Simple StringsΒΆ

On the command line, strings are part of the current SOURCE buffer. Their content is usually lost, when SOURCE gets REFILL’ed. The command

> s" hi there" type
 hi there ok

works fine. If you split the commands into two lines like

> s" hi there"
> type
 ei there ok

it will print the last character of type and the remaining characters from the previous command line. If a string has to be used later on, it needs to be moved to another buffer within the same command line or accept is used to enter the string into some other buffer (see below for an example).

> s" hi there" pad swap cmove> \ length information gets lost
> pad 7 type
 hi ther ok

In colon definitions, s" does something completely different: It copies the whole string from the SOURCE buffer to flash (into the dictionary) and at runtime provides the flash address and length of the string. This data can be used with e.g. ITYPE.

\ allocate RAM for the string content.
20 buffer: namestring
variable age

\ enter string and print them
: input ( buf-addr buf-len prompt-addr prompt-len -- buf-addr buf-len )
 cr itype over swap accept ;

: getname  ( -- addr len )
   namestring 20
   s" Who are you? " input ; \ [1]
: getage
        0. \ [2]
    pad 3  \ [3]
    s" How old are you? " input
    >number 2drop d>s     \ [4]
    age ! ;;

: .name    ( addr len -- ) type ;
: .age     (  -- ) age @ u. ;

: .hallo   cr ." Nice to meet you"
   .age ."   year old "
   .name                  \ [5]
   ." ." cr ;

\ putting it all together
: ask      getname getage .hallo ;

Running the command ask gives the following session

> ask

Who are you? Hannu

How old are you? 23

Nice to meet you 23 year old Hannu.


  1. s" compiles a string into flash. The compiled string gets a

    runtime that leaves the address/length pair of the compiled string and skips its content for further program execution.

  2. Places a double cell zero value onto the stack to be used at


  3. pad is a commonly used temporary storage pool. It

    is not used by the system itself. Its location is relative to HERE, so every change to HERE will move PAD as well.

  4. >number is a standard word that converts a string

    to a number. To get the actual age (assuming a reasonable value) the 2drop removes some returned data. Finally the double cell age is converted to single cell and stored at the variable age.

  5. getname leaves the actual length of the name string

    on the stack. This length information is not stored elsewhere. .name removes this information so you cannot reconstruct this data.

> : label: create s, , does> ;
> 42 s" hello" label: example
> example icount itype
 hello ok
> example icount 2/ 1+ + @i .
 42 ok

s, copies a string from RAM to flash, increasing the DP. The storage format follows the counted string schema: first cell is the length information, followed by the characters, 2 per flash cell. A zero byte is appended if necessary to fill the last flash cell. It is an internal factor of s".

This recipe is based upon ideas from Hannu Vuolasaho and Michael Kalus.