18.8 Advanced example with callbacks

This section illustrates the callback facilities described in section 18.7. We are going to package some Caml functions in such a way that they can be linked with C code and called from C just like any C functions. The Caml functions are defined in the following mod.ml Caml source:

(* File mod.ml -- some ``useful'' Caml functions *)

let rec fib n = if n < 2 then 1 else fib(n-1) + fib(n-2)

let format_result n = Printf.sprintf "Result is: %d\n" n

(* Export those two functions to C *)

let _ = Callback.register "fib" fib
let _ = Callback.register "format_result" format_result

Here is the C stub code for calling these functions from C:

/* File modwrap.c -- wrappers around the Caml functions */

#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <caml/mlvalues.h>
#include <caml/callback.h>

int fib(int n)
  static value * fib_closure = NULL;
  if (fib_closure == NULL) fib_closure = caml_named_value("fib");
  return Int_val(caml_callback(*fib_closure, Val_int(n)));

char * format_result(int n)
  static value * format_result_closure = NULL;
  if (format_result_closure == NULL)
    format_result_closure = caml_named_value("format_result");
  return strdup(String_val(caml_callback(*format_result_closure, Val_int(n))));
  /* We copy the C string returned by String_val to the C heap
     so that it remains valid after garbage collection. */

We now compile the Caml code to a C object file and put it in a C library along with the stub code in modwrap.c and the Caml runtime system:

ocamlc -custom -output-obj -o modcaml.o mod.ml
ocamlc -c modwrap.c
cp /usr/local/lib/ocaml/libcamlrun.a mod.a
ar r mod.a modcaml.o modwrap.o

(One can also use ocamlopt -output-obj instead of ocamlc -custom -output-obj. In this case, replace libcamlrun.a (the bytecode runtime library) by libasmrun.a (the native-code runtime library).)

Now, we can use the two functions fib and format_result in any C program, just like regular C functions. Just remember to call caml_startup once before.

/* File main.c -- a sample client for the Caml functions */

#include <stdio.h>

int main(int argc, char ** argv)
  int result;

  /* Initialize Caml code */
  /* Do some computation */
  result = fib(10);
  printf("fib(10) = %s\n", format_result(result));
  return 0;

To build the whole program, just invoke the C compiler as follows:

cc -o prog main.c mod.a -lcurses

(On some machines, you may need to put -ltermcap or -lcurses -ltermcap instead of -lcurses.)