27 SWIG and Common Lisp

Common Lisp is a high-level, all-purpose, object-oriented, dynamic, functional programming language with long history. Common Lisp is used in many fields, ranging from web development to finance, and also common in computer science education. There are more than 9 different implementations of common lisp which are available, all have different foreign function interfaces. SWIG currently supports only the Allegro Common Lisp, Common Foreign Function Interface(CFFI), CLisp and UFFI foreign function interfaces.

27.1 Allegro Common Lisp

Allegro Common Lisp support in SWIG has been updated to include support for both C and C++. You can read about the interface here

27.2 Common Foreign Function Interface(CFFI)

CFFI, the Common Foreign Function Interface, is a portable foreign function interface for ANSI Common Lisp systems, similar in spirit to UFFI. Unlike UFFI, CFFI requires only a small set of low-level functionality from the Lisp implementation, such as calling a foreign function by name, allocating foreign memory, and dereferencing pointers.

To run the cffi module of SWIG requires very little effort, you just need to run:

swig -cffi -module module-name   file-name 

But a better was of using all the power of SWIG is to write SWIG interface files. Below we will explain how to write interface files and the various things which you can do with them.

27.2.1 Additional Commandline Options

The following table list the additional commandline options available for the CLISP module. They can also be seen by using:

swig -cffi -help 

CFFI specific options
-generate-typedef If this option is given then defctype will be used to generate
shortcuts according to the typedefs in the input.
-[no]cwrap Turn on or turn off generation of an intermediate C file when
creating a C interface. By default this is only done for C++ code.
-[no]swig-lisp Turns on or off generation of code for helper lisp macro, functions, etc. which SWIG uses while generating wrappers. These macros, functions may still be used by generated wrapper code.

27.2.2 Generating CFFI bindings

As we mentioned earlier the ideal way to use SWIG is to use interface files. To illustrate the use of it, let's assume that we have a file named test.h with the following C code:
#define y 5
#define x (y >>  1)

typedef int days;

struct bar {
  short p, q;
  char a, b;
  int *z[1000];
  struct bar * n;
struct   bar * my_struct;

struct foo {
  int a;
  struct foo * b[100];

int pointer_func(void (*ClosureFun)( void* _fun, void* _data, void* _evt ), int p);

int func123(div_t * p, int **q[100], int r[][1000][10]);

void lispsort_double (int n, double * array);

enum color { RED, BLUE, GREEN};
Corresponding to this we will write a simple interface file:
%module test

%include "test.h"

The generated SWIG Code will be:
;;;SWIG wrapper code starts here

(cl:defmacro defanonenum (&body enums)
   "Converts anonymous enums to defconstants."
  `(cl:progn , @(cl:loop for value in enums
                        for index = 0 then (cl:1+ index)
                        when (cl:listp value) do (cl:setf index (cl:second value)
                                                          value (cl:first value))
                        collect `(cl:defconstant , value , index))))

(cl:eval-when (:compile-toplevel :load-toplevel)
  (cl:unless (cl:fboundp 'swig-lispify)
    (cl:defun swig-lispify (name flag cl:&optional (package cl:*package*))
      (cl:labels ((helper (lst last rest cl:&aux (c (cl:car lst)))
                      ((cl:null lst)
                      ((cl:upper-case-p c)
                       (helper (cl:cdr lst) 'upper
                               (cl:case last
                                 ((lower digit) (cl:list* c #\- rest))
                                 (cl:t (cl:cons c rest)))))
                      ((cl:lower-case-p c)
                       (helper (cl:cdr lst) 'lower (cl:cons (cl:char-upcase c) rest)))
                      ((cl:digit-char-p c)
                       (helper (cl:cdr lst) 'digit 
                               (cl:case last
                                 ((upper lower) (cl:list* c #\- rest))
                                 (cl:t (cl:cons c rest)))))
                      ((cl:char-equal c #\_)
                       (helper (cl:cdr lst) '_ (cl:cons #\- rest)))
                       (cl:error "Invalid character: ~A" c)))))
        (cl:let ((fix (cl:case flag
                        ((constant enumvalue) "+")
                        (variable "*")
                        (cl:t ""))))
            (cl:nreverse (helper (cl:concatenate 'cl:list name) cl:nil cl:nil))

;;;SWIG wrapper code ends here

(cl:defconstant y 5)

(cl:defconstant x (cl:ash 5 -1))

(cffi:defcstruct bar
        (p :short)
        (q :short)
        (a :char)
        (b :char)
        (z :pointer)
        (n :pointer))

(cffi:defcvar ("my_struct" my_struct)

(cffi:defcstruct foo
        (a :int)
        (b :pointer))

(cffi:defcfun ("pointer_func" pointer_func) :int
  (ClosureFun :pointer)
  (p :int))

(cffi:defcfun ("func123" func123) :int
  (p :pointer)
  (q :pointer)
  (r :pointer))

(cffi:defcfun ("lispsort_double" lispsort_double) :void
  (n :int)
  (array :pointer))

(cffi:defcenum color

The SWIG wrapper code refers to the special code which SWIG may need to use while wrapping C code. You can turn on/off the generation of this code by using the -[no]swig-lisp option. You must have noticed that SWIG goes one extra step to ensure that CFFI does not do automatic lispification of the C function names. The reason SWIG does this is because quite often developers want to build a nice CLOS based lispy API, and this one to one correspondence between C function names and lisp function name helps.

