Let's assume there is a package P containing two files,


, where the base.el file requires utils.el at runtime and utils.el contains a macro M. Upon first installation of P, package.el downloads, extracts and compiles it.

Now assume the package maintainer updated P to P' and in the process modified M to M'. The package user now attempts to update his package via package-list. Since P is a useful package, it is also loaded. Again package.el downloads and extracts P'. But I don't see how the code from the updated macro M' gets into the compiled file P'/base.el, since the feature utils.el is already provided, so, I assume, and the compiler is happy to use the old definition M.

The question I have about this is simply whether this is a correct analysis ?

  • Not hundred percent sure, but there's a good chance that (require 'package) will actually re-load and re-evaluate the package if the file is newer. So the macro definition is likely to be updated. However, the places where expansion already happened will not be updated.
    – wvxvw
    Jan 27, 2015 at 22:03
  • FYI, it doesn't look to me as if require (at least as at 24.4.1) performs any such check. If the feature was registered as having been loaded, I believe that's all that matters.
    – phils
    Jan 28, 2015 at 0:21
  • Obviously, explicitly loading the recompiled library would resolve the issue, and it's certainly possible that the package manager does exactly that after updating libraries which were previously loaded.
    – phils
    Jan 28, 2015 at 0:25
  • 1
    @phils It doesn't do that on 24.4, but does in 25.1. Explicitly loading the file in your package is indeed a workaround.
    – Malabarba
    Jan 28, 2015 at 1:32

1 Answer 1


But I don't see how the code from the updated macro M' gets into the compiled file P'/base.el, since the feature utils.el is already provided, [...]

It doesn't. Or, actually, it didn't.

The bug

Your analysis is correct. It was a bug in package.el, and it's been fixed on this commit for the next Emacs release. As of the next version, when package.el upgrades a package that has been loaded in this session, it will reload a package after installing it.

The workaround

One workaround is to load a package instead of requireing it. Though this is bad style, I would consider it an acceptable compromise, if you know you'll be affected by this.
You know you'll be affected by this if your package is about to make use of a newly released feature of a pre-existing macro that's on another file (or another package).

  • This looks like the relevant commit.
    – politza
    Jan 28, 2015 at 11:28
  • Though, I think it's still broken, since the reloading happens after the package was compiled (with the old macros).
    – politza
    Jan 28, 2015 at 12:08
  • @politza oh yes. I misinterpreted the question (I'll update the answer later) . This was fixed for macros from another package. It still needs work for macros inside the same package that are on a different file. Fortunately, the load instead of require workaround still works for that situation, and it's kind of a no brainer there.
    – Malabarba
    Jan 28, 2015 at 12:16
  • And it's still listed as bug #10125. I should have checked there first, but the assumed implication of hundreds of broken packages out there kept me from doing so...
    – politza
    Jan 28, 2015 at 12:17

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