On 26/09/2018 19:39, Philip McGrath wrote:
> On Wed, Sep 26, 2018 at 1:36 AM Paulo Matos <pmatos@linki.tools> wrote:
>     I am keen on hearing about alternatives. The reason to do like this is
>     to minimize friction with clients. Clients in the area of development
>     tools expect something that they can execute and generally are not too
>     keen on scripty calls like `python foo.py`, so if I said: Please run the
>     program with `racket s10.rkt` ... it would very quickly lower my
>     possibility of a sale. Racket distribution creates essentially the
>     package that they expect, something they can run out of the box without
>     thinking much about dependencies in something that looks like an
>     executable - even if it's just more or less a racket shell. Your product
>     appearance is important and therefore I want to give something they are
>     already used to.
> I definitely understand wanting users to be able to run the application
> in a way that feels as normal as possible to them: I think about this
> even with internal tools that I develop for collaborators with a limited
> technical background.
> I think the approach I brought up would be compatible with making
> distributions. What I had in mind (but see below) was something like:
> ;; x86_64-no-contracts.rkt
> #lang racket/base
> (require "../run-program.rkt")
> (run-program #:arch 'x86_64 #:contracts? #f)
> ;; i386-with-contracts.rkt
> #lang racket/base
> (require "../run-program.rkt")
> (run-program #:arch 'i386 #:contracts? #f)
>  Then `raco exe`/`create-embedding-executable`/whatever can work on
> either version.
>     > Most seriously, depending on exactly how you use these compile-time
>     > environment variables, it seems like you could negate some of the
>     > benefits of the "separate compilation guarantee," particularly if you
>     > are assuming that all of your modules are compiled at the same time.
>     >
>     Why would that be a problem?
> This is a longer discussion and I am by no means an expert, but I can
> point you to the "separate compilation guarantee" docs
> (http://docs.racket-lang.org/reference/eval-model.html#(part._separate-compilation))
> and Matthew Flatt's paper "Composable and Compilable Macros: You Want it
> /When?/" (https://www.cs.utah.edu/plt/publications/macromod.pdf).

I took the time to think through this and skim through the paper. I
understand what you mean by separate compilation guarantee. I am not
convinced what I am doing breaks the separate compilation guarantee.
>From what I understood this is broken if there are any side-effects of
the compilation process, i.e. printing, writing to files, etc. Which
there are none with the approach I take. However, I might be missing
some subtle detail. I haven't yet internalised all of the information
with regards to phase levels.

> I don't think what you are doing circumvents the separate compilation
> guarantee per se, 

+1 ah, should have read this before writing the above. :)

> because you don't produce "external effects" (e.g.
> I/O) during compilation and then rely on those side-effects during
> run-time. But, while I have not thought especially deeply about this,
> using environment variables this way seems to be sort of the mirror
> image: the state of the universe external to the Racket runtime system
> has effects on the compilation of your modules, and it seems like that
> might introduce similar problems.

This might be one of those subtleties I don't quite understand and they
might happen. As I said in the OP, I am actually still having problems I
can't reproduce in a small example, that only occur when the code is
embedded in the executable.

> In particular, "the practical consequence of [the separate compilation]
> guarantee is that because effects are never visible, no module can
> detect whether a module it requires is already compiled. Thus, it can
> never change the compilation of one module to have already compiled a
> different module." This has all kinds of nice benefits that are detailed
> in the paper.

This might be related to what I am seeing... which looks like this:
instantiate-linklet: mismatch;
 reference to a variable that is uninitialized;
 possibly, bytecode file needs re-compile because dependencies changed
  name: g8759.1
  exporting instance: '#%embedded:g28621:stochastic-statistics
  importing instance: '#%embedded:g26566:stochastic

On the other hand, it's strange that this only happens when the code is
embedded in the executable... so I am not sure if it's actually this or
just a bug in my phase 1 code in the embedding process.

> In your case you seem to assume that all of the modules are compiled at
> the same time (i.e. with the same set of environment variables). 


