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<title>Style Guidelines for fptools</title>
<h1>Style Guidelines for fptools</h1>
<p>These coding style guidelines are mainly intended for use in
<tt>ghc/rts</tt> and <tt>ghc/includes</tt>.
<p>NB These are just suggestions. They're not set in stone. Some of
them are probably misguided. If you disagree with them, feel free to
modify this document (and make your commit message reasonably
informative) or mail someone (eg. <a
href="">The GHC mailing list</a>)
If you haven't read them already, you might like to check the following.
Where they conflict with our suggestions, they're probably right.
The C99 standard. One reasonable reference is <a
Writing Solid Code, Microsoft Press. (Highly recommended. Possibly
the only Microsoft Press book that's worth reading.)
Autoconf documentation.
See also <a href="">The autoconf macro archive</a> and
<a href="">Cyclic Software's description</a>
<p><li> <a
Hill C Style and Coding Standards</a>.
<a href="">A list of C programming style links</a>
<a href="">A very large list of C programming links</a>
<a href="">A list of Unix programming links</a>
<h2>Portability issues</h2>
<li> We try to stick to C99 where possible. We use the following
C99 features relative to C89, some of which were previously GCC
extensions (possibly with different syntax):
<li>Variable length arrays as the last field of a struct. GCC has
a similar extension, but the syntax is slightly different: in GCC you
would declare the array as <tt>arr[0]</tt>, whereas in C99 it is
declared as <tt>arr[]</tt>.
<p><li>Inline annotations on functions (see later)
<p><li>Labeled elements in initialisers. Again, GCC has a slightly
different syntax from C99 here, and we stick with the GCC syntax until
GCC implements the C99 proposal.
<p><li>C++-style comments. These are part of the C99 standard, and we
prefer to use them whenever possible.
<p>In addition we use ANSI-C-style function declarations and
prototypes exclusively. Every function should have a prototype;
static function prototypes may be placed near the top of the file in
which they are declared, and external prototypes are usually placed in
a header file with the same basename as the source file (although there
are exceptions to this rule, particularly when several source files
together implement a subsystem which is described by a single external
header file).
<p><li>We use the following GCC extensions, but surround them with
<tt>#ifdef __GNUC__</tt>:
<li>Function attributes (mostly just <code>no_return</code> and
<li>Inline assembly.
char can be signed or unsigned - always say which you mean
<p><li>Our POSIX policy: try to write code that only uses POSIX (IEEE
Std 1003.1) interfaces and APIs. We used to define
<code>POSIX_SOURCE</code> by default, but found that this caused more
problems than it solved, so now we require any code that is
POSIX-compliant to explicitly say so by having <code>#include
"PosixSource.h"</code> at the top. Try to do this whenever possible.
<p><li> Some architectures have memory alignment constraints. Others
don't have any constraints but go faster if you align things. These
macros (from <tt>config.h</tt>) tell you which alignment to use
/* minimum alignment of unsigned int */
/* minimum alignment of long */
/* minimum alignment of float */
/* minimum alignment of double */
<p><li> Use <tt>StgInt</tt>, <tt>StgWord</tt> and <tt>StgPtr</tt> when
reading/writing ints and ptrs to the stack or heap. Note that, by
definition, <tt>StgInt</tt>, <tt>StgWord</tt> and <tt>StgPtr</tt> are
the same size and have the same alignment constraints even if
<code>sizeof(int) != sizeof(ptr)</code> on that platform.
<p><li> Use <tt>StgInt8</tt>, <tt>StgInt16</tt>, etc when you need a
certain minimum number of bits in a type. Use <tt>int</tt> and
<tt>nat</tt> when there's no particular constraint. ANSI C only
guarantees that ints are at least 16 bits but within GHC we assume
they are 32 bits.
<p><li> Use <tt>StgFloat</tt> and <tt>StgDouble</tt> for floating
point values which will go on/have come from the stack or heap. Note
that <tt>StgDouble</tt> may occupy more than one <tt>StgWord</tt>, but
it will always be a whole number multiple.
Use <code>PK_FLT(addr)</code>, <code>PK_DBL(addr)</code> to read
<tt>StgFloat</tt> and <tt>StgDouble</tt> values from the stack/heap,
and <code>ASSIGN_FLT(val,addr)</code> /
<code>ASSIGN_DBL(val,addr)</code> to assign StgFloat/StgDouble values
to heap/stack locations. These macros take care of alignment
Heap/Stack locations are always <tt>StgWord</tt> aligned; the
alignment requirements of an <tt>StgDouble</tt> may be more than that
of <tt>StgWord</tt>, but we don't pad misaligned <tt>StgDoubles</tt>
because doing so would be too much hassle (see <code>PK_DBL</code> &
co above).
Avoid conditional code like this:
#ifdef solaris_HOST_OS
// do something solaris specific
Instead, add an appropriate test to the script and use
the result of that test instead.
