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I took KMP's wording and used it in the Proposal.  


References:    pp 379, 380 of CLtL

Category:      CLARIFICATION

Edit history:  Version 1 by Doug Cutting <Cutting.PA@Xerox.COM> on July 29, 1988
               Version 2 by Masinter  2-Dec-88

Problem description:

PEEK-CHAR and UNREAD-CHAR are very similar mechanisms.  The description of
PEEK-CHAR in CLtL even states that "it is as if one had called READ-CHAR and
then UNREAD-CHAR in succession."  But while CLtL prohibits calling UNREAD-CHAR
twice in succession it does not prohibit calling UNREAD-CHAR after PEEK-CHAR.
The obvious implementation of PEEK-CHAR and UNREAD-CHAR (a one-character buffer)
will not work unless this prohibition is present.


   Rewrite the specification so that it is clear that doing either a
   PEEK-CHAR or READ-CHAR `commits' all previous characters. UNREAD-CHAR
   on any character preceding that which is seen by the PEEK-CHAR (including
   those passed over by PEEK-CHAR when `seeking' with a non-NIL first
   argument) is not specified.

   In particular, the results of calling  UNREAD-CHAR after PEEK-CHAR
   is unspecified.


   (defun test (&optional (stream *standard-input*))
     (let* ((char1a (read-char stream))	
	    (char2a (peek-char nil stream))
	    (char1b (progn (unread-char char1a stream)
			   (read-char stream)))
	    (char2b (read-char stream)))
       (list char1a char2a char1b char2b)))

This is not legal, since the PEEK-CHAR for char2a "commits"
the character read by char1a, and so the unread-char is not legal.


PEEK-CHAR and UNREAD-CHAR provide equivalent functionality and it is thus
reasonable for an implementation to implement them in terms of the same

Current practice:

In Xerox Common Lisp, different (non-random-access) stream types behave
differently. One, (TCP/FTP) handled this correctly, while another did not.

In Symbolics Genera, for the Example above:

     => (#\a #\b #\a #\b)

     (with-input-from-string (s "abc") (test s))
     => (#\a #\b #\a #\b)

     (progn (with-open-file (s "foo.output" :direction :output)
	      (write-string "abc" s))
            (with-open-file (s "foo.output" :direction :input) 
	      (test s)))
     Signals an error about unreading #\a when #\b was already unread.

Cost to Implementors:

Presumably none.  Implementations which allow this are still correct.

Cost to Users:

Small.  I suspect there is very little code which depends upon this working
correctly, as most code uses either PEEK-CHAR or UNREAD-CHAR, but not both.

Cost of non-adoption:

Implementations of sequential streams are forced to be unnecessarily complex in
order to be correct.


Allows simple yet adequately powerful implementation of sequential streams.


Requires that users have shared, one-char buffer model of how UNREAD-CHAR and
PEEK-CHAR work, rather than two separate one-char buffers.


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