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A toy programming language.

Embedding Toy

This tutorial assumes that you’ve managed to embed Toy into your program by following the tutorial Building Toy.

Here, we’ll look at some ways in which you can utilize Toy’s C API within your host program.

Be aware that when you create a new Literal object, you must call Toy_freeLiteral() on it afterwards! If you don’t, your program will leak memory as Toy has no internal tracker for such things.

Embedded API Macros

The functions intended for usage by the API are prepended with the C macro TOY_API. The exact value of this macro can vary by platform, or even be empty. In addition, the macros defined in literal.h are available for use when manipulating literals. These include:

Structures Used Throughout Toy

The main unit of data within Toy’s internals is Toy_Literal, which can contain any value that can exist within the Toy langauge - even identifiers. The exact implementation of Toy_Literal may change or evolve as time goes on, so it’s recommended that you only interact with literals directly by using the macros and functions outlined above. See the types page for information on exactly what datatypes exist in Toy.

There are two main “compound structures” used within Toy’s internals - the Toy_LiteralArray and Toy_LiteralDictionary. The former is an array of Toy_Literal instances stored sequentially in memory for fast lookups, while the latter is a key-value hashmap designed for efficient lookups based on a Toy_Literal key. These are both accessible via the language as well.

These compound structures hold copies of literals given to them, rather than taking ownership of existing literals.

Compiling Toy Scripts

Please see Compiling Toy for more information on the process of turning scripts into bytecode.

Interpreting Toy

The Toy_Interpreter structure is the beating heart of Toy - You’ll usually only need one interpreter, as it can be reset as needed.

The four basic functions are used as follows:

//assume "tb" and "size" are the results of compilation
Toy_Interpreter interpreter;

Toy_runInterpreter(&interpreter, tb, size);
Toy_resetInterpreter(&interpreter); //You usually want to reset between runs with the same interpreter

In addition to this, you might also wish to “inject” a series of usable libraries into the interpreter, which can be import-ed within the language itself. This process only needs to be done once, after initialization, but before the first run.

Toy_injectNativeHook(&interpreter, "standard", Toy_hookStandard);

A “hook” is a callback function which is invoked when the given library is imported. standard is the most commonly used library available.

import standard;

Hooks can simply inject native functions into the current scope, or they can do other, more esoteric things (though this is not recommended).

//a utility structure for storing the native C functions
typedef struct Natives {
	char* name;
	Toy_NativeFn fn;
} Natives;

int Toy_hookStandard(Toy_Interpreter* interpreter, Toy_Literal identifier, Toy_Literal alias) {
	//the list of available native C functions that can be called from Toy
	Natives natives[] = {
		{"clock", nativeClock},

	//inject each native C functions into the current scope
	for (int i = 0; natives[i].name; i++) {
		Toy_injectNativeFn(interpreter, natives[i].name, natives[i].fn);

	return 0;

Calling Toy from C

In some situations, you may find it convenient to call a function written in Toy from the host program. For this, a pair of utility functions have been provided:

TOY_API bool Toy_callLiteralFn(Toy_Interpreter* interpreter, Toy_Literal func, Toy_LiteralArray* arguments, Toy_LiteralArray* returns);
TOY_API bool Toy_callFn       (Toy_Interpreter* interpreter, char* name,       Toy_LiteralArray* arguments, Toy_LiteralArray* returns);

The first argument must be an interpreter. The third argument is a pointer to a Toy_LiteralArray containing a list of arguments to pass to the function, and the fourth is a pointer to a Toy_LiteralArray where the return values can be stored (an array is used here for a potential future feature). The contents of the argument array is consumed and left in an indeterminate state (but is safe to free), while the returns array always has one value - if the function did not return a value, then it contains a null literal.

The second arguments to these functions are either the function to be called as a Toy_Literal, or the name of the function within the interpreter’s scope. The latter API simply finds the specified Toy_Literal if it exists and calls the former. As with most APIs, these return false if something went wrong.

Memory Allocation

Depending on your platform of choice, you may want to alter how the memory is allocated within Toy. You can do this with the simple memory API:

//signature returns the new pointer to be used
typedef void* (*Toy_MemoryAllocatorFn)(void* pointer, size_t oldSize, size_t newSize);
TOY_API void Toy_setMemoryAllocator(Toy_MemoryAllocatorFn);

Pass it a function which matches the above signature, and it’ll be callable via the following macros:

Also, the following macros are provided to calculate the ideal array capacities (the latter of which is for rapidly growing structures):