[cfe-commits] r40615 - /cfe/trunk/docs/InternalsManual.html

Chris Lattner sabre at nondot.org
Mon Jul 30 22:42:21 PDT 2007

Author: lattner
Date: Tue Jul 31 00:42:17 2007
New Revision: 40615

URL: http://llvm.org/viewvc/llvm-project?rev=40615&view=rev
Add a start at a clang internals manual, documenting some
of the more subtle and interesting classes.


Added: cfe/trunk/docs/InternalsManual.html
URL: http://llvm.org/viewvc/llvm-project/cfe/trunk/docs/InternalsManual.html?rev=40615&view=auto

--- cfe/trunk/docs/InternalsManual.html (added)
+++ cfe/trunk/docs/InternalsManual.html Tue Jul 31 00:42:17 2007
@@ -0,0 +1,395 @@
+<title>"clang" CFE Internals Manual</title>
+<h1>"clang" CFE Internals Manual</h1>
+<li><a href="#intro">Introduction</a></li>
+<li><a href="#libsystem">LLVM System and Support Libraries</a></li>
+<li><a href="#libbasic">The clang 'Basic' Library</a>
+  <ul>
+  <li><a href="#SourceLocation">The SourceLocation and SourceManager
+      classes</a></li>
+  </ul>
+<li><a href="#liblex">The Lexer and Preprocessor Library</a>
+  <ul>
+  <li><a href="#Token">The Token class</a></li>
+  <li><a href="#Lexer">The Lexer class</a></li>
+  <li><a href="#MacroExpander">The MacroExpander class</a></li>
+  <li><a href="#MultipleIncludeOpt">The MultipleIncludeOpt class</a></li>
+  </ul>
+<li><a href="#libparse">The Parser Library</a>
+  <ul>
+  </ul>
+<li><a href="#libast">The AST Library</a>
+  <ul>
+  <li><a href="#Type">The Type class and its subclasses</a></li>
+  <li><a href="#QualType">The QualType class</a></li>
+  </ul>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<h2 id="intro">Introduction</h2>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<p>This document describes some of the more important APIs and internal design
+decisions made in the clang C front-end.  The purpose of this document is to
+both capture some of this high level information and also describe some of the
+design decisions behind it.  This is meant for people interested in hacking on
+clang, not for end-users.  The description below is categorized by
+libraries, and does not describe any of the clients of the libraries.</p>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<h2 id="libsystem">LLVM System and Support Libraries</h2>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<p>The LLVM libsystem library provides the basic clang system abstraction layer,
+which is used for file system access.  The LLVM libsupport library provides many
+underlying libraries and <a 
+ including command line option
+processing and various containers.</p>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<h2 id="libbasic">The clang 'Basic' Library</h2>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<p>This library certainly needs a better name.  The 'basic' library contains a
+number of low-level utilities for tracking and manipulating source buffers,
+locations within the source buffers, diagnostics, tokens, target abstraction,
+and information about the subset of the language being compiled for.</p>
+<p>Part of this infrastructure is specific to C (such as the TargetInfo class),
+other parts could be reused for other non-C-based languages (SourceLocation,
+SourceManager, Diagnostics, FileManager).  When and if there is future demand
+we can figure out if it makes sense to introduce a new library, move the general
+classes somewhere else, or introduce some other solution.</p>
+<p>We describe the roles of these classes in order of their dependencies.</p>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<h3 id="SourceLocation">The SourceLocation and SourceManager classes</h3>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<p>Strangely enough, the SourceLocation class represents a location within the
+source code of the program.  Important design points include:</p>
+<li>sizeof(SourceLocation) must be extremely small, as these are embedded into
+    many AST nodes and are passed around often.  Currently it is 32 bits.</li>
+<li>SourceLocation must be a simple value object that can be efficiently
+    copied.</li>
+<li>We should be able to represent a source location for any byte of any input
+    file.  This includes in the middle of tokens, in whitespace, in trigraphs,
+    etc.</li>
+<li>A SourceLocation must encode the current #include stack that was active when
+    the location was processed.  For example, if the location corresponds to a
+    token, it should contain the set of #includes active when the token was
+    lexed.  This allows us to print the #include stack for a diagnostic.</li>
+<li>SourceLocation must be able to describe macro expansions, capturing both
+    the ultimate instantiation point and the source of the original character
+    data.</li>
+<p>In practice, the SourceLocation works together with the SourceManager class
+to encode two pieces of information about a location: it's physical location
+and it's virtual location.  For most tokens, these will be the same.  However,
+for a macro expansion (or tokens that came from a _Pragma directive) these will
+describe the location of the characters corresponding to the token and the
+location where the token was used (i.e. the macro instantiation point or the 
+location of the _Pragma itself).</p>
+<p>For efficiency, we only track one level of macro instantions: if a token was
+produced by multiple instantiations, we only track the source and ultimate
+destination.  Though we could track the intermediate instantiation points, this
+would require extra bookkeeping and no known client would benefit substantially
+from this.</p>
+<p>The clang front-end inherently depends on the location of a token being
+tracked correctly.  If it is ever incorrect, the front-end may get confused and
+die.  The reason for this is that the notion of the 'spelling' of a Token in
+clang depends on being able to find the original input characters for the token.
