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[Caml-list] question: "autoconfiguration" of Ocaml code (checking for libraries)
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Date: 2003-01-29 (20:22)
From: Will Benton <willb@c...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] question: "autoconfiguration" of Ocaml code (checking for libraries)
On Wed, Jan 29, 2003 at 09:15:02PM +0100, Basile STARYNKEVITCH wrote:

> Thanks. I know about autoconf, but would like to avoid it. Apparently,
> the Ocaml team don't like it neither, since they don't use it in
> Ocaml.
> I was seeking for something simpler. I'm not very fond of m4 macros
> (even if I did hack several years ago such stuff).

That's certainly fair.  There is a steep learning curve, but the
advantage is portability and not having to write all of the corner
cases yourself.

> In my opinion, autoconf was suited for the problem of configuring C
> code for lots of Unix variants. This is not what I need (in particular
> Ocaml has a unique implementation).

Autoconf has a lot of built-in macros for C/UNIX code, for sure, but
to say that you can't use it for Ocaml code is like saying that you
can't use GNU make for Ocaml projects (or csound code, or LaTeX
documents).  It is a particularly general-purpose tool, although it
will want to be able to preprocess the configurable files somehow.  In
C, this is trivial -- m4 macros for the Makefile which define
preprocessor constants.  In other language contexts, you will have to
use m4 macros.

> Maybe my perception of autoconf is wrong, but the mere fact that my
> Debian distribution (ok it is sid, a.k.a unstable) requires several
> versions of it makes me really feel uneasy.

I don't understand your concern.  The autoconf package generates a
configure script, which is portable to any system, even one without any
autoconf installed.  The reason to have multiple versions of autoconf
installed is that different development versions of packages are
relying on different versions of autoconf's macros/behaviors *to
generate* the configure script.


Will Benton 
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