8.2 Scope of Declarations
[For each declaration, the language rules define
a certain portion of the program text called the scope of the
declaration. The scope of a declaration is also called the scope of any
view or entity declared by the declaration. Within the scope of an entity,
and only there, there are places where it is legal to refer to the declared
entity. These places are defined by the rules of visibility and overloading.]
of a declaration is a portion of the declarative
region immediately enclosing the declaration. The immediate scope starts
at the beginning of the declaration, except in the case of an overloadable
declaration, in which case the immediate scope starts just after the
place where the profile of the callable entity is determined (which is
at the end of the _specification
for the callable
entity, or at the end of the generic_instantiation
if an instance). The immediate scope extends to the end of the declarative
region, with the following exceptions:
The reason for making overloadable
declarations with profiles special is to simplify compilation: until
the compiler has determined the profile, it doesn't know which other
declarations are homographs of this one, so it doesn't know which ones
this one should hide. Without this rule, two passes over the _specification
would be required to resolve names that denote things with the same name
as this one.
The immediate scope of a library_item
includes only its semantic dependents.
Clause 10 defines only a partial ordering of library_item
Therefore, it is a good idea to restrict the immediate scope (and the
scope, defined below) to semantic dependents.
examples like this:
package P is end P;
package P.Q is
I : Integer := 0;
package R is
package X renames P;
J : Integer := X.Q.I; -- Illegal!
The scope of P.Q does not contain R. Hence,
neither P.Q nor X.Q are visible within R. However, the name R.X.Q would
be visible in some other library unit where both R and P.Q are visible
(assuming R were made legal by removing the offending declaration).
This rule applies to limited views as well as “normal” library
items. In that case, the semantic dependents are the units that have
for the limited view.
The immediate scope of a declaration in the private
part of a library unit does not include the visible part of any public
descendant of that library unit.
Ramification: In other words, a declaration
in the private part can be visible within the visible part, private part
and body of a private child unit. On the other hand, such a declaration
can be visible within only the private part and body of a public child
Reason: The purpose of this rule is to
prevent children from giving private information to clients.
For a public child subprogram, this means that the parent's private part
is not visible in the profile of the declaration and of the body. This
is true even for subprogram_bodies
not completions. For a public child generic unit, it means that the parent's
private part is not visible in the generic_formal_part
as well as in the first list of basic_declarative_item
(for a generic package), or the (syntactic) profile (for a generic subprogram).
[The visible part
view of) an entity is a portion of the text of its declaration containing
declarations that are visible from outside.]
of (a view of) an entity that has a visible part
contains all declarations within the declaration of (the view of) the
entity, except those in the visible part; [these are not visible from
outside. Visible and private parts are defined only for these kinds of
entities: callable entities, other program units, and composite types.]
The visible part of a view
of a callable entity is its profile.
The visible part of a composite
type other than a task or protected type consists of the declarations
of all components declared [(explicitly or implicitly)] within the type_declaration
Reason: Although there is no way to reference
anything but the formals from outside a generic unit, they are still
in the visible part in the sense that the corresponding declarations
in an instance can be referenced (at least in some cases). In other words,
these declarations have an effect on the outside world. The visible part
of a generic unit needs to be defined this way in order to properly support
the rule that makes a parent's private part invisible within a public
child's visible part.
Ramification: The visible part of an
instance of a generic unit is as defined for packages and subprograms;
it is not defined in terms of the visible part of a generic unit.
[The visible part of a package, task unit, or protected
unit consists of declarations in the program unit's declaration other
than those following the reserved word private
, if any; see 7.1
for packages, 9.1
for task units, and 9.4
for protected units.]
The scope of a declaration always
contains the immediate scope of the declaration. In addition, for a given
declaration that occurs immediately within the visible part of an outer
declaration, or is a public child of an outer declaration, the scope
of the given declaration extends to the end of the scope of the outer
declaration, except that the scope of a library_item
includes only its semantic dependents.
