Weng the Meta ~weng cv misc contact blog 博客


Understanding `format6` in OCaml by diagrams

1. Background

It’s a pity that I had totally missed Gabriel’s post The 6 parameters of (’a, ’b, ’c, ’d, ’e, ’f) format6 written after reviewing the GADT implementation of format functions, before my previous post on format6. I am reluctant to rewrite when many new topics pending in my mind. However, just after publishing the previous blog, I am thinking of how to make it clear and concise. This time, I use diagrams to explain format6.

2. Prelude

To simplify the examples, I make the format string "%d %a" fixed for printing and "%d %r" for scanning. There is only one type foo and one variant Foo. All the user-defined reader and printers are here: scan_foo out_foo pp_foo string_of_foo, to satisfy low_level devices.

# open CamlinternalFormatBasics

# type foo = Foo
type foo = Foo

# let scan_foo ic = Scanf.bscanf ic "%s" (function | "Foo" -> Foo | _ -> raise (Scanf.Scan_failure "Foo"))  
val scan_foo : Scanf.Scanning.scanbuf -> foo = <fun>

# let out_foo oc foo = Printf.fprintf oc "%s" (match foo with | Foo -> "Foo" )
val out_foo : out_channel -> foo -> unit = <fun>

# let pp_foo fmt foo = Format.fprintf fmt "%s" (match foo with | Foo -> "Foo")
val pp_foo : Format.formatter -> foo -> unit = <fun>

# let string_of_foo () = function | Foo -> "Foo"
val string_of_foo : unit -> foo -> string = <fun>

In this post, I just use four functions. They are:

# Scanf.sscanf
- : string -> ('a, 'b, 'c, 'd) Scanf.scanner = <fun>

# Printf.printf
- : ('a, out_channel, unit) format -> 'a = <fun>

# Format.fprintf
- : Format.formatter -> ('a, Format.formatter, unit) format -> 'a = <fun>

# Format.ksprintf
- : (string -> 'a) -> ('b, unit, string, 'a) format4 -> 'b = <fun>

The related format types are

# #show Scanf.scanner
type nonrec ('a, 'b, 'c, 'd) scanner =
    ('a, Scanf.Scanning.scanbuf, 'b, 'c, 'a -> 'd, 'd) format6 -> 'c

# #show format
type nonrec ('a, 'b, 'c) format = ('a, 'b, 'c, 'c) format4

# #show format4
type nonrec ('a, 'b, 'c, 'd) format4 = ('a, 'b, 'c, 'c, 'c, 'd) format6

# #show format6
type nonrec ('a, 'b, 'c, 'd, 'e, 'f) format6 =
    Format of ('a, 'b, 'c, 'd, 'e, 'f) fmt * string

I think a better way to think of ('a, 'b, 'c, 'd, 'e, 'f) format6 is to categorize type parameters (always indexed by format6) by who determines it.

First, the first argument and the return type of user-define functions (appearing in 'a 'd) are determined by printf and scanf functions

For scanf functions:

The receiver function always matches the format string. It’s less interesting to argue which one is the first impetus. I just choose format strings to determine for simplicity.

For printf functions:

What’s more, for k*printf functtion:

3. Scanf

# Scanf.sscanf
- : string -> ('a, 'b, 'c, 'd) Scanf.scanner = <fun>

# let fmt = format_of_string "%d %r" in let _ = Scanf.sscanf "42 Foo" fmt scan_foo (fun d r -> true) in fmt
- : (int -> foo -> bool, Scanf.Scanning.scanbuf, '_weak1,
     (Scanf.Scanning.scanbuf -> foo) -> (int -> foo -> bool) -> bool,
     (int -> foo -> bool) -> bool, bool)
    format6
=
Format
 (Int (Int_d, No_padding, No_precision,
   Char_literal (' ', Reader End_of_format)),
 "%d %r")
flowchart LR ssf[Scanf.sscanf] fmt["'%d %r'"] subgraph 4th-'d-format subgraph foo_reader scanbuf --> foo4[foo] end foo4 --> int4 subgraph 5th-'e-format subgraph 1st-'a-format int4[int] --> foo4_2[foo] foo4_2 --> bool4_1[bool] end bool4_1 --> bool4_2 subgraph 6th-'f-format bool4_2[bool] end end end subgraph Scanf ssf --> s["'42 Foo'"] s --> fmt fmt --> scan_foo scan_foo --> farg1 subgraph receiver function farg1[fun d -> ] --> farg2[fun r -> ] --> true end end scan_foo -.-> foo_reader farg1 -.-> int4 farg2 -.-> foo4_2 true -.-> bool4_1 true ---> bool classDef coral fill:coral class ssf coral class scanbuf coral class s coral classDef cyan fill:LightCyan class true cyan class bool cyan class bool4_1 cyan class bool4_2 cyan

