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On Tue, Jun 03, 2008 at 02:02:11AM -0700, Mail Coward wrote:
> Hello I have some newbie questions in the Programming in Lua Book (2nd ed).
> In Chapter 28 where a custom array type is made with userdata and
> metatables, why isn't the stack 'balanced' in the luaopen_array? I thought
> the stack should always balance back to what you started with at the
> beginning of the function. In the 1st metatable example the stack is 1
> larger than when it started. In the object example, the stack is 2 larger
> than when it started. (The function still returns 1.  What does the return
> value mean?)

I haven't read PiL2 so I can't comment specifically but balancing the
stack is a strongly suggested recommendation so that you don't have stack
sizing/memory growing issues later down the line. That being said when you
call from lua into a C function lua takes care to 'zero' the stack before
the call (so that your C function arguments are at the start of the stack)
and after the call (so that any extra arguments/return values are popped).
The return value from a lua C function is the number of arguments that the
function is going to return to lua.
(See and the linked for explanation.)

> If I needed a second kind of array (or maybe a struct just to be a little
> different) in this same library, which needed its own metatable, is it safe
> to just creating new different metatables in the luaopen_ function? So does
> this work and safe?
> int luaopen_array (lua_State *L) {
>   luaL_newmetatable(L, "LuaBook.array");
>   lua_pushvalue(L, -1);
>   lua_setfield(L, -2, "__index");
>   luaL_register(L, NULL, arraylib_m_forarray);
>   luaL_newmetatable(L, "LuaBook.struct");
>   lua_pushvalue(L, -1);
>   lua_setfield(L, -2, "__index");
>   luaL_register(L, NULL, arraylib_m_forstruct);
>   luaL_register(L, "array", arraylib_f);
>   return 1;
> }

That looks fine to me, yes. Though I question why you would want to be
initializing LuaBook.struct in the array opener and not in its own. Also,
you do know that the code as written above will create metatables with the
names "LuaBook.array" and "LuaBook.struct" and not a table with the name
"LuaBook" with two keys in it ("array" and "struct"), correct?

> I saw this in the 5.1 ref manual:
> "The luaopen_* functions (to open libraries) cannot be called directly, like
> a regular C function. They must be called through Lua, like a Lua function."
> Why is this and how should I be opening this library from C?

This is because some of them expect to be run from within an existing lua
context and when called from C directly this will not be the case. The
last paragraph of explains two
ways they can be called.

> And must all my library open methods be named luaopen_*? Do things break if
> I call it something else like init_mylib()?

Yes, your library open methods need to be luaopen_* (or at least follow
the rules described in The names
are necessary so that the default lua C module loader can find the entry
point. If you wanted to write your own C module loader you can do that and
then have it look up any symbol you wanted to.

> Thank you