ficl release history


OOP In Ficl
Parse Steps
Release History
Upgrading To 4.0

Version 4.0.31

  • First official release of new engine as Ficl 4! Hooray!
  • ficlDictionarySee() now takes a ficlCallback, so it knows where to print to. This is because ficlWin only sets a per-VM callback, which should work.
  • ficlSystemCreate() now passes in the system correctly into the dictionaries it creates, which lets dictionaries know what system they're a part of.
  • ficlCompatibility: Forgot to add the errorTextOut to the ficl_system structure (though I'd remembered to add it to the ficl_vm structure). This caused the ficl_system members after textOut to not line up with their equivalent ficlSystem members, which did bad things. (The bad thing in particular was calling ficlDictionaryResetSearchOrder() resulted in diddling the vm->link member, which strangely enough resulted in double-freeing the stacks.)
  • Added ficlStackWalk(), which walks a stack from top to bottom and calls your specified callback with each successive element. Cleaned up stack-printing functions as a result.
  • Changed MULTICALL so you can explicitly specify the vtable.
  • Changed XClasses so it explicitly specifies the vtable for non-virtual classes. This means you can now call a virtual method when you've SUPERed an object and you'll get the method you wanted.
  • XClasses improvement: when removing a thunked method, remove the thunk variable too. Added xClass.removeMember() to support this.
  • XClasses now generates runtime stack-check code (_DEBUG only) for functions thunked from C to Ficl.
  • FICL_WANT_PLATFORM is now 0 by default. It is now set to 1 in the appropriate ficlplatform/*.h.
  • softcore/ ENVIRONMENT? COMPARE needed to be case-insensitive.
  • Whoops! Setting FICL_PLATFORM_2INTEGER to 0 didn't compile. It now does, and works fine, as proved by the ansi platform.
  • Another whoops: contrib/xclasses/ assumed that " (a prefix version of S") defined. Switched to S", which is safer.

Version 4.0.30

  • Cleaned up some FICL_ definitions. Now all FICL_HAVE_* constants (and some other odds and ends) have been moved to FICL_PLATFORM_.
  • Whoops! Setting FICL_PLATFORM_2INTEGER to 0 didn't compile. It now does, and works fine, as proved by the "ansi" platform.
  • Another whoops: contrib/xclasses/ assumed that " (a prefix version of S") defined. Switched to S", which is safer.
  • Added ficlDictionarySetConstantString(). 'Cause I needed it for:
  • Removed the "WIN32" ENVIRONMENT? setting, and added "FICL_PLATFORM_OS" and "FICL_PLATFORM_ARCHITECTURE" in its place. These are both strings. Updated softcore/ to match.
  • Compatibility: improved ficlTextOut() behavior. It makes life slightly less convenient for some users, but should be an improvement overall. The change: ficlTextOut() is now a compatibility-layer function that calls straight through to vmTextOut(). Lots of old code calls ficlTextOut() (naughty!). It's now explicit that you must set the textOut function by hand if you use a custom one... which is a good habit to get in to anyway.
  • Improved the documentation regarding upgrading, ficllocals.h, and compile-time constants.
  • Fixed doc/source/ so it gracefully fails to copy over read-only files.
  • Got rid of every #ifdef in the sources. We now consistently use #if defined() everywhere. Similarly, got rid of all platform-switched #if code (except for the compatibility layer, sigh).

Version 4.0.29

  • Documentation totally reworked and updated.
  • oldnames renamed to compatibility. And improved, so that now Ficl 4 is basically a drop-in replacement for Ficl 3.

Version 4.0.28

  • Did backwards-compatibility testing. Ficl now drops in, more or less, with all the old Ficl-3.03-using projects I had handy.
  • Got Ficl compiling and running fine on Linux.
  • Weaned LZ77 code from needing htonl()/ntohl().
  • Moved all the primitives defined in "testmain.c" to their own file, "extras.c", and gave it its own global entry point.
  • Renamed "testmain.c" to just plain "main.c".
  • Renamed "softwords" directory to "softcore". More symmetrical.
  • Renamed "softcore\softcore.bat" to "make.bat". Added support for "CLEAN".

