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Static exception analysis or alternative to using exceptions
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Date: 2010-05-31 (19:30)
From: Nicolas Pouillard <nicolas.pouillard@g...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Static exception analysis or alternative to using exceptions
On Mon, 31 May 2010 16:36:22 +0200, Goswin von Brederlow <> wrote:
> Richard Jones <> writes:
> > On Wed, May 26, 2010 at 06:15:05PM +0200, Hans Ole Rafaelsen wrote:
> >> What experience does people have to using alternatives to exceptions, such
> >> as option types or exception monads? Does use of third part libraries that
> >> still throws exceptions make such approaches hard to use? Performance wise
> >> it seems to be comparable to catching exceptions or matching for options, so
> >> I guess the difference be might a question of programming style?
> >
> > Personally I've found that you should only throw those exceptions
> > which can be caught in a single place in the program.  By this I mean
> > that an exception such as Not_found shouldn't be thrown, and instead
> > it would be better to use an option type (for stdlib functions which
> > throw Not_found, you have to be _very_ careful that the exception
> > cannot "escape").
> Which needlessly complicates your code when it never happens.
> Imho a good module should provide both an exception and option based
> interface to fit the circumstances and programming style.

Since having all functions in all flavours can lead to hard to interface
bloat, one should consider tiny functions to switch from a style to another.
It tends to be easier to start from an option type in the case of Not_found
instead of the other way around for the following reason:

  * The typechecker does not remind us to catch the exception.
  * We need a custom handler per exception.
  * We need to take a thunk to delay the computation.

  let not_found_to_option f =
    try Some (f ())
    with Not_found -> None

On the contrary look at:

  let from_option exn = function
    | Some x -> x
    | None -> raise exn

  Example: from_option Not_found (List.find p xs)

Best regards,

Nicolas Pouillard