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esh - EFEU command interpreter



esh--help[=type] ] [ --version ] [ --info[=entry] ] [ --debug[=mode] ] [ --verbose ] [ -I dir ] [ -D name=val ] [ -c string ] [ -E ] [ file ] [ arg(s) ]



The command esh evaluates scripts in the syntax of the EFEU interpreter language. The syntax of the language is similar to C/C++. If your are familiar with this language(s), you would easy learn to use this interpreter.

esh accepts comments in the style of C/C++ and uses a preprocessor similar to C/C++. See later in this document. Lines starting with #! are not interpreted by esh. If the script is executable and the first line is


where path is the full path name of the command esh, you can use it like an ordinary command. I prefer the following variation, which is independent from the installation place of esh:

#!/usr/bin/env esh

Expressions are terminated either by a semicolon or a linefeed, tabs and spaces are skipped. An expression may also end if there is no right operator following a term. In this case and if the next character is a punctuation character, it is used as termination key, else a space is used. On some places, e.g. inside the argument list of a function, a linefeed does not terminate the expression and is skipped like tabs or spaces.

In the outermost level (outside any block or function body) every statement is evaluated immediately after parsing. If an expression is not terminated by a semicolon, the result is written to standard output followed by the terminating character.

For example: The line

3 * 5 4 + 7 $ 2 - 1; 4 + 1
is split into the 4 expressions
3 * 5 terminated by space
4 + 7 terminated by $
2 - 1 terminated by ;
4 + 1 terminated by linefeed
and the output is
15 11$5
in outermost level.

If esh is called without script name or if the script name is a single minus, commands are read from standard input. If standard input and standard output is connected to a terminal, esh runs interactive and readline is used for reading lines from terminal. Readline control keys are active and ! at beginning of a new line is used as control key to run history and system commands.

The use of readline in interactive mode and the automatic display of results in the outermost level allows to use esh as a comfortable desk calculator.

The complete EFEU interpreter language is implemented with C library functions. esh is a simple command which uses this functions. The interpreter shares data pointers directly with C functions. You can add your own functions and types to the interpreter. So it is easy to use this language for configuration files or to test functions with it.

If EFEU is build with shared libraries (e.g. on Linux) you can expand esh at run time. If shared libraries are not available, you can take a copy of esh.c and add your extensions there.



Options placed after the script name are interpreted by the script. The options -? and --help show you the syntax of the script.

The following options and arguments are accepted by esh:

create command usage. The optional parameter type determines the formatting and output of the description.
display on terminal (default)
output raw data for efeudoc
output nroff/troff source for man
send postscript data to lpr

show version information
show command information
set debug level for command See for details.
set debug level to .info.
-I dir
append dir to the search path for script headers. The default setting is "/home/efeu/www/efeu-3.3-1/lib/esh/%S:/home/efeu/www/efeu-3.3-1/lib/esh:/usr/local/lib/esh/%S:/usr/local/lib/esh:/usr/lib/esh/%S:/usr/lib/esh:/lib/esh/%S:/lib/esh".
-D name=val
define macro name with value val
-c string
process commands from string.
name of the script file.
script parameters.
preprocess only, do not evaluate commands.


The EFEU interpreter language uses a preprocessor similar to C. The preprocessor is built in as a filter and can be used independent of the interpreter. The preprocessor evaluates the input per line and not per file. So you can create or change variables which may be used later in conditional directives.


Including files

Files are included by the #include directive. In the first step, macro substitution is performed on the rest of the line starting with #include. Afterwards, the following cases are possible:

#include <name>
This variant searches files in a list of directories, specified by the variable IncPath. Characters after < are silently ignored.
#include expr
First, expr is evaluated and converted to string. If the resulting string does not start with <, the current directory is searched before any other directory in IncPath.
#include "name"
This is only a special form of the above clause. The file name is first searched in the current directory.

In esh, the following construction is legal:

str header = paste("/", "SubDir", "MyHeader");
#include "<" + header + ">"

The variable header is defined in the outermost level, so it is immediately executed and can be used in the following #include directive. Adding < and > avoids searching the current directory (if IncPath does not include the current directory).



