Re: ergonomie du compilateur

From: Hendrik Tews (
Date: Tue Jan 21 1997 - 13:54:46 MET

Date: Tue, 21 Jan 1997 13:54:46 +0100
Message-Id: <>
From: Hendrik Tews <>
Subject: Re: ergonomie du compilateur


I do occasionally program in ocaml. Since David Monniaux started
a discussion about the error messages of the ocaml compiler I
would like to add my opinion as well.

Features I dislike:

- There is no error recovery in the compiler. Before I start the
first compile I have at least 5 syntax errors in the file. In
order to find them I have to go through at least 5 edit-compile
cycles, which I find very annoying.

- In case of a syntax error, the compiler never reports what it
was expecting. For an ocaml beginner which has some experience in
SML it can be a tough problem to find the error in a line like

    type 'a tree = node of 'a * 'a tree * 'a tree
                 | leaf;;

since the compiler only says

    File "", line 3, characters 13-14:
    Syntax error

I would consider a message like "Expecting a Constructor, but
found an identifier" extremely useful.

- I don't understand the behavior of "ocamlc -i" if an type error
occurs. Especially in this case, where any information about the
inferred types would be useful, it just prints nothing. I would
like it to behave like the top-level, which prints any information

Regarding the type errors David Monniaux wrote:

   Couldn't the Ocaml compiler be made to have, on request, more verbose
   messages on typing errors, including the trace of inferences of the terms
   to cause problems?

I saw type inferences traces of other languages and it was no
help for finding a type error. Inference traces might be
interesting for people, who are interested in the typing

Instead I would suggest an additional option to the ocaml
compiler which causes the compiler to print the types of all
identifiers not just those of top-level. This would help me a lot,
because I very often simulate the typing algorithm in order to
find the types of local variables which might have caused the


Hendrik Tews

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