Open Dylan Console Environment

In Open Dylan, you can develop Dylan applications using the IDE (on Windows) or command-line tools. The compiler executable is called dylan-compiler. There is a helper application called make-dylan-app, which can be used to generate some boilerplate for a new project, and finally there’s dswank which is a back-end for interactive development in Emacs. This chapter describes these command-line tools.

Hello World

You have just downloaded Open Dylan and installed it in /opt/opendylan-2012.1. So how do you write the canonical Hello World app? This example assumes bash is being used. You may need to adjust for your local shell.

$ export PATH=/opt/opendylan-2012.1/bin:$PATH
$ make-dylan-app hello-world
$ cd hello-world
$ dylan-compiler -build hello-world.lid
...lots of output...
$ _build/bin/hello-world
Hello, world!

Ta da! Now a quick review of the steps with a little bit of explanation.

First you must set PATH so that make-dylan-app and dylan-compiler will be found. ./_build/bin is where dylan-compiler puts the executables it builds.

make-dylan-app creates a directory with the same name as the application and three files:

  1. hello-world.lid – This says what other files are part of the project. The order in which the files are listed here determines the order in which the code in them is loaded.
  2. library.dylan contains simple library and module definitions. These can be extended as your project grows more complex.
  3. hello-world.dylan contains the main program.

The first time you build hello-world it builds all used libraries, all the way down to the dylan library itself. Subsequent compiles will only need to recompile hello-world itself and will therefore be much faster.

dylan-compiler has both a batch mode and an interactive mode. The -build option says to build the project in batch mode. When you pass a .lid file to the compiler it builds the library described by that file. In the next section you’ll see that it can also pass the name of the project (without ”.lid”) and it will use “registries” to find the project sources.

The compiler places its output in the _build directory in the current working directory. This includes the libraries and executables that it builds. You can run the executable as noted above from this location.

Using Source Registries

Passing the name of a .lid file to dylan-compiler works great when you have a single library that only uses other libraries that are part of Open Dylan, but what if you want to use a second library that you wrote yourself? How will dylan-compiler find the sources for that library? The answer is registries. For each Dylan library that isn’t part of Open Dylan itself, you create a file in the registry that points to the .lid file for the library. Here’s an example for hello-world:

$ mkdir -p src/registry/generic
$ echo abstract://dylan/hello-world/hello-world.lid > src/registry/generic/hello-world
$ export OPEN_DYLAN_USER_REGISTRIES=`pwd`/src/registry

What’s going on here? First of all, the registry mechanism makes it possible to have platform specific libraries. Anything platform-independent can be put under the “generic” directory. Other supported platform names are amd64-freebsd, x86-linux, x86-win32, etc. For a full list see the Open Dylan registry.

Platform-specific registry directories are searched before the “generic” registry, so if you have a library that has a special case for Windows, you could use two registry entries: one in the “x86-win32” directory and one in the “generic” directory.

Now let’s look at the actual content of our hello-world registry file:


What this is doing is locating a file relative to the directory that the registry itself is in. If the “registry” directory is /home/you/dylan/registry then this registry file says the hello-world .lid file is in /home/you/dylan/hello-world/hello-world.lid. “abstract://dylan/” is just boilerplate.

Once you’ve set the OPEN_DYLAN_USER_REGISTRIES environment variable to point to our new registry, dylan-compiler can find the hello-world library source no matter what directory you’re currently working in. You only need to specify the library name:

$ cd /tmp
$ dylan-compiler -build hello-world

You can add more than one registry to OPEN_DYLAN_USER_REGISTRIES by separating them with colons:

$ export OPEN_DYLAN_USER_REGISTRIES=/my/registry:/their/registry

A Few More Quick Tips

  1. Add -clean to the command line to do a clean build:

    dylan-compiler -build -clean /my/project.lid
  2. Use dylan-compiler -help to see all the options. Options that don’t take an argument may be negated by adding “no”. e.g. -nologo

  3. The -build option builds an executable unless you add this line to your .lid file:

    target-type: dll

You should now have enough information to start working on your Dylan project. The next few sections go into more detail on using dylan-compiler, which also has an interactive mode that can make the edit/build/debug cycle a bit faster. Or if you’re an Emacs user you may prefer to jump directly to the section on the Dylan Interactor Mode for Emacs (DIME).

