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' Signal

Signal an error

Syntax: 'x

where x is a symbol atom or string, aborts evaluation and passes x to the interpreter as a string.


The only way to detect a signal is to use Trap.


Trap always receives a string regardless of the type of x.

Bracket notation

The quote glyph is overloaded. This makes Signal an exception to the rule that all functions can be applied with bracket notation. The form '[x] returns a projection of the iterator Each.


q)f 1         / signals a type error indicating ' will not signal a number
q)f"a"        /q will not signal a char

Using an undefined word signals the word as an error:


which is indistinguishable from


Error-trap modes

At any point during execution, the behaviour of signal (') is determined by the internal error-trap mode:

mode behavior
0 abort execution (set by trap @ or .)
1 suspend execution and run the debugger
2 collect stack trace and abort (set by .Q.trp)

During abort, the stack is unwound up to the nearest trap (@ or . or .Q.trp). The error-trap mode is always initially set to

  • 1 for console input
  • 0 for sync message processing

\e sets the mode applied before async and HTTP callbacks run. Thus, \e 1 will cause the relevant handlers to break into the debugger, while \e 2 will dump the backtrace either to the server console (for async), or into the socket (for HTTP).

q)\e 2
q)'type             / incoming async msg signals 'type
  [2]  f@:{x*y}
  [1]  f:{{x*y}[x;3#x]}
  [0]  f `a
q)\e 1
  [2]  f@:{x*y}
q))                 / the server is suspended in a debug session

Trap, Trap At
Basics: Control, Debugging, Error handling