Legend:
Library
Module
Module type
Parameter
Class
Class type

Introduction

You may consider this module as providing an extension to the printf facility to provide automatic line splitting. The addition of pretty-printing annotations to your regular printf format strings gives you fancy indentation and line breaks. Pretty-printing annotations are described below in the documentation of the function Format.fprintf.

You may also use the explicit pretty-printing box management and printing functions provided by this module. This style is more basic but more verbose than the concise fprintf format strings.

For instance, the sequence open_box 0; print_string "x ="; print_space (); print_int 1; close_box (); print_newline () that prints x = 1 within a pretty-printing box, can be abbreviated as printf "@[%s@ %i@]@." "x =" 1, or even shorter printf "@[x =@ %i@]@." 1.

Rule of thumb for casual users of this library:

  • use simple pretty-printing boxes (as obtained by open_box 0);
  • use simple break hints as obtained by print_cut () that outputs a simple break hint, or by print_space () that outputs a space indicating a break hint;
  • once a pretty-printing box is open, display its material with basic printing functions (e. g. print_int and print_string);
  • when the material for a pretty-printing box has been printed, call close_box () to close the box;
  • at the end of pretty-printing, flush the pretty-printer to display all the remaining material, e.g. evaluate print_newline ().

The behavior of pretty-printing commands is unspecified if there is no open pretty-printing box. Each box opened by one of the open_ functions below must be closed using close_box for proper formatting. Otherwise, some of the material printed in the boxes may not be output, or may be formatted incorrectly.

In case of interactive use, each phrase is executed in the initial state of the standard pretty-printer: after each phrase execution, the interactive system closes all open pretty-printing boxes, flushes all pending text, and resets the standard pretty-printer.

Warning: mixing calls to pretty-printing functions of this module with calls to Stdlib low level output functions is error prone.

The pretty-printing functions output material that is delayed in the pretty-printer queue and stacks in order to compute proper line splitting. In contrast, basic I/O output functions write directly in their output device. As a consequence, the output of a basic I/O function may appear before the output of a pretty-printing function that has been called before. For instance, Stdlib.print_string "<"; Format.print_string "PRETTY"; Stdlib.print_string ">"; Format.print_string "TEXT"; leads to output <>PRETTYTEXT.

Formatters

type formatter

Abstract data corresponding to a pretty-printer (also called a formatter) and all its machinery. See also Defining formatters.

Pretty-printing boxes

The pretty-printing engine uses the concepts of pretty-printing box and break hint to drive indentation and line splitting behavior of the pretty-printer.

Each different pretty-printing box kind introduces a specific line splitting policy:

  • within an horizontal box, break hints never split the line (but the line may be split in a box nested deeper),
  • within a vertical box, break hints always split the line,
  • within an horizontal/vertical box, if the box fits on the current line then break hints never split the line, otherwise break hint always split the line,
  • within a compacting box, a break hint never splits the line, unless there is no more room on the current line.

Note that line splitting policy is box specific: the policy of a box does not rule the policy of inner boxes. For instance, if a vertical box is nested in an horizontal box, all break hints within the vertical box will split the line.

Moreover, opening a box after the maximum indentation limit splits the line whether or not the box would end up fitting on the line.

val pp_open_box : formatter -> int -> unit
val open_box : int -> unit

pp_open_box ppf d opens a new compacting pretty-printing box with offset d in the formatter ppf.

Within this box, the pretty-printer prints as much as possible material on every line.

A break hint splits the line if there is no more room on the line to print the remainder of the box.

Within this box, the pretty-printer emphasizes the box structure: if a structural box does not fit fully on a simple line, a break hint also splits the line if the splitting ``moves to the left'' (i.e. the new line gets an indentation smaller than the one of the current line).

This box is the general purpose pretty-printing box.

If the pretty-printer splits the line in the box, offset d is added to the current indentation.

val pp_close_box : formatter -> unit -> unit
val close_box : unit -> unit

Closes the most recently open pretty-printing box.

val pp_open_hbox : formatter -> unit -> unit
val open_hbox : unit -> unit

pp_open_hbox ppf () opens a new 'horizontal' pretty-printing box.

This box prints material on a single line.

Break hints in a horizontal box never split the line. (Line splitting may still occur inside boxes nested deeper).

val pp_open_vbox : formatter -> int -> unit
val open_vbox : int -> unit

pp_open_vbox ppf d opens a new 'vertical' pretty-printing box with offset d.

This box prints material on as many lines as break hints in the box.

Every break hint in a vertical box splits the line.

If the pretty-printer splits the line in the box, d is added to the current indentation.

val pp_open_hvbox : formatter -> int -> unit
val open_hvbox : int -> unit

pp_open_hvbox ppf d opens a new 'horizontal/vertical' pretty-printing box with offset d.

