Dune Libraries


Configurator is a small library designed to query features available on the system in order to generate configuration for Dune builds. Such generated configuration is usually in the form of command line flags, generated headers, and stubs, but there are no limitations on this.

Configurator allows you to query for the following features:

  • Variables defined in ocamlc -config,

  • pkg-config flags for packages,

  • Test features by compiling C code,

  • Extract compile time information such as #define variables.

Configurator is designed to be cross-compilation friendly and avoids _running_ any compiled code to extract any of the information above.

Configurator started as an independent library, but now lives in dune. It is released as the package dune-configurator.


We’ll describe configurator with a simple example. Everything else can be easily learned by studying configurator’s API.

To use Configurator, write an executable that will query the system using Configurator’s API and output a set of targets reflecting the results. For example:

module C = Configurator.V1

let clock_gettime_code = {|
#include <time.h>

int main()
  struct timespec ts;
  clock_gettime(CLOCK_REALTIME, &ts);
  return 0;

let () =
  C.main ~name:"foo" (fun c ->
    let has_clock_gettime =
      C.c_test c clock_gettime_code ~link_flags:["-lrt"] in

    C.C_define.gen_header_file c ~fname:"config.h"
      [ "HAS_CLOCK_GETTIME", Switch has_clock_gettime ]);

Usually, the module above would be named discover.ml. The next step is to invoke it as an executable and tell Dune about the targets that it produces:

 (name discover)
 (libraries dune-configurator))

 (targets config.h)
 (action (run ./discover.exe)))

Another common pattern is to produce a flags file with Configurator and then use this flag file using :include:

 (name mylib)
 (foreign_stubs (language c) (names foo))
 (c_library_flags (:include (flags.sexp))))

For this, generate the list of flags for your library (for example, using Configurator.V1.Pkg_config), and then write them to a file: in the above example, flags.sexp with Configurator.V1.write_flags "flags.sexp" flags.

Upgrading From the Old Configurator

The old Configurator is the independent Configurator opam package. It’s now deprecated, and users are encouraged to migrate to Dune’s own Configurator. The advantage of the transition include:

  • No extra dependencies,

  • No need to manually pass -ocamlc flag,

  • New Configurator is cross-compilation compatible.

The following steps must be taken to transition from the old Configurator:

  • Mentions of the configurator opam package should be replaced with dune-configurator.

  • The library name configurator should be changed dune-configurator.

  • The -ocamlc flag in rules that runs Configurator scripts should be removed. This information is now passed automatically by Dune.

  • The new Configurator API is versioned explicitly. The version that’s compatible with old Configurator is under the V1 module. Hence, to transition one’s code, it’s enough to add this module alias:

module Configurator = Configurator.V1

dune-build-info Library

Dune can embed build information such as versions in executables via the special dune-build-info library. This library exposes some information about how the executable was built, such as the version of the project containing the executable or the list of statically linked libraries with their versions. Printing the version at which the current executable was built is as simple as:

Printf.printf "version: %s\n"
  (match Build_info.V1.version () with
   | None -> "n/a"
   | Some v -> Build_info.V1.Version.to_string v)

For libraries and executables from development repositories that don’t have version information written directly in the dune-project file, the version is obtained by querying the version control system. For instance, the following Git command is used in Git repositories:

$ git describe --always --dirty --abbrev=7

which produces a human readable version string of the form <version>-<commits-since-version>-<hash>[-dirty].

Note that in the case where the version string is obtained from the version control system, the version string will only be written in the binary once it’s installed or promoted to the source tree. In particular, if you evaluate this expression as part of your package build, it will return None. This ensures that committing doesn’t hurt your development experience. Indeed, if Dune stored the version directly inside the freshly built binaries, then every time you commit your code, the version would change and Dune would need to rebuild all the binaries and everything that depends on them, such as tests. Instead, Dune leaves a placeholder inside the binary and fills it during installation or promotion.

(Experimental) Dune Action Plugin

This library is experimental and no backwards compatibility is implied. Use at your own risk.

Dune-action-plugin provides a monadic interface to express program dependencies directly inside the source code. Programs using this feature should be declared using dynamic-run instead of usual run.