Textual models#


Text is complex and everything that is written here most likely will change.

Text is a big part of most kinds of programs, and it shows up quite often in interactive fiction as well. Crochet approaches textual representation in a way that tries to make it safer and more respecting—and supporting—of different languages and cultures.

Text literals#

Text can be described in Crochet using the text literal form. This allows one to provide any kind of Unicode piece of text, which is sufficient to support people to capture text in languages like English or Japanese, and to use emojis:

"Hello! こんにちは 😊"

Literals can also contain multiple lines:

"There’s an unfamiliar scent.
 An unfamiliar feeling.
 You’re laying down on a cold floor---you feel
 the irregular stones beneath you,
 but you haven’t seen them yet.
 Your eyes remain shut."

These forms may still contain double quote (") characters, but because they both indicate the start and end of the literal, including them requires the character to be escaped—that is, written with a preceding backslash: \":

"They exchanged some glances. \"Are you not eating...?\" Awra asked."

Alternatively, literals can be started with << (double left angle brackets), and end with >> (double right angle brackets). In this form, double quotes don’t need to be escaped:

<<They exchanged some glances. "Are you not eating...?" Awra asked.>>


Currently, when writing multi-line text literals, Crochet will remove any leading white-space up to the column of the opening quotation mark. This is, however, a very confusing behaviour if you’re not looking at the source code in a plain text editor with monospaced font, so it will be removed in the next version of the language.

You don’t have to worry about the change in semantics because Crochet modules are versioned (by the language heading at the top), and the compiler can just migrate your source code automatically.

Unicode escapes#

Crochet allows characters to be written using their explicit unicode escape sequence, rather than its representation. The notation uses \u followed by the four hexadecimal unicode digits.

For example, the ASCII exclamation mark (!) has the unicode number 0021, so the escape sequence would become \u0021. The following are equivalent:



There are certain situations in Crochet where characters must be written in their unicode escape form.

Text composition#

An interesting aspect of text is that we often want to combine different pieces, with different grammars and semantics. This is not really a computing thing; handwritten text in a piece of paper may comprise different languages, formatting, colours, and so many other aspects.

Likewise, it’s quite common for some computer program to include text that contains parts in another language. For example:

"The sun was out in full force again; summer has arrived. And
 there's only one way to describe this feeling: 夏バテ."

Here we have a piece of text literal in Crochet that includes text in both English and Japanese—the Japanese part, “natsubate”, or “suffering from summer heat”, is used to capture and emphasise the leading sentences. These kind of multi-lingual pieces of text are very common, though more often would comprise pairs like English and French, or English and Latin.

So Crochet literals supports some of these compositions already—though in this case that’s by plain luck, as there’s nothing that tells Crochet that this is a composition. Crochet is not aware of the intrinsic semantics of these sentences; it does not care about what they mean.

Now, computers sometimes care about the meaning of these pieces of text, too. And at that point composition becomes more complicated.


let Room = "The ceiling of the log cabin is in the same wood
            you see in the walls. Nothing fancy, but well
            kept still.";

let Chandelier = "At the centre there’s a chandelier with
                  three gas lamps.";

Here we have two separate pieces of text, one which describes a room, and another which describes a chandelier. We might have an interactive fiction where these pieces of text might be combined depending on certain things happening in the simulated game world. For example, the number of gas lamps might change, thus changing the description of the chandelier.

But when we present this to the player we still want to make sure that they will see the combined piece of text; as if it was a single literal to begin with. We want them to see this:

The ceiling of the log cabin is in the same wood you see in the walls. Nothing fancy, but well kept still. At the centre there’s a chandelier with three gas lamps.

In Crochet, this is achieved by using the text composition form—called interpolation. The composition form is similar to the text literal—but it allows us to insert different things within the text, by using an expression within square brackets. For example, we could combine the example above using:

"[Room] [Chandelier]"

This just makes it so all of the text in Room is followed by all of the text in Chandelier. We could also have written it as such:

"The ceiling of the log cabin is in the same wood
 you see in the walls. Nothing fancy, but well
 kept still. [Chandelier]"

They both have the same semantics.

Non-text composition#

Interpolation is not limited to pieces of literal text in Crochet. We can compose any kind of Crochet value using it. This is often used to handle things like text formatting. For example, you might want to present some pieces of text in bold or italic letters. Or you might want to use a different type face, or a different size, or colour.

In Crochet, these will generally be commands that produce a Crochet value that represents this “intention” of formatting the text—or adding non-textual things to it. For example:

"You inspect the bracelet in your wrist. It [bold: "looks"]
 like an elastic band. The one that is perhaps too comfortable
 to wear, as you hadn't noticed it there sooner."

Here we have bold: "looks" within square brackets—the double quotes here are not escaped because, within the brackets, we can write any expression; Crochet will not get confused as the brackets provide an explicit beginning and end for it.

What this bold: _ command would do is to create a Crochet value that can represent its piece of text in bold font. Essentially giving us something that looks like this:

You inspect the bracelet in your wrist. It looks like an elastic band. The one that is perhaps too comfortable to wear, as you hadn’t noticed it there sooner.

Internally, Crochet just keeps track of which parts of the interpolation are literal pieces of text, and which parts are some arbitrary Crochet value. But it’s up to the code handling these interpolations how to associate a meaning to the entire composition.

Text and trust#

Crochet considers all pieces of literal text to be “trusted”—that is, they originate from within the code itself, and so the meaning should be known. At least as long as the package which includes them is also trusted.

On the other hand, pieces of text that come from outside of the program—say text that user can type and provide to your program, or the contents of a file—are always considered “untrusted”. Which means that Crochet cannot verify its origin, and cannot decide if that piece of text is “safe” or not.

Whenever pieces of untrusted text are combined with pieces of trusted text, the entire interpolation becomes, itself, untrusted— but the pieces within this interpolation maintain their original trust level. This behaviour allows computations that interpret these interpolations to know which values need to be a bit more restricted, and subject to a bit more of scrutinity, when looking at them. Safe composition of values relies on this property.

To put this in more concrete terms. Imagine that you allow users to type the name of a file, which your game can then use as their avatar. These avatars are stored within a particular folder, so in order to load them you use the following interpolation:

let Avatar = "images/avatars/[Filename]";

So when Alissa types in cat.png as her file name, she’ll get images/avatars/cat.png as her avatar. Maki, however, is trying to be a bit clever here. She sees the potential to break our little game. So she types ../game-logo.png as her file name—and gets images/game-logo.png as her avatar.

This example doesn’t have any particularly bad implications, but it still lets us see that when we combine pieces of text naïvely, what we expected is not always what happens—and a lot of security issues happen because of this mismatch between what we expected to happen and what was actually possible to happen, given the program we wrote.

Crochet aims to keep that mismatch to a minimum, which is why it goes a bit further with the distinction between trusted and untrusted values. This is then used by code interpreting these interpolations to ensure that it’s very unlikely that they will do confusing things—most of the time, you don’t really need to worry about it, unless you’re the one writing one of these interpreters.