Version 4.0.27

  • Added runtime jump-to-jump peephole optimization in the new switch-threaded VM.
  • Fixed INCLUDE-FILE so it rethrows an exception in the subordinate evaluation.
  • Added a separate errorOut function to ficlCallback(), so under Windows you can have a jolly popup window to rub your nose in your failings.

Version 4.0.26

  • Namespace policing complete. There are now no external symbols which do not start with the word ficl.
  • Removed ficlVmExec(), renamed ficlVmExecC() to ficlVmExecuteString(), changed it to take a ficlString(). This is deliberate subterfuge on my part; I suspect most people who currently call ficlVmExec() / ficlVmExecC() should be calling ficlVmEvaluate().

Version 4.0.25

  • First pass at support for "oldnames", and namespace policing.

Version 4.0.23

First alpha release of Ficl 4.0 rewrite. Coded, for better or for worse, by Larry Hastings. Ficl is smaller, faster, more powerful, and easier to use than ever before. (Or your money back!)
  • Rewrote Ficl's virtual machine; Ficl now runs nearly 3x faster out-of-the-box. The new virtual machine is of the "big switch statement" variety.
  • Renamed most (probably all) external Ficl functions and data structures. They now make sense and are (gasp!) consistent.
  • Retooled double-cell number support to take advantage of platforms which natively support double-cell-sized integers. (Like most modern 32-bit platforms.)
  • Locals and VALUEs are now totally orthogonal; they can be single- or double-cell, and use the float or data stack. TO automatically supports all variants.
  • The "softcore" words can now be stored compressed, with a (current) savings of 11k. Decompression is nigh-instantaneous. You can choose whether or not you want softcore stored compressed at compile-time.
  • Reworked Win32 build process. Ficl now builds out-of-the-box on Win32 as a static library, as a DLL, and as a command-line program, in each of the six possible runtime variants (Debug,Release x Singlethreaded, Multithreaded,Multithreaded DLL).
  • There's very likely other wonderful things that I've long forgotten about. If you notice them, feel free to remind me :)

Version 3.03

  • Bugfix for floating-point numbers. Floats in compiled code were simply broken.
  • New words: random and seed-random
  • Bugfix: included never closed its file.
  • Bugfix: include was not IMMEDIATE.
  • Un-hid the OO words parse-method, lookup-method, and find-method-xt, as there are perfectly legitimate reasons why you might want to use them.
  • Changed the prefix version of .( to be IMMEDIATE too.
  • Fixed comment in Python softcore builder.
  • Put the doc directory back in to the distribution. (It was missing from 3.02... where'd it go?)

Version 3.02

  • Added support for nEnvCells (number of environment cells) to FICL_SYSTEM_INFO.
  • Consolidated context and pExtend pointers of FICL_SYSTEM—VM's pExtend pointer is initialized from the copy in FICL_SYSTEM upon VM creation.
  • Added ficl-robust environment variable.
  • Added FW_ISOBJECT word type.
  • Bugfix: environment? was ignoring the length of the supplied string.
  • Portability cleanup in fileaccess.c.
  • Bugfix in ficlParsePrefix: if the prefix dictionary isn't in the wordlist, the word being examined cannot be a prefix, so return failure.
  • SEE improvements: SEE (and consequently DEBUG) have improved source listings with instruction offsets.
  • It's turned off with the preprocessor, but we have the beginnings of a switch-threaded implementation of the inner loop.
  • Added objectify and ?object for use by OO infrastructure.
  • my=[ detects object members (using ?object) and assumes all other members leave class unchanged.
  • Removed MEMORY-EXT environment variable (there is no such wordset).
  • Ficlwin changes:
    • Ficlwin character handling is more robust
    • Ficlwin uses multi-system constructs (see ficlthread.c)
  • Documentation changes:
    • Corrected various bugs in docs.
    • Added ficl-ized version of JV Noble's Forth Primer
    • Ficl OO tutorial expanded and revised. Thanks to David McNab for his demo and suggestions.

