Model Patterns

The module hy.model-patterns provides a library of parser combinators for parsing complex trees of Hy models. Model patterns exist mostly to help implement the compiler, but they can also be useful for writing macros.

A motivating example

The kind of problem that model patterns are suited for is the following. Suppose you want to validate and extract the components of a form like:

(setv form '(try
  (except [EType1]
  (except [e EType2]
  (except []

You could do this with loops and indexing, but it would take a lot of code and be error-prone. Model patterns concisely express the general form of an expression to be matched, like what a regular expression does for text. Here’s a pattern for a try form of the above kind:

(import [funcparserlib.parser [maybe many]])
(import [hy.model-patterns [*]])
(setv parser (whole [
  (sym "try")
  (many (notpexpr "except" "else" "finally"))
  (many (pexpr
    (sym "except")
    (| (brackets) (brackets FORM) (brackets SYM FORM))
    (many FORM)))
  (maybe (dolike "else"))
  (maybe (dolike "finally"))]))

You can run the parser with (.parse parser form). The result is:

  ['(foo1) '(foo2)]
    '([EType1] [(foo3)])
    '([e EType2] [(foo4) (foo5)])
    '([] [(foo6)])]
  '((foo7) (foo8)))

which is conveniently utilized with an assignment such as (setv [body except-clauses else-part finally-part] result). Notice that else-part will be set to None because there is no else clause in the original form.


Model patterns are implemented as funcparserlib parser combinators. We won’t reproduce funcparserlib’s own documentation, but here are some important built-in parsers:

  • (+ ...) matches its arguments in sequence.
  • (| ...) matches any one of its arguments.
  • (>> parser function) matches parser, then feeds the result through function to change the value that’s produced on a successful parse.
  • (skip parser) matches parser, but doesn’t add it to the produced value.
  • (maybe parser) matches parser if possible. Otherwise, it produces the value None.
  • (some function) takes a predicate function and matches a form if it satisfies the predicate.

The best reference for Hy’s parsers is the docstrings (use (help hy.model-patterns)), but again, here are some of the more important ones:

  • FORM matches anything.
  • SYM matches any symbol.
  • (sym "foo") or (sym ":foo") matches and discards (per skip) the named symbol or keyword.
  • (brackets ...) matches the arguments in square brackets.
  • (pexpr ...) matches the arguments in parentheses.

Here’s how you could write a simple macro using model patterns:

(defmacro pairs [&rest args]
  (import [funcparserlib.parser [many]])
  (import [hy.model-patterns [whole SYM FORM]])
  (setv [args] (->> args (.parse (whole [
    (many (+ SYM FORM))]))))
  `[~@(->> args (map (fn [x]
    (, (name (get x 0)) (get x 1)))))])

(print (pairs  a 1  b 2  c 3))
; => [["a" 1] ["b" 2] ["c" 3]]

A failed parse will raise funcparserlib.parser.NoParseError.