This box behaves as an horizontal box if it fits on a single line, otherwise it behaves as a vertical box.

If the pretty-printer splits the line in the box, d is added to the current indentation.

val pp_open_hovbox : formatter -> int -> unit
val open_hovbox : int -> unit

pp_open_hovbox ppf d opens a new 'horizontal-or-vertical' pretty-printing box with offset d.

This box prints material as much as possible on every line.

A break hint splits the line if there is no more room on the line to print the remainder of the box.

If the pretty-printer splits the line in the box, d is added to the current indentation.

Formatting functions

val pp_print_string : formatter -> string -> unit
val print_string : string -> unit

pp_print_string ppf s prints s in the current pretty-printing box.

val pp_print_bytes : formatter -> bytes -> unit
val print_bytes : bytes -> unit

pp_print_bytes ppf b prints b in the current pretty-printing box.

  • since 4.13.0
val pp_print_as : formatter -> int -> string -> unit
val print_as : int -> string -> unit

pp_print_as ppf len s prints s in the current pretty-printing box. The pretty-printer formats s as if it were of length len.

val pp_print_int : formatter -> int -> unit
val print_int : int -> unit

Print an integer in the current pretty-printing box.

val pp_print_float : formatter -> float -> unit
val print_float : float -> unit

Print a floating point number in the current pretty-printing box.

val pp_print_char : formatter -> char -> unit
val print_char : char -> unit

Print a character in the current pretty-printing box.

val pp_print_bool : formatter -> bool -> unit
val print_bool : bool -> unit

Print a boolean in the current pretty-printing box.

Break hints

A 'break hint' tells the pretty-printer to output some space or split the line whichever way is more appropriate to the current pretty-printing box splitting rules.

Break hints are used to separate printing items and are mandatory to let the pretty-printer correctly split lines and indent items.

Simple break hints are:

  • the 'space': output a space or split the line if appropriate,
  • the 'cut': split the line if appropriate.

Note: the notions of space and line splitting are abstract for the pretty-printing engine, since those notions can be completely redefined by the programmer. However, in the pretty-printer default setting, ``output a space'' simply means printing a space character (ASCII code 32) and ``split the line'' means printing a newline character (ASCII code 10).

val pp_print_space : formatter -> unit -> unit
val print_space : unit -> unit

pp_print_space ppf () emits a 'space' break hint: the pretty-printer may split the line at this point, otherwise it prints one space.

pp_print_space ppf () is equivalent to pp_print_break ppf 1 0.

val pp_print_cut : formatter -> unit -> unit
val print_cut : unit -> unit

pp_print_cut ppf () emits a 'cut' break hint: the pretty-printer may split the line at this point, otherwise it prints nothing.

pp_print_cut ppf () is equivalent to pp_print_break ppf 0 0.

val pp_print_break : formatter -> int -> int -> unit
val print_break : int -> int -> unit

pp_print_break ppf nspaces offset emits a 'full' break hint: the pretty-printer may split the line at this point, otherwise it prints nspaces spaces.

If the pretty-printer splits the line, offset is added to the current indentation.

val pp_print_custom_break : formatter -> fits:(string * int * string) -> breaks:(string * int * string) -> unit

pp_print_custom_break ppf ~fits:(s1, n, s2) ~breaks:(s3, m, s4) emits a custom break hint: the pretty-printer may split the line at this point.

If it does not split the line, then the s1 is emitted, then n spaces, then s2.

If it splits the line, then it emits the s3 string, then an indent (according to the box rules), then an offset of m spaces, then the s4 string.

While n and m are handled by formatter_out_functions.out_indent, the strings will be handled by formatter_out_functions.out_string. This allows for a custom formatter that handles indentation distinctly, for example, outputs <br/> tags or &nbsp; entities.

The custom break is useful if you want to change which visible (non-whitespace) characters are printed in case of break or no break. For example, when printing a list [a; b; c] , you might want to add a trailing semicolon when it is printed vertically:

[
  a;
  b;
  c;
]

You can do this as follows:

printf "@[<v 0>[@;<0 2>@[<v 0>a;@,b;@,c@]%t]@]@\n"
  (pp_print_custom_break ~fits:("", 0, "") ~breaks:(";", 0, ""))
  • since 4.08.0
val pp_force_newline : formatter -> unit -> unit
val force_newline : unit -> unit

Force a new line in the current pretty-printing box.

The pretty-printer must split the line at this point,

Not the normal way of pretty-printing, since imperative line splitting may interfere with current line counters and box size calculation. Using break hints within an enclosing vertical box is a better alternative.

val pp_print_if_newline : formatter -> unit -> unit
val print_if_newline : unit -> unit

Execute the next formatting command if the preceding line has just been split. Otherwise, ignore the next formatting command.