Version 3.01

  • Major contributionss by Larry Hastings (
    • FILE wordset (fileaccess.c)
    • ficlEvaluate wrapper for ficlExec
    • ficlInitSystemEx makes it possible to bind selectable properties to VMs at create time
    • Python version of softcore builder ficl/softwords/
  • Environment contains ficl-version (double)
  • ?number handles trailing decimal point per DOUBLE wordset spec
  • Fixed broken .env (thanks to Leonid Rosin for spotting this goof)
  • Fixed broken floating point words that depended on evaluation order of stack pops.
  • env-constant
  • env-2constant
  • dictHashSummary is now commented out unless FICL_WANT_FLOAT (thanks to Leonid Rosin again)
  • Thanks to David McNab for pointing out that .( should be IMMEDIATE. Now it is.

Version 3.00a

  • Fixed broken by commenting out vcall stuff using FICL_WANT_VCALL. Vcall is still broken.

Version 3.00

  • Added pSys parameter to most ficlXXXX functions for multiple system support. Affected functions:
    • dictLookupLoc renamed to ficlLookupLoc after addition of pSys param
    • ficlInitSystem returns a FICL_SYSTEM*
    • ficlTermSystem
    • ficlNewVM
    • ficlLookup
    • ficlGetDict
    • ficlGetEnv
    • ficlSetEnv
    • ficlSetEnvD
    • ficlGetLoc
    • ficlBuild
  • Fixed off-by-one bug in ficlParsePrefix
  • Ficl parse-steps now work correctly - mods to interpret()
  • Made tools.c:isAFiclWord more selective
  • Tweaked makefiles and code to make gcc happy under linux
  • Vetted all instances of LVALUEtoCELL to make sure they're working on CELL sized operands (for 64 bit compatibility)

Version 2.06

  • Debugger changes:
    • New debugger command "x" to execute the rest of the command line as ficl
    • New debugger command "l" lists the source of the innermost word being debugged
    • If you attempt to debug a primitive, it gets executed rather than doing nothing
    • R.S displays the stack contents symbolically
    • Debugger now operates correctly under ficlwin, although ficlwin's key handling leaves a lot to be desired.
    • SEE listing enhanced for use with the debugger
  • Added Guy Carver's changes to for VTABLE support
  • float.c words f> and >f to move floats to and from the param stack, analogous to >r and r>
  • LOOKUP - Surrogate precompiled parse step for ficlParseWord (this step is hard coded in INTERPRET)
  • License text at top of source files changed from LGPL to BSD by request
  • Win32 console version now handles exceptions more gracefully rather than crashing - uses win32 structured exception handling.
  • Fixed BASE bug from 2.05 (was returning the value rather than the address)
  • Fixed ALLOT bug - feeds address units to dictCheck, which expects Cells. Changed dictCheck to expect AU.
  • Float stack display word renamed to f.s from .f to be consistent with r.s and .s

