Tool of Thought

APL for the Practical Man

A New Workspace File Format

February 26, 2022

I have documented how namespace scripts are a practical and efficient way to store and transport source code. I have also documented that they have problems that prevent using them to their full potential.

When we are able to define both scripted and unscripted namespaces, and when we are able to define the root namespace, all in a script, many very useful possibilites follow effortlessly.

First the Dyalog interpreter should be able to simply open a script that defines the root. Thus if we have a simple text file myworksapce.apln:

:Namespace #
   :Namespace MySpace 
   :Type unscripted

Then in the session all we need to do is:

      )load myworkspace.apln

In other words, we have a new, non-binary file format for the workspace. Furthermore, it zips up very well, so we could have, say, .dwsx files that are compressed text versions of dws files, analagous to Microsoft Excel .xls and .xlsx files. (In my sample, a 13 MB binary workspace is 750 KB as compressed text.)

All sorts of possibilites arise with a zipped .dwsx file format, as it can contain, like .xlsx files, multiple files and folders. For example, it could contain a configuration file. It could have multiple namespace scripts and only load and fix code on demand.

A .dwsx would probably not be appropriate for developement, as it would have the same drawbacks as a binary .dws file, but for sharing code, transport and application distribution it may be ideal. A non-zipped .apln file, however, may be quite useful for development: Open a clear workspace, start coding, )saveastext and have a text file representation of the workspace.