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].