Is it possible to access a user-defined file-local variable during byte-compilation?

As an example, I am trying to get this code to work:

--- testfilelocals.el ---
;; -*- my-file-local: "foo" -*-

(defun testfilelocals ()

which fails with a compiler error

testfilelocals.el:5:5:Error: Symbol's value as variable is void: my-file-local

Looking at the source code in bytecomp.el, one can see that only safe file-local variables are read (see the relevant part of the file below).

This means that if you declare your variable as safe for file-local use, it should be read when you compile your file. You can for example evaluate the following piece of code before you byte-compile the file:

(put 'my-file-local 'safe-local-variable 'stringp)

For reference, here is the relevant part of bytecomp.el:

(let ((buffer-file-name filename)
      (dmm (default-value 'major-mode))
      ;; Ignore unsafe local variables.
      ;; We only care about a few of them for our purposes.
      (enable-local-variables :safe)
      (enable-local-eval nil))
| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks for quoting bytecomp.el. I was surprised to find out that loading the uncompiled source file with load-file even after setting the safe-local-variable property will result in a void-variable error when calling (testfilelocals), i.e. there is a disparity between compiled and uncompiled code. The quoted code (especially the comment) indicates that availability of file-local variables at compile time may be an unintended side-effect of the compiler implementation. I planned to modify the behaviour of a macro with those, which doesn't seem possible. – kdb Sep 6 '15 at 20:39

Maybe because you did not specify major mode where the variables are used:

;; -*- mode: Lisp; my-file-local: "foo" -*-

Most major modes reset all variables upon initialization.

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  • Actually, I don't think so: trying to byte compile an example file where the mode is specified shows that it doesn't get rid of the problem. Still, your idea was good: the sources of bytecomp.el show that care has been taken to activate emacs-lisp-mode without altering file-local variables. – François Févotte Sep 4 '15 at 19:31
  • "...I don't think so..." in that case please submit corrections to the manual. – Emacs User Sep 4 '15 at 20:12
  • Sorry if my wording was unclear. I'm not saying that what you (or the manual) say is wrong... I'm just saying that I don't think it is the reason why the OP's file-local variable is not set during byte-compilation. You (and the manual), are correct when saying that "most modes kill all local variables as part of their initialization", but - if I understand it correctly - the reason why the OP's file-local variable is not set during byte-compilation is not that it has been killed, but rather that it has never been read in the first place since it was not safe. – François Févotte Sep 4 '15 at 20:37

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