Version 2.05


  • HTML documentation extensively revised
  • Incorporated Alpha (64 bit) patches from the freeBSD team.
  • Split SEARCH and SEARCH EXT words from words.c to search.c
  • 2LOCALS defined in Johns Hopkins local syntax now lose the first '2:' in their names.
  • Simple step debugger (see tools.c)
  • The text interpreter is now extensible - this is accomplished through the use of ficlAddParseStep(). FICL_MAX_PARSE_STEPS limits the number of parse steps (default: 8). You can write a precompiled parse step (see ficlParseNumber) and append it to the chain, or you can write one in ficl and use ADD-PARSE-STEP to append it. Default parse steps are initialized in ficlInitSystem. You can list the parse steps with parse-order ( -- ).
  • There is now a FICL_SYSTEM structure. This is a transitional release - version 3.0 will alter several API prototypes to take this as a parameter, allowing multiple systems per process (and therefore multiple dictionaries). For those who use ficl under a virtual memory O/S like Linux or Win NT, you can just create multiple ficl processes (not threads) instead and save youself the wait.
  • Fixes for improved command line operation in testmain.c (Larry Hastings)
  • Numerous extensions to OO facility, including a new allot methods, ability to catch method invocations (thanks to Daniel Sobral again)
  • Incorporated Alpha (64 bit) patches contributed by Daniel Sobral and the freeBSD team Ficl is now 64 bit friendly! UNS32 is now FICL_UNS.
  • Split SEARCH and SEARCH EXT words from words.c to search.c
  • ABORT" now complies with the ANS (-2 THROWs)
  • Floating point support contributed by Guy Carver (Enable FICL_WANT_FLOAT in sysdep.h).
  • Win32 vtable model for objects (Guy Carver)
  • Win32 dll load/call suport (Larry Hastings)
  • Prefix support (Larry Hastings) (prefix.c FICL_EXTENDED_PREFIX) makes it easy to extend the parser to recignize prefixes like 0x and act on them. Use show-prefixes to see what's defined.
  • Cleaned up initialization sequence so that it's all in ficlInitSystem, and so that a VM can be created successfully before the dictionary is created

Bug fixes

  • ABORT" now works correctly (I promise!)
  • REFILL works better
  • ALLOT's use of dictCheck corrected (finally)

New words

  • 2r@ 2r> 2>r (CORE EXT)
  • ORDER now lists wordlists by name
  • .S now displays all stack entries on one line, like a stack comment
  • wid-get-name   given a wid, returns the address and count of its name. If no name, count is 0
  • wid-set-name  set optional wid name pointer to the \0 terminated string address specified.
  • ficl-named-wordlist creates a ficl-wordlist and names it. This is now used in vocabulary and ficl-vocabulary 
  • last-word  returns the xt of the word being defined or most recently defined.
  • q@ and q! operate on quadbyte quantities for 64 bit friendliness

New OO stuff

  • ALLOT (class method)
  • ALLOT-ARRAY (class method)
  • METHOD define method names globally
  • MY=> early bind a method call to "this" class
  • MY=[ ] early bind a string of method calls to "this" class and obj members
  • C-> late bind method invocation with CATCH
  • Metaclass method resume-class and instance word suspend-class create mutually referring classes. Example in
  • Early binding words are now in the instance-vars wordlist, not visible unless defining a class.
  • Support for refs to classes with VTABLE methods (contributed by Guy Carver). Guy writes:

    My next favorite change is a set of VCALL words that allow me to call C++ class virtual methods from my forth classes. This is accomplished by interfacing with the VTABLE of the class. The class instance currently must be created on the C++ side. C++ places methods in the VTABLE in order of declaration in the header file. To use this in FICL one only needs to ensure that the VCALL: declerations occur in the same order. I use this quite a bit to interface with the C++ classes. When I need access to a method I make sure it is virtual (Even if it ultimately will not be). I use Visual C++ 6.0 and have not tested this under any other compiler but I believe VTABLE implementation is standard.

    Here is an example of how to use VCALL:

    C++ class declaration
    class myclass
      virtual ~myclass();
      virtual void Test( int iParam1 );
      virtual int Test( int iParam1, char cParam2 );
      virtual float Test();
    ficl class declaration
    object subclass myfclass hasvtable   \ hasvtable adds 4 to the offset to
                                       \  accommodate for the VTABLE pointer.
    0 VCALL: Destructor()      \ VCALL: ( ParamCount -- )
    1 VCALL: Test(int)         \ Test takes 1 int parameter.
    2 VCALLR: iTest(int,char)  \ iTest takes 2 parameters and returns an int.  
    0 VCALLF: fTest()          \ fTest takes no parameters and returns a float.
    MyCAddress                 \ Primitive to return a pointer to a "myclass" instance.
    myfclass -> ref dude       \ This makes the MyCAddress pointer a myfclass
                              \  instance with the name "dude".
    1234 dude -> Test(int)     \ Calls the virtual method Test.
    1234 1 dude -> iTest(int,char) .  \ Calls iTest and emits the returned int.
    dude -> fTest() f.         \ Calls fTest and emits the returned float.

