Chapter 15  Coq Integrated Development Environment

The Coq Integrated Development Environment is a graphical tool, to be used as a user-friendly replacement to coqtop. Its main purpose is to allow the user to navigate forward and backward into a Coq vernacular file, executing corresponding commands or undoing them respectively.

CoqIDE is run by typing the command coqide on the command line. Without argument, the main screen is displayed with an “unnamed buffer”, and with a file name as argument, another buffer displaying the contents of that file. Additionally, coqide accepts the same options as coqtop, given in Chapter 13, the ones having obviously no meaning for CoqIDE being ignored. Additionally, coqide accepts the option -enable-geoproof to enable the support for GeoProof 1.

Figure 15.1: CoqIDE main screen

A sample CoqIDE main screen, while navigating into a file Fermat.v, is shown on Figure 15.1. At the top is a menu bar, and a tool bar below it. The large window on the left is displaying the various script buffers. The upper right window is the goal window, where goals to prove are displayed. The lower right window is the message window, where various messages resulting from commands are displayed. At the bottom is the status bar.

15.1  Managing files and buffers, basic edition

In the script window, you may open arbitrarily many buffers to edit. The File menu allows you to open files or create some, save them, print or export them into various formats. Among all these buffers, there is always one which is the current running buffer, whose name is displayed on a green background, which is the one where Coq commands are currently executed.

Buffers may be edited as in any text editor, and classical basic editing commands (Copy/Paste, …) are available in the Edit menu. CoqIDE offers only basic editing commands, so if you need more complex editing commands, you may launch your favorite text editor on the current buffer, using the Edit/External Editor menu.

15.2  Interactive navigation into Coq scripts

The running buffer is the one where navigation takes place. The toolbar proposes five basic commands for this. The first one, represented by a down arrow icon, is for going forward executing one command. If that command is successful, the part of the script that has been executed is displayed on a green background. If that command fails, the error message is displayed in the message window, and the location of the error is emphasized by a red underline.

On Figure 15.1, the running buffer is Fermat.v, all commands until the Theorem have been already executed, and the user tried to go forward executing Induction n. That command failed because no such tactic exist (tactics are now in lowercase…), and the wrong word is underlined.

Notice that the green part of the running buffer is not editable. If you ever want to modify something you have to go backward using the up arrow tool, or even better, put the cursor where you want to go back and use the goto button. Unlike with coqtop, you should never use Undo to go backward.

Two additional tool buttons exist, one to go directly to the end and one to go back to the beginning. If you try to go to the end, or in general to run several commands using the goto button, the execution will stop whenever an error is found.

If you ever try to execute a command which happens to run during a long time, and would like to abort it before its termination, you may use the interrupt button (the white cross on a red circle).

Finally, notice that these navigation buttons are also available in the menu, where their keyboard shortcuts are given.

15.3  Try tactics automatically

The menu Try Tactics provides some features for automatically trying to solve the current goal using simple tactics. If such a tactic succeeds in solving the goal, then its text is automatically inserted into the script. There is finally a combination of these tactics, called the proof wizard which will try each of them in turn. This wizard is also available as a tool button (the light bulb). The set of tactics tried by the wizard is customizable in the preferences.

These tactics are general ones, in particular they do not refer to particular hypotheses. You may also try specific tactics related to the goal or one of the hypotheses, by clicking with the right mouse button on the goal or the considered hypothesis. This is the “contextual menu on goals” feature, that may be disabled in the preferences if undesirable.

15.4  Proof folding

As your script grows bigger and bigger, it might be useful to hide the proofs of your theorems and lemmas.

This feature is toggled via the Hide entry of the Navigation menu. The proof shall be enclosed between Proof. and Qed., both with their final dots. The proof that shall be hidden or revealed is the first one whose beginning statement (such as Theorem) precedes the insertion cursor.

15.5  Vernacular commands, templates

The Templates menu allows to use shortcuts to insert vernacular commands. This is a nice way to proceed if you are not sure of the spelling of the command you want.

Moreover, this menu offers some templates which will automatic insert a complex command like Fixpoint with a convenient shape for its arguments.

15.6  Queries

Figure 15.2: CoqIDE: the query window

We call query any vernacular command that do not change the current state, such as Check, SearchAbout, etc. Those commands are of course useless during compilation of a file, hence should not be included in scripts. To run such commands without writing them in the script, CoqIDE offers another input window called the query window. This window can be displayed on demand, either by using the Window menu, or directly using shortcuts given in the Queries menu. Indeed, with CoqIDE the simplest way to perform a SearchAbout on some identifier is to select it using the mouse, and pressing F2. This will both make appear the query window and run the SearchAbout in it, displaying the result. Shortcuts F3 and F4 are for Check and Print respectively. Figure 15.2 displays the query window after selection of the word “mult” in the script windows, and pressing F4 to print its definition.

