Getting Started

It is recommended that all Chapel users and developers get acquainted with the project via the following steps:

  • Start taking notes as you undertake these steps in order to track any suggestions, points of confusion, or areas for possible improvement. Since Chapel is open-source, you should feel empowered to help improve anything that you find that would benefit from it. You’ll only be new to Chapel once (and the rest of us aren’t anymore), so this is the best time to identify things that could be clearer for new users.

  • This chapter about Chapel is probably the best document for getting a broad overview of the history of the project, the motivation for the language, and a high-level overview of its features. For updates on what’s happened since that chapter was published, it may be helpful to refer to:

  • Download the official Chapel release from GitHub and put yourself in the shoes of a Chapel user (alternatively, you can work from the development copy of the git repository where you found this README – there are minor differences in organization between the two and the trunk subsumes everything in the release. $CHPL_HOME/README.devel exists to help map between the two views).

    Start from the top-level QUICKSTART.rst to build the compiler, run it, and execute the resulting binary. Follow as many of the “What’s next?” steps as possible in order to explore the contents of the release and familiarize yourself with the language, compiler, documentation, and example programs as presented to the end-user.

  • To learn the language, your best bets are to read the Chapel chapter mentioned above, read through the release’s primer examples (located in test/[release/]examples/primers), watch or browse a Chapel presentation, or refer to the learning Chapel page.

  • Familiarize yourself with the language specification. This can be a fairly dry/tedious task, so most people will tend to find other tasks to interleave it with, like programming. Nevertheless, we want to emphasize how important it is for developers to be familiar with the language spec, to get an understanding both of the language’s scope and the state of the documentation today.

  • Code up sample computations from scratch to get a feel for the language and compiler. Get feedback on your codes from an experienced Chapel developer on ways to improve them from elegance and/or performance standpoints.

  • Once you’re ready to move from a user role into more of a developer role, refer to Contributor Info in this directory, which has a step by step introduction to contributing to the project.