🐉 A clang tool for happy refactoring without source-code gymnastics
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README.md

🐉 clang-expand



A clang tool for happy refactoring without source-code gymnastics.

license Docker Pulls Github All Releases GitHub release

Overview

I recently overheard the following conversation on my way to work, that may seem familiar to you:

Gandalf: It is important to refactor your code and keep functions concise and coherent.
Harry Potter: Yeah, sure, but I hate having to jump around between files to get the full picture of what my code is doing. One function = one place to look.
Obi Wan Kenobi: Use the force, Harry.
Batman: He means clang-expand

Inspired by Gandalf's words, I set out to find a solution to Harry's problem and built clang-expand. Point it at a function invocation in your source code and tell it where to look for stuff, and it will find the correct definition of that particular (template) function, method, operator overload or even constructor and "expand" it into the current scope. Expanding means it will:

  1. Replace parameters with respective argument expressions. That is, for a function f(int x) that you call with f(5), clang-expand will rewrite every occurrence of x inside f to 5. Note that since clang-expand uses clang, it actually understands C++ and knows what occurrences of x are parameter references and what aren't. Default arguments are replaced as well.

Given
template<typename Range>
void magic(Range& range, int meaning_of_life = 42) {
  auto iterator = std::find(range.begin(), range.end(), meaning_of_life);
  if (iterator != range.end()) {
    range.erase(iterator);
    std::cout << "Successfully erased all meaning of life\n";
  }
}
UnexpandedExpanded
std::vector v = {1, 42, 3};                                        
magic(v);
^
std::vector v = {1, 42, 3};
auto iterator = std::find(v.begin(), v.end(), 42);
if (iterator != v.end()) {
  std::cout << "Successfully erased all meaning of life\n";
  v.erase(iterator);
}

As you can see, clang-expand actually instantiated the template function during the expansion. This is because on the level that it operates on within the clang AST, semantic analysis, including template type deduction, are already complete. This means that calling templates is not a problem for clang-expand.

  1. If you're assigning the return value of a function you expand to a variable, clang-expand will replace every return statement inside the function with an assignment. It attempts to do this in a reasonably intelligent way, constructing the variable with the return value directly if there is only one return and else first declaring the variable and then assigning. The latter only works if the type of the variable is default-constructible and clang-expand will refuse to expand otherwise.
Given
std::string concat(const std::string& first, const std::string& second) {
  return first + "-"s + second;
}

std::string concat(const std::string& first, const std::string& second, bool kebab) {
  if (kebab) {
    return first + "-"s + second;
  } else {
    return first + std::toupper(second.front(), {}) + second.substr(1);
  }
}
UnexpandedExpanded
auto kebab = concat("clang", "expand");
             ^
std::string kebab = "clang" + "-"s + "expand";
UnexpandedExpanded
auto maybeCamel = concat("clang", "expand", flipCoin());
                  ^
std::string maybeCamel;
if (flipCoin()) {
  maybeCamel = "clang" + "-"s + "expand";
} else {
  maybeCamel = "clang" + std::toupper("expand".front(), {}) + "expand".substr(1);
}
  1. If you're calling a method, clang-expand will prepend the base to every method or member of referenced inside:
UnexpandedExpanded1
std::vector my_vec;                                       
my_vec.emplace_back(42);
       ^
std::vector my_vec;                                       
if (my_vec.__end_ < my_vec.__end_cap())
{
    __RAII_IncreaseAnnotator __annotator(*this);
    __alloc_traits::construct(my_vec.__alloc(),
                              _VSTD::__to_raw_pointer(my_vec.__end_),
                              _VSTD::forward<_Args>(42)...);
    __annotator.__done();
    ++my_vec.__end_;
}
else
    my_vec.__emplace_back_slow_path(_VSTD::forward<_Args>(42)...);

