Lambda data

Suppose you want to do a complicated task with an Array, like, say, convert all of its strings to lowercase, or check if its datamap have “health” data equal to 0, or join all of its strings together into a single string. You want to be able to tell Harlowe to search for “each string where the string's 1st letter is A”. You want to write a “function” for how the search is to be conducted.

Lambdas are user-created functions that let you tell certain macros, like (find:), (altered:) and (folded:), precisely how to search, alter, or combine the data provided to them.

There are several types of lambdas.

Lambdas use temp variables as “placeholders” for the actual values. For instance, in (find: _num where _num > 2, 5,6,0), the temp variable _num is used to mean each individual value given to the macro, in turn. It will be 5, 6 and 0, respectively. Importantly, this will not alter any existing temp variable called _num - the inside of a lambda can be thought of as a hook, so just as the inner _x in (set: _x to 1) |a>[ (set:_x to 2) ] is different from the outer _x, the _num in the lambda will not affect any other _num.

An important feature is that you can save lambdas into variables, and reuse them in your story easily. You could, for instance, (set: $statsReadout to (_stat making _readout via _readout + "|" + _stat's name + ":" + _stat's value)), and then use $printStats with the (folded:) macro in different places, such as (folded: $statsReadout, ...(dataentries: $playerStats)) for displaying the player's stats, (folded: $statsReadout, ...(dataentries: $monsterStats)) for a monster's stats, etc.

Lambdas are named after the lambda calculus, and the “lambda” keyword used in many popular programming languages. They may seem complicated, but as long as you think of them as just a special way of writing a repeating instruction, and understand how their macros work, you may find that they are very convenient.