Compilation, Logging, and Reporting

This section provides information about the Idris compilation process, and provides details over how you can follow the process through logging.

Compilation Process

Idris follows the following compilation process:

  1. Parsing
  2. Type Checking
    1. Elaboration
    2. Coverage
    3. Unification
    4. Totality Checking
    5. Erasure
  3. Code Generation
    1. Defunctionalisation
    2. Inlining
    3. Resolving variables
    4. Code Generation

Type Checking Only

With Idris you can ask it to terminate the compilation process after type checking has completed. This is achieved through use of either:

  • The command line options
    • --check for files
    • --checkpkg for packages
  • The REPL command: :check

Use of this option will still result in the generation of the Idris binary .ibc files, and is suitable if you do not wish to generate code from one of the supported backends.

Reporting Compilation Process

During compilation the reporting of Idris’ progress can be controlled by setting a verbosity level.

  • -V, or alternatively --verbose and --V0, will report which file Idris is currently type checking.
  • --V1 will additionally report: Parsing, IBC Generation, and Code Generation.
  • --V2 will additionally report: Totality Checking, Universe Checking, and the individual steps prior to code generation.

By default Idris’ progress reporting is set to quiet--q, or --quiet.

Logging Internal Operation

For those that develop on the Idris compiler, the internal operation of Idris is captured using a category based logger. Currently, the logging infrastructure has support for the following categories:

  • Parser
  • Elaborator
  • Code generation
  • Erasure
  • Coverage Checking
  • IBC generation

These categories are specified using the command-line option: --logging-categories CATS, where CATS is a quoted colon seperated string of the categories you want to see. By default if this option is not specified all categories are allowed. Sub-categories have yet to be defined but will be in the future, especially for the elaborator.

Further, the verbosity of logging can be controlled by specifying a logging level between: 1 to 10 using the command-line option: --log <level>.

  • Level 0: Show no logging output. Default level
  • Level 1: High level details of the compilation process.
  • Level 2: Provides details of the coverage checking, and further details the elaboration process specifically: Interface, Clauses, Data, Term, and Types,
  • Level 3: Provides details of compilation of the IRTS, erasure, parsing, case splitting, and further details elaboration of: Implementations, Providers, and Values.
  • Level 4: Provides further details on: Erasure, Coverage Checking, Case splitting, and elaboration of clauses.
  • Level 5: Provides details on the prover, and further details elaboration (adding declarations) and compilation of the IRTS.
  • Level 6: Further details elaboration and coverage checking.
  • Level 7:
  • Level 8:
  • Level 9:
  • Level 10: Further details elaboration.

Environment Variables

Several paths set by default within the Idris compiler can be overridden through environment variables. The provided variables are:

  • IDRIS_CC Change the C compiler used by the C backend.
  • IDRIS_CFLAGS Change the C flags passed to the C compiler.
  • TARGET Change the target directory i.e. data dir where Idris installs files when installing using Cabal/Stack.
  • IDRIS_LIBRARY_PATH Change the location of where installed packages are found/installed.
  • IDRIS_DOC_PATH Change the location of where generated idrisdoc for packages are installed.


In versions of Idris prior to 0.12.3 the environment variables IDRIS_LIBRARY_PATH and TARGET were both used to affect the installation of single packages and direct where Idris installed its data. The meaning of these variables has changed, and command line options are preferred when changing where individual packages are installed.

The CLI option –ibcsubdir can be used to direct where generated IBC files are placed. However, this means Idris will install files in a non-standard location separate from the rest of the installed packages. The CLI option –idrispath <dir> allows you to add a directory to the library search path; this option can be used multiple times and can be shortened to -i <dir>. Similary, the –sourcepath <dir> option can be used to add directories to the source search path. There is no shortened version for this option as -s is a reserved flag.

Further, Idris also supports options to augment the paths used, and pass options to the code generator backend. The option –cg-opt <ARG> can be used to pass options to the code generator. The format of <ARG> is dependent on the selected backend.