Outdated CHICKEN release

This is a manual page for an old and unsupported version of CHICKEN. If you are still using it, please consider migrating to the latest version. You can find the manual for the latest release here.

  1. Outdated CHICKEN release
  2. Callbacks
    1. define-external
    2. C_callback
    3. C_callback_adjust_stack


To enable an external C function to call back to Scheme, the form foreign-safe-lambda (or foreign-safe-lambda*) has to be used. This generates special code to save and restore important state information during execution of C code. There are two ways of calling Scheme procedures from C: the first is to invoke the runtime function C_callback with the closure to be called and the number of arguments. The second is to define an externally visible wrapper function around a Scheme procedure with the define-external form.

Note: the names of all functions, variables and macros exported by the CHICKEN runtime system start with C_. It is advisable to use a different naming scheme for your own code to avoid name clashes. Callbacks (defined by define-external) do not capture the lexical environment.

Non-local exits leaving the scope of the invocation of a callback from Scheme into C will not remove the C call-frame from the stack (and will result in a memory leak). Note: The same applies to SRFI-18 threading, which is implemented with call/cc; additionally, if you enter one callback, switch threads and then exit a different callback, your program is likely to crash.


[syntax] (define-external [QUALIFIERS] (NAME (ARGUMENTTYPE1 VARIABLE1) ...) RETURNTYPE BODY ...)
[syntax] (define-external NAME TYPE [INIT])

The first form defines an externally callable Scheme procedure. NAME should be a symbol, which, when converted to a string, represents a legal C identifier. ARGUMENTTYPE1 ... and RETURNTYPE are foreign type specifiers for the argument variables VAR1 ... and the result, respectively. QUALIFIERS is an optional qualifier for the foreign procedure definition, like __stdcall.

(define-external (foo (c-string x)) int (string-length x))

The second form of define-external can be used to define variables that are accessible from foreign code. It declares a global variable named by the symbol NAME that has the type TYPE. INIT can be an arbitrary expression that is used to initialize the variable. NAME is accessible from Scheme just like any other foreign variable defined by define-foreign-variable.

(define-external foo int 42)
((foreign-lambda* int ()
  "C_return(foo);"))           ==> 42

Note: don't be tempted to assign strings or bytevectors to external variables. Garbage collection moves those objects around, so it is a very bad idea to assign pointers to heap-data. If you have to do so, then copy the data object into statically allocated memory (for example by using object-evict).

Results of type scheme-object returned by define-external are always allocated in the secondary heap, that is, not in the stack.


[C function] C_word C_callback (C_word closure, int argc)

This function can be used to invoke the Scheme procedure closure. argc should contain the number of arguments that are passed to the procedure on the temporary stack. Values are put onto the temporary stack with the C_save macro.


[C function] void C_callback_adjust_stack (C_word *ptr, int size)

The runtime-system uses the stack as a special allocation area and internally holds pointers to estimated limits to distinguish between Scheme data objects inside the stack from objects outside of it. If you invoke callbacks at wildly differing stack-levels, these limits may shift from invocation to invocation. Callbacks defined with define-external will perform appropriate adjustments automatically, but if you invoke C_callback manually, you should perform a C_callback_adjust_stack to make sure the internal limits are set properly. ptr should point to some data object on the stack and size is the number of words contained in the data object (or some estimate). The call will make sure the limits are adjusted so that the value pointed to by ptr is located in the stack.

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