(disclaimer: I'll nitpick in this post, and give some free, personal, critiscm, but akkartik asked me for comment by email, so this is what I'll do)
> My current approach is more efficient in I/O: registries for load and save functions, and a thread that periodically saves everything.
I think my improved solution (http://arclanguage.org/item?id=10696, just below) is actually the most I/O effective. Yours will rewrite the file(s) every 10 seconds, regarless of if the content has actually been modified. But I like the global thread idea.
You're a good system programmer to write a temp file then rename it. But Arc does this for you when you call 'writefile.
This brings me to: your code is difficult to read. You're defining, IMO, way too many clones/variants of existing Arc functions ('tablist2, 'listtab2, 'fwrite, etc...). Maybe they're actually needed for your case, but maybe take the time to dive into Arc source, and see if something existing is not fitting your needs. If you really need to define them, please include a short docstring or a comment to explain why '...2 is needed.
'alist?: ahhh I'm like you, I like the '?' convention for predicates, but Arc doesn't follow it, and use the ambiguous 'a... convention instead. IMO, it's better to follow the convention, even if bad, because otherwise, again, it makes the code inconsistent, difficult to read by others. 'alist? is a name too close to the existing 'alist and this is quite confusing. fallintothis' suggestion, 'an-alist is a good one IMO. Still, I laughed reading it, because well, that's where the 'a... convention brings us. 'an-a... LOL.
Lisp is so awesome to let you use "special" characters in identifiers, and predicates are not often used, and '?' is like '=' it's easily parsable, I can't understand the use of 'a... But this is maybe just personal taste. The ...[-]p convention of CL is worse than '?' but at least less ambiguous. Why is 'afn not [isa _ 'fn]? What about the anaphoric stuff, which also use 'a... etc. And of course, english-centric convention, which is worse than latin-centric when you can choose between the two.
In general: interesting idea and implementation. Still, I prefer either 'diskvar/'disktable because it's in vanilla Arc, either my 'db/'ptable because the code is, well I wrote it so I can't objectively judge but, easier, shorter to read, and it doesn't use macros. And 'db/'ptable is transparent, where your code is like 'disktable: half-transparent (still need to 'todisk/'save-state).
Thanks palsecam, I found it most useful. The issues with 'a naming are compelling. Good to know writefile implicitly does write+rename.
I like your alternative; weird that our comments kinda crossed (sorry I missed it before). I don't yet understand how it avoids unnecessary writes. I didn't appreciate how foundational sref is.
I left a link to an earlier discussion about the ..2 variants :) (http://arclanguage.org/item?id=10677) I need read-nested-table and write-nested-table because read-table and write-table don't handle nested tables. fread/fwrite is my attempt at a unified interface for pickling arbitrary objects. Ideally read/write would take care of that.
OK, I re-read it and I can understand now. Thanks. An unified interface is a good idea.
I just know about it but can't remember its purpose, but 'load-tables (notice the final "s") exists. Maybe it's here for nested tables [edit after looking at http://arcfn.com/doc/table.html: no it's not].