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Setting Up Your Environment

With a small project, you can get by using Link.Create and/or Link.Import to bring your source into the workspace in order to work with it. However, even in a small project, this quickly gets tedious, and as the project grows, you may want to load code from more that one directory, and perhaps run some code in order to set things up or even start the application. Fortunately, the Link API provides all the functions that you need to automate the setup.

Description of the functions and procedure for automating set up

Worked example

To illustrate, we will create a small application that uses the stats library that we created in the section on basic usage. We will put the application into a namespace called linkdemo:

clear ws
      )ns linkdemo
      ]link.create linkdemo /users/sally/linkdemo
Linked: #.linkdemo ←→ /users/sally/linkdemo

      )ed linkdemo.Main

Our application is going to prompt the user for an input array and output the mean and standard deviation of the data, until the user inputs an empty array. Obviously, the code should be enhanced to validate the input and perhaps trap errors, but that is left as an exercise for the reader.

     ∇ Main;data                                           
[1]   ⍝ Compute Mean and StdDev until user inputs an empty array
[3]    :Repeat                                                  
[4]        ⎕←'Enter some numbers:'                              
[5]        :If 0≠⍴data←⎕                                        
[6]            ⎕←'Mean:   ',1⍕#.stats.Mean data                      
[7]            ⎕←'StdDev: ',1⍕#.stats.StdDev data                    
[8]        :EndIf                                               
[9]    :Until 0=≢data                                           

We will need the stats code in the workspace as well, of course. Since we only intend to use it and don't want to risk making changes to its source code while testing our own application, we will use ]link.import rather than ]link.create to bring that code into the workspace. Note that after the import, ]link.status still only reports a single link:

      ]link.import stats /users/sally/stats
Imported: #.stats ← /users/tmp/stats

 Namespace    Directory             Files
 #.linkdemo   /users/sally/linkdemo     1  

      Enter some numbers:
Mean:    102.4
StdDev:  30.1
Enter some numbers:

Automating Startup

Starting with Dyalog APL version 18.0, it is simple to launch the interpreter from a text file: either a source file defining a function, namespace or class using the LOAD parameter or from a configuration file using the CONFIGFILE parameter. From version 18.2, LOAD can also indentify a directory, in which case APL will create a link to the directory on startup, and attempt to call the function #.Run, with the enclosed name of the directory as the right argument. You can skip the call to Run by adding a -x to your command line.

Using LOAD to link to a directory on startup is simple way to handle very simple applications or ad-hoc development. However, configuration files allow you to both set a startup expression and include other configuration options for the interpreter and are probably a better solution for applications consisting of more than one source directory. For example, we could start our example application by creating a file dev.dcfg in the linkdemo folder with the following contents:

  Settings: {
      MAXWS: 100M,
      LX: "linkdemo.Start 0 ⊣ ⎕←⎕SE.Link.Create 'linkdemo' ⎕SE.Link.LaunchDir"

This specifies an APL session with a MAXWS of 100 megabytes, which will start by creating the linkdemo namespace and calling linkdemo.Start. The namespace will be created using the directory named by the result of the function ⎕SE.Link.LaunchDir; this will be the directory that the CONFIGFILE parameter refers to (or, if there is no CONFIGFILE, the directory referred to by the LOAD parameter).

The function linkdemo.Start will bring in the stats library using Link.Import: since we are not developers of this library, we don't want to create a bi-directional link that might allow us to accidentally modify it during our testing. It also creates the name ST to point to the stats library, which means that our Run function can use more pleasant names, like ST.Mean in place of #.stats.Mean - which also makes it easier to relocate that module in the workspace:

     ∇ Start run                                                                       
[1]   ⍝ Establish development environment for the linkdemo application                 
[3]    ⎕IO←⎕ML←1                                                                       
[4]    ⎕SE.Link.Import '#.stats' '/users/sally/stats' ⍝ Load the stats library
[6]    :If run                                                                         
[7]        Main                                                                        
[8]        ⎕OFF                                                                        
[9]    :EndIf                                                                          

We can now launch our development environment using dyalog CONFIGFILE=linkdemo/devt.cfg, or on some platforms right-clicking on this file and selecting Run.

Development vs Runtime

The Startfunction takes a right argument run which decides whether it should just exit after initialising the environment, or it should launch the application by calling Runand terminate the session when the user decides that the job is done.

This allows us to create a second configuration file, linkdemo/run.dcfg, which differs from dev.dcfg in that we reserve a bigger workspace (since we'll be doing real work rather than just testing), and brings the source code in using Link.Import rather than Link.Create, which means that we won't waste resources setting up a file system watcher, and that accidental changes made by anyone running the application will not update the source files.

  Settings: {
      MAXWS: 1G,
      LX: "linkdemo.Start 1 ⊣ ⎕←⎕SE.Link.Import 'linkdemo' ⎕SE.Link.LaunchDir"

Distribution Workspace

As we have seen, Link allows you to run your application based entirely on textual source files. However, if you have a lot of source files it may be more convenient for the users of your application to receive a single workspace file with all of the source loaded.

To prepare a workspace for shipment, we will need to:

  • Set ⎕LX in the so that it calls the Start function
  • Use Link.Break to remove links to the source files. If you omit this step, you can create an extremely confusing situation.
  • )SAVE the workspace

Scripted Applications

Recent versions of Dyalog APL support running APL from a script either by redirecting input to a normal APL interpreter or (recommended from version 18.2) using the new script engine. When the interpreter is running from a script, it intentionally provides you with a completely clean environment without any development tools loaded. This means that the session namespace is not populated, and Link is not loaded. If you add the following expression to the beginning of your script, it will (amongst other things) bring Link into the session so that the API becomes available:


Note that this depends on the interpreter being able to find the salt workspace (salt.dws). You may need to provide a full path name to that file, if you don't have a standard installation.