A conditional begins with a "conditional directive": #if, #ifdef or #ifndef and ends with #endif. A conditional block may contain #elif and #else directives. Conditional blocks may be nested.

The directives

#ifdef name
#ifndef name
are used to test macro definitions. No macro substitution is performed on this directive lines.

The simplest form of a conditional is:

#if expr
Input lines seen if expr is true.

A more complex conditional may look like this:

#if expr1
Input lines seen if expr1 is true.
#elif expr2
Input lines seen if expr2 is true and expr1 is false.
Input lines seen if neither expr1 or expr2 is true.

As seen in the section "Including files", you can use any variable or function in expr previously declared in the outermost level.



Macros are defined with the #define directive. It has to forms:

#define name replacement
defines a macro without arguments.
#define name(args) replacement
defines a macro with arguments. The left parenthesis must follow immediately the name of the macro.

The name of a macro must start with an alphabetic or underline character and may contain only alphanumeric or underline characters.

In esh macros are rare used. In most of all places, variables and functions are the better solution. Normally they are only used to protect header files for multiple inclusions.

A macro could be removed with the #undef directive.



Constants and variables could be joined with operators to single expressions.

The next tables show the available operators of esh. They are sorted by descending priority. Operators not separated by a line have the same priority.

Prefix operators

++pre increment++lvalue
-pre decrement-lvalue
-unary minus-expr
+unary plus+expr
{list grouping{ expr [, expr ] }
(grouping( expr )
[expression[ expr ]
()cast (type conversion)(type) expr

The list grouping operator creates a list of values. In opposite to C/C++, the use of this operator is not restricted to assigning data in variable declarations.

The expression operator parses an expression without evaluation. This expression may be stored in a variable or passed as function argument for later evaluation.

Postfix operators

++post incrementlvalue++
-post decrementlvalue-
::scope resolutiontype::name
::variable selectionvartab::name
[]sub scriptingexpr[expr]
()function callexpr(list)

In esh, you have access to a table of variables and you can create your own variable tables. The scope resolution operator is used to get a member of this table. You can apply the operator to any type, that could be converted in the type VarTab.

Arithmetic operators

*multiplyexpr * expr
/divisionexpr / expr
%modulo (remainder)expr % expr

+add (plus)expr + expr
-subtractexpr - expr

<<shift leftexpr << expr
>>shift rightexpr >> expr

Comparison operators

<less thanexpr < expr
<=less than or equalexpr <= expr
>greater thanexpr > expr
>=greater than or equalexpr >= expr

==equalexpr == expr
!=not equalexpr != expr

Bit wise operators

&bit wise ANDexpr & expr

^bit wise exclusive ORexpr ^ expr

|bit wise inclusive ORexpr | expr

Logical operators

&&logical ANDexpr && expr

||logical ORexpr || expr

The right operand of a logical operator is only evaluated, if the resulting value is not determined by the left operand. So in

false && expr
true || expr
the right operand expr is never evaluated.

Conditional and range operator

? :conditional operatorcond ? expr1 : expr2

: :range operatorstart : end [ : step ]

The range operator creates a list of variables, starting by start and ending by end. For numbers, the value of step must be positive. The default value is 1. Wrong use of this operator may result in an infinite loop. There is no range operator in C/C++.

Assign operators

=simple assignmentlvalue = expr
*=multiply and assignlvalue *= expr
/=divide and assignlvalue /= expr
%=modulo and assignlvalue %= expr
+=add and assignlvalue += expr
-=subtract and assignlvalue -= expr
<<=shift left and assignlvalue <<= expr
>>=shift right and assignlvalue >>= expr
&=AND and assignlvalue &= expr
^=exclusive OR and assignlvalue ^= expr
|=inclusive OR and assignlvalue |= expr

Assign operators are right associative.

List separator

,list separatorexpr , expr

The comma , in esh is used as list separator like python, not as comma operator like C/C++. So a, b, ..., n returns a list containing a, b, ..., n.

