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Basic Syntax

Terse is a very small interpreted language whose syntax resembles that of assembly. There are no datatypes, but types are inferred from usage (i.e., during addition integer or float is inferred) A Terse program consists of lines that each contain two columns: the command and the arguments. example:

   command    arg1 arg2 arg3 (etc.)

the command is followed by a tab ("\t") and the arguments are separated by spaces

Input and Output

The most basic command is "out", which prints to stdout:

   out    "Hello world!"

prints "Hello world!" to the standard output

the "in" command reads a line from stdin:

   out    in

would duplicate whatever the user typed at the prompt.


variables are declared using the "decl" keyword. New variables are preceded with an ampersand ("&") whereas global variables being accessed are preceded with "@". Local variables are preceded with "$". Variables are by default global.

To set a variable, type the variable name as a command and pass a value as an argument:

   decl    &name
   @name   "Tim"
   out     @name

would print "Tim"


Arrays are also possible in Terse. To create a "range" array, use a "hashtag". For example,
would produce: [0, 1, 2, 3]

To create any other array, just set the array values as the parameters.

decl      &myArray
@myArray  1 4 3 7 8
out       @myArray

prints out [1, 4, 3, 7, 8]

To access an element of an array, use the colon (":"). So, #5:3 would yield [0, 1, 2, 3, 4][3] which is 3. Arrays are immutable objects in Terse. To change an array, you must redefine it. If I wanted to remove the '3' from my previous array, I would have to do:

@myArray  @myArray:0 @myArray:1 @myArray:3 @myArray:4


functions are declared with the "func" keyword, which is in itself a function. The first argument is the name, and any other arguments are parameters. Any lines following the "func" but before "end" are part of the function block. All parameters are local variables.

   func    greet &name
   out     "Hello " $name "!"
   greet   "Tim"

prints "Hello, Tim!" to the console. This also demonstrates string interpolation.


Comments must always appear at the beginning of the line, and last throughout the line. Comments are delimited by a semicolon (";")

The "stack"

Terse also has a simple "stack" which is very useful when doing mathematics. Use "push" and "pop" to deal with the stack:

   add    1 2
   out    pop

prints "3" to the console (1 and 2 are added, the result is pushed to the stack, and the "out" command is passed the first value from the stack. "3" is now removed from the stack after being printed.)


Unlike many traditional languages, there is no "if" statement in Terse: the conditional is simply interpreted. To execute a conditional, one of 5 comparison commands are used, and given two values as arguments. Any commands after such a line and before the "end" are part of the conditional block, and are executed only if the first statement evaluates to "+", one of two "boolean" values in Terse (the other being, of course, "-")


   decl    &age
   out     "How old are you? "
   @age    in
   gt      age 18
   out     "You are at least 19 years old!"
   le      age 18
   out     "You are under 19 years old!"

The program would prompt the user for their age, and print out whether the user is at least 19. Note that there is no equivalent of an "else" statement in Terse.

The comparison operators include:

   lt (<)
   gt (>)
   le (<=)
   ge (>=)
   eq (==)


Loops in the Terse language require the use of a predefined function. The function should take one parameter, and will be called multiple times and passed that parameter. A loop is created with the
command, which takes two parameters: the aforementioned function, and an array to loop through.

For example:

   func    myLoopFunc &i
   out     $i<>
   loop    myLoopFunc #5

prints out: 0 1 2 3 4


Terse also has some simple OOP capabilities.


Objects are defined using the obj keyword. Any methods or variables are defined between the object declaration and the end. Please note that no decl keyword is necessary when defining object variables. For example:

obj    Me
@name  "Timothy"
func   setName &newValue
@name  $newValue

declares an object called "Me", and gives it one property (@name) and one method (a setter for @name).

The following example illustrates how to access members of a class:

out    Me->@name
Me->setName    "Timmy"
out    Me->@name

prints out "Timothy Timmy"


There is no direct method of creating a class in Terse. However, objects can be copied as templates, simulating this feature. For example, the following code defines a Person "class", creates two "instances", and prints out their data.

obj    Person
@name  ""
func   setName &v
@name  $v
~Timmy Person
~Timothy    Person
Timmy->setName    "Timmy"
Timothy->setName  "Timothy"
out    Timmy->@name<>
out    Timothy->@name<>

This would print out:



Use the "~" prefix to copy an object.

The Terse interpreter has been implemented and can be found at http://www.github.com/coder9/Terse for download.