#ifdef HAVE_BSD_H
// use a BSD library
<p>The problem is that things change from one version of an OS to another
- things get added, things get deleted, things get broken, some things
are optional extras. Using "feature tests" instead of "system tests"
makes things a lot less brittle. Things also tend to get documented
<h2>Debugging/robustness tricks</h2>
Anyone who has tried to debug a garbage collector or code generator
will tell you: "If a program is going to crash, it should crash as
soon, as noisily and as often as possible." There's nothing worse
than trying to find a bug which only shows up when running GHC on
itself and doesn't manifest itself until 10 seconds after the actual
cause of the problem.
<p>We put all our debugging code inside <tt>#ifdef DEBUG</tt>. The
general policy is we don't ship code with debugging checks and
assertions in it, but we do run with those checks in place when
developing and testing. Anything inside <tt>#ifdef DEBUG</tt> should
not slow down the code by more than a factor of 2.
<p>We also have more expensive "sanity checking" code for hardcore
debugging - this can slow down the code by a large factor, but is only
enabled on demand by a command-line flag. General sanity checking in
the RTS is currently enabled with the <tt>-DS</tt> RTS flag.
<p>There are a number of RTS flags which control debugging output and
sanity checking in various parts of the system when <tt>DEBUG</tt> is
defined. For example, to get the scheduler to be verbose about what
it is doing, you would say <tt>+RTS -Ds -RTS</tt>. See
<tt>includes/RtsFlags.h</tt> and <tt>rts/RtsFlags.c</tt> for the full
set of debugging flags. To check one of these flags in the code,
IF_DEBUG(gc, fprintf(stderr, "..."));
would check the <tt>gc</tt> flag before generating the output (and the
code is removed altogether if <tt>DEBUG</tt> is not defined).
<p>All debugging output should go to <tt>stderr</tt>.
Particular guidelines for writing robust code:
Use assertions. Use lots of assertions. If you write a comment
that says "takes a +ve number" add an assertion. If you're casting
an int to a nat, add an assertion. If you're casting an int to a char,
add an assertion. We use the <tt>ASSERT</tt> macro for writing
assertions; it goes away when <tt>DEBUG</tt> is not defined.
Write special debugging code to check the integrity of your data structures.
(Most of the runtime checking code is in <tt>rts/Sanity.c</tt>)
Add extra assertions which call this code at the start and end of any
code that operates on your data structures.
When you find a hard-to-spot bug, try to think of some assertions,
sanity checks or whatever that would have made the bug easier to find.
When defining an enumeration, it's a good idea not to use 0 for normal
values. Instead, make 0 raise an internal error. The idea here is to
make it easier to detect pointer-related errors on the assumption that
random pointers are more likely to point to a 0 than to anything else.
typedef enum
{ i_INTERNAL_ERROR /* Instruction 0 raises an internal error */
, i_PANIC /* irrefutable pattern match failed! */
, i_ERROR /* user level error */
<p><li> Use <tt>#warning</tt> or <tt>#error</tt> whenever you write a
piece of incomplete/broken code.
<p><li> When testing, try to make infrequent things happen often.
For example, make a context switch/gc/etc happen every time a
context switch/gc/etc can happen. The system will run like a
pig but it'll catch a lot of bugs.
<h2>Syntactic details</h2>
<li><b>Important:</b> Put "redundant" braces or parens in your code.
Omitting braces and parens leads to very hard to spot bugs -
especially if you use macros (and you might have noticed that GHC does
this a lot!)
In particular:
Put braces round the body of for loops, while loops, if statements, etc.
even if they "aren't needed" because it's really hard to find the resulting
bug if you mess up. Indent them any way you like but put them in there!
When defining a macro, always put parens round args - just in case.
For example, write:
#define add(x,y) ((x)+(y))
instead of
#define add(x,y) x+y
<li> Don't declare and initialize variables at the same time.
Separating the declaration and initialization takes more lines, but
make the code clearer.
Use inline functions instead of macros if possible - they're a lot
less tricky to get right and don't suffer from the usual problems
of side effects, evaluation order, multiple evaluation, etc.
<li>Inline functions get the naming issue right. E.g. they
can have local variables which (in an expression context)
macros can't.
<li> Inline functions have call-by-value semantics whereas macros
are call-by-name. You can be bitten by duplicated computation
if you aren't careful.
<li> You can use inline functions from inside gdb if you compile with
-O0 or -fkeep-inline-functions. If you use macros, you'd better
know what they expand to.
However, note that macros can serve as both l-values and r-values and
can be "polymorphic" as these examples show:
// you can use this as an l-value or an l-value
#define PROF_INFO(cl) (((StgClosure*)(cl))->header.profInfo)
// polymorphic case
// but note that min(min(1,2),3) does 3 comparisons instead of 2!!
#define min(x,y) (((x)<=(y)) ? (x) : (y))
Inline functions should be "static inline" because:
gcc will delete static inlines if not used or theyre always inlined.
if they're externed, we could get conflicts between 2 copies of the
same function if, for some reason, gcc is unable to delete them.
If they're static, we still get multiple copies but at least they don't conflict.
OTOH, the gcc manual says this
so maybe we should use extern inline?