If you do not use the return value (in the most common use), there is no difference between the comma operator and the list separator.



while (cond) expr
As long as cond is true, expr is executed.
do expr while (cond)
The expression expr is executed and repeated as long as cond is true.
for (a; cond; b) expr
First, a is evaluated. As long as cond is true, expr and then b is evaluated. Either a, cond or b may be omitted, a and b must be simple expressions.
for (name in list) expr
The representative name is set to each element of the list in turn, and expr is evaluated each time. If list consists of a single element and is type is convertible to List_t, the result of the conversion is used instead.

In any case of loop, the statement break breaks out of the loop and the statement continue starts the next cycle.



if (cond) expr1
If the expression cond is true, expr1 is executed.
if (cond) expr1 else expr2
If the expression cond is true, expr1 is executed, else expr2 is executed.

Switch statement

The syntax of a switch statement is:

switch (expr)

where label may be case val or default. The expression val is evaluated on parsing and not on executing the switch statement. The value of expr is compared with all labels in order of definition. If the comparison is true, all following statements until break, continue, return or the end of the switch block is reached, are executed. If none of the labels compares with expr, all statements after default (if present) are executed.

In opposite to C, any data type is allowed in the switch statement as long as the operator == is defined. In particular you can use strings in switch statements.



Braces are used to group expressions to a block. A block has no return value. Every block has two tables of variables. The less visible table is created by parsing the command lines, the more visible table on evaluating the block. Every expression following the keyword static is executed immediately after parsing. So type declaration with the prefix static creates variables in the less visible table. The use of static is not restricted to declarations.



In opposite to other interpreter languages, variables must be declared like C/C++ before use. A declaration may be placed anywhere in the source and has a return value (the value of the declared variable).

For example:

int x;
double a, b;
x = (int y = 5);

declares first the integer variable x and the double variables a and b. Afterwards the integer variable y is declared with value 5 and the result (the value 5) is assigned to x. It is allowed to declare a variable more than once with the same type. All but the first declarations are converted to a assignment statement.

Every predefined data type in the interpreter language has a corresponding data type in C. The EFEU interpreter language does not have pointers, but data types may be represented by pointer types in C.

The interpreter distinguishes between lvalues and constants. An lvalue is anything, that could stand on the left side of an assignment. Typical lvalues are variables. The result of an expression or a function call may be an lvalue or not.


Integral types

Like in C/C++, there are several different integral types. The interpreter supports the exact-width integer types as defined in C99. They are int8_t, int16_t, int32_t, int64_t, uint8_t, uint16_t, uint32_t and uint64_t. The following table shows additional integral types and their representation in C.

esh typeC type

unsignedunsigned int

The keyword unsigned is a type name and not a type qualifier like in C. The data types varint and varsize have a variable length binary representation in data files.

The syntax of integral constants is like C/C++. The keywords true (integral value 0) and false (integral value 1) are used for boolean values.


Floating number types

Esh uses the types float and double like C/C++. Floating number constants are always of type double. All arithmetic is done by double, float is defined for completeness and to save space for large data fields, where precision is not so important.


Characters and strings

A character in esh has the type char and its code value is considered as unsigned.

Strings are completely different implemented in esh than in C. They are not fields of type char, they have the data type str. If you assign a string to a value or use it as function argument, the whole string (not the address) is copied. Copying strings is always done with memory allocation and there is a built in garbage collection for it (and generally for all dynamic allocated objects).

Character constants are delimited by single quotes, string constants by double quotes. The backslash is used as escape character like in C.

String constants may contain linefeed. In esh, two strings next to each other are not concatenated like in C/C++. You need the add operator + to do this.

For long string constants there exists the keyword string, which is used in the following form:

string !
contents of string

There must be a newline after ! in the starting line and ! must be the first character in the last line. A so defined string always contains a linefeed at end. The backslash is no longer used as escape character with one exception: protecting a ! at beginning of line to be interpreted as string termination. This construction of strings may be used anywhere inside an expression.

