Docs / BuckleScript / IntroToExternal

Intro to External

Many parts of the interop system uses a concept called external, so we'll specially introduce it here.

external is a keyword for declaring a value in BuckleScript/OCaml/Reason:

external myCFunction : int => string = "theCFunctionName";

It's like a let, except that the body of an external is, as seen above, a string. That string usually has specific meanings depending on the context. For native OCaml, it usually points to a C function of that name. For BuckleScript, these externals are usually decorated with certain [@bs.blabla] attributes.

Once declared, you can use an external as a normal value.

BuckleScript externals are turned into the expected JS values, inlined into their callers during compilation, and completely erased afterward. You won't see them in the JS output. It's as if you wrote the generated JS code by hand! No performance cost either, naturally.

Note: do also use externals and the [@bs.blabla] attributes in the interface files. Otherwise the inlining won't happen.

Special Identity External

One external worth mentioning is the following one:

external myShadyConversion : foo => bar = "%identity";

This is a final escape hatch which does nothing but convert from the type foo to bar. In the following sections, if you ever fail to write an external, you can fall back to using this one. But try not to.