivalBecome: { |instancevar|
    // return object to become here

The function plays a role similar to readResolve in the Java object serialization framework.

at/tutorial/appendix.txt · Last modified: 2021/09/24 10:28 by elisag