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String literals

In various programming languages, different quotation marks and such can mean different things. In C/C++ for example, "this" is considered a plain string literal. It can contain various escape codes (\x69, \n, et al), and escaped double quotes (\"), but not raw newlines. A single-quoted literal is not a string at all, but a character literal. In C# meanwhile we have the plain double-quoted string and single-quoted character but also @"this", a variation that does allow raw newlines at the cost of not allowing escapes. In PHP meanwhile, we have double-quoted strings that, in contrast to C, can have raw newlines but also have variable interpolation — "Hi $name" will appear as Hi Mark, assuming that is that variable’s value at the time. Single-quoted strings in PHP don’t do escape sequences or interpolation, and then there’s “heredoc” strings.

SCI also has different types of string literals. Or rather, had, depending on which version you targeted. Double-quoted strings could have escape codes (\42, note the lack of a letter, and of course \n) and raw newlines, but whitespace was folded away on compilation so raw newlines and tabs were entirely for code readability’s sake, requiring a \n at the end of each line that had to have a line break. You could also use curly braces for strings, {like this}, that had exactly the same rules and limitations as double-quotes, except for one difference in storage.

Any string literal in curly braces would be stored as-is in the script resource, while double-quote strings would be stored in a matching text resource and replaced in the compiled code with a look-up key:

(Print "This is an example" #title {Kawa says})

(Yes, I’m aware that the syntax highlighter doesn’t pick up on the braces.)

Assuming this is script #42 just as an example, and this is the first place a double-quoted string appears, the above would be transformed like so:

(Print 42 0 #title {Kawa says})

The original string will be stored in a separate text resource with the same number as the script. This helps cut down memory use.

(Bonus banter: there’s a bug in the original SCI interpreters that was introduced when they added the Message resource format involving hexadecimal numbers where they accidentally used "01234567890ABCDEF", with an extra zero. This messes up any attempt to use a good third of the character set in a message resource, but not an inline string literal, so having \0E in a string literal will produce the intended while the same thing in a message will produce ¤ instead. In SCI11+, this has been corrected to just "0123456789ABCDEF".)

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2 thoughts on “String literals

  1. My favorite string literals got to be Python’s f-strings: f”3 + 2 = {3+2}” would become “3 + 2 = 5”. You can put any expression in curly braces and the interpreter would replace it.

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