Comments are skipped and preprocessor directives are interpreted inside this string definitions.

For example: you can write

str s = string !
#include "file"

to get the file file included in the string s.

Note, that in EFEU (and so in esh) null strings (character pointer to NULL) can be used like ordinary strings and there is a difference between null strings and empty strings (strings containing only the terminating 0) are handled . The EFEU libraries contains tools for handling dynamic allocated strings and you can mix them with constant strings. The memory allocation tools in EFEU knows, if the memory of a string could be freed.


Pointer types

Data types, which are implemented by pointers, assign only the pointer address and do not copy the data (strings are an exception). But they use a reference counter for garbage collection. If the pointer is no more used, the whole memory allocated to this pointer is freed. All this types are subclasses of the type _Ref_.

The type _Ref_ and all other types with a pointer representation in C are subclasses of _Ptr_. This is also the type of the constant NULL.

Types which starts and ends with the underline symbol are reserved for internal use. Normally, you don't declare variables of this type. But this types may be used for arguments in virtual functions, e.g. to distinguish between the constant NULL and a string initialized with NULL.



Lists are a ordered set of any data variables. The have the data type List_t. There are three ways to get lists in the EFEU interpreter language:
with the list grouping operator: { 3, 5 }. You can not use it at begin of a statement because { is also used for grouping expressions.
with the list operator: 3, 5. Note the low priority of the list operator. You need parentheses to use it in terms. You get only lists of at least two elements.
with the range operator: 3 : 5 : 2. All members of the list have the same type.

Any object of type List_t have the two components:

returns the first entry of the list or NULL for empty lists.
returns the sub list starting with the next element or an empty list, if there are no more elements.

In absence of pointers in esh, you may use List_t as substitution.


Data fields

Data fields may be declared in one of the two possible forms:

type name[dim]
declares name as a field of type type.
type[dim] name
declares name as a scalar of type type[dim].

In the first case and if the data field is initialized by a list of values, dim may be omitted and the number of elements in the list determines the size of the field. In the second case, a new type is implicit created. The field size is necessary.

In the second case 0 or a missing value of dim indicates a variable length array. The data field is implicit enlarged as you use a higher index. Data types of the form type[] are subclasses of EfiVec.

If you have more then one dimension, a declaration of the form

type name[n0][n1]...[nk];
is translated into
type[nk]...[n1 name[n0];
because data fields can only have one dimension, but there is no limit on creating vector types. It is clear that only n0 may be omitted.

Data fields are always packed into a object of type EfiVec on use. A data field can always be converted to a list and you can assign values to a data field with a list. If the list has less elements than the data field, only the corresponding elements are changed.

EFEU provides you the following data types for a more powerful handling of data than ordinary data fields:

are dynamic fields of type double with a time index.
holds a data cube of any type with unlimited number of dimensions, only restricted by available memory. EFEU contains a lot of tools for handling such data cubes.

Creating new data types

The simplest way to create a new type is typedef, as in

typedef int myint;
The new type myint is created as subclass of int, not as alias.

Structures are created with the struct statement. The syntax is

struct type [: base [ name ]] { type declarations }
like in C++. If base is defined, type is created as subtype of base. Only one base type may be specified.

The following two types

struct T1 {
        int a;
        int b;

struct T2 : int a {
        int b;

have the same components, but T2 can be used as representation of an integer.

Any previously defined type can be used in this form of type declaration. Any structure type could be converted to a list and any list with corresponding elements could be converted to a structure type.

Example for a more complex structure:

struct MyDataType {
        int i;
        double d;
        str s;
        int v[10];

The EFEU interpreter supports enumeration types. The syntax is

enum type [: base [ name ]] { identifier list }
with a comma separated list of identifiers with optionally assignment values. If base is defined, type is created as subtype of base, else as subtype of _Enum_. The enumeration keys are bound to the enumeration type. They may be used immediately after declaration.

