Enso supports a small set of literals that allow the expression of some common types in literal form in the source code.

Numeric Literals

Enso provides rich support for numeric literals, including literals that use different numeric bases. It does, of course, support floating point numerals as well.

A numeric literal takes the form:

digit = "0" | "1" | "2" | "3" | "4" | "5" | "6" | "7" | "8" | "9" ;
hex = "a" | "b" | "c" | "d" | "e" | "f";
number-digit = digit | hex;
decimal-point = ".";

float-digit = number-digit | decimal-point;

base-specifier = { digit };

numeric-literal = [base-specifier, "_"], { number-digit };

If no base is specified, it is inferred to be a standard base-10 numeral.

Some examples of numeric literals follow:

decimal          = 12345.39
decimal_explicit = 10_1029301
octal            = 8_122137
hex              = 16_ae2f14
binary           = 2_10011101010

Actionables for this section are:

  • Think about whether we want to support explicit fractional and complex literals, or whether these should be relegated to type constructors.

Text Literals

Enso provides rich support for textual literals in the language, supporting both raw and interpolated strings natively.

  • Raw Strings: Raw strings are delimited using the standard double-quote character ("). Raw strings don’t support escape sequences except for \".

    raw_string = "Hello, world!"
  • Interpolated Strings: Interpolated strings support the splicing of executable Enso expressions into the string. Such strings are delimited using the single-quote (') character, and splices are delimited using the backtick (`) character. Splices are run, and then the result is converted to a string using show. These strings also have support for all kinds of escape sequences.

    fmt_string = 'Hello, my age is ` - person.birthday.year`'

Inline Text Literals

In Enso, inline text literals are opened and closed using the corresponding quote type for the literal. They may contain escape sequences but may not be broken across lines.

inline_raw = "Foo bar baz"
inline_interpolated = 'Foo `bar` baz'

Text Block Literals

In Enso, text block literals rely on layout to determine the end of the block, allowing users to only open the literal. Block literals are opened with three of the relevant quote type, and the contents of the block are determined by the following layout rules:

  • The first child line of the block sets the baseline left margin for the block. Any indentation up to this margin will be removed.
  • Any indentation further than this baseline will be retained as part of the text literal.
  • The literal is closed by the first line with a lower level of indentation than the first child line and will not contain the final blank line.
block_raw = '''
    part of the string
        still part of the string

    also part of the string

not_string_expr = foo bar

Inline Block Literals

In order to easily transition between using text blocks and single-line literals, we allow for defining an inline block literal. This is a literal that uses the same start delimiter as a block literal (see above), but rather than ending the literal through de-indenting from the block’s level of indentation, the literal is ended upon the line ending.

inline_block =
    """this is all part of the literal

Escape Sequences

Format literals in Enso support many kinds of escape sequence. These are described below.

Name Escape Sequence Unicode Notes
Byte Escape \x## U+00## 8-bit character specification.
U16 Escape \u#### U+#### 16-bit unicode character, where each # is a hex digit.
U21 Escape \u{######} U+###### 21-bit unicode character, where ###### is 1-6 hex digits.
U32 Escape \U######## U+###### 32-bit unicode character, where each # is a hex digit and the first two bytes are 00.
Null \0 U+0000 The null character.
Alert \a U+0007 The bell/alert character.
Backspace \b U+0008 The backspace character.
Form Feed \f U+000C The form-feed character.
LF \n U+000A The line-feed character (newline on unix systems).
CR \r U+000D The carriage return character (part of newline on windows systems).
Tab \t U+0009 The horizontal tab character.
Vertical Tab \v U+000B The vertical tab character.
Backslash \\ U+005C A literal backslash character.
Double Quote \" U+0022 A literal double quote character.
Single Quote \' U+0027 A literal single quote character.
Backtick \` U+0060 A literal backtick character.

The only one of the above escape sequences that is supported in a raw text literal is \". All other occurrences of \ in such literals are treated as a literal backslash.

Vector Literals

Enso also supports vector literals, which allow users to create literal vectors of elements.

literal = [elem_1, elem_2, elem_3, ...]

A vector literal works as follows:

  • It is begun by the [ character.
  • It is ended by the ] character.
  • Elements in vector literals are concatenated using the , operator, which acts as cons on vectors.