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that old dinner bell ringing

There is a new release of PCL on parcvax.xerox.com.

Sources and notes are in the /pub/pcl directory.
There are binaries in the /pub/pcl/3600 and /pub/pcl/xerox directories.

These notes correspond to *pcl-system-date* 3/19/87.

This release runs in:
  Symbolics Common Lisp (Genera)
  Xerox Common Lisp (Lyric Release)

CMU Lisp (nee Spice), KCL and VaxLisp should be working soon, I will
announce another release at that time.  I figured it was better to get
some people beating on it as soon as possibl.

Xerox Lisp users should FTP all the source files from /pub/pcl/ as well
as all the dfasl files from /pub/pcl/xerox/.  Included in the xerox
specific directory is a file called PCL-ENV, which provides some simple
environment support for using PCL in Xerox Lisp.

Following is a description of some of the things that are different in
this release of PCL.  This list isn't in any particular order.  There
are a number of incompatible changes in this release, please read the
whole thing carefully.

As usual, please enjoy, and send bug-reports, questions etc. to

The single most significant change is that discriminator-objects with
corresponding discriminating functions have been replaced by generic
function objects.  What does this mean??  Well, in previous releases of
PCL, if you did:

(defmethod foo ((x class)) 'class)
(defmethod foo ((x method)) 'method)

Then (discriminator-named 'foo) returned a discriminator object which
had both of these methods defined on it.  (symbol-function 'foo)
returned a discriminating function, which (discriminator-named 'foo) had
put in foo's function cell.

In this release of PCL, the above defmethod's put a generic-function
object in foo's function cell.  This generic-function object is a
combination of the discriminator object and discriminating function of
the previous releases of PCL.  This generic-function object is
funcallable, funcalling it causes the appropriate method to be looked up
and called.  This generic function object has accessors which return the
methods defined on the generic function.  This generic function object
is mutable.  It is possible to add and remove methods from it.

(defmethod foo ((x class)) 'class)
(defmethod foo ((x method)) 'method)

(generic-function-methods #'foo)
(#<Method FOO (METHOD) 3434> #<Method FOO (CLASS) 3245>)

(foo (make 'class))  ==> 'class
(foo (make 'method)) ==> 'method

(remove-method #'foo (car (generic-function-methods #'foo)))

(foo (make 'class))  ==> 'class
(foo (make 'method)) ==> no matching method error

Note that as part of this change, the name of any function, generic
function or class which included the string "DISCRIMINATOR" has changed.
The name changes that happened were:
  The class essential-discriminator was renamed to generic-function,
  The class basic-discriminator and the class discrimiantor were
  combined and renamed to standard-generic-function.

If you went through your code and made the following name changes, you
would probably win, (this is what I did to PCL and it worked).

  essential-discriminator  ==> generic-function
  basic-discriminator      ==> standard-generic-function
    (when it appears as a specializer)
         ==> standard-generic-function
    (when it appears as part of a variable name or something)
         ==> generic-function

In most Lisp implementations, method lookup is at least twice as fast as
it was in the previous release.

The compiler isn't called when PCL is loaded anymore.  In a future
release, the compiler will also not be called when any other method
definitions are loaded.  This is part of an effort to get PCL to a state
where the compiler will never be needed when compiled files are loaded.

PCL now has a mechanism for naming the generic-function's and method
functions defined by defmethod.  This means that in ports of PCL which
take advantage of this mechanism, you will see useful function names in
the debugger rather than the useless gensym names that have been in the
past few releases.

Compiled files containing defmethod forms should be smaller and load

Many of the files in the system have been renamed.  More files will be
renamed in upcoming releases.

An important part of the bootstrapping code has been re-written.  The
remainder of this code (the BRAID1 and BRAID2 files) will be re-written
sometime soon.

The changes made to bootstrapping in this release were done to make
early methods more understandable, and as part of implementing generic
function objects.  Also, most users should find that PCL loads in less
time than it did before.

The changes which will be made to bootstrapping in a future release will
make understanding the "Braid" stuff easier, and will make it possible
to implement slot-description objects as described in the CURRENT DRAFT
of the Common Lisp Object System Chapter 3.

The defsys file has been re-written AGAIN.  This shouldn't affect users
since there are still the old familiar variables *pcl-pathname-defaults*
and *pathname-extensions*.

The specialized foo-notes files are all gone.  Most of them were
hopelessly out of date, and installing pcl is now the same operation for
any Lisp.  In particular, note that in Vaxlisp, it is no longer
necessary to push lisp:vaxlisp on the *features* list.