The following statement:

enum Color { Red, Green = 5, Blue };
creates an enumeration type width name Color and identifiers Color::Red, Color::Green and Color::Blue. The corresponding integer values are 0, 5 and 6. For every enumeration type, converts from/to int/str are created. So the following assignments are all valid:

Color c1 = "Red";
Color c2 = 0;
str s = Color::Red;
int n = Color::Red;

The function enumlist(type) returns a list of all valid identifiers of the enumeration type type or an empty list, if type has no identifiers or is not an enumeration type.



A function declaration in esh has the general form

type name ( arglist )

Normally expr is a block structure, but in esh you can also use a single (but not empty) expression. If the function does not return any value, use the special type void.

The following function declarations are equivalent:

int f (int x) x + 1;
int f (int x) return x + 1;
inline int f (int x) { return x + 1; }

In esh, the keyword inline has nothing to do with optimation, but with visibility. A inline function sees all variable tables as in the line where it is called. All functions defined with a single expression are default of type inline.

Here is a example where inline functions are needed:

inline str f (str fmt)
        return psub(fmt);

        str x = "foo";
        f("x = $(x)");

The function psub substitutes parameter according to a format string. If f is not inline, psub does not see the variable x and the substitution $(x) would fail.

Functions have the type Func and you can use it like function pointers in C. Typing the function name in outermost level gives you the prototype of the function.

As in C++ function arguments may have default values. The general form of a function argument is:

type [ & ] name [ = value ]
The & key indicates that the argument must be an lvalue. A tilde ... stands for a variable list of arguments. Inside the function this list could be referenced under the reserved name va_list.

Behind the most operators stands a function with the name of the operator. You can use either operator "name" or operatorname<space> for such function names. For example: operator+ is the name of the addition function. Function names of prefix operators have an additional "()" in the name to distinguish between postfix and binary operators. So operator+() is the name of the unary plus.


Virtual functions

As in C++, you can overload functions with different argument lists. The keyword virtual is used to declare virtual functions. They have the data type VirFunc. Any function can be converted to a virtual function.

You can convert a virtual function to a regular function with a prototype cast:

Func f = operator+ (int a, int b);;

Now you can use f to add two integer values. Note the two semicolons: The first is part of the prototype, the second terminates the expression and may be replaced by a linefeed.


Type bound functions

Functions may be bound to an specific type. They have the general form

type btype::name [ & ] ( arglist )

The & after the function name indicates that it can only be used for lvalues. A bounded function is called

where obj is an object of type btype. Object bound functions have the type ObjFunc and may be virtual or not.

All assignment operators are bounded functions. In bounded functions you can use this to refer to the corresponding object.


Special Functions

Functions which have the same name as a type, defines constructors and converters.

Constructors have the form:

virtual type type ( arglist )
The special form
type type ()
is called the copy constructor.

The declaration

type type (void)
is a normal constructor without arguments.

Converters have the form:

tg_type src_type ()
with an empty argument list. The source data is referred under the name this. If the target type is void the function defines the destructor of the type.

Because of internal garbage collection, there is normally no need on copy constructor and destructor. You must be very carefully in defining this functions, because you get an infinite recursive call if an object of the type is copied inside the function.



If you are missing something in the documentation, you may get it from esh. The option --info provide an interface to builtin information, just enter the command esh --info. If you are running esh in interactive mode, you can get the information with the function call Info().

If you want to know how a function is used, just enter the function name and the prototype is displayed. For a data type type you can call the function to get additional information's.

is the table of global variables
is the table of local variables. In outermost level local is identical to global. str whatis (.)

give you information about the argument. returns the type of an variable.

void vtabstack (int = 0, IO = iostd)

show the current stack of the variable tables.
List_t typelist ()
give you a list of all data types.



path for configuration files.
locale information
define extra directories for searching script headers.


Copyright (C) 1994, 2001 Erich Frühstück



Including files
Switch statement
Integral types
Floating number types
Characters and strings
Pointer types
Data fields
Creating new data types
Virtual functions
Type bound functions
Special Functions

This document was created by man2html, using the manual pages.
Time: 09:44:47 GMT, December 18, 2011