The basic function of gnatchop is to take a file with multiple units and split it into separate files. The boundary between files is reasonably clear, except for the issue of comments and pragmas. In default mode, the rule is that any pragmas between units belong to the previous unit, except that configuration pragmas always belong to the following unit. Any comments belong to the following unit. These rules almost always result in the right choice of the split point without needing to mark it explicitly and most users will find this default to be what they want. In this default mode it is incorrect to submit a file containing only configuration pragmas, or one that ends in configuration pragmas, to gnatchop.
However, using a special option to activate 'compilation mode', gnatchop can perform another function, which is to provide exactly the semantics required by the RM for handling of configuration pragmas in a compilation. In the absence of configuration pragmas (at the main file level), this option has no effect, but it causes such configuration pragmas to be handled in a quite different manner.
First, in compilation mode, if gnatchop is given a file that consists of
only configuration pragmas, then this file is appended to the
gnat.adc file in the current directory. This behavior provides
the required behavior described in the RM for the actions to be taken
on submitting such a file to the compiler, namely that these pragmas
should apply to all subsequent compilations in the same compilation
environment. Using GNAT, the current directory, possibly containing a
gnat.adc file is the representation
of a compilation environment. For more information on the
gnat.adc file, see Handling of Configuration Pragmas.
Second, in compilation mode, if gnatchop is given a file that starts with configuration pragmas, and contains one or more units, then these configuration pragmas are prepended to each of the chopped files. This behavior provides the required behavior described in the RM for the actions to be taken on compiling such a file, namely that the pragmas apply to all units in the compilation, but not to subsequently compiled units.
Finally, if configuration pragmas appear between units, they are appended to the previous unit. This results in the previous unit being illegal, since the compiler does not accept configuration pragmas that follow a unit. This provides the required RM behavior that forbids configuration pragmas other than those preceding the first compilation unit of a compilation.
For most purposes, gnatchop will be used in default mode. The compilation mode described above is used only if you need exactly accurate behavior with respect to compilations, and you have files that contain multiple units and configuration pragmas. In this circumstance the use of gnatchop with the compilation mode switch provides the required behavior, and is for example the mode in which GNAT processes the ACVC tests.