This guide is intended for people who want to contribute to the development of the GF compiler or the Resource Grammar Library. If you are a GF user who just wants to download and install GF (e.g to develop your own grammars), the simpler guide on the GF download page should be sufficient.
To build GF from source you need to install some tools on your system: the Haskell Platform, Darcs and the Haskeline library.
On Linux the best option is to install the tools via the standard software distribution channels, i.e. by using the Software Center in Ubuntu or the corresponding tool in other popular Linux distributions. Or, from a Terminal window, the following command should be enough:
sudo apt-get install haskell-platform darcs libghc6-haskeline-dev
sudo yum install haskell-platform darcs ghc-haskeline-devel
On Mac OS and Windows, the tools can be downloaded from their respective web sites, as described below.
GF is written in Haskell, so first of all you need the Haskell Platform, e.g. version 7.10.3. Downloads and installation instructions are available from here:
Once you have installed the Haskell Platform, open a terminal (Command Prompt on Windows) and try to execute the following command:
$ ghc --version
This command should show you which version of GHC you have. If the installation of the Haskell Platform was successful you should see a message like:
The Glorious Glasgow Haskell Compilation System, version 7.8.3
Other required tools included in the Haskell Platform are Cabal, Alex and Happy.
To get the GF source code, you also need Darcs, version 2 or later. Darcs 2.10 is recommended (July 2015).
Darcs is a distributed version control system, see http://darcs.net/ for more information. There are precompiled packages for many platforms available and source code if you want to compile it yourself. Darcs is also written in Haskell and so you can use GHC to compile it.
GF uses haskeline to enable command line editing in the GF shell. This should work automatically on Mac OS and Windows, but on Linux one extra step is needed to make sure the C libraries (terminfo) required by haskeline are installed. Here is one way to do this:
sudo apt-get install libghc-haskeline-dev
sudo yum install ghc-haskeline-devel
Once you have all tools in place you can get the GF source code. If you just want to compile and use GF then it is enough to have read-only access. It is also possible to make changes in the source code but if you want these changes to be applied back to the main source repository you will have to send the changes to us. If you plan to work continuously on GF then you should consider getting read-write access.
Anyone can get the latest development version of GF by running (all on one line):
$ darcs get --lazy --set-scripts-executable http://www.grammaticalframework.org/ gf
This will create a directory called
gf in the current
To get all new patches from the main repo:
$ darcs pull -a
This can be done anywhere in your local repository, i.e. in the
directory, or any of its subdirectories.
-a, you can choose which patches you want to get.
Since every copy is a repository, you can have local version control of your changes.
If you have added files, you first need to tell your local repository to keep them under revision control:
$ darcs add file1 file2 ...
To record changes, use:
$ darcs record
This creates a patch against the previous version and stores it in your local repository. You can record any number of changes before pushing them to the main repo. In fact, you don't have to push them at all if you want to keep the changes only in your local repo.
If you think there are too many questions about what to record, you
f to record all remaining changes in the current file,
s to skip them. Use
? to get a list of more options.
If you are using read-only access, send your patches by email to someone with write-access. First record your changes in your local repository, as described above. You can send any number of recorded patches as one patch bundle. You create the patch bundle with:
$ darcs send -o mypatch.patch $ gzip mypatch.patch
mypatch is hopefully replaced by a slightly more
descriptive name). Since some e-mail setups change text attachments
(most likely by changing the newline characters) you need to send
the patch in some compressed format, such as GZIP, BZIP2 or ZIP.
Send it as an e-mail attachment.
If you have a user account on
www.grammaticalframework.org, you can
get read-write access over SSH to the GF repository.
Get your copy with (all on one line),
user with your own user name on
$ darcs get --lazy --set-scripts-executable firstname.lastname@example.org:/usr/local/www/GF/ gf
--lazy means that darcs defers downloading all the
history for the repository. This saves space, bandwidth and CPU time,
and most people don't need the full history of all changes in the
Get all new patches from the main repo:
$ darcs pull
You can add
-a to get all patches without answering yes/no to each patch.
There are two steps to commiting a change to the main repo. First you have to record the changes that you want to commit (see Recording local changes above), then you push them to the main repo. If you are using ssh-access, all you need to do is:
$ darcs push
If you use the
-a flag to push, all local patches which are not in
the main repo are pushed.
$ darcs apply < mypatch.patch
This applies the patch to your local repository. To commit it to the
main repo, use
For more info about what you can do with darcs, see http://darcs.net/manual/
The build system of GF is based on Cabal, which is part of the Haskell Platform, so no extra steps are needed to install it. In the simplest case, all you need to do to compile and install GF, after downloading the source code as described above, is
$ cd gf $ cabal install
This will automatically download any additional Haskell libraries needed to
build GF. If this is the first time you use Cabal, you might need to run
cabal update first, to update the list of available libraries.
If you want more control, the process can also be split up into the usual configure, build and install steps.
During the configuration phase Cabal will check that you have all necessary tools and libraries needed for GF. The configuration is started by the command:
$ cabal configure
If you don't see any error message from the above command then you
have everything that is needed for GF. You can also add the option
-v to see more details about the configuration.
You can use
cabal configure --help to get a list of configuration options.
The build phase does two things. First it builds the GF compiler from the Haskell source code and after that it builds the GF Resource Grammar Library using the already build compiler. The simplest command is:
$ cabal build
Again you can add the option
-v if you want to see more details.
