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Icon Documentation Guide

Gregg M. Townsend
Department of Computer Science
The University of Arizona

Last updated June 3, 2013


Icon is distributed with a small set of documentation pages:

This guide provides an overview of additional available information. Documents designated with IPD numbers are Icon Project Documents found at the Icon web site, www.cs.arizona.edu/icon.

Basic Documentation

The command-line interface to Icon is described by man pages. The icon command executes a program from a single source file and supports script usage. The more general icont command, modeled after cc, supports multiple files, separate compilation, and other features.

The Icon language is defined by

[cover] The Icon Programming Language, Third Edition
Ralph E. Griswold and Madge T. Griswold
Peer-to-Peer Communications, 1996, out of print
ISBN 1-57398-001-3
Downloadable from www.cs.arizona.edu/icon/books.htm

Some introductory material can be found on the web:

The Icon Programming Language Handbook, by Thomas W. Christopher, is available on the web at www.tools-of-computing.com/tc/CS/iconprog.pdf. The second edition of Icon Programming for Humanists, by Alan Corré, is available from unicon.org/books.


Icon's graphics facilities are defined by

[cover] Graphics Programming in Icon
Ralph E. Griswold, Clinton L. Jeffery, and Gregg M. Townsend
Peer-to-Peer Communications, 1998, out of print
ISBN 1-57398-009-9
Downloadable from www.cs.arizona.edu/icon/books.htm

Two older reports present an overview of Icon's graphics:

Recent feature additions

A few minor features have been added since the publication of the Icon books:

These features are more fully described in the release notes.

Program Library

Program library documentation is contained within the source code. Extracted documentation is available at www.cs.arizona.edu/icon/library/ipl.htm.

Icon Internals

Icon's internals are detailed in

[cover] The Implementation of the Icon Programming Language
Ralph E. Griswold and Madge T. Griswold
Princeton University Press, 1986, out of print
ISBN 0-691-08431-9
Downloadable from www.cs.arizona.edu/icon/books.htm
Although considerable changes have occurred since Version 6, described in the book, the basic structure is the same. Two technical reports describe subsequent changes:

Icon's run-time implementation language is described in IPD261, www.cs.arizona.edu/icon/ftp/doc/ipd261.pdf (PDF).

Technical Reports

The Icon web site provides a large number of technical reports, including "Icon Project Documents" designated by IPD numbers. The index is found at www.cs.arizona.edu/icon/docs/docs.htm.

Most of these reports are historical and many describe past research experiments. The reports cited above are among the most current, although they may not be completely correct with respect to Version 9.5.

Other Sources

Other sources of documentation can be found in the Icon FAQ and on the Icon web site, www.cs.arizona.edu/icon.