15.7  Compilation

The Compile menu offers direct commands to:

15.8  Customizations

You may customize your environment using menu Edit/Preferences. A new window will be displayed, with several customization sections presented as a notebook.

The first section is for selecting the text font used for scripts, goal and message windows.

The second section is devoted to file management: you may configure automatic saving of files, by periodically saving the contents into files named #f# for each opened file f. You may also activate the revert feature: in case a opened file is modified on the disk by a third party, CoqIDE may read it again for you. Note that in the case you edited that same file, you will be prompt to choose to either discard your changes or not. The File charset encoding choice is described below in Section 15.9.3

The Externals section allows to customize the external commands for compilation, printing, web browsing. In the browser command, you may use %s to denote the URL to open, for example: mozilla -remote "OpenURL(%s)".

The Tactics Wizard section allows to defined the set of tactics that should be tried, in sequence, to solve the current goal.

The last section is for miscellaneous boolean settings, such as the “contextual menu on goals” feature presented in Section 15.3.

Notice that these settings are saved in the file .coqiderc of your home directory.

A gtk2 accelerator keymap is saved under the name .coqide.keys. This file should not be edited manually: to modify a given menu shortcut, go to the corresponding menu item without releasing the mouse button, press the key you want for the new shortcut, and release the mouse button afterwards.

For experts: it is also possible to set up a specific gtk resource file, under the name .coqide-gtk2rc, following the gtk2 resources syntax Such a default resource file can be found in the subdirectory lib/coq/ide of the root installation directory of Coq (alternatively, it can be found in the subdirectory ide of the source archive of Coq). You may copy this file into your home directory, and edit it using any text editor, CoqIDE itself for example.

15.9  Using unicode symbols

CoqIDE supports unicode character encoding in its text windows, consequently a large set of symbols is available for notations.

15.9.1  Displaying unicode symbols

You just need to define suitable notations as described in Chapter 12. For example, to use the mathematical symbols ∀ and ∃, you may define

Notation " x : t, P" :=
    (forall x:t, P) (at level 200, x ident).
Notation "
x : t, P" :=
    (exists x:t, P) (at level 200, x ident).

There exists a small set of such notations already defined, in the file utf8.v of Coq library, so you may enable them just by Require utf8 inside CoqIDE, or equivalently, by starting CoqIDE with coqide -l utf8.

However, there are some issues when using such unicode symbols: you of course need to use a character font which supports them. In the Fonts section of the preferences, the Preview line displays some unicode symbols, so you could figure out if the selected font is OK. Related to this, one thing you may need to do is choose whether Gtk should use antialiased fonts or not, by setting the environment variable GDK_USE_XFT to 1 or 0 respectively.

15.9.2  Defining an input method for non ASCII symbols

To input an Unicode symbol, a general method is to press both the CONTROL and the SHIFT keys, and type the hexadecimal code of the symbol required, for example 2200 for the ∀ symbol. A list of symbol codes is available at

This method obviously doesn’t scale, that’s why the preferred alternative is to use an Input Method Editor. On POSIX systems (Linux distributions, BSD variants and MacOS X), you can use uim to support LATEX-style edition and, if using X Windows, you can also use the XCompose method (XIM). How to use uim is documented below.

If you have uim 1.5.x, first manually copy the files located in directory ide/uim of the Coq source distribution to the uim directory of input methods which typically is /usr/share/uim. Execute uim-module-manager --register coqide. Then, execute uim-pref-gtk as regular user and set the default Input Method to "CoqIDE" in the "Global Settings" group (don’t forget to tick the checkbox "Specify default IM"; you may also have to first edit the set of "Enabled input method" to add CoqIDE to the set). You can now execute CoqIDE with the following commands (assuming you use a Bourne-style shell):

$ export GTK_IM_MODULE=uim
$ coqide

If you then type the sequence "\Gamma", you will see the sequence being replaced by Γ as soon as you type the second "a".

If you have uim 1.6.x, the LATEX input method is built-in. You just have to execute uim-pref-gtk and choose "ELatin" as default Input Method in the "Global Settings". Then, in the "ELatin" group set the layout to "TeX", and remember the content of the "[ELatin] on" field (by default "<Control>\"). Proceed then as above.

15.9.3  Character encoding for saved files

In the Files section of the preferences, the encoding option is related to the way files are saved.

If you have no need to exchange files with non UTF-8 aware applications, it is better to choose the UTF-8 encoding, since it guarantees that your files will be read again without problems. (This is because when CoqIDE reads a file, it tries to automatically detect its character encoding.)

If you choose something else than UTF-8, then missing characters will be written encoded by \x{....} or \x{........} where each dot is an hexadecimal digit: the number between braces is the hexadecimal UNICODE index for the missing character.

15.10  Building a custom CoqIDE with user ML code

You can do this as described in Section 14.1 for a custom coq text toplevel, simply by adding option -ide to coqmktop, that is something like

coqmktop -ide -byte m1.cmo … mn.cmo


coqmktop -ide -opt m1.cmx … mn.cmx