If you have Cabal>=1.20 you can enable parallel compilation by using
$ cabal build -j
or by putting a line
.cabal/config file. Cabal
will pass this option to GHC when building the GF compiler, if you
Cabal also passes
-j to GF to enable parallel compilation of the
Resource Grammar Library. This is done unconditionally to avoid
causing problems for developers with Cabal<1.20. You can disable this
by editing the last few lines in
NOTE: The following doesn't work with recent versions of
Sometimes you just want to work on the GF compiler and don't want to recompile the resource library after each change. In this case use this extended command:
$ cabal build rgl-none
The resource library could also be compiled in two modes: with present tense only and with all tenses. By default it is compiled with all tenses. If you want to use the library with only present tense you can compile it in this special mode with the command:
$ cabal build present
You could also control which languages you want to be recompiled by
adding the option
langs=list. For example the following command
will compile only the English and the Swedish language:
$ cabal build langs=Eng,Swe
After you have compiled GF you need to install the executable and libraries to make the system usable.
$ cabal copy $ cabal register
This command installs the GF compiler for a single user, in the standard
place used by Cabal.
On Linux and Mac this could be
On Mac it could also be
On Windows this is
The compiled GF Resource Grammar Library will be installed
under the same prefix, e.g. in
$HOME/.cabal/share/gf-3.3.3/lib on Linux and
C:\Program Files\Haskell\gf-3.3.3\lib on Windows.
If you want to install in some other place then use the
option during the configuration phase.
Sometimes you want to clean up the compilation and start again from clean sources. Use the clean command for this purpose:
$ cabal clean
Some versions of Cabal (at least version 1.16) seem to have a bug that can cause the following error:
Configuring gf-3.x... setup: Distribution/Simple/PackageIndex.hs:124:8-13: Assertion failed
The exact cause of this problem is unclear, but it seems to happen during the configure phase if the same version of GF is already installed, so a workaround is to remove the existing installation with
ghc-pkg unregister gf
You can check with
ghc-pkg list gf that it is gone.
If you feel more comfortable with Makefiles then there is a thin Makefile wrapper arround Cabal for you. If you just type:
the configuration phase will be run automatically if needed and after that the sources will be compiled.
For installation use:
$ make install
$ make clean
The C run-time system is a separate implementation of the PGF run-time services. It makes it possible to work with very large, ambiguous grammars, using probabilistic models to obtain probable parses. The C run-time system might also be easier to use than the Haskell run-time system on certain platforms, e.g. Android and iOS.
To install the C run-time system, go to the
and use the
bash setup.sh configure bash setup.sh build bash setup.sh install
This will install
the C header files and libraries need to write C programs that use PGF grammars.
Some example C programs are included in the
utils subdirectory, e.g.
When the C run-time system is installed, you can install GF with C run-time support by doing
cabal install -fserver -fc-runtime
from the top directory. This give you three new things:
PGF2: a module to import in Haskell programs, providing a binding to the C run-time system.
gf -crunto use the C run-time system instead of the Haskell run-time system. Only limited functionality is available when running the shell in these modes (use the
helpcommand in the shell for details).
gf -servermode is extended with new requests to call the C run-time system, e.g.
The C run-time system can also be used from Python and Java. Python and Java
bindings are found in the
directories, respecively. Compile them by following the instructions in
INSTALL files in those directories.
This was tested on Ubuntu 14.04 for the release of GF 3.6, and the
.deb packages appears to work on Ubuntu 12.04, 13.10 and 14.04.
For the release of GF 3.7, we generated
.deb packages on Ubuntu 15.04 and
tested them on Ubuntu 12.04 and 14.04.
Under Ubuntu, Haskell executables are statically linked against other Haskell libraries, so the .deb packages are fairly self-contained.
sudo apt-get install dpkg-dev debhelper
Make sure the
debian/changelog starts with an entry that describes the
version you are building. Then run
If get error messages about missing dependencies
apt-get intall to install them, then try again.
This is possible, but the procedure has not been automated. It involves using the cabal-rpm tool,
sudo yum install cabal-rpm
and following the Fedora guide How to create an RPM package.
Under Fedora, Haskell executables are dynamically linked against other Haskell
.rpm packages for all Haskell libraries that GF depends on
are required. Most of them are already available in the Fedora distribution,
but a few of them might have to be built and distributed along with
.rpm packages for GF 3.4, we also had to build
NOTE: The test suite has not been maintained recently, so expect many tests to fail.
GF has testsuite. It is run with the following command:
$ cabal test
The testsuite architecture for GF is very simple but still very flexible. GF by itself is an interpreter and could execute commands in batch mode. This is everything that we need to organize a testsuite. The root of the testsuite is the testsuite/ directory. It contains subdirectories which themself contain GF batch files (with extension .gfs). The above command searches the subdirectories of the testsuite/ directory for files with extension .gfs and when it finds one it is executed with the GF interpreter. The output of the script is stored in file with extension .out and is compared with the content of the corresponding file with extension .gold, if there is one. If the contents are identical the command reports that the test was passed successfully. Otherwise the test had failed.
Every time when you make some changes to GF that have to be tested, instead of writing the commands by hand in the GF shell, add them to one .gfs file in the testsuite and run the test. In this way you can use the same test later and we will be sure that we will not incidentaly break your code later.
If you don't want to run the whole testsuite you can write the path to the subdirectory in which you are interested. For example:
$ cabal test testsuite/compiler
will run only the testsuite for the compiler.