Using dylan-compiler interactively

The interactive mode of dylan-compiler allows you to carry out multiple development tasks over a period of time without having to restart the console compiler each time. To start the console environment in interactive mode, enter dylan-compiler without any arguments at a shell. For example:

$ dylan-compiler
Hacker Edition
Version 2012.1
Copyright (c) 1997-2004, Functional Objects, Inc.
Portions Copyright (c) 2004-2012, Dylan Hackers
Portions Copyright (c) 2001-2012, Ravenbrook Ltd.

If you’ve used the Open Dylan IDE on Windows, note that using dylan-compiler interactively is similar to working in the IDE’s interactor.

You can find a list of command groups by entering the command help. The command groups in the console compiler are:

Command Group Description
BASIC basic commands
BROWSING browsing commands
BUILD project building commands
INTERNAL internal commands
LIBRARY-PACKS library packs commands
PROJECT project commands
PROPERTY property handling commands
REGISTRY registry commands
REPORTS report commands
SYSTEM operating system commands

You can use help -group group-name to view the available commands and properties of a specific group. You can also use help command-name to view the full documentation of a command. We can see the kind of information available by looking at the help entry for the help command:

> help help
Usage: :HELP [options*] [command]

If specified with no arguments, HELP shows a list of all commands
with a one line description. Help can display command options by
specifying the name of the command. Additionally, it can display
group or property help by specifying the GROUP or PROPERTY option.

  COMMAND - the command to describe

  -GROUP group - the command group to describe
  -PROPERTY property - the property to describe

Therefore, to find out what commands exist within the PROJECT command group, type:

> help -group project


Commands applying to projects.

  CLOSE   closes the specified project
  IMPORT  imports a LID file
  OPEN    opens the specified project

  PROJECT   Current project
  PROJECTS  Open projects

For documentation on a group, use:    HELP -GROUP group.
For documentation on a command, use:  HELP command
For a complete list of commands, use: SHOW COMMANDS

Then, to examine the OPEN command, type:

> help open
Usage: OPEN file

Opens the specified project.


  FILE - the filename of the project

Properties can be displayed via the show command. For example to see the value of the “projects” property listed previously, use show projects.

To exit the console environment, use the command exit.

An example of dylan-environment interactive functionality

Note: dylan-environment is currently only supported on Windows. Unix users may wish to skip this section.

The dylan-environment has a few more options and command groups, which will be presented briefly here:

Options Description
-ARGUMENTS arguments Arguments for the project’s application
-PLAY Open and debug the playground project
-START Start the project’s application
-DEBUG Debug the project’s application
-PROFILE Profile the execution of the application
-SHARE-CONSOLE Share the console with the application
Command Group Description
BREAKPOINTS breakpoint commands
DEBUGGING debugging commands
MEMORY memory viewing commands
REMOTE-DEBUGGING remote debugging commands
STACK stack commands

The following example demonstrates the console environment’s interactive functionality. In the example, the user starts dylan-environment in interactive mode, opens the playground project, performs some arithmetic, defines a method, and then traces it:

# dylan-environment
Hacker Edition
Version 2012.1
Copyright (c) 1997-2004, Functional Objects, Inc.
Portions Copyright (c) 2004-2012, Dylan Hackers
Portions Copyright (c) 2001-2012, Ravenbrook Ltd.

> play
Opened project gui-dylan-playground
Starting: gui-dylan-playground
? 1 + 2;
  $0 = 3
? define method factorial (x) if (x < 2) 1 else x * factorial(x - 1) end end;
? factorial(5);
  $1 = 120
? :trace factorial
? :set messages verbose
Messages: verbose
? factorial(6);
0: factorial (<object>): (6)
  1: factorial (<object>): (5)
    2: factorial (<object>): (4)
      3: factorial (<object>): (3)
        4: factorial (<object>): (2)
          5: factorial (<object>): (1)
          5: factorial (<object>) => (2)
        4: factorial (<object>) => (6)
      3: factorial (<object>) => (24)
    2: factorial (<object>) => (120)
  1: factorial (<object>) => (720)
0: factorial (<object>) => (#[720])
  $2 = 720
? :exit

The commands described in this appendix can also be used in the Command Line window within the regular Open Dylan development environment. Choose File > Command Line... from the main window and use commands at the ? prompt.