Maybe you want to have your own convention for generating lisp function names for corresponding C function names, or you just want to lispify the names, also, before we forget you want to export the generated lisp names. To do this, we will use the SWIG feature directive. Let's edit the interface file such that the C type "div_t*" is changed to Lisp type ":my-pointer", we lispify all names, export everything, and do some more stuff.

%module test

%typemap(cin) div_t* ":my-pointer";

%feature("intern_function", "1");

%feature("inline") lispsort_double;
%feature("intern_function", "my-lispify") lispsort_double;
%feature("export", package="'some-other-package") lispsort_double;

%rename func123 renamed_cool_func;

%ignore "pointer_func";

%include "test.h"

The typemap(cin) ensures that for all arguments which are input to C with the type "div_t*", the ":my-pointer" type be used. Similarly typemap(cout) are used for all types which are returned from C.

The feature intern_function ensures that all C names are interned using the swig-lispify function. The "1" given to the feature is optional. The use of feature like %feature("intern_function", "1"); globally enables interning for everything. If you want to target a single function, or declaration then use the targeted version of feature, %feature("intern_function", "my-lispify") lispsort_double;, here we are using an additional feature which allows us to use our lispify function.

The export feature allows us to export the symbols. If the package argument is given, then the symbol will be exported to the specified Lisp package. The inline feature declaims the declared function as inline. The rename directive allows us to change the name(it is useful when generating C wrapper code for handling overloaded functions). The ignore directive ignores a certain declaration.

There are several other things which are possible, to see some example of usage of SWIG look at the Lispbuilder and wxCL projects. The generated code with 'noswig-lisp' option is:

(cl:defconstant #.(swig-lispify "y" 'constant) 5)

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "y" 'constant))

(cl:defconstant #.(swig-lispify "x" 'constant) (cl:ash 5 -1))

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "x" 'constant))

(cffi:defcstruct #.(swig-lispify "bar" 'classname)
        (#.(swig-lispify "p" 'slotname) :short)
        (#.(swig-lispify "q" 'slotname) :short)
        (#.(swig-lispify "a" 'slotname) :char)
        (#.(swig-lispify "b" 'slotname) :char)
        (#.(swig-lispify "z" 'slotname) :pointer)
        (#.(swig-lispify "n" 'slotname) :pointer))

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "bar" 'classname))

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "p" 'slotname))

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "q" 'slotname))

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "a" 'slotname))

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "b" 'slotname))

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "z" 'slotname))

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "n" 'slotname))

(cffi:defcvar ("my_struct" #.(swig-lispify "my_struct" 'variable))

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "my_struct" 'variable))

(cffi:defcstruct #.(swig-lispify "foo" 'classname)
        (#.(swig-lispify "a" 'slotname) :int)
        (#.(swig-lispify "b" 'slotname) :pointer))

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "foo" 'classname))

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "a" 'slotname))

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "b" 'slotname))

(cffi:defcfun ("renamed_cool_func" #.(swig-lispify "renamed_cool_func" 'function)) :int
  (p :my-pointer)
  (q :pointer)
  (r :pointer))

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "renamed_cool_func" 'function))

(cl:declaim (cl:inline #.(my-lispify "lispsort_double" 'function)))

(cffi:defcfun ("lispsort_double" #.(my-lispify "lispsort_double" 'function)) :void
  (n :int)
  (array :pointer))

(cl:export '#.(my-lispify "lispsort_double" 'function) 'some-other-package)

(cffi:defcenum #.(swig-lispify "color" 'enumname)
        #.(swig-lispify "RED" 'enumvalue :keyword)
        #.(swig-lispify "BLUE" 'enumvalue :keyword)
        #.(swig-lispify "GREEN" 'enumvalue :keyword))

(cl:export '#.(swig-lispify "color" 'enumname))

27.2.3 Generating CFFI bindings for C++ code

This feature to SWIG (for CFFI) is very new and still far from complete. Pitch in with your patches, bug reports and feature requests to improve it.

Generating bindings for C++ code, requires -c++ option to be present and it first generates C binding which will wrap the C++ code, and then generates the corresponding CFFI wrapper code. In the generated C wrapper code, you will often want to put your own C code, such as the code to include various files. This can be done by making use of "%{" and "%}" as shown below.

