Functions

A sequence of code which performs a specific task, as part of a larger program, and is grouped as one, or more, statement blocks

Builtin Functions

You have already seen a few functions. range(), print(), and join().
These are functions built into Boo.
Here's a list of all the builtin functions that Boo offers:

Name

Description

Syntax example

print

Prints an object to Standard Out. The equivilent of System.Console.WriteLine

print("hey")

gets

Returns a string of input that originates from System.Console.ReadLine() - Standard Input

input = gets()

prompt

Prompts the user for information.

input = prompt("How are you? ")

join

Walk through an IEnumerable object and put all of those elements into one string.

join([1, 2, 3, 4, 5]) == "1 2 3 4 5"

map

Returns an IEnumerable object that applies a specific function to each element in another IEnumerable object.

map([1, 2, 3, 4, 5], func)

array

Used to create an empty array or convert IEnumerable and ICollection objects to an array

array(int, [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]) == (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

matrix

Creates a multidimensional array. See Multidimensional Arrays for more info.

matrix(int, 2, 2)

iterator

Creates an IEnumerable from an object

List(iterator('abcde')) == ['a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'e']

shellp

Start a Process. Returns a Process object

process = shellp("MyProgram.exe", "")

shell

Invoke an application. Returns a string containing the program's output to Standard Out

input = shell("echo hi there", "")

shellm

Execute the specified managed application in a new AppDomain. Returns a string containing the program's output to Standard Out

input = shellm("MyProgram.exe", (,))

enumerate

Creates an IEnumerator from another, but gives it a pairing of (index, value)

List(enumerate(range(5, 8))) == [(0, 5), (1, 6), (2, 7)]

range

Returns an IEnumerable containing a list of ints

List(range(5)) == [0, 1, 2, 3, 4]

reversed

Returns an IEnumerable with its members in reverse order

List(reversed(range(5))) == [4, 3, 2, 1, 0]

zip

Returns an IEnumerable that is a "mesh" of two or more IEnumerables.

array(zip([1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6])) == [(1, 4), (2, 5), (3, 6)]

cat

Concatenate two or more IEnumerators head-to-tail

List(cat(range(3), range(3, 6))) == [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

These are all very handy to know. Not required, but it makes programming all that much easier.

Defining Your Own Functions

It's very simple to define your own functions as well.

def Hello():
    return "Hello, World!"

print Hello()
Hello, World!

Now it's ok if you don't understand any of that, I'll go through it step-by-step.

  1. def Hello():
    1. return "Hello, World!"
      • return is a keyword that lets the function know what to emit to its invoker.
      • "Hello, World!" is the string that the return statement will send.
  1. print Hello()

Like variables, function types are inferred.

def Hello():
    return "Hello, World!"

will always return a string, so Boo will will infer that string is its return type. You could have done this to achieve the same result:

def Hello() as string:
    return "Hello, World!"

If it is not obvious, specify the return type for a function.

If Boo cannot infer a return type, it will assume object. If there is no return type then the return type is called 'void', which basically means nothing. To have no return type you can leave off the return, or have a return with no expression. If there are multiple return}}s with different {{return types, it will return the closest common ancestor, often times object but not always.

Arguments

A way of allowing the same sequence of commands to operate on different data without re-specifying the instructions.

Arguments are very handy, as they can allow a function to do different things based on the input.

def Hello(name as string):
    return "Hello, ${name}!"

print Hello("Monkey")
Hello, Monkey!

Here it is again, step-by-step.

  1. def Hello(name as string):
    1. return "Hello, ${name}!"
      • return is a keyword that exits the function, and optionally return a value to the caller.
      • "Hello, ${name}!" uses String Interpolation to place the value of name directly into the string.
  1. print Hello("Monkey")

Function Overloading

Giving multiple meanings to the same name, but making them distinguishable by context. For example, two procedures with the same name are overloading that name as long as the compiler can determine which one you mean from contextual information such as the type and number of parameters that you supply when you call it.

Function overloading takes place when a function is declared multiple times with different arguments.

def Hello():
    return "Hello, World!"

def Hello(name as string):
    return "Hello, ${name}!"

def Hello(num as int):
    return "Hello, Number ${num}!"

def Hello(name as string, other as string):
    return "Hello, ${name} and ${other}!"

print Hello()
print Hello("Monkey")
print Hello(2)
print Hello("Cat", "Dog")
Hello, World!
Hello, Monkey!
Hello, Number 2!
Hello, Cat and Dog!

Variable Arguments

There is a way to pass an arbitrary number of arguments.

def Test(*args as (object)):
    return args.Length

print Test("hey", "there")
print Test(1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
print Test("test")

a = (5, 8, 1)
print Test(*a)

2
5
1
3

The star * lets it known that everything past that is arbitrary.
It is also used to explode parameters, as in print Test(*a) causes 3 arguments to be passed.
You can have required parameters before the *args, just like in any other function, but not after, as after all the required parameters are supplied the rest are past into your argument array.

Exercises

  1. Write a function that prints something nice if it is fed an even number and prints something mean if it is fed an odd number.

Go on to Part 08 - Classes