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RE: truename, merge-pathnames, etc.
Actually, I was having the problem with Lucid Lisp. VaxLisp does
indeed handle logical names in a "reasonable" manner, but after
rereading CLtL I've decided that its behavior is probably technically
incorrect, and that Lucid's behavior is correct. That is, CLtL implies
that PARSE-NAMESTRING and MERGE-PATHNAMES are only supposed to operate
on pathname *syntax* without regard to the *semantics* attached to the
various components by the underlying file system. Translation is
mentioned only in the context of TRUENAME.
Your idea with concatenating and using probe-file won't work either,
first of all because it's nonportable (the whole reason for having the
pathname functions in the first place is to avoid this kind of
operation), and secondly because I may be trying to build the name of a
file that doesn't exist yet.
Also, this problem is not specific to VMS. You can get into the same
problem under Un*x if your Lisp supports the use of environment variables
or shell variables in filenames.