NLP++ supports function calls, which have a similar form to other programming languages (such as C/C++):
functionName(arg1, .... argN)
where functionName is constrained to be alphabetic and where each argument to the function may be an NLP++ expression.
Only call-by-value arguments are supported at present. That means that when a variable is used as an argument, its value is not changed by a change to the local variable that it becomes associated with in the function.
Functions have no template or declaration -- only a definition. Even so, you may use a function in one pass and define it in a subsequent pass (forward reference). The parameters to functions take arbitrary data types that may vary dynamically. Return statements similarly return arbitrary data types. The same function could return a numeric value in one call and a string in another. We discourage the abuse of this extreme flexibility, however! The new L variable reference has been introduced to support formal function parameters as well as local variables within a function body. Recursive functions are also possible. The example below illustrates the definition and use of user-defined functions in NLP++.
"output.txt" << L("var") << "\n";
L("local") = 3; # create a local variable.
"output.txt" << L("local") << "\n";
facto(L("num")) # recursive factorial function.
if (L("num") <= 0)
return L("num") * facto(L("num") - 1);
G("x") = 3;
"output.txt" << G("x") << "\n";
"output.txt" << "4! = " << facto(4) << "\n";
The code above prints out
0 0 3
0 0 3
4! = 24
Actions, e.g., single, are specialized functions that don't take generalized NLP++ expressions as arguments. Though some actions have been upgraded and now take NLP++ arguments (e.g. group), some actions have not been upgraded and the argument must be a literal value.
A unique feature of actions in the PRE Region is that they have a mandatory range. The syntax is as follows:
The action applies to each rule element in the <num, num> range individually.
See Actions as a starting point for per-page descriptions for actions.
NLP++ function and action names are case-sensitive.
In VisualText 1.2 and later, user-defined NLP++ functions are fully supported, including parameter lists, return statements, recursive calls, and compilation of these. Functions are specified in the @DECL region, which must appear first within a pass file, if present.
New NLP++ functions can also be defined with C++ code, within an application's user project. User-defined function calls must be preceded by the 'user' scope qualifier, e.g., user::myfunction. (Interpreted NLP++ will find the correct function and issue a warning, but user functions without the scope qualifier will be compiled incorrectly.)