 #include "Test/test.h"

Also, while parsing the C++ file and generating C wrapper code SWIG may need to be able to understand various symbols used in other header files. To help SWIG in doing this while ensuring that wrapper code is generated for the target file, use the "import" directive. The "include" directive specifies the target file for which wrapper code will be generated.

%import "ancillary/header.h"

%include "target/header.h"

Various features which were available for C headers can also be used here. The target header which we are going to use here is:
namespace OpenDemo {
  class Test
      float x;
      // constructors
      Test (void) {x = 0;}
      Test (float X) {x = X;}

      // vector addition
      Test operator+ (const Test& v) const {return Test (x+v.x);}

      // length squared
      float lengthSquared (void) const {return this->dot (*this);}

      static float distance (const Test& a, const Test& b){return(a-b).length();}

      inline Test parallelComponent (const Test& unitBasis) const {
        return unitBasis * projection;

      Test setYtoZero (void) const {return Test (this->x);}

      static const Test zero;

  inline Test operator* (float s, const Test& v) {return v*s;}

  inline std::ostream& operator<< (std::ostream& o, const Test& v)
    return o << "(" << v.x << ")";

  inline Test RandomUnitVectorOnXZPlane (void)
    return RandomVectorInUnitRadiusSphere().setYtoZero().normalize();

The interface used is:

%module test
%include "test.cpp"
SWIG generates 3 files, the first one is a C wrap which we don't show, the second is the plain CFFI wrapper which is as shown below:
(cffi:defcfun ("_wrap_Test_x_set" Test_x_set) :void
  (self :pointer)
  (x :float))

(cffi:defcfun ("_wrap_Test_x_get" Test_x_get) :float
  (self :pointer))

(cffi:defcfun ("_wrap_new_Test__SWIG_0" new_Test) :pointer)

(cffi:defcfun ("_wrap_new_Test__SWIG_1" new_Test) :pointer
  (X :float))

(cffi:defcfun ("_wrap_Test___add__" Test___add__) :pointer
  (self :pointer)
  (v :pointer))

(cffi:defcfun ("_wrap_Test_lengthSquared" Test_lengthSquared) :float
  (self :pointer))

(cffi:defcfun ("_wrap_Test_distance" Test_distance) :float
  (a :pointer)
  (b :pointer))

(cffi:defcfun ("_wrap_Test_parallelComponent" Test_parallelComponent) :pointer
  (self :pointer)
  (unitBasis :pointer))

(cffi:defcfun ("_wrap_Test_setYtoZero" Test_setYtoZero) :pointer
  (self :pointer))

(cffi:defcvar ("Test_zero" Test_zero)

(cffi:defcfun ("_wrap_delete_Test" delete_Test) :void
  (self :pointer))

(cffi:defcfun ("_wrap___mul__" __mul__) :pointer
  (s :float)
  (v :pointer))

(cffi:defcfun ("_wrap___lshift__" __lshift__) :pointer
  (o :pointer)
  (v :pointer))

(cffi:defcfun ("_wrap_RandomUnitVectorOnXZPlane" RandomUnitVectorOnXZPlane) :pointer)
The output is pretty good but it fails in disambiguating overloaded functions such as the constructor, in this case. One way of resolving this problem is to make the interface use the rename directiv, but hopefully there are better solutions. In addition SWIG also generates, a CLOS file
(clos:defclass test()
  ((ff :reader ff-pointer)))

(clos:defmethod (cl:setf x) (arg0 (obj test))
  (Test_x_set (ff-pointer obj) arg0))

(clos:defmethod x ((obj test))
  (Test_x_get (ff-pointer obj)))

(cl:shadow "+")
(clos:defmethod + ((obj test) (self test) (v test))
  (Test___add__ (ff-pointer obj) (ff-pointer self) (ff-pointer v)))

(clos:defmethod length-squared ((obj test) (self test))
  (Test_lengthSquared (ff-pointer obj) (ff-pointer self)))

(clos:defmethod parallel-component ((obj test) (self test) (unitBasis test))
  (Test_parallelComponent (ff-pointer obj) (ff-pointer self) (ff-pointer unitBasis)))

(clos:defmethod set-yto-zero ((obj test) (self test))
  (Test_setYtoZero (ff-pointer obj) (ff-pointer self)))

I agree that the CFFI C++ module needs lot more work. But I hope it provides a starting point, on which you can base your work of importing C++ libraries to Lisp.

If you have any questions, suggestions, patches, etc., related to CFFI module feel free to contact us on the SWIG mailing list, and also please add a "[CFFI]" tag in the subject line.