+This concept maps directly to the "physical" location for the token.</p>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<h2 id="liblex">The Lexer and Preprocessor Library</h2>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<p>The Lexer library contains several tightly-connected classes that are involved
+with the nasty process of lexing and preprocessing C source code.  The main
+interface to this library for outside clients is the large <a 
+href="#Preprocessor">Preprocessor</a> class.
+It contains the various pieces of state that are required to coherently read
+tokens out of a translation unit.</p>
+<p>The core interface to the Preprocessor object (once it is set up) is the
+Preprocessor::Lex method, which returns the next <a href="#Token">Token</a> from
+the preprocessor stream.  There are two types of token providers that the
+preprocessor is capable of reading from: a buffer lexer (provided by the <a 
+href="#Lexer">Lexer</a> class) and a buffered token stream (provided by the <a
+href="#MacroExpander">MacroExpander</a> class).  
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<h3 id="Token">The Token class</h3>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<p>The Token class is used to represent a single lexed token.  Tokens are
+intended to be used by the lexer/preprocess and parser libraries, but are not
+intended to live beyond them (for example, they should not live in the ASTs).<p>
+<p>Tokens most often live on the stack (or some other location that is efficient
+to access) as the parser is running, but occasionally do get buffered up.  For
+example, macro definitions are stored as a series of tokens, and the C++
+front-end will eventually need to buffer tokens up for tentative parsing and
+various pieces of look-ahead.  As such, the size of a Token matter.  On a 32-bit
+system, sizeof(Token) is currently 16 bytes.</p>
+<p>Tokens contain the following information:</p>
+<li><b>A SourceLocation</b> - This indicates the location of the start of the
+<li><b>A length</b> - This stores the length of the token as stored in the
+SourceBuffer.  For tokens that include them, this length includes trigraphs and
+escaped newlines which are ignored by later phases of the compiler.  By pointing
+into the original source buffer, it is always possible to get the original
+spelling of a token completely accurately.</li>
+<li><b>IdentifierInfo</b> - If a token takes the form of an identifier, and if
+identifier lookup was enabled when the token was lexed (e.g. the lexer was not
+reading in 'raw' mode) this contains a pointer to the unique hash value for the
+identifier.  Because the lookup happens before keyword identification, this
+field is set even for language keywords like 'for'.</li>
+<li><b>TokenKind</b> - This indicates the kind of token as classified by the
+lexer.  This includes things like <tt>tok::starequal</tt> (for the "*="
+operator), <tt>tok::ampamp</tt> for the "&&" token, and keyword values
+(e.g. <tt>tok::kw_for</tt>) for identifiers that correspond to keywords.  Note 
+that some tokens can be spelled multiple ways.  For example, C++ supports
+"operator keywords", where things like "and" are treated exactly like the
+"&&" operator.  In these cases, the kind value is set to
+<tt>tok::ampamp</tt>, which is good for the parser, which doesn't have to 
+consider both forms.  For something that cares about which form is used (e.g.
+the preprocessor 'stringize' operator) the spelling indicates the original
+<li><b>Flags</b> - There are currently four flags tracked by the
+lexer/preprocessor system on a per-token basis:
+  <ol>
+  <li><b>StartOfLine</b> - This was the first token that occurred on its input
+       source line.</li>
+  <li><b>LeadingSpace</b> - There was a space character either immediately
+       before the token or transitively before the token as it was expanded
+       through a macro.  The definition of this flag is very closely defined by
+       the stringizing requirements of the preprocessor.</li>
+  <li><b>DisableExpand</b> - This flag is used internally to the preprocessor to
+      represent identifier tokens which have macro expansion disabled.  This
+      prevents them from being considered as candidates for macro expansion ever
+      in the future.</li>
+  <li><b>NeedsCleaning</b> - This flag is set if the original spelling for the
+      token includes a trigraph or escaped newline.  Since this is uncommon,
+      many pieces of code can fast-path on tokens that did not need cleaning.