When a function is both inline and `static', if all calls to the
function are integrated into the caller, and the function's address is
never used, then the function's own assembler code is never referenced.
In this case, GNU CC does not actually output assembler code for the
function, unless you specify the option `-fkeep-inline-functions'.
Some calls cannot be integrated for various reasons (in particular,
calls that precede the function's definition cannot be integrated, and
neither can recursive calls within the definition). If there is a
nonintegrated call, then the function is compiled to assembler code as
usual. The function must also be compiled as usual if the program
refers to its address, because that can't be inlined.
When an inline function is not `static', then the compiler must
assume that there may be calls from other source files; since a global
symbol can be defined only once in any program, the function must not
be defined in the other source files, so the calls therein cannot be
integrated. Therefore, a non-`static' inline function is always
compiled on its own in the usual fashion.
If you specify both `inline' and `extern' in the function
definition, then the definition is used only for inlining. In no case
is the function compiled on its own, not even if you refer to its
address explicitly. Such an address becomes an external reference, as
if you had only declared the function, and had not defined it.
This combination of `inline' and `extern' has almost the effect of a
macro. The way to use it is to put a function definition in a header
file with these keywords, and put another copy of the definition
(lacking `inline' and `extern') in a library file. The definition in
the header file will cause most calls to the function to be inlined.
If any uses of the function remain, they will refer to the single copy
in the library.
Don't define macros that expand to a list of statements.
You could just use braces as in:
#define ASSIGN_CC_ID(ccID) \
{ \
ccID = CC_ID; \
CC_ID++; \
(but it's usually better to use an inline function instead - see above).
Don't even write macros that expand to 0 statements - they can mess you
up as well. Use the doNothing macro instead.
#define doNothing() do { } while (0)
This code
int* p, q;
looks like it declares two pointers but, in fact, only p is a pointer.
It's safer to write this:
int* p;
int* q;
You could also write this:
int *p, *q;
but it is preferrable to split the declarations.
Try to use ANSI C's enum feature when defining lists of constants of
the same type. Among other benefits, you'll notice that gdb uses the
name instead of its (usually inscrutable) number when printing values
with enum types and gdb will let you use the name in expressions you
typedef enum { /* N.B. Used as indexes into arrays */
} ProfilingFlags;
instead of
# define NO_HEAP_PROFILING 0 /* N.B. Used as indexes into arrays */
# define HEAP_BY_CC 1
# define HEAP_BY_MOD 2
# define HEAP_BY_GRP 3
# define HEAP_BY_DESCR 4
# define HEAP_BY_TYPE 5
# define HEAP_BY_TIME 6
typedef enum {
CCchar = 'C',
MODchar = 'M',
GRPchar = 'G',
DESCRchar = 'D',
TYPEchar = 'Y',
TIMEchar = 'T'
} ProfilingTag;
instead of
# define CCchar 'C'
# define MODchar 'M'
# define GRPchar 'G'
# define DESCRchar 'D'
# define TYPEchar 'Y'
# define TIMEchar 'T'
<li> Please keep to 80 columns: the line has to be drawn somewhere,
and by keeping it to 80 columns we can ensure that code looks OK on
everyone's screen. Long lines are hard to read, and a sign that the
code needs to be restructured anyway.
<li> When commenting out large chunks of code, use <code>#ifdef 0
... #endif</code> rather than <code>/* ... */</code> because C doesn't
have nested comments.
<li>When declaring a typedef for a struct, give the struct a name
as well, so that other headers can forward-reference the struct name
and it becomes possible to have opaque pointers to the struct. Our
convention is to name the struct the same as the typedef, but add a
leading underscore. For example:
typedef struct _Foo {
} Foo;
<li>Do not use <tt>!</tt> instead of explicit comparison against
<tt>NULL</tt> or <tt>'\0'</tt>; the latter is much clearer.
<li> We don't care too much about your indentation style but, if
you're modifying a function, please try to use the same style as the
rest of the function (or file). If you're writing new code, a
tab width of 4 is preferred.
<h2>CVS issues</h2>
Don't be tempted to reindent or reorganise large chunks of code - it
generates large diffs in which it's hard to see whether anything else
was changed.
If you must reindent or reorganise, don't include any functional
changes that commit and give advance warning that you're about to do
it in case anyone else is changing that file.
<h2>Commandline arguments</h2>
A program in fptools should try follow the following rules for
commandline arguments:
<li> The <code>-v</code> and <code>--verbose</code> options should be
used to generate verbose output (intended for the user).
<li> The <code>-d</code> and <code>--debug</code> options should be
used to generate debugging output (intended for the developer).
<li> The <code>-?</code> and <code>--help</code> options should be used
to display usage information on stdout. The program should exit
successfully afterwards.
<li> The <code>-V</code> and <code>--version</code> options should be
used to output version information on stdout, which includes one line
of the form '<code><em>Program</em> version
<em>Major.Minor[.Patchlevel]</em> ... </code>'. The program
should exit successfully afterwards.
When an unknown commandline argument is encountered, the program
should display usage information on stderr and exit unsuccessfully.