Clone of Guile-Hoot (https://gitlab.com/spritely/guile-hoot) Scheme to WebAssembly compiler from the Spritely Institute

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README.md

Guile Hoot

Hoot logo

Hoot is the codename for the Guile->WebAssembly project launched by the Spritely Institute. In addition to the compiler, Hoot contains a full WebAssembly toolchain with a WAT parser, an assembler, a disassembler, an interpreter, etc.

For a fuller picture of project status, including known limitations, see the "Status" section of our documentation..

Project goals and timeframe

Hoot aims to be an ahead-of-time compiler for all of R7RS-small Scheme to WebAssembly (aka Wasm). Hoot uses several Wasm extensions such as tail calls and garbage collection. The good news is that these extensions are already available in major browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, and will soon be making their way into stable browser releases everywhere!

After completing R7RS-small support, we will move on to supporting all of Guile. We are keeping this end-goal in mind as we build the early deliverable.

Resulting code should all run on stock Guile. Currently, we require a Guile built from the main branch of Git as we have upstreamed several changes to Guile that have not yet been released.

The shape of things

In the end we expect to be able to compile Scheme programs to single WebAssembly files. To deploy on web browsers there is an associated JavaScript module. Some non-web targets are hosted by JavaScript implementations (e.g. node); those are similar to web browsers. Otherwise on WASI hosts we expect to have a WASI-specific support module eventually.

The minimal compiled module size is some tens of kilobytes, uncompressed. The auxiliary WebAssembly module to do impedance matching with JavaScript is about four kilobytes uncompressed, and the generic JS library is about 500 lines of unminified JS. As we implement more of Scheme, we hope to preserve this "small programs compile to small files" property, rather than having every compiled program include the whole of Guile's standard library.

But... why the name "Hoot"?

We thought this project deserved a cute project name and mascot, and everyone at the time agreed an owl was nice, and Christine Lemmer-Webber had recently just drawn up this owl pixel art, and so it became the mascot. The name naturally flowed from there.

Project updates

See the log file.

Installing Hoot's stable releases

Note that at the time of writing, Hoot requires a development version of Guile. This may not be the case at your time of reading!

Below are system-specific instructions for installing Hoot.

On Guix

Hoot is already available in Guix:

guix shell --pure guile-next guile-hoot

On Mac OS (homebrew)

Hoot is available in Mac OS thanks to to Alex Conchillo Flaqué (whose instructions we are repeating here)!

Add the Guile Homebrew tap if you haven't already:

brew tap aconchillo/guile

If Guile is already installed with Homebrew, unlink it since we need a newer version:

brew unlink guile

Now, just install Hoot:

brew install guile-hoot

This will also install guile-next, a bleeding edge version of Guile, so it might take a while if there's no bottle available.

Building from source

Easy path: Use Guix

This is by far the easiest path because Guix does all the hard work for you.

First, clone the repository:

git clone https://gitlab.com/spritely/guile-hoot
cd guile-hoot
guix shell
./bootstrap.sh && ./configure && make

The guix shell step will take a while to build because we're using a custom version of Guile and a bleeding edge version of V8. If everything worked okay you can now run make check:

make check

Did everything pass? Cool! That means Hoot works on your machine!

Advanced path: Build dependencies on your own

Maybe you want to understand better what Hoot is actually doing, or maybe you want to hack on the version of Guile used for Hoot, or etc! This section is for you.

First, you need to build Guile from the main branch.

Then you can clone and build this repo:

git clone https://gitlab.com/spritely/guile-hoot
cd guile-hoot
./bootstrap.sh && ./configure && make

To run the test suite against a production Wasm host, you will need a recent version of V8 or a V8 distribution such as NodeJS 22+. NodeJS is the easiest route.

Building V8 is annoying. You need to have depot_tools installed; see https://v8.dev/docs/source-code. Once you have that see https://v8.dev/docs/build to build. You will end up with a d8 binary in out/x64.release (if you are on an x86-64 platform).

If all that works you should be able to make check:

make check

If you want to skip the V8 stuff, you can run the test suite against our own Wasm interpreter instead:

make check WASM_HOST=hoot

Try it out

Hoot is a self-contained system, so the easiest way to try it is from the Guile REPL:

./pre-inst-env guile

From the Guile prompt, enter the following to evaluate the program 42 in Hoot's built-in Wasm interpreter:

scheme@(guile-user)> ,use (hoot reflect)
scheme@(guile-user)> (compile-value 42)
$5 = 42

More interestingly, Scheme procedures that live within the Wasm guest module can be called from Scheme as if they were host procedures:

scheme@(guile-user)> (define hello (compile-value '(lambda (x) (list "hello" x))))
scheme@(guile-user)> hello
$6 = #<hoot #<procedure>>
scheme@(guile-user)> (hello "world")
$7 = #<hoot ("hello" "world")>

Hoot also introduces the guild compile-wasm subcommand which can be used to compile a Scheme file to Wasm via the CLI or a build script:

echo 42 > 42.scm
./pre-inst-env guild compile-wasm -o 42.wasm 42.scm

To actually load 42.wasm you could use the Hoot VM as mentioned above or use a production WebAssembly implementation such as a web browser. Hoot is compatible with Firefox 121+ and Chrome 119+. WebKit-based browsers such as Safari are not currently compatible as WebKit does not yet have the Wasm GC and tail call features that Hoot relies upon.

The generated WebAssembly doesn't depend on a web browser/JavaScript, but it does take some capabilities from the host system, such as the BigInt implementation. For web browsers, these facilities are provided by reflect.js. To help in adapting between JavaScript and the ABI of compiled Scheme code, there is an auxiliary WebAssembly module reflect.wasm that needs to be compiled from reflect.wat, as well as string helper called wtf8.wasm.

See the manual for a more in-depth tutorial and full API documentation!

Examples

For quickly getting started with a new project, see examples/project-template/README.md for an explanation of how to use our project template.

For more examples of using Hoot, check out a couple of our other repos:

Maintenance

GitLab CI

Here's how to build a Docker image for use in GitLab CI. Guix produces the actual image, but skopeo is required to upload it to the GitLab container registry.

Get skopeo:

guix shell skopeo

If this is your first time using the GitLab registry, you need to login. This requires setting up a GitLab personal access token with read_api and write_registry permissions. Once you have a token, run:

skopeo login registry.gitlab.com

Build and upload the image:

./upload-ci-image