+      </p>
+   </ol>
+<p>One interesting (and somewhat unusual) aspect of tokens is that they don't
+contain any semantic information about the lexed value.  For example, if the
+token was a pp-number token, we do not represent the value of the number that
+was lexed (this is left for later pieces of code to decide).  Additionally, the
+lexer library has no notion of typedef names vs variable names: both are
+returned as identifiers, and the parser is left to decide whether a specific
+identifier is a typedef or a variable (tracking this requires scope information 
+among other things).</p>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<h3 id="Lexer">The Lexer class</h3>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<p>The Lexer class provides the mechanics of lexing tokens out of a source
+buffer and deciding what they mean.  The Lexer is complicated by the fact that
+it operates on raw buffers that have not had spelling eliminated (this is a
+necessity to get decent performance), but this is countered with careful coding
+as well as standard performance techniques (for example, the comment handling
+code is vectorized on X86 and PowerPC hosts).</p>
+<p>The lexer has a couple of interesting modal features:</p>
+<li>The lexer can operate in 'raw' mode.  This mode has several features that
+    make it possible to quickly lex the file (e.g. it stops identifier lookup,
+    doesn't specially handle preprocessor tokens, handles EOF differently, etc).
+    This mode is used for lexing within an "<tt>#if 0</tt>" block, for
+    example.</li>
+<li>The lexer can capture and return comments as tokens.  This is required to
+    support the -C preprocessor mode, which passes comments through, and is
+    used by the diagnostic checker to identifier expect-error annotations.</li>
+<li>The lexer can be in ParsingFilename mode, which happens when preprocessing
+    after reading a #include directive.  This mode changes the parsing of '<'
+    to return an "angled string" instead of a bunch of tokens for each thing
+    within the filename.</li>
+<li>When parsing a preprocessor directive (after "<tt>#</tt>") the
+    ParsingPreprocessorDirective mode is entered.  This changes the parser to
+    return EOM at a newline.</li>
+<li>The Lexer uses a LangOptions object to know whether trigraphs are enabled,
+    whether C++ or ObjC keywords are recognized, etc.</li>
+<p>In addition to these modes, the lexer keeps track of a couple of other
+   features that are local to a lexed buffer, which change as the buffer is
+   lexed:</p>
+<li>The Lexer uses BufferPtr to keep track of the current character being
+    lexed.</li>
+<li>The Lexer uses IsAtStartOfLine to keep track of whether the next lexed token
+    will start with its "start of line" bit set.</li>
+<li>The Lexer keeps track of the current #if directives that are active (which
+    can be nested).</li>
+<li>The Lexer keeps track of an <a href="#MultipleIncludeOpt">
+    MultipleIncludeOpt</a> object, which is used to
+    detect whether the buffer uses the standard "<tt>#ifndef XX</tt> /
+    <tt>#define XX</tt>" idiom to prevent multiple inclusion.  If a buffer does,
+    subsequent includes can be ignored if the XX macro is defined.</li>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<h3 id="MacroExpander">The MacroExpander class</h3>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<p>The MacroExpander class is a token provider that returns tokens from a list
+of tokens that came from somewhere else.  It typically used for two things: 1)
+returning tokens from a macro definition as it is being expanded 2) returning
+tokens from an arbitrary buffer of tokens.  The later use is used by _Pragma and
+will most likely be used to handle unbounded look-ahead for the C++ parser.</p>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<h3 id="MultipleIncludeOpt">The MultipleIncludeOpt class</h3>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<p>The MultipleIncludeOpt class implements a really simple little state machine
+that is used to detect the standard "<tt>#ifndef XX</tt> / <tt>#define XX</tt>"
+idiom that people typically use to prevent multiple inclusion of headers.  If a
+buffer uses this idiom and is subsequently #include'd, the preprocessor can
+simply check to see whether the guarding condition is defined or not.  If so,
+the preprocessor can completely ignore the include of the header.</p>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<h2 id="libparse">The Parser Library</h2>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<h2 id="libast">The AST Library</h2>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<h3 id="Type">The Type class and its subclasses</h3>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<p>The Type class (and its subclasses) are an important part of the AST.  Types