1 This is the implementation on my system, of course.

  1. If the function you're expanding is an operator, clang-expand can handle that just as well:
Given
struct by_lightning {
  bool operator==(const by_lightning& other) const noexcept {
    return this->circuit == other.circuit;
  }
  short circuit;
};
UnexpandedExpanded
by_lightning first{1};                                          
by_lightning second{2};
return first == second;
             ^
by_lightning first{1};                                         
by_lightning second{2};
return first.circuit == other.circuit;
  1. Besides expanding functions that are real code, clang-expand can also expand function-like and even object-like macros (that just #define something without being parameterized):
Given
#define MAX(a, b) (a) > (b) ? (a) : (b)
#define PI 3.14
UnexpandedExpanded
double pi_if_a_greater_b(double a, double b) {                 
  auto greater = MAX(a, b);
                 ^
  if (greater == a) {
    return PI;
           ^
  }
  return -1;
}
double pi_if_a_greater_b(double a, double b) {                         
  auto greater = a > b ? a : b;
  if (greater == a) {
    return 3.14;
  }
  return -1;
}
  1. clang-expand not only performs substitution for function parameters, it can also substitute type and non-type template parameters! Voilà:
Given
template <typename Explicit, unsigned number, typename Deduced>
auto my_template(Deduced deduced) {
  using Alias = Explicit;
  return deduced + static_cast<Alias>(number);
}
UnexpandedExpanded
my_template<float, 24>(10);                                     
^
using Alias = float;
return 10 + static_cast<Alias>(24);                            

Usage

clang-expand is implemented as a command-line tool targeted at building editor integrations. The tool itself has the following help text (excerpt):

$ clang-expand -help
USAGE: clang-expand [options] <source0> [... <sourceN>]

OPTIONS:

clang-expand options:

  -call                      - Whether to return the source range of the call
  -column=<uint>             - The column number of the function to expand
  -declaration               - Whether to return the original declaration
  -definition                - Whether to return the original definition
  -file=<string>             - The source file of the function to expand
  -line=<uint>               - The line number of the function to expand
  -rewrite                   - Whether to generate the rewritten (expanded) definition

Basically, you have to pass it any sources you want the tool to look for definitions in as positional arguments. The -file, -line and -column options then determine the location of the call to expand. This position has to be somewhere on the token you want to expand (i.e. not necessarily at the beginning). The -file defaults to the first source if you omit the option. Additionally, you have to pass any options required to compile the files at the end, following --. For example, given:

foo.h:

int foo();

foo.cpp:

int foo() { return 42; }

main.cpp:

#include "foo.h"
auto main() -> int {
  auto x = foo();
}

The following command would do the job:

$ clang-expand main.cpp foo.cpp -line=3 -column=14 -- -I/path/to/include -std=c++14

which will output:

{
  "call": {
    "begin": {
      "column": 3,
      "line": 3
    },
    "end": {
      "column": 17,
      "line": 3
    }
  },
  "declaration": {
    "location": {
      "filename": "/path/to/foo.h",
      "offset": {
        "column": 5,
        "line": 1
      }
    },
    "name": "foo",
    "text": "int foo();"
  },
  "definition": {
    "location": {
      "filename": "/path/to/foo.cpp",
      "offset": {
        "column": 5,
        "line": 1
      }
    },
    "macro": false,
    "rewritten": "int x = 42;",
    "text": "int foo() { return 42; }"
  }
}

Yes, JSON! But why so much output? Well, since clang-expand has to find the declaration and definition of a function you want to expand, it might as well also return the location and full text for either (because why not). As such, clang-expand can also be used as a backend for "go-to-definition"/"show-declaration" functions inside a text editor (though an indexed-solution like ctags is likely faster for just that).

For expanding, what's most interesting here is the call section and the definition.rewritten field. The former is the entire range (defined by two (line, column) pairs) in the source code that you'll want to replace with the expansion. The latter is the text to insert instead.

Even though the overhead to grab information about the definition and declaration is negligible compared to the entire operation, it may still be beneficial to turn off retrieval of certain parts of what clang-expand outputs, or you may simply not need some of the output. This is the case when you're only interested in expanding for example, where you only need the call and definition section. For this reason, the clang-expand tool takes boolean -call, -declaration, -definition and -rewrite options. By default, these flags are all set to true, i.e. all of these sections will be included. By setting them to -<option>=false, you can turn them off, however. For example:

$ clang-expand main.cpp foo.cpp -line=3 -column=14 -declaration=false -definition=false -rewrite=false -- -I/path/to/include -std=c++14

outputs only the call range:

{
  "call": {
    "begin": {
      "column": 3,
      "line": 3
    },
    "end": {
      "column": 17,
      "line": 3
    }
  }
}

Example editor integration

As my preferred editor as of 23rd March 2017, 19:42 GMT is Atom, I have implemented an example editor integration of clang-expand for Atom: atom-clang-expand. My preferred editor may have changed by the end of the last sentence, so I may be working on an integration for another editor.

