SpotInstall is a tool to facilitate the installation of OCaml annotation files (.cmt, .cmti, .spot, .spit).

Quick how-to-use for whom do not read manuals and complain later

To install .cmt* files of OCaml compiler standard library and others:

$ cd <your-ocaml-source> # ex. ~/.opam/4.01.0/build/ocaml/
$ spotinstall ocaml

To install all the .cmt* files of OPAM build directory:

$ cd ~/.opam/<switch>/build # ex. ~/.opam/4.01.0/build/ocaml/
$ spotinstall  # This may take a long time

To install .cmt* files of your library source code:

$ cd <your-source-directory>
$ spotinstall


Many existing OCaml libraries, applications and the compiler itself do not produce or install the annotation files (.annot, .cmt, .cmti, .spot, .spit) which are essential for sub-expression type queries (caml-types.el), definition seaches and code refactoring (TypeRex and OCamlSpotter). If you want to use these development tools, you have to:

  • Rebuild all the software from their source, adding -bin-annot options to compiler flags in build scripts i.e. Makefile/OCamlBuild/OMakefile.
  • Install those annotation files together with the library objects and signatures. (Require modification of the build scripts)

for all the programs. In addition,

  • OCaml compiler's standard libraries are also need to be compiled with -bin-annot optinons, so that they can be browsed.

I propose a workaround, consists of two things:

  • A small tool to install annotation files to the library destination directory. (You no longer need to add annotation file installation to the build scripts.)
  • (This is no longer required for OCaml 4.01.0 and newer.) For OCaml compiler 4.00.x, a very small compiler patch which activates -annot and -bin-annot if OCAML_ANNOT environment variable is defined. (You no longer need to add -bin-annot to the build scripts.)

You still need to recompile the compiler and the libraries, but no need of changing their build scripts.



You need:

First create OMakefile.root by:

yes no | omake --install


omake install

You can also install SpotInstall via OPAM: opam install spotinstall. But you know this is source package, as always, it might fail.

Synopsis (how-to-use)

First of all, to produce the binary annotation files, the library must be installed, either with:

  • The patched compiler.
  • or, the vanilla compiler, adding -bin-annot compiler option at the build scripts of the library.

Binary annotation files are now in the source directory, but not yet installed, since its build scripts often do not know how to install them. Let's use SpotInstall to copy these binary annotation files.

Suppose the library provides OCamlFind package <package>, then, staying in the source code directory:

spotinstall <packages>

The command checks the files in the destination directory of OCamlFind package <package>, and if there are corresponding annotation files in the source directory, copy them to the destination.

If <packages> is omitted, all the installed ocamlfind packages (except those from OCaml compiler) are searched. Normally it takes long time.

If <package> is ocaml, spotinstall works bit differently and copies the annotation files built under OCaml compiler source tree.

How to live with OPAM

Note: OPAM is still in beta. It means that this explanation can become obsolete at any time.

Keep the source files

OPAM removes compiled source files by default. Upgrade your OPAM at least 0.8.2, then set OPAMKEEPBUILDDIR environment variable with non-empty string.

Install annot files

Run spotinstall after opam install, at the OPAM build directory. Usually, your OPAM build directory is at $HOME/.opam/<compiler switch>/build/.

How to live with GODI or others

Dunno, since I do not use GODI. Good luck. But general keypoints are:

  • Keep the compiled source code, or no browsing possible
  • Somehow hook the packager's final installation phase, in order to exec spotinstall command. Probably wrapping ocamlfind install for it might be a good idea, though I have not tried it.

How to live with OCaml binary packages from my preferred OS distribution

No way. SpotInstall cannot help binaries.

Annot compiler patch for OCaml 4.00.1

This is no longer required for OCaml 4.01.0 and newer. Use OCAMLPARAM environment variable to override general compiler switches, like:

# bash
export OCAMLPARAM="_,bin-annot=1"

For OCaml 4.00.1, you may need a small patch available from:

hg clone -b annot

or included in this directory, ocaml-annot-<version>.patch.

You can also try OPAM compiler switch 4.00.1+annot.