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Runtime string allocation/resizing
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Date: 2005-06-22 (00:07)
From: Jacques Garrigue <garrigue@m...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Runtime string allocation/resizing
From: Robert Roessler <roessler@rftp.com>

> When dealing with OCaml-to-C-land interfacing, I sometimes am in the 
> position of needing to allocate and fill a string - but only have an 
> upper bound for the length... until after I have already copied the 
> data [from a third-party library function].
> What is the recommended "OCaml" way to deal with this?
> Should I do two caml_alloc_string calls?  One to initially "get" the 
> data, and then alloc a second one and copy to it after I know the 
> correct length?
> Or would it be considered better practice to use malloc in the C heap 
> for the "temp" copy and only do the caml_alloc_string when I know the 
> exact size?
> Or ?

If your goal is raw performance, then probably the fastest approach
would be to use alloca(). Unfortunately, this is not very portable.
Using malloc() is not a very good idea either, as some implementations
are really slow. So I would recommend using caml_alloc_string twice.
Allocation costs amost nothing, and the added GC cost is really
minimal. (But maybe GC specialists know better.)

I you have a global bound on the size of the string, a static buffer
is of course the best solution (but I suppose you would not have the
question then.)