library - How to write Befunge-98 libraries & extensions


version 5.000

Befunge-98 Libraries & Extensions

So you want to write your own Befunge extension?

Help save the world (tm), and send them to me so I can collect them and redistribute them.

As you'll see, it's not very difficult to write your own extensions. Currently, one can only write his Befunge libraries in perl, but maybe I'll provide a mechanism in order to write you extensions in Befunge. That would be terrific! ]:->

The fingerprint semantics

First, here's a recall on the fingerprint semantics.

Extension and customization of Funge-98 are accomplished through the so-called "fingerprint mechanism".

To be more precise, a fingerprint is a unique ID code which indicates a library of routines (a fingerprinted extension) to be assigned temporarily to what the instructions A to Z do. Multiple loaded fingerprints can overlap and overload, so even object-oriented-like inheritance is possible.

These new semantics and instructions are only available to and only apply to the IP which loaded them. The ( Load Semantics instruction loads the semantics for a given fingerprint onto any or all of the instructions A to Z.

( pops a count. It then pops count cells. For each cell that it pops, it multiplies a temporary value (which is initially zero) by 256, and adds the cell value to it.

In this way, ( builds a fingerprint. This mechanism makes it simple to express large fingerprints like 0x72697679 in printable ASCII such as "OLEH"4( ... ), while not requiring the use of ASCII as the medium for all fingerprints.

Writing your extension in perl

Okay, let's assume you want to write an extension that does two things:


overloads the P instruction and binds it to output I can see a llama!\n


overloads the S instruction and binds it to store onto the TOSS the gnirts I can see a llama!\n"

As you can see, this is a must-have extension! :o)

Choose a fingerprint

The first thing to do is to choose a unique id (aka fingerprint) for your cool extension.

This fingerprint:


should be unique, and should not be already taken by another extension. If somebody took the name you planned to use for your cool extension, check if the stoler's extension doesn't overlap with yours, and check with its author to know if you can help him/her to develop his/her extension or if you can take his extension.

/!\ Remember that if you want your extension to be distributed, it should have a unique fingerprint!


should be self-explanatory (well, you're not technically forced to, but it would be better) when transposed in ASCII.


must not be too long. Remember the ASCII is just a turn-around, but the real fingerprint is an integer. As such, it is required that it fits in a cell of Befunge (and this is a 4 bytes Befunge): this means that the extension fingerprint should not (when transposed in ASCII) be longer than 4 characters. Well, in fact, you can go with an extension name as long as 8 chars or even more (depending on your hardware), but I strongly discourage such ideas.

Okay, given these rules, we decide to take the name LAMA for our extension, and the fingerprint would be 0x76657765. This was the first step.

Create a new module

Now, the next thing to do is to create a module. The module must be in the Language::Befunge::lib hierarchy, and be named as your extension name.

So, we're creating the module Language::Befunge::lib::LAMA.

/!\ Warning: in order for the perl interpreter to find your cool module, you are to put it somewhere in @INC.

The new module is quite easy to begin, since you just have to put the following in the newly-created file:

    package Language::Befunge::lib::LAMA;
    sub new { return bless {}, shift; }

Don't forget the final 1;! Since it's a Perl module, perl needs the module to return a true value...

Your module is in fact a class, and it should work as a class. That's why you need a new constructor, even if it's really a basic one, as shown before.

Once you've done that, your module can be loaded in your Befunge program! Let's try the exciting program:

    <     v     "ok"0 ( v# 4 "LAMA"
          v "not ok"0   <
          > :#,  _ q

And it should output ok. If it outputs not ok, then you made a mistake in your module and either it does not compile (does your module return a true value?) or perl couldn't find it (check @INC).

Just code your functions!

All you have to do now is to code your functions. Define a new sub for each binded instruction, named after this instruction.

Thus, in order to overload the P instruction, we just need to add the following in our module:

    sub P {
        print "I can see a llama!\n";

And that's all! Once your cool module has been loaded, the P instruction will output your cool sentence... That's definitely terrific!

Accessing the IP

Since you may want to interact with the Instruction Pointer and/or the cartesian Lahey space topology, or whatever, each method will be called with the current Befunge interpreter (a Language::Befunge object).

See Language::Befunge for more documentation about the relevant methods.

Hey, that's exactly what we needed in order to implement our S instruction! Let's code it just now:

    sub S {
        my (undef, $interp) = @_; # Remember it's an OO method.
        $ip->spush( reverse map { ord } split //, "I can see a llama!\n".chr(0) );

This may be a little complex, but keep in mind that Befunge works with a stack. Thus, one should reverse the string in order for it to be stored the right way.

Another thing that may surprise you, is that the stack (as well as the Lahey space) stores integers. You have to convert them to whatever you want if you want to interpret them. In this example, we're storing a serie of characters onto the stack, but in fact we're truly storing the ordinal values of the chars. This way, they will be displayed the right way when used with ,.

Be kind to your mates

Nothing else is needed for your cool extension to work. But since you may want to provide your module to everyone, I recommend you to:


Produce a clean code. This means that use strict; and use warnings; are really welcome on top of your module.


Document your module. The minimum is to say which instructions are overloaded, and what is the new semantics of the binded instructions. You're welcome to take credits about your cool module!


Reuse code. Don't forget this is just a plain module, and you can do whatever you're doing when you're coding a regular module: lots of functions, module variables, etc.

Test your extensions

I would really appreciate if you ship me your extensions with a test file that tests it. Check the t/ directory to fetch an example of a test file. In order to keep a clean distribution, name your test file after your extension name, such as t/lib_LAMA for our example extension.

Tips & Tricks

No Exporter needed

Your module does not need to export anything. You just need to provide a function for each instruction that you plan to overload.

Library semantics just overload A-Z

Remember that a library can just overload the instruction A to Z. You can define a sub named a but it won't overload the a instruction, while you still can call your a function within your module.

One instruction should occur in one tick

Remember that what you're implementing should be processed in one tick. This may not be important if you're working with non-concurrent Funge, but may matter for people who use the Concurent semantics.

Befunge uses a stack

Remember that Befunge is stack-based, thus you may need to reverse what you plan to store onto the stack.

Befunge is just aware about integers

You can store only integers in the stack. The meaning of those integers depends on you however. This means for example that you should push ordinal values of characters onto the stack, instead of strings or characters.


Jerome Quelin, <>


Jerome Quelin


This software is copyright (c) 2003 by Jerome Quelin.

This is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as the Perl 5 programming language system itself.