The diagram shows that

4. Printf

# Printf.printf
- : ('a, out_channel, unit) format -> 'a = <fun>

# let fmt = format_of_string "%d %a" in let _ = Printf.printf fmt 42 out_foo Foo in fmt
42 Foo
- : (int -> (out_channel -> foo -> unit) -> foo -> unit, out_channel,
     unit, unit, unit, unit)
    format6
=
Format
 (Int (Int_d, No_padding, No_precision,
   Char_literal (' ', Alpha End_of_format)),
 "%d %a")
flowchart LR u[unit] u1[unit] u2[unit] foo1[foo] foo2[foo] subgraph 1st-'a-format int --> oc[out_channel] subgraph foo_printer oc --> foo1 --> u1 end u1 --> foo2 --> u2 subgraph 6th-'f-format u2 end end subgraph Printf ppf[Print.printf] --> fmt['%d %a'] --> 42 --> out_foo --> Foo end 42 -.-> int out_foo -.-> foo_printer Foo -.-> foo2 Foo ---> u classDef coral fill:coral class ppf coral class u coral class u1 coral class u2 coral class oc coral

The diagram shows printf determines the type of out_channel and unit appearing in 1st type parameter 'a and 6th type parameter 'f.

5. Format

# Format.fprintf
- : Format.formatter -> ('a, Format.formatter, unit) format -> 'a = <fun>

# let fmt = format_of_string "%d %a" in let _f fmter = Format.fprintf fmter fmt 42 pp_foo Foo in fmt
- : (int -> (Format.formatter -> foo -> unit) -> foo -> unit,
     Format.formatter, unit, unit, unit, unit)
    format6
=
Format
 (Int (Int_d, No_padding, No_precision,
   Char_literal (' ', Alpha End_of_format)),
 "%d %a")
flowchart LR u[unit] u1[unit] u2[unit] foo1[foo] foo2[foo] subgraph 1st-'a-format int --> oc[Format.formatter] subgraph foo_printer oc --> foo1 --> u1 end u1 --> foo2 --> u2 subgraph 6th-'f-format u2 end end subgraph Printf fpf[Format.fprintf] --> fmter --> fmt[%d %a] --> 42 --> out_foo --> Foo end 42 -.-> int out_foo -.-> foo_printer Foo -.-> foo2 Foo ---> u classDef coral fill:coral class fpf coral class fmter coral class ld coral class oc coral class u coral class u1 coral class u2 coral

The diagram for Format.fprintf doesn’t differ much with Printf.printf. fprintf determines the type of fmter, Format.formatter, and all units.

6. kprintf

# Format.ksprintf
- : (string -> 'a) -> ('b, unit, string, 'a) format4 -> 'b = <fun>

# let fmt = format_of_string "%d %a" in let _ = Format.ksprintf (fun _s -> true) fmt 42 string_of_foo Foo in fmt
- : (int -> (unit -> foo -> string) -> foo -> bool, unit, string, string,
     string, bool)
    format6
=
Format
 (Int (Int_d, No_padding, No_precision,
   Char_literal (' ', Alpha End_of_format)),
 "%d %a")
flowchart LR ou[unit] foo1[foo] foo2[foo] subgraph 1st-'a-format int --> ou subgraph foo_printer ou --> foo1 --> string end string --> foo2 --> bool subgraph 6th-'f-format bool end end subgraph Printf fksp[Format.ksprintf] --> farg subgraph kont function farg[fun _s ->] --> true end true --> fmt['%d %a'] --> 42 --> string_of_foo --> Foo end 42 -.-> int string_of_foo -.-> foo_printer Foo -.-> foo2 classDef coral fill:coral class fksp coral class ou coral class string coral class ld coral class string3 coral class farg coral classDef cyan fill:LightCyan class true cyan class bool cyan

The diagram shows Format.ksprintf determines the type of the input of the continuation and two heads of foo_printer. The return types of the continuation determines 6th type parameter ‘f.

7. Others

Most time of this blog is spent on taming mermaid, the diagram library. You can still see unsolved artifacts like single quotes for strings, diagrams without titles, and unhappy overlappings. The choice of dot lines or color nodes for presenting connections (determining), is to reduce total lines and to keep the layout engine happy. I had (nicer) hand-painting diagrams on iPad before these two posts on format6.

The catch-22 of Diagrams and Charts:
Diagramming and charting is a gigantic waste of developer time, but not having diagrams 
ruins productivity.
-- mermaid

Reference


Understanding `format6` in OCaml by diagrams