Reference implementation currently too hard to install in Windows

Jonathan Watt jwatt at
Sun Oct 28 09:20:11 PDT 2007


First of all, I think making the reference implementation available to everyone
is a great idea. Thanks for that. Unfortunately, at this early stage, I think
the barriers too getting it running are too high for your average ECMAScripter
with only Windows experience. If one of the aims is to collect feedback on, and
encourage experience with, ES4, then these really need to be lowered. Some of
these barriers include:

 * No link to cygwin on the download page.
 * No mention of which options to choose when installing cygwin (just say
   "accept the defaults"? Or not? (I already had it installed, so I'm not
   sure if the defaults are enough)).
 * The Microsoft Windows section on the SML/NJ page links to a zip and
   WININSTALL file but, after messing around with that, I figure out it's
   not the one to use with cygwin.
 * I notice there's also a CYGWININSTALL file linked to on the SML/NJ page
   (and it could be clearer about the fact I should use it and then the
   Unix download and INSTALL instructions)
 * The instructions in CYGWININSTALL assume too much from the perspective of
   your average Windows ECMAScripter (what is "binmode", "manpage" and
   where and how do you set up a cygwin environment to automatically
   "export the environment variable").
 * The contents of the INSTALL file are themselves a barrier to your
   average Windows user.
 * On following the CYGWININSTALL and then Unix INSTALL instructions I get
   the error:

     /usr/share/smlnj/bin/.link-sml: line 45:
       /home/jwatt/smlnj/bin/.arch-n-opsys: No such file or directory
     : unable to determine architecture/operating system
     config/ !!! Boot code failed, no heap image (sml.x86-cygwin).

   And yes, I had SMLNJ_CYGWIN_RUNTIME exported.

Since I personally have a little cygwin/unix shell experience I could continue
on and try to figure out what I did wrong, but that's besides the point I think.
Making all these problems go away by providing a native Windows installer would
be ideal, but until that happens, could someone add step-by-step instructions
for Windows dummies who don't care to experience the pain required to figure out
how to get things working in a Unix environment? I assuming most ECMAScripters
on Windows fall into this camp.

Again, thanks for your efforts to make the reference implementation available to
all, and I hope the above is helpful in that regard.


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