Program structure

Main module

Each program has a single main source file. The main source file contains an optional UTF-8 byte order mark sequence, an optional #! comment, an optional encoding declaration, any number of import declarations, and any number of global definitions and statements:

main :: [ utf8-bom ] [ initial-comment newline ] [ br] [ encoding-decl ] imports defs

The definitions (and statements) in the main source file form the main module. This module has the following special characteristics:

To avoid confusion, the term module as used below does not refer to the main module, unless explicitly mentioned otherwise.


A module contains one or more source files. Modules are identified by names that are formed by joining one or more identifiers (components) with the :: operator. Each module source file contains an optional encoding declaration, a module declaration, import declarations, followed by global definitions and statements:

module :: [ utf8-bom ] [ encoding-decl ] module-decl imports defs
module-decl :: "module" module-name br
module-name :: id ("::" id)*

The tokens after the module keyword must form the module name.

The relative location of the module files is formed by interpreting the module name components as directory names. The first component is the main directory, the second component is the subdirectory of the main directory, etc. The root directory that contains the main directory is the directory of the main source file, but implementations may define other, alternative root directories for the standard modules and for other purposes.

Import declarations

An import declaration makes public definitions in one or more modules available within a source file:

imports :: ("import" module-name ("," module-name)* br)*

It also causes the modules to be parsed and compiled. Modules that are not imported are not compiled, and thus any errors in them are not reported.

It is an error to import a module twice in the same source file.

The std module

The special module std contains definitions of basic types, exceptions and other objects that are generally useful in many Alore programs. This module is always implicitly imported in every source file, and it is an error to import it explicitly.

Standard modules

All modules defined in the Alore Library Reference are standard modules, unless explicitly mentioned otherwise. There are no other standard modules. Every Alore implementation should provide all the standard modules. If it does not provide some of them, or if the module implementations are incomplete, this should be clearly mentioned in the accompanying documentation.

Standard modules may define additional public global definitions and members beyond those described in the Alore Library Reference. The names of these definitions always start with two underscores (__). Otherwise, standard modules define only those public names that are mentioned in the Alore Library Reference. New versions of Alore may define additional functionality in standard library modules. An implementation should make clear which version of the Alore standard library it implements.

Encoding declaration

The default encoding of Alore source files is UTF-8. It is possible to specify the encoding of a source file using an encoding declaration:

encoding-decl :: "encoding" ("utf8" | "ascii" | "latin1") br

The identifier utf8 refers to the UTF-8 encoding (since it is the default, the declaration has no effect), latin1 refers to the ISO-8859-1 (Latin 1) encoding, and ascii refers to the ASCII encoding. If a utf8-bom token is included at the start of a file, only an encoding declaration with value utf8 can be present in the source file, but as always when using the UTF-8 encoding, no encoding declaration is required.

In a source file that contains an encoding declaration, non-ASCII characters (other than the UTF-8 BOM) must not be present in the source file before the encoding identifier (utf8, ascii or latin1) of the encoding declaration.

The encoding declaration only affects comments and string literals — any other tokens may only contain ASCII characters. String literals will always be decoded to an internal 16-bit Unicode representation. UTF-8 string literals will thus be automatically decoded during compilation.