In the first part we changed the behavior of the value: protocol of blocks to support currying. That changes the existing behavior of the system, making it possible for those messages to answer a block instead of a “real” value. Is that a problem?

One could argue that the new behavior comes into force only in the situations where the original system would signal an error anyway, so if it falls over because of getting a block it didn’t expect, it would still have fallen over in the old system because of the number of arguments mismatch. On the other hand, what if it doesn’t fall over immediately after it gets that unexpected block? It is possible for the new behavior to mask an error and make it difficult to find its cause later. Also, some might not like this kind of a change on the familiarity grounds. Gilad was the one who got me on the track of playing with currying, and for these reasons he suggested that it might be a good idea to keep value: and friends intact and introduce a different evaluation message that would allow currying–something like curry:curry:.

A similar in spirit approach, but one that gives us the best of both worlds, is to introduce a unary message curried used as a prefix to value: to indicate that currying is allowed. The example from the previous post then becomes

| add inc |
add := [:a :b | a + b].
inc := add curried value: 1.
(inc value: 2) + (inc value: 3)

This both preserves the familiar evaluation protocol and declares that currying is possible. To implement this, unlike in the Part 1 version, we leave valueWithArguments: unchanged from its standard implementation. Instead, we introduce a new class called Currier with an instance variable block and an initialization method block:, and add the following method to the block class (either BlockContext or BlockClosure, depending on the Smalltalk dialect):

    ^Currier new block: self

This injects a Currier into the message stream as add curried value: 1 is evaluated, so that the value: message is received by the Currier. To process it, the Currier needs to invoke the original block if there are enough arguments to do so immediately, or create a CurriedBlock otherwise:

value: anObject
    block numArgs = 1
        ifTrue: [^block value: anObject].
    block numArgs > 1
        ifTrue: [^CurriedBlock new block: block arguments: {anObject}].
    self error: 'Incorrect number of arguments'

The above assumes that an expression such as {anObject} creates an Array with anObject, as in Squeak or in VisualWorks with my BraceConstructor extension.

Other value:... protocol messages are implemented similarly. Also, the CurriedBlock class should implement the same curried method as “real” blocks do–curried blocks are no different from regular ones, so they can be “re-curried”. (In Part 1 we would get such re-currying for free).