7.4 Deferred Constants
[Deferred constant declarations may be used to declare
constants in the visible part of a package, but with the value of the
constant given in the private part. They may also be used to declare
constants imported from other languages (see Annex
A deferred constant declaration
is an object_declaration
with the reserved word constant
but no initialization expression.]
The constant declared by a deferred constant declaration
is called a deferred constant
Import aspect (see B.1
) is True for a deferred
constant declaration, the] deferred constant declaration requires a completion,
which shall be a full constant declaration (called the full declaration
of the deferred constant).
The first sentence is redundant,
as it is stated officially in 3.3.1
The first part of the last sentence is redundant, as no imported entity
may have a completion, as stated in B.1
A deferred constant
declaration that is completed by a full constant declaration shall occur
immediately within the visible part of a package_specification
For this case, the following additional rules apply to the corresponding
The full declaration shall occur immediately within
the private part of the same package;
The deferred and full constants shall have the same type, or shall have
statically matching anonymous access subtypes;
If the deferred constant declaration includes a subtype_indication
that defines a constrained subtype, then the constraint defined
by the subtype_indication
in the full declaration shall match the constraint defined by S
statically.[ On the other hand, if the subtype of the deferred constant
is unconstrained, then the full declaration is still allowed to impose
a constraint. The constant itself will be constrained, like all constants;]
If the deferred constant declaration includes the reserved word aliased
then the full declaration shall also;
Ramification: On the other hand, the
full constant can be aliased even if the deferred constant is not.
If the subtype of the deferred constant declaration excludes null, the
subtype of the full declaration shall also exclude null.
On the other hand, the
full constant can exclude null even if the deferred constant does not.
But that can only happen for a subtype_indication
as anonymous access types are required to statically match (which includes
The completion of a deferred constant declaration shall occur before
the constant is frozen (see 13.14
For nonimported constants, these elaborations cannot require any code
or checks for a legal program, because the given subtype_indication
has to be indefinite or statically match that of the full constant, meaning
that either it is a subtype_mark
or it has static constraints. If the deferred constant instead has an
the designated subtype must be a subtype_mark
We still say that these are elaborated, however, because part of elaboration
is creating the type, which is clearly needed for access_definition
(A deferred constant and its full constant have different types when
they are specified by an access_definition
although there is no visible effect of these types being different as
neither can be named.)
NOTE The full constant declaration
for a deferred constant that is of a given private type or private extension
is not allowed before the corresponding full_type_declaration
This is a consequence of the freezing rules for types (see 13.14
Ramification: Multiple or single declarations
are allowed for the deferred and the full declarations, provided that
the equivalent single declarations would be allowed.
Deferred constant declarations are useful for
declaring constants of private views, and types with components of private
views. They are also useful for declaring access-to-constant objects
that designate variables declared in the private part of a package.
Examples of deferred
Null_Key : constant
Key; -- see 7.3.1
CPU_Identifier : constant
Import => True, Convention => Assembler, Link_Name => "CPU_ID";
-- see B.1
Extensions to Ada 83
In Ada 83, a deferred constant
is required to be of a private type declared in the same visible part.
This restriction is removed for Ada 95; deferred constants can be of
In Ada 83, a deferred constant declaration was
not permitted to include a constraint, nor the reserved word aliased.
In Ada 83, the rules required conformance of
type marks; here we require static matching of subtypes if the deferred
constant is constrained.
A deferred constant declaration can be completed
with a pragma
Import. Such a deferred constant declaration need not be within a package_specification
The rules for too-early uses of deferred constants
are modified in Ada 95 to allow more cases, and catch all errors at compile
time. This change is necessary in order to allow deferred constants of
a tagged type without violating the principle that for a dispatching
call, there is always an implementation to dispatch to. It has the beneficial
side effect of catching some Ada-83-erroneous programs at compile time.
The new rule fits in well with the new freezing-point rules. Furthermore,
we are trying to convert undefined-value problems into bounded errors,
and we were having trouble for the case of deferred constants. Furthermore,
uninitialized deferred constants cause trouble for the shared variable
/ tasking rules, since they are really variable, even though they purport
to be constant. In Ada 95, they cannot be touched until they become constant.
Note that we do not consider this change to
be an upward incompatibility, because it merely changes an erroneous
execution in Ada 83 into a compile-time error.
The Ada 83 semantics are unclear in the case
where the full view turns out to be an access type. It is a goal of the
language design to prevent uninitialized access objects. One wonders
if the implementation is required to initialize the deferred constant
to null, and then initialize it (again!) to its real value. In Ada 95,
the problem goes away.
Wording Changes from Ada 83
Deferred constant declarations used to have
their own syntax, but now they are simply a special case of object_declaration
Extensions to Ada 95
Deferred constants were enhanced to allow the use
of anonymous access types in them.
Wording Changes from Ada 95
Added matching rules for subtypes that exclude null.
Wording Changes from Ada 2005
Corrected rules so that the intent that a full constant
may have a null exclusion even if the deferred constant does not is actually
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