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2.4.15 The PROCEDURE Instruction
     PROCEDURE [ EXPOSE [ varref [ varref ... ] ] ] ;
          varref = { symbol | ( symbol ) }

The PROCEDURE instruction is used by REXX subroutines in order to
control how variables are shared among routines. The simplest use
is without any parameters; then all future references to variables
in that subroutine refer to local variables. If there is no
PROCEDURE instruction in a subroutine, then all variable
references in that subroutine refer to variables in the calling
routine’s name space.

If the EXPOSE subkeyword is specified too, then any references to
the variables in the list following EXPOSE refer to local
variables, but to variables in the name space of the calling

Example: Dynamic execution of PROCEDURE

The definition opens for some strange effects, consider the
following code:

     call testing
          say foo
          procedure expose bar
          say foo

Here, the first reference to FOO is to the variable FOO in the
caller routine’s name space, while the second reference to FOO is
to a local variable in the called routine’s name space. This is
difficult to parse statically, since the names to expose (and even
when to expose them) is determined dynamically during run-time.
Note that this use of PROCEDURE is allowed in [TRL1], but not in

Several restrictions have been imposed on PROCEDURE in [TRL2] in
order to simplify the execution of PROCEDURE (and in particular,
to ease the implementation of optimizing interpreters and

·    The first restriction, to which all REXX interpreters adhere
  as far as I know, is that each invocation of a subroutine (i.e.
  not the main program) may execute PROCEDURE at most once. Both
  TRL1 and TRL2 contain this restriction. However, more than one
  PROCEDURE instruction may exist “in” each routine, as long as at
  most one is executed at each invocation of the subroutine.

·    The second restriction is that the PROCEDURE instruction must
  be the first statement in the subroutine. This restriction was
  introduced between REXX language level 3.50 and 4.00, but several
  level 4.00 interpreters may not enforce it, since there is no
  breakage when allowing it.

There are several important consequences of this second

(1) it implicitly includes the first restriction listed above,
since only one instruction can be the first; (2) it prohibits
selecting one of several possible PROCEDURE instructions; (3) it
prohibits using the same variable name twice; first as an exposed
and then as a local variable, as indicated in the example above;
(4) it prohibits the customary use of PROCEDURE and INTERPRET,
where the latter is used to create a level of indirectness for the
PROCEDURE instruction.  This particular use can be exemplified by:

         interpret ‘procedure expose’ bar

where BAR holds a list of variable names which are to be exposed.
However, in order to make this functionality available without
having to resort to INTERPRET, which is generally considered “bad”
programming style, new functionality has been added to PROCEDURE
between language levels 3.50 and 4.00. If one of the variables in
the list of variables is enclosed in parentheses, that means
indirection.  Then, the variables exposed are: (1) the variable
enclosed in parentheses; (2) the value of that variable is read,
and its contents is taken to be a space-separated list of variable
names; and (3) all there variable names are exposed strictly in
order from left to right.

Example: Indirect exposing

Consider the following example:

          procedure expose foo (bar) baz

Assuming that the variable BAR holds the value one two, then
variables exposed are the following: FOO, BAR, ONE, TWO, BAZ, in
that order. In particular, note that the variable FOO is exposed
immediately before the variables which it names are exposed.

Example: Order of exposing

Then there is another fine point about exposing, the variables are
hidden immediately after the EXPOSE subkeyword, so they are not
initially available when the variable list is processed. Consider
the following code:

          procedure expose bar foo.baz baz

which exposes variables in the order specified. If the variable
BAR holds the value 123, then FOO.123 is exposed as the second
item, since BAR is visible after having already been exposed as
the first item. On the other hand, the third item will always
expose the variable FOO.BAZ, no matter what the value of BAZ is in
the caller, since the BAZ variable is visible only after it has
been used in the third item. Therefore, the order in which
variables are exposed is important. So, if a compound variable is
used inside parentheses in an PROCEDURE instruction, then any
simple symbols needed for tail substitution must previously to
have been explicitly exposed. Compare this to the DROP

What exactly is exposing? Well, the best description is to say
that it makes all future uses (within that procedural level) to a
particular variable name refer to the variable in the calling
routine rather than in the local subroutine. The implication of
this is that even if it is dropped or it has never been set, an
exposed variable will still refer to the variable in the calling
routine.  Another important thing is that it is the tail-
substituted variable name that is exposed. So if you expose
FOO.BAR, and BAR has the value 123, then only FOO.123 is exposed,
and continues to be so, even if BAR later changes its value to
e.g. 234.

Example: Global variables

A problem lurking on new REXX users, is the fact that exposing a
variable only exposes it to the calling routine. Therefore, it is
incorrect to speak of global variables, since the variable might
be local to the calling routine. To illustrate, consider the
following code:

     foo = ‘bar’
     call sub1
     call sub2
     sub1: procedure expose foo
          say foo  /* first says ‘bar’, then ‘FOO’ */
     sub2: procedure
          say foo  /* says ‘FOO’ */
          call sub1

Here, the first subroutine call in the “main” program writes out
bar, since the variable FOO in SUB1 refers to the FOO variable in
the main program’s (i.e. its caller routine’s) name space. During
the second call from the main program, SUB2 writes out FOO, since
the variable is not exposed.  However, SUB2 calls SUB1, which
exposes FOO, but that subroutine also writes out FOO. The reason
for this is that EXPOSE works on the run-time nesting of routines,
not on the typographical structure of the code. So the PROCEDURE
in SUB1 (on its second invocation) exposes FOO to SUB2, not to the
main program as typography might falsely indicate.

The often confusing consequence of the run-time binding of
variable names is that an exposed variable of SUB1 can be bound to
different global variables, depending on from where it was called.
This differs from most compiled languages, which bind their
variables independently of from where a subroutine is called. In
turn, the consequence of this is that REXX has severe problems
storing a persistent, static variable which is needed by one
subroutine only. A subroutine needing such a variable (e.g. a
count variable which is incremented each time the subroutine is
called), must either use an operating system command, or all
subroutines calling that subroutine (and their calling routines,
etc.) must expose the variable. The first of these solution is
very inelegant and non-standard, while the second is at best
troublesome and at worst seriously limits the maximum practical
size of a REXX program.  There are hopes that the VALUE() built-in
function will fix this in future standards of REXX.

Another important drawback with PROCEDURE is that it only works
for internal subroutines; for external subroutines it either do
not work, or PROCEDURE may not even be allowed on the main level
of the external subroutine. However, in internal subroutines
inside the external subroutines, PROCEDURE is allowed, and works
like usual.