Zig (zigler v0.8.1) View Source

Inline NIF support for Zig

Motivation

Zig is a general-purpose programming language designed for robustness, optimality, and maintainability.

The programming philosophy of Zig matches up nicely with the programming philosophy of the BEAM VM and in particular its emphasis on simplicity and structure should very appealing to the practitioners of Elixir.

The following features make Zig extremely amenable to inline language support in a BEAM language:

  • simplicity. Zig's syntax is definable in a simple YACC document and Zig takes a stance against making its featureset more complex (though it may evolve somewhat en route to 1.0)
  • Composability. Zig is unopinionated about how to go about memory allocations. Its allocator interface is very easily able to be backed by the BEAM's, which means that you have access to generic memory allocation strategies through its composable allocator scheme.
  • C integration. It's very easy to design C-interop between Zig and C. In fact, Zig is likely to be an easier glue language for C ABIs than C.

Basic usage

In the BEAM, you can define a NIF by consulting the following document and implementing the appropriate shared object/DLL callbacks. However, Zigler will take care of all of this for you.

Simply use Zig in your module, providing the app atom in the property list.

Then, use the sigil_Z/2 macro and write zig code. Any nifs you define should be preceded with the /// nif: function_name/arity zig docstring.

Example

defmodule MyModule do
  use Zig

  ~Z"""
  /// nif: my_func/1
  fn my_func(val: i64) i64 {
    return val + 1;
  }
  """

end

Zig will automatically fill out the appropriate NIF C template, compile the shared object, and bind it into the module pre-compilation. In the case of the example, there will be a MyModule.my_func/1 function call found in the module.

Zig will also make sure that your statically-typed Zig data are guarded when you marshal it from the dynamically-typed BEAM world. However, you may only pass in and return certain types. As an escape hatch, you may use the beam.term type which is equivalent to the ERLNIFTERM type. See erl_nif.

Guides

Please consult the following guides for detail topics:

Nerves Support

Nerves is supported out of the box, and the system should cross-compile to arm ABI as necessary depening on what your nerves :target is. You may also directly specify a zig target using the use Zig, target: <target> option.

Environment

Sometimes, you will need to pass the BEAM environment (which is the code execution context, including process info, etc.) into the NIF function. In this case, you should pass it as the first argument, as a beam.env type value.

Example

defmodule MyModule do
  use Zig

  ~Z"""
  /// nif: my_func_with_env/1
  fn my_func_with_env(env: beam.env, pid: beam.pid) void {
    var sendable_term: []u64 = "ping"[0..];
    var msg = beam.make_slice(env, sendable_term);
    var res = e.enif_send(env, pid, env, msg);
  }
  """
end

Bring your own version of Zig

If you would like to use your system's local zig command, set the local_zig option in config.exs, which

config :zigler, local_zig: true

This will use System.find_executable to obtain the zig command. If you want to specify the zig command manually, use the following:

config :zigler, local_zig: "path/to/zig/command"

External Libraries

If you need to bind static (*.a) or dynamic (*.so) libraries into your module, you may link them with the :libs argument.

Note that zig statically binds shared libraries into the assets it creates. This simplifies deployment for you.

Example

defmodule Blas do
  use Zig,
    libs: ["/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/blas/libblas.so"],
    include: ["/usr/include/x86_64-linux-gnu"]

  ~Z"""
  const blas = @cImport({
    @cInclude("cblas.h");
  ...

Compilation assistance

If something should go wrong, Zigler will translate the Zig compiler error into an Elixir compiler error, and let you know exactly which line in the ~Z block it came from.

Syntactic Sugar

Some of the erlang nif terms can get unwieldy, especially in Zig, which prefers terseness. Each of the basic BEAM types is shadowed by a Zig type in the beam module. The beam struct is always imported into the header of the zig file used, so all zig code in the same directory as the module should have access to the beam struct if they @import("beam.zig")

Importing files

If you need to write code outside of the basic module (you will, for anything non-trivial), just place it in the same directory as your module.

Example

~Z"""
const extra_code = @import("extra_code.zig");

/// nif: use_extra_code/1
fn use_extra_code(val: i64) i64 {
  return extra_code.extra_fn(val);
}
"""

If you would like to include a custom c header file, create an include/ directory inside your path tree and it will be available to zig as a default search path as follows:

~Z"""
const c = @cImport({
  @cInclude("my_c_header.h");
});

// nif: my_nif/1
...
"""

If the c header defines extern functions, it's your responsibility to make sure those externed functions are available by compiling other c files or using a shared library.

Documentation

Use the builtin zig /// docstring to write your documentation. If it's in front of the nif declaration, it will wind up in the correct place in your elixir documentation.

See Zig.Doc for more information on how to document in zig and what to document. See Mix.Tasks.ZigDoc for information on how to get your Elixir project to incorporate zig documentation.

Tests

Use the builtin zig test keyword to write your internal zig unit tests. These can be imported into an ExUnit module by following this example:

defmodule MyTest do
  use ExUnit.Case
  use Zig.Unit
  zigtest ModuleWithZigCode
end

See Zig.Unit for more information.

Link to this section Summary

Functions

outputs a String name for the module.

declares a string block to be included in the module's .zig source file. At least one of these blocks must define a nif.

like sigil_Z/2, but lets you interpolate values from the outside elixir context using string interpolation (the #{value} form)

Link to this section Functions

Link to this function

nif_name(module, use_suffixes \\ true)

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outputs a String name for the module.

note that for filesystem use, you must supply the extension. For internal (BEAM) use, the filesystem extension will be inferred. Therefore we provide two versions of this function.

Link to this macro

sigil_Z(arg, list)

View Source (macro)

declares a string block to be included in the module's .zig source file. At least one of these blocks must define a nif.

Link to this macro

sigil_z(code, list)

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like sigil_Z/2, but lets you interpolate values from the outside elixir context using string interpolation (the #{value} form)