Pretty-printing termination

val pp_print_flush : formatter -> unit -> unit
val print_flush : unit -> unit

End of pretty-printing: resets the pretty-printer to initial state.

All open pretty-printing boxes are closed, all pending text is printed. In addition, the pretty-printer low level output device is flushed to ensure that all pending text is really displayed.

Note: never use print_flush in the normal course of a pretty-printing routine, since the pretty-printer uses a complex buffering machinery to properly indent the output; manually flushing those buffers at random would conflict with the pretty-printer strategy and result to poor rendering.

Only consider using print_flush when displaying all pending material is mandatory (for instance in case of interactive use when you want the user to read some text) and when resetting the pretty-printer state will not disturb further pretty-printing.

Warning: If the output device of the pretty-printer is an output channel, repeated calls to print_flush means repeated calls to Stdlib.flush to flush the out channel; these explicit flush calls could foil the buffering strategy of output channels and could dramatically impact efficiency.

val pp_print_newline : formatter -> unit -> unit
val print_newline : unit -> unit

End of pretty-printing: resets the pretty-printer to initial state.

All open pretty-printing boxes are closed, all pending text is printed.

Equivalent to print_flush followed by a new line. See corresponding words of caution for print_flush.

Note: this is not the normal way to output a new line; the preferred method is using break hints within a vertical pretty-printing box.

Margin

val pp_set_margin : formatter -> int -> unit
val set_margin : int -> unit

pp_set_margin ppf d sets the right margin to d (in characters): the pretty-printer splits lines that overflow the right margin according to the break hints given. Setting the margin to d means that the formatting engine aims at printing at most d-1 characters per line. Nothing happens if d is smaller than 2. If d is too large, the right margin is set to the maximum admissible value (which is greater than 10 ^ 9). If d is less than the current maximum indentation limit, the maximum indentation limit is decreased while trying to preserve a minimal ratio max_indent/margin>=50% and if possible the current difference margin - max_indent.

See also pp_set_geometry.

val pp_get_margin : formatter -> unit -> int
val get_margin : unit -> int

Returns the position of the right margin.

Maximum indentation limit

val pp_set_max_indent : formatter -> int -> unit
val set_max_indent : int -> unit

pp_set_max_indent ppf d sets the maximum indentation limit of lines to d (in characters): once this limit is reached, new pretty-printing boxes are rejected to the left, unless the enclosing box fully fits on the current line. As an illustration,

set_margin 10; set_max_indent 5; printf "@[123456@[7@]89A@]@." 

yields

123456
789A

because the nested box "@[7@]" is opened after the maximum indentation limit (7>5) and its parent box does not fit on the current line. Either decreasing the length of the parent box to make it fit on a line:

printf "@[123456@[7@]89@]@." 

or opening an intermediary box before the maximum indentation limit which fits on the current line

printf "@[123@[456@[7@]89@]A@]@." 

avoids the rejection to the left of the inner boxes and print respectively "123456789" and "123456789A" . Note also that vertical boxes never fit on a line whereas horizontal boxes always fully fit on the current line. Opening a box may split a line whereas the contents may have fit. If this behavior is problematic, it can be curtailed by setting the maximum indentation limit to margin - 1. Note that setting the maximum indentation limit to margin is invalid.

Nothing happens if d is smaller than 2.

If d is too large, the limit is set to the maximum admissible value (which is greater than 10 ^ 9).

If d is greater or equal than the current margin, it is ignored, and the current maximum indentation limit is kept.

See also pp_set_geometry.

val pp_get_max_indent : formatter -> unit -> int
val get_max_indent : unit -> int

Return the maximum indentation limit (in characters).

Geometry

Geometric functions can be used to manipulate simultaneously the coupled variables, margin and maxixum indentation limit.

type geometry = {
max_indent : int;
margin : int;
}
val check_geometry : geometry -> bool

Check if the formatter geometry is valid: 1 < max_indent < margin

val pp_set_geometry : formatter -> max_indent:int -> margin:int -> unit
val set_geometry : max_indent:int -> margin:int -> unit
val pp_safe_set_geometry : formatter -> max_indent:int -> margin:int -> unit
val safe_set_geometry : max_indent:int -> margin:int -> unit

pp_set_geometry ppf ~max_indent ~margin sets both the margin and maximum indentation limit for ppf.

When 1 < max_indent < margin, pp_set_geometry ppf ~max_indent ~margin is equivalent to pp_set_margin ppf margin; pp_set_max_indent ppf max_indent; and avoids the subtly incorrect pp_set_max_indent ppf max_indent; pp_set_margin ppf margin;

Outside of this domain, pp_set_geometry raises an invalid argument exception whereas pp_safe_set_geometry does nothing.

  • since 4.08.0