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Here is the latest Caml Weekly News, for the week of 30 March to 06 April, 2004.

  1. What's wrong with win32?
  2. ocaml-xmlr 0.3 (bindings for libxml's xmlreader)

What's wrong with win32?

Christophe Troestler asked, Loïc Correnson added, and Xavier Leroy answered:
> >   let (ic, oc) = Unix.open_connection (Unix.ADDR_INET(addr, port)) in
> >
> > However, when I try to run it under windows 98 [...]
> >   Fatal error: exception Sys_error("Bad file descriptor")
> Ok, the trouble comes from the fact that Unix.open_connection uses
> in_channel_of_descr of which the manual says
>   in_channel_of_descr  does not work on sockets under Windows 95, 98, ME;
>                        works fine under NT and 2000
> Well, I tried the program under Win 2000 Professional and got the same
> error...

As Loïc Correnson said, Unix.open_connection is broken under Windows
(all versions) in OCaml 3.07, while it works under NT/2000/XP in
earlier versions of 3.06.  This is a stupid coding error while fixing
another bug :-(  The patch against 3.07 sources is simply:

Index: csl/otherlibs/win32unix/unixsupport.c
diff -c csl/otherlibs/win32unix/unixsupport.c:1.18 csl/otherlibs/win32unix/unixsupport.c:1.19
*** csl/otherlibs/win32unix/unixsupport.c:1.18  Mon Jan  6 15:52:57 2003
--- csl/otherlibs/win32unix/unixsupport.c       Thu Apr  1 15:12:36 2004
*** 61,66 ****
--- 61,67 ----
    value res = alloc_custom(&win_handle_ops, sizeof(struct filedescr), 0, 1);
    Socket_val(res) = s;
    Descr_kind_val(res) = KIND_SOCKET;
+   CRT_fd_val(res) = NO_CRT_FD;
    return res;

> Anyway, it would be nice that (1) open_connection be
> mentionend in the manual as not working under win 9*

Will do.

> or, even much better, to make that (2) Unix.open_connection actually
> works under win32!  IMHO it is quite unfortunate that
> in_channel_of_descr does not work under windows for sockets since it
> basically forces the programmer to reimplement input/output
> functions for these.

It does work (modulo the 3.07 bug) for the NT/2000/XP lineage of Windows.
Making it work under Windows 9x as well would require significant work
(see below), and I don't think it is worth it given that 9x is at

> Is the current situation made for efficiency reasons (it is costly for
> in/out channels to carry their type with them) or is there a deeper
> problem with Win$ platforms?

It's not a question of efficiency, but rather of not reimplementing a
chunk of the C standard library.  More precisely:

- The buffered I/O channels of OCaml are implemented on top of the
Unix "file descriptor" abstraction and the Unix system calls open(),
read(), write(), lseek(), close().

- Under Windows, the C library provides an emulation of these Unix
idioms that encapsulate Win32 file handles as a Unix-style file
descriptor.  This emulation handles CRLF <-> LF conversion for files
opened in text modes, so it's not 100% trivial.

- In Windows NT/2000/XP, just like under Unix, socket handles (type
SOCKET) are compatible with file handles (type HANDLE), and basic
system calls that operate on the latter (ReadFile, etc) also work on
sockets.  Hence, wrapping a socket as a Unix-style file descriptor
(through the C lib API), then as a buffered I/O channel just works fine.

- In Windows 9x, socket handles are *not* compatible with file handles,
and ReadFile on a socket handle fails.  Therefore, the wrapping of
socket handles described above doesn't work.

- The Win32 implementation of the Unix library already maintains the
information "socket or file" on its file descriptors (type
Unix.filedescr), and arranges so that e.g. calls ReadFile()
or recv() as appropriate.  However, to exploit this information at the
level of buffered I/O channels obtained with in_channel_of_descr
would require to throw away the C library emulation of read() et al,
and implement our own.  That's not completely trivial due to text mode
handling, and is in my opinion too much work for the purpose of
supporting Windows 9x, which is an horrible piece of software that
should die as quickly as possible.

ocaml-xmlr 0.3 (bindings for libxml's xmlreader)

Evan Martin announced:
I've released version 0.3 of my bindings for libxml[1]'s
XmlTextReader[2] API for OCaml.  This API is modelled on the XmlReader
classes found originally in C# (I think?) and is both fast and

Major changes since the last announcement:
 - License changed to MIT, to match libxml.
 - Many more functions wrapped (now covers most of the API).
 - Lots of documentation added.
 - Bug/typo fixes.

Special thanks to Matt Gushee for his feedback on the previous release.

This site has the download:


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If you know of a better way, please let me know.

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