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12.17.2 Defining new setf forms

This section describes how to define new forms that setf can operate on.

macro gv-define-simple-setter name setter \&optional fix-return

This macro enables you to easily define setf methods for simple cases. name is the name of a function, macro, or special form. You can use this macro whenever name has a directly corresponding setter function that updates it, e.g., (gv-define-simple-setter car setcar).

This macro translates a call of the form

(setf (name args…) value)


(setter args… value)

Such a setf call is documented to return value. This is no problem with, e.g., car and setcar, because setcar returns the value that it set. If your setter function does not return value, use a non-nil value for the fix-return argument of gv-define-simple-setter. This expands into something equivalent to

(let ((temp value))
(setter args… temp)

so ensuring that it returns the correct result.

macro gv-define-setter name arglist \&rest body

This macro allows for more complex setf expansions than the previous form. You may need to use this form, for example, if there is no simple setter function to call, or if there is one but it requires different arguments to the place form.

This macro expands the form (setf (name args…) value) by first binding the setf argument forms (value args…) according to arglist, and then executing body. body should return a Lisp form that does the assignment, and finally returns the value that was set. An example of using this macro is:

(gv-define-setter caar (val x) `(setcar (car ,x) ,val))

macro gv-define-expander name handler

For more control over the expansion, the gv-define-expander macro can be used. For instance, a settable substring could be implemented this way:

(gv-define-expander substring
(lambda (do place from &optional to)
(gv-letplace (getter setter) place
(macroexp-let2* nil ((start from) (end to))
(funcall do `(substring ,getter ,start ,end)
(lambda (v)
(funcall setter `(cl--set-substring
,getter ,start ,end ,v))))))))

macro gv-letplace (getter setter) place \&rest body

The macro gv-letplace can be useful in defining macros that perform similarly to setf; for example, the incf macro of Common Lisp could be implemented this way:

(defmacro incf (place &optional n)
(gv-letplace (getter setter) place
(macroexp-let2 nil v (or n 1)
(funcall setter `(+ ,v ,getter)))))

getter will be bound to a copyable expression that returns the value of place. setter will be bound to a function that takes an expression v and returns a new expression that sets place to v. body should return a Emacs Lisp expression manipulating place via getter and setter.

Consult the source file gv.el for more details.

Common Lisp note: Common Lisp defines another way to specify the setf behavior of a function, namely setf functions, whose names are lists (setf name) rather than symbols. For example, (defun (setf foo) …) defines the function that is used when setf is applied to foo. Emacs does not support this. It is a compile-time error to use setf on a form that has not already had an appropriate expansion defined. In Common Lisp, this is not an error since the function (setf func) might be defined later.