Grammars

In elliptical, language is modeled as a tree of Phrases. That may sound scary but it's really not. Take a look at this grammar:

const grammar = (
  <sequence>
    <literal text="I'm " />
    <choice>
      <literal text='Superman' />
      <literal text='Batman' />
    </choice>
  </sequence>
)

It's not too hard to figure out, right? If you think of it as a tree, you can see that there are two "branches":

  • "I'm Superman"
  • "I'm Batman"

You've just met 3 built-in phrases:

  • sequence says "these Phrases must occur one-after-the-other."
  • choice says "any of these Phrases works" - it creates a "branch" in the tree.
  • literal matches a literal string, as defined in the text attribute.

Parsing Grammars

To parse a grammar, we first have to compile it. We do this with the compile function. It takes a grammar and returns an object with a parse method. Let's try to parse the string "i'm bat".

const parse = compile(grammar)
const outputs = parse("i'm bat")

The results are contained in outputs. It is an array of option objects. It looks something like this:

[{
  words: [
    {text: "I'm ", input: true},
    {text: 'Bat', input: true},
    {text: 'man', input: false}
  ],
  results: {},
  score: 1,
  qualifiers: []
}]

Words

The words property shows us a representation elliptical's understanding of the input. Note that the case has been fixed, and it is suggesting the string "man" as a completion to the input. Each word also contains an input property, which tells us whether it was a part of the original input, or whether it is a suggestion. This can be used to present a nice interface for the user. Perhaps it would look something like this:

I'm Batman

Results

However, we want to be able to do something with the input beyond just displaying it. To do that, we should use the results property. Note that in our example above, results is an empty Object. We can fix this by adding some attributes to our grammar.

const grammar = (
  <sequence>
    <literal text="I'm " />
    <choice id='name'>
      <literal text='Superman' value='Clark Kent' />
      <literal text='Batman' value='Bruce Wayne' />
    </choice>
  </sequence>
)

We have added the id attribute to our <choice>. id is used by children of the <sequence> phrase, and it determines the key in the results Object. We have added value attributes to our <literal>s, which will serve as the values for our results Object. If we parse this new grammar, we get information in the outputs:

[{
  ...
  results: {name: 'Bruce Wayne'}
  ...
}]

Now we can take these results and do something with them.

Phrases

There are many more built-in Phrases, and you can add custom Phrases to model any language constructs imaginable.

Elliptical makes no assumptions about language - it processes raw unicode strings. Grammars can be constructed in any language.