I’ve often thought it would be a nice idea to mash together Eelco Dolstra’s ideas about purely-functional software deployment with functional reactive programming to produce a purely functional build system. In this world, compilers are pure functions from source (.c files) to object (.o files) and these dependencies are encoded explicitly by argument-passing in the program rather than happening implicitly via the file system.

Having grappled with GNU Make somewhat for the last week, I thought I’d take another look at making this work nicely and made a little progress. However, that is not the topic of this post! In the course of research, Google turned up an interesting find: OMake, a build system written in OCaml. It has a number of niceish features over GNU Make but the thing that really caught my eye was built-in support for LaTeX building - just the problem I’d had over the last week. Thus inspired, I had a go at integrating this support with one of my Literate Haskell documents, and this post will preserve the result for posterity :-)

OMake syntax is somewhat Make like, so our OMakefile opens with something you may find familiar:

########################################################################
# Phony targets are scoped, so you probably want to declare them first.
#

.PHONY: all clean
.DEFAULT: all


The notion of scoping is somewhat different from that Make, and it includes the nice feature that you can introduce local scopes into your OMakefile with a “section” declaration - I don’t use any of that good stuff here though.

Next I need to tell OMake how to build .lhs files, since it only understands .tex. I do this by declaring a function that generates rules when it is called (pretty cool!):

########################################################################
# Lhs2Tex builder.
#

LHS2TEX = lhs2TeX
LHSSTYLE = tt

Lhs2Tex(tex, lhs) =
tex_name = $(addsuffix .tex,$(tex))
lhs_name = $(addsuffix .lhs,$(lhs))

# The build rule
$(tex_name):$(lhs_name)
$(LHS2TEX) --$(LHSSTYLE) -o $@ <$+

# Return the tex file name
value $(tex_name)  At this point I could also use the .SCANNER target to tell OMake how to determine the dependencies of a .lhs file, but I didn’t need that for my situation, so I didn’t bother to do it. Instead, let’s plunge onwards into the declaration of the rules particular to my program: ######################################################################## # LaTeX configuration. # DOCUMENT = closure-elimination GENERATED_TEX = closure-elimination foreach(tex,$(GENERATED_TEX)):
Lhs2Tex($(tex),$(tex))

LaTeXDocument($(DOCUMENT), closure-elimination)  This turns my file closure-elimination.lhs into closure-elimination.tex and then finally into a PDF using the built-in LaTeXDocument function. I’ve used a foreach loop to call my Lhs2Tex function just to show you that this can be done - the OMake system includes a whole rich programming language of it’s own, which even includes first-class functions! Finally I need to define those phony targets I declared way up at the start of the post: ######################################################################## # Phony targets # all:$(DOCUMENT).pdf

clean:
rm -f \
$(addsuffix .tex,$(GENERATED_TEX)) \
$(addsuffixes .pdf .dvi .aux .log .out,$(DOCUMENT)) \
*.omc


My “clean” target is somewhat unsatisfactory. I rather think that the use of LaTeXDocument should mean that the LaTeX junk (.pdf, .dvi, .aux, .log, .out) should be automatically cleaned somehow, but I can’t work out how to achieve that. (My functional build system would consider this stuff part of the “local side effects” of a build command - encoded through some sort of monad structure - and hence fair game for any “clean”.)

Overall, OMake looks like a nice system - indeed, anything that handles the tedious business of running LaTeX over my document right number of times is doing better than GNU Make in my book. I’ll certainly consider using it in future, larger scale projects - but I’m a bit concerned the code has been abandonded, as the last release was in August of 2007…

Other alternatives for LaTeX projects include (if you want to stick with GNU Make) the Ultimate LaTeX Makefile. Another option might be cute-looking thing I just discovered called rubber, which is a specialised LaTeX build tool.