Version 2.04


  • Catches exceptions thrown by VM in ficlThread (0 @ for example) rather than passing them off to the OS. 

ficl bugs vanquished

  • Fixed leading delimiter bugs in s" ." .( and ( (reported by Reuben Thomas)
  • Makefile tabs restored (thanks to Michael Somos)
  • ABORT" now throws -2 per the DPANS (thanks to Daniel Sobral for sharp eyes again) 
  • ficlExec does not print the prompt string unless (source-id == 0)
  • Various fixes contributed by the FreeBSD team.

ficl enhancements

  • Words.c: modified ficlCatch to use vmExecute and vmInnerLoop (request of Daniel Sobral) Added vmPop and vmPush functions (by request of Lars Krueger ) in vm.c These are shortcuts to the param stack. (Use LVALUEtoCELL to get things into CELL form) 
  • Added function vmGetStringEx with a flag to specify whether or not to skip lead delimiters
  • Added non-std word: number?
  • Added CORE EXT word AGAIN (by request of Reuben Thomas) 
  • Added double cell local (2local) support
  • Augmented Johns Hopkins local syntax so that locals whose names begin with char 2 are treated as 2locals (OK - it's goofy, but handy for OOP)
  • C-string class revised and enhanced - now dynamically sized
  • C-hashstring class derived from c-string computes hashcode too.

Version 2.03

This is the first version of Ficl that includes contributed code. Thanks especially to Daniel Sobral, Michael Gauland for contributions and bug finding.

New words:

  • clock              (FICL)
  • clocks/sec         (FICL)
  • dnegate            (DOUBLE)
  • ms                 (FACILITY EXT - replaces MSEC ficlWin only)
  • throw              (EXCEPTION)
  • catch              (EXCEPTION)
  • allocate           (MEMORY)
  • free               (MEMORY)
  • resize             (MEMORY)
  • within             (CORE EXT)
  • alloc              (class method)
  • alloc-array        (class method)
  • free               (class method)
Bugs Fixed:
  • Bug fix in isNumber(): used to treat chars between 'Z' and 'a' as valid in base 10... (harmless, but weird)
  • ficlExec pushes the ip and interprets at the right times so that nested calls to ficlExec behave the way you'd expect them to.
  • evaluate respects count parameter, and also passes exceptional return conditions back out to the calling instance of ficlExec.
  • VM_QUIT now clears the locals dictionary in ficlExec.
Ficlwin Enhancements 
  • File Menu: recent file list and Open now load files.
  • Text ouput function is now faster through use of string caching. Cache flushes at the end of each line and each time ficlExec returns.
  • Edit/paste now behaves more reasonably for text. File/open loads the specified file.
  • Registry entries specify dictionary and stack sizes, default window placement, and whether or not to create a splitter for multiple VMs. See HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/CodeLab/ficlwin/Settings
Ficl Enhancements 
  • This version includes changes to make it 64 bit friendly. This unfortunately meant that I had to tweak some core data types and structures. I've tried to make this transparent to 32 bit code, but a couple of things got renamed. INT64 is now DPINT. UNS64 is now DPUNS. FICL_INT and FICL_UNS are synonyms for INT32 and UNS32 in 32 bit versions, but a are obsolescent. Please use the new data types instead. Typed stack operations on INT32 and UNS32 have been renamed because they operate on CELL scalar types, which are 64 bits wide on 64 bit systems. Added BITS_PER_CELL, which has legal values of 32 or 64. Default is 32.
  • ficl.c: Added ficlExecXT() - executes an xt completely before returning, passing back any exception codes generated in the process. Normal exit code is VM_INNEREXIT.
  • ficl.c: Added ficlExecC() to operate on counted strings as opposed to zero terminated ones.
  • ficlExec pushes ip and executes interpret at the right times so that nested calls to ficlExec behave the way you'd expect them to.
  • ficlSetStackSize() allows specification of stack size at run-time (affects subsequent invocations of ficlNewVM()).
  • vm.c: vmThrow() checks for (pVM->pState != NULL) before longjmping it. vmCreate nulls this pointer initially. 
  • EXCEPTION wordset contributed by Daniel Sobral of FreeBSD
  • MEMORY-ALLOC wordset contributed by Daniel Sobral, too. Added class methods alloc and alloc-array in softwords/ to allocate objects from the heap.
  • Control structure match check upgraded (thanks to Daniel Sobral for this suggestion). Control structure mismatches are now errors, not warnings, since the check accepts all syntactally legal constructs.
  • Added vmInnerLoop() to vm.h. This function/macro factors the inner  interpreter out of ficlExec so it can be used in other places. Function/macro behavior is conditioned on INLINE_INNER_LOOP in sysdep.h. Default: 1 unless _DEBUG is set. In part, this is because VC++ 5 goes apoplectic when trying to compile it as a function. See 
    comments in vm.c
  • EVALUATE respects the count parameter, and also passes exceptional return conditions back out to the calling instance of ficlExec.
  • VM_QUIT clears locals dictionary in ficlExec()
  • Added Michael Gauland's ficlLongMul and ficlLongDiv and support routines to math64.c and .h. These routines are coded in C, and are compiled only if PORTABLE_LONGMULDIV == 1 (default is 0).
  • Added definition of ficlRealloc to sysdep.c (needed for memory allocation wordset). If your target OS supports realloc(), you'll probably want to redefine ficlRealloc in those terms. The default version does ficlFree followed by ficlMalloc.
  • testmain.c: Changed gets() in testmain to fgets() to appease the security gods.
  • testmain: msec renamed to ms in line with the ANS
  • now removes comments & spaces at the start and end of lines. As a result: sizeof (softWords) == 7663 bytes (used to be 20000)  and consumes 11384 bytes of dictionary when compiled
  • Deleted license paste-o in readme.txt (oops).

