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7 Macros

7.1 Defining and Using Macros

A macro is defined the following way:

-define(Const, Replacement).
-define(Func(Var1,...,VarN), Replacement).

A macro definition can be placed anyhere among the attributes and function declarations of a module, but the definition must come before any usage of the macro.

If a macro is used in several modules, it is recommended that the macro definition is placed in an include file.

A macro is used the following way:


Macros are expanded during compilation. A simple macro ?Const will be replaced with Replacement. Example:

-define(TIMEOUT, 200).
call(Request) ->
    server:call(refserver, Request, ?TIMEOUT).

This will be expanded to:

call(Request) ->
    server:call(refserver, Request, 200).

A macro ?Func(Arg1,...,ArgN) will be replaced with Replacement, where all occurences of a variable Var from the macro definition are replaced with the corresponding argument Arg. Example:

-define(MACRO1(X, Y), {a, X, b, Y}).
bar(X) ->
    ?MACRO1(a, b),
    ?MACRO1(X, 123)

This will be expanded to:

bar(X) ->

It is good programming practice, but not mandatory, to ensure that a macro definition is a valid Erlang syntactic form.

To view the result of macro expansion, a module can be compiled with the 'P' option. compile:file(File, ['P']). This produces a listing of the parsed code after preprocessing and parse transforms, in the file File.P.

7.2 Predefined Macros

The following macros are predefined:

The name of the current module.
The name of the current module, as a string.
The file name of the current module.
The current line number.
The machine name, 'BEAM'.

7.3 Flow Control in Macros

The following macro directives are supplied:

Causes the macro to behave as if it had never been defined.
Evaluate the following lines only if Macro is defined.
Evaluate the following lines only if Macro is not defined.
Only allowed after an ifdef or ifndef directive. If that condition was false, the lines following else are evaluated instead.
Specifies the end of an ifdef or ifndef directive.



-define(LOG(X), io:format("{~p,~p}: ~p~n", [?MODULE,?LINE,X])).
-define(LOG(X), true).


When trace output is desired, debug should be defined when the module m is compiled:

% erlc -Ddebug m.erl


1> c(m, {d, debug}).

?LOG(Arg) will then expand to a call to io:format/2 and provide the user with some simple trace output.

7.4 Stringifying Macro Arguments

The construction ??Arg, where Arg is a macro argument, will be expanded to a string containing the tokens of the argument. This is similar to the #arg stringifying construction in C.

The feature was added in Erlang 5.0/OTP R7.


-define(TESTCALL(Call), io:format("Call ~s: ~w~n", [??Call, Call])).


results in

io:format("Call ~s: ~w~n",["myfunction ( 1 , 2 )",m:myfunction(1,2)]),
io:format("Call ~s: ~w~n",["you : function ( 2 , 1 )",you:function(2,1)]).

That is, a trace output with both the function called and the resulting value.

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