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2.13 Comparison between GNAT and Conventional Ada Library Models

This section is intended for Ada programmers who have used an Ada compiler implementing the traditional Ada library model, as described in the Ada Reference Manual.

In GNAT, there is no “library” in the normal sense. Instead, the set of source files themselves acts as the library. Compiling Ada programs does not generate any centralized information, but rather an object file and a ALI file, which are of interest only to the binder and linker. In a traditional system, the compiler reads information not only from the source file being compiled, but also from the centralized library. This means that the effect of a compilation depends on what has been previously compiled. In particular:

In GNAT, compiling one unit never affects the compilation of any other units because the compiler reads only source files. Only changes to source files can affect the results of a compilation. In particular:

The most important result of these differences is that order of compilation is never significant in GNAT. There is no situation in which one is required to do one compilation before another. What shows up as order of compilation requirements in the traditional Ada library becomes, in GNAT, simple source dependencies; in other words, there is only a set of rules saying what source files must be present when a file is compiled.