Version 2.02

New words: Bugs Fixed 
  • forget now adjusts the dictionary pointer to remove the name of the word being forgotten (name chars come before the word header in ficl's dictionary)
  • :noname used to push the colon control marker and its execution token in the wrong order
  • source-id now behaves correctly when loading a file.
  • refill returns zero at EOF (Win32 load). Win32 load command continues to be misnamed. Really ought to be called included, but does not exactly conform to that spec either (because included expects a string signature on the stack, while Ficl's load expects a filename upon invocation). The "real" LOAD is a BLOCK word.
Enhancements (IMHO) 
  • dictUnsmudge no longer links anonymous definitions into the dictionary
  • oop is no longer the default compile wordlist at startup, nor is it in the search order. Execute also oop definitions to use Ficl OOP.
  • Revised extensively to make more use of early binding
  • Added meta - a constant that pushes the address of metaclass. See for examples of use.
  • Added classes: c-ptr  c-bytePtr  c-2bytePtr  c-cellPtr These classes model pointers to non-object data, but each knows the size of its referent.

Version 2.01

  • Bug fix: (local) used to leave a value on the stack between the first and last locals declared. This value is now stored in a static.
  • Added new local syntax with parameter re-ordering. See description below. (No longer compiled in version 2.02, in favor of the Johns Hopkins syntax)

Version 2.0

  • New ANS Forth words: TOOLS and part of TOOLS EXT, SEARCH and SEARCH EXT, LOCALS and LOCALS EXT word sets, additional words from CORE EXT, DOUBLE, and STRING. (See the function ficlCompileCore in words.c for an alphabetical list by word set).
  • Simple USER variable support - a user variable is a virtual machine instance variable. User variables behave as VARIABLEs in all other respects.
  • Object oriented syntax extensions (see below)
  • Optional stack underflow and overflow checking in many CORE words (enabled when FICL_ROBUST >= 2)
  • Various bug fixes