5.7 Efficiency Notes
The following notes are worth keeping in mind when using FunnelWeb.
Memory: When FunnelWeb processes an input file, it reads the entire input file, and all the included files into memory. (Note: If a file is included n times, FunnelWeb keeps n copies in memory). This organization does not pose a constraint on machines with large memories, but could present a problem on the smaller machines such as the PC.
Speed: FunnelWeb is not a slow program. However, it is not particularly fast either. If the speed at which FunnelWeb runs is important to you, then the thing to keep in mind is that FunnelWeb has been optimized to deal efficiently with large slabs of text. FunnelWeb treats input files as a sequence of text slabs and special sequences (e.g. @+) and whenever it hits a special sequence, it has to stop and think. Thus, while a ten megabyte text slab would be manipulated as a single token, in a few milliseconds, a similar ten megabyte chunk filled with special sequences would take a lot longer. If FunnelWeb is running slowly, look to see if the input contains a high density of special sequences. This can sometimes happen if FunnelWeb is being used as a backend macro processor and its input is being generated automatically by some other program.
Macro expansion: When tangling (expanding macros), FunnelWeb never expands a macro expression into memory; it always writes it to the product file as it goes. This is a powerful fact, because it means that you can write macros containing an unlimited amount of text, and pass such macros as parameters to other macros without becoming concerned about overflowing some kind of buffer memory. In short, FunnelWeb does not impose any limits on the size of macro bodies or their expansions.
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