27.2.4 Inserting user code into generated files

It is often necessary to include user-defined code into the automatically generated interface files. For example, when building a C++ interface, example_wrap.cxx will likely not compile unless you add a #include "header.h" directive. This can be done using the SWIG %insert(section) %{ ...code... %} directive:

%module example

#include "header.h"

%include "header.h"

int fact(int n);

Additional sections have been added for inserting into the generated lisp interface file:

Note that the block %{ ... %} is effectively a shortcut for %insert("header") %{ ... %}.

27.3 CLISP

CLISP is a feature-loaded implementation of common lisp which is portable across most of the operating system environments and hardware. CLISP includes an interpreter, a compiler, a debugger, CLOS, MOP, a foreign language interface, i18n, regular expressions, a socket interface, and more. An X11 interface is available through CLX, Garnet and CLUE/CLIO. Command line editing is provided by readline. CLISP runs Maxima, ACL2 and many other Common Lisp packages.

To run the clisp module of SWIG requires very little effort, you just need to execute:

swig -clisp -module module-name   file-name 

Because of the high level nature of the CLISP FFI, the bindings generated by SWIG may not be absolutely correct, and you may need to modify them. The good thing is that you don't need to complex interface file for the CLISP module. The CLISP module tries to produce code which is both human readable and easily modifyable.

27.3.1 Additional Commandline Options

The following table list the additional commandline options available for the CLISP module. They can also be seen by using:

swig -clisp -help 

CLISP specific options
-extern-all If this option is given then clisp definitions for all the functions
and global variables will be created otherwise only definitions for
externed functions and variables are created.
-generate-typedef If this option is given then def-c-type will be used to generate
shortcuts according to the typedefs in the input.

27.3.2 Details on CLISP bindings

As mentioned earlier the CLISP bindings generated by SWIG may need some modifications. The clisp module creates a lisp file with the same name as the module name. This lisp file contains a 'defpackage' declaration, with the package name same as the module name. This package uses the 'common-lisp' and 'ffi' packages. Also, package exports all the functions, structures and variables for which an ffi binding was generated.
After generating the defpackage statement, the clisp module also sets the default language.

(defpackage :test
    (:use :common-lisp :ffi)

(in-package :test)

(default-foreign-language :stdc)

The ffi wrappers for functions and variables are generated as shown below. When functions have arguments of type "double * array", SWIG doesn't knows whether it is an 'out' argument or it is an array which will be passed, so SWIG plays it safe by declaring it as an '(array (ffi:c-ptr DOUBLE-FLOAT))'. For arguments of type "int **z[100]" where SWIG has more information, i.e., it knows that 'z' is an array of pointers to pointers of integers, SWIG defines it to be '(z (ffi:c-ptr (ffi:c-array (ffi:c-ptr (ffi:c-ptr ffi:int)) 100)))'

extern "C" {
int pointer_func(void (*ClosureFun)( void* _fun, void* _data, void* _evt ), int y);

int func123(div_t * x, int **z[100], int y[][1000][10]);

void lispsort_double (int n, double * array);

void test123(float x , double y);

(ffi:def-call-out pointer_func
    (:name "pointer_func")
  (:arguments (ClosureFun (ffi:c-function (:arguments (arg0 (ffi:c-pointer NIL))
                                                      (arg1 (ffi:c-pointer NIL))
                                                      (arg2 (ffi:c-pointer NIL)))
                                          (:return-type NIL)))
              (y ffi:int))
  (:return-type ffi:int)
  (:library +library-name+))

(ffi:def-call-out func123
    (:name "func123")
  (:arguments (x (ffi:c-pointer div_t))
              (z (ffi:c-ptr (ffi:c-array (ffi:c-ptr (ffi:c-ptr ffi:int)) 100)))
              (y (ffi:c-ptr (ffi:c-ptr (ffi:c-array ffi:int (1000 10))))))
  (:return-type ffi:int)
  (:library +library-name+))

(ffi:def-call-out lispsort_double
    (:name "lispsort_double")
  (:arguments (n ffi:int)
              (array (ffi:c-ptr DOUBLE-FLOAT)))
  (:return-type NIL)
  (:library +library-name+))

(ffi:def-call-out test123
    (:name "test")
  (:arguments (x SINGLE-FLOAT)
              (y DOUBLE-FLOAT))
  (:return-type NIL)
  (:library +library-name+))

The module also handles strutcures and #define constants as shown below. SWIG automatically adds the constructors and accessors created for the struct to the list of symbols exported by the package.

struct bar {
  short x, y;
  char a, b;
  int *z[1000];
  struct bar * n;

#define max 1000
(ffi:def-c-struct bar
    (x :type ffi:short)
  (y :type ffi:short)
  (a :type character)
  (b :type character)
  (z :type (ffi:c-array (ffi:c-ptr ffi:int) 1000))
  (n :type (ffi:c-pointer bar)))

(defconstant max 1000)

27.4 UFFI