Use CI to improve the quality of emacs distribution

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In Better Emacs package development workflow, I proved that running Emacs compiler in CI can give huge boost to package quality.

The same workflow can apply to emacs distributions. But designing a CI workflow for the distribution is much more challenging.

For example, my .emacs.d uses about 300 packages. In CI pipeline, those packages are automatically downloaded and compiled. If compiling errors/warnings from those third party packages are not ignored, the CI will always fail.

There are also many other engineering issues. I struggled for five hours and finally got satisfying solution. Now anyone can use my solution to set up same CI pipeline in ten minutes.


Makefile is in "~/.emacs.d", it's still simple,

EMACS ?= emacs
RM = @rm -rf
EMACS_BATCH_OPTS = --batch -Q --debug-init

install: clean
    @$(EMACS) $(EMACS_BATCH_OPTS) -l init.el

compile: install
    @$(EMACS) $(EMACS_BATCH_OPTS) -l init.el -l tests/my-byte-compile.el 2>&1 | grep -Ev "init-(hydra|evil).el:.*Warning: docstring wider than 80 characters|an obsolete" | grep -E "[0-9]: ([Ee]rror|[Ww]arning):" && exit 1 || exit 0

You can run make compile && echo good || echo bad in shell to test the pipeline locally. Please note I use grep -v things-to-ignore to ignore some warnings. The warnings are from anonymous functions created by third packages (hydra, general.el, …).

The final missing piece is "~/.emacs.d/tests/my-byte-compile.el",

(require 'find-lisp)
(require 'scroll-bar)
(require 'ivy)
(require 'counsel)
(require 'w3m)
(require 'ibuffer)
(require 'org)
(require 'diff-mode)
(require 'cliphist)
(require 'eacl)
(require 'tramp)
(require 'dired)
(require 'shellcop)
(require 'counsel-etags)
(require 'typewriter-mode)
(require 'pomodoro)
(require 'emms)
(require 'emms-playlist-mode)
(require 'gnus)
(require 'gnus-sum)
(require 'gnus-msg)
(require 'gnus-topic)
(require 'magit)
(require 'magit-refs)
(require 'gnus-art)
(require 'git-link)
(require 'ace-window)
(require 'js2-mode)
(require 'yasnippet)
(require 'ediff)
(require 'company)
(require 'evil-nerd-commenter)
(require 'git-timemachine)
(require 'pyim)
(require 'cal-china-x)
(require 'wucuo)
(require 'langtool)
(require 'web-mode)
(require 'bbdb)
(require 'gmail2bbdb)
(require 'org-mime)
(require 'pdf-tools)
(require 'recentf)
(require 'bookmark)
(require 'find-file-in-project)
(require 'flymake)
(require 'elec-pair)
(require 'elpy)
(require 'rjsx-mode)
(require 'simple-httpd)
(require 'vc)
(require 'sdcv)
(require 'wgrep)
(require 'mybigword)
(require 'yaml-mode)
(require 'octave)
(require 'undo-fu)
(require 'wc-mode)
(require 'exec-path-from-shell)
(require 'dictionary)
(require 'company-ispell)
(require 'company-ctags)
(require 'lsp-mode)

(let ((files (find-lisp-find-files-internal
              (lambda (file dir)
                (and (not (file-directory-p (expand-file-name file dir)))
                     (string-match "\\.el$" file)
                     (not (member file '(".dir-locals.el"
              (lambda (dir parent)
                (member dir '("lisp"))))))
  (dolist (file files)
    ;; (message "file=%s" file)
    (byte-compile-file file)))

(provide 'my-byte-compile)
;;; my-byte-compile.el ends here

As you can see,

  • I need add lots of require statement to make compiling succeed on Emacs 26, 27, 28
  • Some "*.el" files generated by Emacs and 3rd party packages need be ignored
  • My emacs setup code is only in "lisp" directory

That's it.

You can visit for a real world example.

BTW, you can find init-no-byte-compile.el where there are a few lines setup code the compiler will ignore. It's bad practice but sometimes there is no other way.

"init-no-byte-compile.el" is like,

;; -*- coding: utf-8; lexical-binding: t; -*-

;; blah blah

;; Local Variables:
;; no-byte-compile: t
;; End:
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