Note the recursion. If
a declaration appears in the visible part of a library unit, its scope
extends to the end of the scope of the library unit, but since that only
includes dependents of the declaration of the library unit, the scope
of the inner declaration also only includes those dependents. If X renames
library package P, which has a child Q, a with_clause
mentioning P.Q is necessary to be able to refer to X.Q, even if P.Q is
visible at the place where X is declared.
The immediate scope of a declaration
is also the immediate scope of the entity or view declared by the declaration.
Similarly, the scope of a declaration is also the
scope of the entity or view declared by the declaration.
The rule for immediate scope implies the following:
If the declaration is that of a library unit,
then the immediate scope includes the declarative region of the declaration
itself, but not other places, unless they are within the scope of a with_clause
that mentions the library unit.
It is necessary to attach the semantics
to [immediate] scopes (as opposed to visibility), in order for various
rules to work properly. A library unit should hide a homographic implicit
declaration that appears in its parent, but only within the scope of
that mentions the library unit. Otherwise, we would violate the "legality
determinable via semantic dependences" rule of 10
“Program Structure and Compilation Issues
The declaration of a library unit should be allowed to be a homograph
of an explicit declaration in its parent's body, so long as that body
does not mention the library unit in a with_clause
This means that one cannot denote
the declaration of the library unit, but one might still be able to denote
the library unit via another view.
does not make the declaration of a library unit visible; the lack of
prevents it from being visible. Even if a library unit is mentioned in
its declaration can still be hidden.
The completion of the declaration of a library
unit (assuming that's also a declaration) is not visible, neither directly
nor by selection, outside that completion.
The immediate scope of a declaration immediately
within the body of a library unit does not include any child of that
This is needed to prevent children
from looking inside their parent's body. The children are in the declarative
region of the parent, and they might be after the parent's body. Therefore,
the scope of a declaration that occurs immediately within the body might
include some children.
The immediate scope of a pragma that is not used
as a configuration pragma is defined to be the region
extending from immediately after the pragma to the end of the declarative
region immediately enclosing the pragma.
There are notations for denoting visible declarations that are not directly
visible. For example, parameter_specification
are in the visible part of a subprogram_declaration
so that they can be used in named-notation calls appearing outside the
called subprogram. For another example, declarations of the visible part
of a package can be denoted by expanded names appearing outside the package,
and can be made directly visible by a use_clause
There are some obscure cases involving generics in which there is no
such notation. See Clause 12
Extensions to Ada 83
The fact that the immediate
scope of an overloadable declaration does not include its profile is
new to Ada 95. It replaces RM83-8.3(16), which said that within a subprogram
specification and within the formal part of an entry declaration or accept
statement, all declarations with the same designator as the subprogram
or entry were hidden from all visibility. The RM83-8.3(16) rule seemed
to be overkill, and created both implementation difficulties and unnecessary
Wording Changes from Ada 83
The notion of "visible part" has been extended in Ada 95. The
syntax of task and protected units now allows private parts, thus requiring
us to be able to talk about the visible part as well. It was necessary
to extend the concept to subprograms and to generic units, in order for
the visibility rules related to child library units to work properly.
It was necessary to define the concept separately for generic formal
packages, since their visible part is slightly different from that of
a normal package. Extending the concept to composite types made the definition
of scope slightly simpler. We define visible part for some things elsewhere,
since it makes a big difference to the user for those things. For composite
types and subprograms, however, the concept is used only in arcane visibility
rules, so we localize it to this subclause.
In Ada 83, the semantics of with_clause
was described in terms of visibility. It is now described in terms of
We have clarified
that the following is illegal (where Q and R are library units):
package Q is
I : Integer := 0;
package R is
package X renames Standard;
X.Q.I := 17; -- Illegal!
even though Q is declared in the declarative
region of Standard, because R does not mention Q in a with_clause
Wording Changes from Ada 95
Wording Changes from Ada 2005
Wording Changes from Ada 2012
The immediate scope of a pragma
is defined as it is used in other rules in the Reference Manual.
Ada 2005 and 2012 Editions sponsored in part by Ada-Europe