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Version: 1.3.0


The solution provided by the conditional directives with symbol definition to manage several standards is improved upon by physically separating the input into different files. This is where the #include directive comes handy. Basically, it takes an argument made of a string containing a path to the file to be textually included, like so:

#include "path/to/standard_1.ligo"

and the preprocessor replaces the directive with the contents of the file path/to/standard_1.ligo, whose contents is then preprocessed as well. This can in theory create a loop, for example, if two files try to include each other.

In fact, the preprocessor does more than simply include the given file. To enable the consumer of the output to keep track of inclusions, in particular, to maintain the line numbers of the input that has been copied, the preprocessor inserts two special directives in the output, called linemarkers, one in the stead of the #include directive and one after the inclusion. Let us consider the following example where a.txt includes b.txt, which, in turn, includes c.txt. Here is the contents of a.txt:

Start of "a.txt"
#include "b.txt"
End of "a.txt"

Then b.txt:

Start of "b.txt"
#include "c.txt"
End of "b.txt"

and, finally, c.txt:

Start of "c.txt"
End of "c.txt"

If we gather the files in a Tests directory and run the preprocessor only, like so

$ ligo print preprocessed Tests/a.txt

we obtain on stdout:

# 1 "Tests/a.txt"
Start of "a.txt"
# 1 "Tests/b.txt" 1
Start of "b.txt"
# 1 "Tests/c.txt" 1
Start of "c.txt"
End of "c.txt"
# 3 "Tests/b.txt" 2
End of "b.txt"
# 3 "Tests/a.txt" 2
End of "a.txt"

There are three forms of linemarkers:

  1. # <line number> "path/to/file"
  2. # <line number> "path/to/file" 1
  3. # <line number> "path/to/file" 2

The first kind is used only at the start of the output file and states that the line after the linemarker has number <line number> and belongs to the file path/to/file. Therefore Start of "a.txt" has line number 1 in file Tests/a.txt.

The second kind is used when including a file. The #include directive is discarded in the output, except the newline character, which explains the empty line after Start of "a.txt". Then a linemarker ending in 1 is printed, which means that we went to the file path/to/file when processing the input.

The third kind is inserted in the output upon returning from an included file. For example, # 3 "Tests/b.txt" 2 means that the next line has number 3 and we return to file Tests/b.txt.

Linemarkers need to be handled by the consumer of the output. In the context of the LIGO compiler, the lexer reads the output of the preprocessor, therefore scans for linemarkers.

When using the preprocessor with the LIGO compiler, the #include directive can only occur at the top level according to the grammar, that is, either at the beginning of the smart contract, in between file-level declarations or at the end. (This property is checked by the parser.) The rationale for this restriction is to avoid fragments of smart contracts that are syntactically incorrect, and yet assembled into a correct one.