+are accessed through the ASTContext class, which implicitly creates and uniques
+them as they are needed.  Types have a couple of non-obvious features: 1) they
+do not capture type qualifiers like const or volatile (See
+<a href="#QualType">QualType</a>), and 2) they implicitly capture typedef
+<p>Typedefs in C make semantic analysis a bit more complex than it would
+be without them.  The issue is that we want to capture typedef information
+and represent it in the AST perfectly, but the semantics of operations need to
+"see through" typedefs.  For example, consider this code:</p>
+void func() {<br>
+  typedef int foo;<br>
+  foo X, *Y;<br>
+  *X;   <i>// error</i><br>
+  **Y;  <i>// error</i><br>
+<p>The code above is illegal, and thus we expect there to be diagnostics emitted
+on the annotated lines.  In this example, we expect to get:</p>
+<b>../t.c:4:1: error: indirection requires pointer operand ('foo' invalid)</b>
+*X; // error
+<font color="blue">^~</font>
+<b>../t.c:5:1: error: indirection requires pointer operand ('foo' invalid)</b>
+**Y; // error
+<font color="blue">^~~</font>
+<p>While this example is somewhat silly, it illustrates the point: we want to
+retain typedef information where possible, so that we can emit errors about
+"<tt>std::string</tt>" instead of "<tt>std::basic_string<char, std:...</tt>".
+Doing this requires properly keeping typedef information (for example, the type
+of "X" is "foo", not "int"), and requires properly propagating it through the
+various operators (for example, the type of *Y is "foo", not "int").</p>
+/// Type - This is the base class of the type hierarchy.  A central concept
+/// with types is that each type always has a canonical type.  A canonical type
+/// is the type with any typedef names stripped out of it or the types it
+/// references.  For example, consider:
+///  typedef int  foo;
+///  typedef foo* bar;
+///    'int *'    'foo *'    'bar'
+/// There will be a Type object created for 'int'.  Since int is canonical, its
+/// canonicaltype pointer points to itself.  There is also a Type for 'foo' (a
+/// TypeNameType).  Its CanonicalType pointer points to the 'int' Type.  Next
+/// there is a PointerType that represents 'int*', which, like 'int', is
+/// canonical.  Finally, there is a PointerType type for 'foo*' whose canonical
+/// type is 'int*', and there is a TypeNameType for 'bar', whose canonical type
+/// is also 'int*'.
+/// Non-canonical types are useful for emitting diagnostics, without losing
+/// information about typedefs being used.  Canonical types are useful for type
+/// comparisons (they allow by-pointer equality tests) and useful for reasoning
+/// about whether something has a particular form (e.g. is a function type),
+/// because they implicitly, recursively, strip all typedefs out of a type.
+/// Types, once created, are immutable.
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<h3 id="QualType">The QualType class</h3>
+<!-- ======================================================================= -->
+<p>The QualType class is designed as a trivial value class that is small,
+passed by-value and is efficient to query.  The idea of QualType is that it
+stores the type qualifiers (const, volatile, restrict) separately from the types
+themselves: QualType is conceptually a pair of "Type*" and bits for the type
+<p>By storing the type qualifiers as bits in the conceptual pair, it is
+extremely efficient to get the set of qualifiers on a QualType (just return the
+field of the pair), add a type qualifier (which is a trivial constant-time
+operation that sets a bit), and remove one or more type qualifiers (just return
+a QualType with the bitfield set to empty).</p>
+<p>Further, because the bits are stored outside of the type itself, we do not
+need to create duplicates of types with different sets of qualifiers (i.e. there
+is only a single heap allocated "int" type: "const int" and "volatile const int"
+both point to the same heap allocated "int" type).  This reduces the heap size
+used to represent bits and also means we do not have to consider qualifiers when
+uniquing types (<a href="#Type">Type</a> does not even contain qualifiers).</p>
+<p>In practice, on hosts where it is safe, the 3 type qualifiers are stored in
+the low bit of the pointer to the Type object.  This means that QualType is
+exactly the same size as a pointer, and this works fine on any system where
+malloc'd objects are at least 8 byte aligned.</p>

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