Dylan Interactor Mode for Emacs (DIME)

DIME and its back-end, dswank, create a link between the Dylan compiler and emacs so that editor commands can leverage everything the compiler knows about your source code. It allows you to view cross references, locate definitions, view argument lists, compile your code, browse class hierarchies, and more. This section will give a brief introduction to using DIME.

The first thing you need to use DIME is the emacs Lisp code for dylan-mode, which can be downloaded from the dylan-mode GitHub repository. If you don’t have ready access to git there is a link on that page to download as a .zip file.

Next set up your .emacs file as follows. Adjust the pathnames to match your Open Dylan installation location and the directory where you put dylan-mode.

(add-to-list 'load-path "/path/to/dylan-mode")
(setq inferior-dylan-program "/opt/opendylan/bin/dswank")
(require 'dime)
(dime-setup '(dime-dylan dime-repl))
(setenv "OPEN_DYLAN_USER_REGISTRIES" "/path/to/your/registry:...more...")

Setting OPEN_DYLAN_USER_REGISTRIES is important because that’s how DIME finds your projects.

For this tutorial let’s use a “dime-test” project created with make-dylan-app. See the section Hello World to create the project, and also make sure you have a registry entry for it. See Using Source Registries if you’re not sure how to set that up.

Start dime:

$ export PATH=/opt/opendylan/bin:$PATH
$ cd ...dir containing registry...
$ echo abstract://dylan/dime-test/dime-test.lid > registry/generic/dime-test
$ make-dylan-app dime-test
$ cd dime-test
$ emacs dime-test.dylan
M-x dime <Enter>

You should now have a buffer called *dime-repl nil* that looks like this:

Welcome to dswank - the Hacker Edition Version 2012.1 SLIME interface

This is the Open Dylan compiler interactive shell. You can issue commands directly here if you like, but mostly you’ll issue dime commands from your Dylan source buffers.

Change projects: Switch back to the dime-test.dylan buffer and type C-c M-p dime-test to tell DIME to switch to the dime-test project. If DIME doesn’t let you enter “dime-test” as the project name that means it couldn’t find the registry entry. Press <Tab> to see a complete list of available projects.

Compile: To build the project, type C-c C-k. You should see something like “Compilation finished: 3 warnings, 18 notes”. (The reason there are so many warnings is because there are some warnings in the dylan library itself. This is a bug that should be fixed eventually.)

Edit definition: There’s not much code in dime-test.dylan except for a main method. Move the cursor onto the call to “format-out” and type M-.. It should jump to the format-out definition in the io-internals module.

Compiler warnings: Switch back to the dime-test.dylan buffer and make a change that causes a compiler warning, such as removing the semicolon at the end of the format-out line. Recompile with C-c C-k and you should see something like “Compilation finished: 6 warnings, 18 notes”. You can jump to the first warning using the standard for emacs: C-x `.

Argument lists: Note that when you type an open parenthesis, or comma, or space after a function name dime will display the argument list and return values in the emacs minibuffer. e.g., try typing +(.

Cross references: To list cross references (e.g., who calls function F?) move the cursor over the name you want to look up and type C-c C-w C-c (‘c’ for call). DIME will display a list of callers in a *dime-xref* buffer. C-M-. will take you to the next caller. Use it repeatedly to move to each caller definition in turn. Move the cursor to a particular caller in the *dime-xref* buffer and press <Enter> to jump to that caller.

That should be enough to give you the flavor of DIME. Following is a table of useful commands, and you can of course find many more using the standard emacs tools such as C-h b and M-x apropos.

Keyboard shortcut Effect
M-x dime start dime
, change-project change project (in the repl buffer)
C-c M-p change project (in Dylan source buffers)
M-. jump to definition
M-, jump backwards
C-c C-k compile project
C-c C-w C-a who specializes? (or who defines?)
C-c C-w C-r who references?
C-c C-w C-b who binds?
C-c C-w C-c who calls?