I would be very happy to assist anyone in building an integration with Vim, Emacs, Sublime or any other editor, so please reach out if you would like to build one. Implementing just the expansion functionality is quite trivial, as you just need to invoke clang-expand, parse its output and replace some text. I have also implemented go-to-declaration/definition and show-declaration/definition for my Atom package, but those are optional (though arguably even easier to implement, as you just have to jump to another location or show some text).

Limitations

While clang-expand tries very hard to expand calls in way that produces syntactically correct code, this just simply is not always possible without impacting other features (such as readability of the expanded code). A simple example is when you have a function taking a parameter and you pass a variable called x as an argument. If x is already used for something else inside the function, there will be a collision. This can be detected in clang-expand -- no problem -- and solved by mangling the name somehow (e.g. appending _expanded). However, this reduces the readability of the produced expansion and is therefore not done. Note that this means clang-expand will generally not work well with recursive functions.

The bottom line is that the produced code will not always be valid, but you'll most likely not care, since you probably just want to see what the code would look like "more or less". Nevertheless, this is something where clang-expand could be improved in the future.

Building

If you just want to use clang-expand, you can grab the executable from the Release page.

To build from source, clang-expand uses cmake and requires a C++14-capable compiler. It also depends on the full LLVM and clang source, so you will need to download those, as explained here. If you're a moral person, you'll compile a tool that starts with the word "clang" with the aptly named compiler. However, we do have support for unorthodox (gcc/msvc) folks. Just make sure you compile the LLVM and clang libraries with the same compiler and standard library as you do clang-expand.

Once you have all that, you can build with:

$ mkdir build && cd build
$ cmake -DLLVM_PATH=/path/to/llvm/ -DFIND_LLVM_VERBOSE_CONFIG=on ..

Docker

We provide Dockerfiles for Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and OpenSUSE based images that, once built, have LLVM and clang libraries installed and compiled and contain build scripts to compile the project inside the Docker containers. While this is mainly to make it easier to create reproducible, fast and isolated releases of clang-expand on each of these distributions, these containers may actually be the easiest way for you to compile the project and make changes to it. To build a single container, run something like:

$ docker build --compress --memory 2G --tag clang-expand:<os> --file docker/<os>.Dockerfile

where os is in {ubuntu, debian, fedora, opensuse}. You can also pull the image from the Docker Cloud:

$ docker pull goldsborough/clang-expand:<os>-latest

To then build the project inside the container, you can run:

$ docker run -v build:/home/build -v llvm-build:/llvm/build -v $PWD:/home/project -v $PWD/bin:/home/build/bin clang-expand:<os> ./build.sh <os>

where os is again one of the above. To explain the volumes we are mounting here:

  1. The named volume build is where the project will be built with cmake,
  2. The named volume llvm-build is where LLVM and clang will be built with cmake,
  3. $PWD:/home/clang-expand mounts your local clang-expand directory under /home,
  4. $PWD/bin:/home/build/bin is where all the binaries go. Mount it on the host if you want to keep the binaries.

You can also just run docker-compose up (provided you have docker-compose installed) from the project root to build clang-expand on all distributions. Our cmake also has a docker target, so make docker does the same as docker-compose up.

Windows

On Windows, you'll want to use cmake-gui and let it generate a solution for Visual Studio 2017 (make sure llvm-config is either in the PATH or set the variable manually). Depending on how you've built LLVM you could have to add mincore.lib as an additional library dependency to the clang-generate project to fix some undefined external symbols.

Documentation

clang-expand has very extensive in-source documentation which can be generated with Doxygen. Run make docs inside the build folder. You don't need to compile the project for this, just run cmake .. and then make the docs target.

License

This project is released under the MIT License. For more information, see the LICENSE file.

Authors

Peter Goldsborough + cat ❤️