> You do
> seem to put in the effort to actually uphold that assumption, and maybe
> there are compelling reasons to do so in your case, but I would suggest
> thinking carefully about that decision.

I understand it's not the smartest thing to do for all sorts of reasons
and during testing I have been bitten more than once. So, I might take
my time to change it.

>     That is a possibility but I run into the problem of having too many
>     modules as the number of possibly configurations can easily explode as I
>     add more configurations and backends to my application. Getting one file
>     per compile-time configuration is essentially not workable.
>     My CI script currently creates 48 configurations for testing. That's 4
>     boolean options plus 3 backend architectures that I either completely
>     support or are under development. If I get a couple of customers wanting
>     different architectures, I can easily go to maybe 5 or 6 backends and
>     have more than 100 configurations to test. I would probably have to stop
>     testing _every_ config at some point and choose which configs are more
>     important but this seems to be the problem with this kind of choice - in
>     GCC world we have the same problem and ended up having to create several
>     tiers of backends/configurations to be able to do a proper job at
>     testing and releasing.
>     If I am missing some fundamental way Racket can help with this, I am
>     open to other options but it all boils down to moving as many things to
>     compile time config so I can drop unnecessary code and try to make this
>     as fast as possible.
> Yes, I see the issue here. I don't have a fully worked-out solution and
> probably can't without knowing your requirements in detail, but I have a
> few general thoughts.
> How much of this configuration really needs to happen at compile-time
> vs. runtime? In the examples you've sent, you effectively turn
> "S10_ENABLE_CONTRACTS" and "ARCH" into runtime constants. 

With S10_ENABLE_CONTRACTS it's more than that since contract code is
actually removed and I have a lot of time from not using contracts. I
know contracts are good but when you are competing with other platforms
written in highly optimized C++ code, every cycle counts.

> If it's just a
> matter that you don't want to ship extra code to clients, assuming you
> are already using `dynamic-require` or similar, I think
> `create-embedding-executable` or some part of that pipeline would let
> you omit unwanted collections/modules.

Yes, the arch allows me to choose a backend to compile in, instead of
compiling them all. dynamic-requiring the right backend, defined in ARCH
does that.

> Of course, you would have to test
> that you really do include in each distribution all of the modules that
> will be needed at runtime, but you have to do that anyway:
> `create-embedding-executable` won't save you from `(dynamic-require
> 'something-that-doesn't-exist)` anyway.
> For the large number of configurations, I could see making a little DSL
> that generates submodules, rather than putting each configuration in its
> own file.

I wonder what you are thinking here, not sure it's clear to me how it
would work.

> If you haven't already, you may want to look into Racket's signatures
> and units, which explicitly support separate compilation and linking at
> runtime. They seem to be a bit out of fashion because (as I understand
> it) they predate the module system and were formerly used, painfully, in
> places where `module` was really what was needed, but they are still a
> useful abstraction under the right circumstances. 

I actually started this work with using Units and Signatures and then
ditching them after I found dynamic require is enough... :) Since then,
I have found a number of gotchas in using dynamic-require that I didn't

> For Digital Ricoeur, I
> use them in at least two places. I use them to organize the backends for
> our search feature, including uniformly adding a lazy-initialization
> option. I also use them for testing the system that system that sends
> notification and reminder emails about requests to register for our
> website. This would ordinarily be a pain to test, because it has side
> effects (sends emails), consults a database, and waits for, say 24
> hours. With units, I can swap in alternate definitions of things like
> `alarm-evt` or our database-access functions for testing.

That's a very interesting application of units. Is there a reason why
dynamic-require wouldn't work?

> Even if you don't use units directly, I have found the design useful as
> inspiration for a custom, one-off linking system (part of a DSL) that
> includes things like generating macro definitions and static checking
> specific to our domain requirements. We recently released this code as
> open-source: I can send you links if you're interested.

I would definitely be interested in looking into it if you could send me
a direct link.

Many thanks for the reply, massive food for thought.

Paulo Matos

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