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Date: -- (:)
From: Jon Harrop <jon@f...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Unsafe features
On Saturday 03 September 2005 10:40, Florian Weimer wrote:
> * Damien Bobillot:
> >> The C language interface falls into this category.  Are there any
> >> other problematic areas?
> >
> > The Obj.magic function. I don't know exactly what it does, but I
> > think it does arbitrary type conversions.
>
> Apparently, it creates a bit-wise copy of a value and assigns it a new
> type.
>
> I discovered that there are also a couple of undocumented unsafe_*
> functions, such as String.unsafe_set, which behave the way their names
> imply (no bound schecks).

Yes, there is also the "-unsafe" command line option to turn off bounds 
checking.

There is never any need to use Obj (although the alternatives can be quite 
tedious or inefficient).

The marshalled format is likely to change between compiler versions in the 
future so it should only be used for short-term storage anyway.

The C interface is very error prone and is (in general and IMHO) the most 
likely cause of unsafeness. Programmers writing OCaml-only programs can 
happily stick to the safe core of the language. However, programmers wishing 
to use external libraries are likely to encounter problems. I have had 
segfaults with code using LablGL and the FFTW bindings, for example.

-- 
Dr Jon D Harrop, Flying Frog Consultancy Ltd.
Objective CAML for Scientists
http://www.ffconsultancy.com/products/ocaml_for_scientists