[lldb-dev] RFC: -flimit-debug-info + frame variable

Jim Ingham via lldb-dev lldb-dev at lists.llvm.org
Mon Jul 20 14:29:39 PDT 2020

BTW, Adrian already did something along these lines for the dynamic types of swift “frame variable” values.  In that case, the dynamic type is quite likely from some entirely unrelated module.  Swift makes a lot of use of protocols, so code is going to pass through your module that shares no actual types in common with it…  So you really don’t want to pollute the module's TypeSystem with these unrelated dynamic types.  His solution was to put the dynamic type results in the scratch AST context.  I don’t remember the details of his implementation, but he probably does…


> On Jul 20, 2020, at 2:25 PM, Jim Ingham via lldb-dev <lldb-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:
> It seems like you are having to work hard in the ValueObject system because you don’t want to use single AST Type for the ValueObject’s type.  Seems like it be much simpler if you could cons up a complete type in the ScratchASTContext, and then use the underlying TypeSystem to do the layout computation.
> Preserving the full type in the scratch context also avoids other problems.  For instance, suppose module A has a class that has an opaque reference to a type B.  There is a full definition of B in modules B and C.  If you make up a ValueObject for an object of type A resolving the full type to the one in Module B you can get into trouble.  Suppose the next user step is over the dlclose of module B.  When the local variable goes to see if it has changed, it will stumble across a type reference to a module that’s no longer present in the program.  And if somebody calls RemoveOrphanedModules it won’t even be in the shared module cache.
> You can try to finesse this by saying you can choose the type from the defining module so it can’t go away.  But a) I don’t think you can know that for non-virtual classes in C++ and I don’t think you guarantee you can know how to do that for any given language.
> I wonder if it wouldn’t be a better approach to build up a full compiler-type by importing the types you find into the scratch AST context.  That way you know they can’t go away.   And since you still have a full CompilerType for the variable, you can let the languages tell you where to find children based on their knowledge of the types.
> Jim
>> On Jul 20, 2020, at 5:34 AM, Pavel Labath <pavel at labath.sk> wrote:
>> Hello all,
>> With the expression evaluation part of -flimit-debug-info nearly
>> completed, I started looking at doing the same for the "frame variable"
>> command.
>> I have thought this would be simpler than the expression evaluator,
>> since we control most of that code. However, I have hit one snag, hence
>> this RFC.
>> The problem centers around how to implement
>> ValueObject::GetChildMemberWithName, which is the engine of the
>> subobject resultion in the "frame variable" command. Currently, this
>> function delegates most of the work to
>> CompilerType::GetIndexOfChildMemberWithName, which returns a list of (!)
>> indexes needed to access the relevant subobject. The list aspect is
>> important, because the desired object can be in a base class or in a C11
>> anonymous struct member.
>> The CompilerType instance in question belongs to the type system of the
>> module from which we retrieved the original variable. Therein lies the
>> problem -- this type system does not have complete information about the
>> contents of the base class subobjects.
>> Now, my question is what to do about it. At the moment, it seems to me
>> that the easiest solution to this problem would be to replace
>> CompilerType::GetIndexOfChildMemberWithName, with two new interfaces:
>> - Get(IndexOf)**Direct**ChildMemberWithName -- return any direct
>> children with the given name
>> - IsTransparent -- whether to descend into the type during name lookups
>> (i.e., is this an anonymous struct member)
>> The idea is that these two functions (in conjunction with existing
>> methods) can provide their answers even in a -flimit-debug-info setting,
>> and they also provide enough information for the caller to perform the
>> full name lookup himself. It would first check for direct members, and
>> if no matches are found, (recursively) proceed to look in all the
>> transparent members and base classes, switching type systems if the
>> current one does not contain the full type definition.
>> The downside of that is that this would hardcode a specific, c++-based,
>> algorithm which may not be suitable for all languages. Swift has a
>> fairly simple inheritance model, so I don't think this should be a
>> problem there, but for example python uses a slightly different method
>> to resolve ambiguities. The second downside is that a faithful
>> implementation of the c++ model, including the virtual inheritance
>> dominance is going to be fairly complicated.
>> The first issue could be solved by moving this logic into the clang
>> plugin, but making it independent of any specific type system instance.
>> The second issue is unavoidable, except by creating a unified view of
>> the full type in some scratch ast context, as we do for expression
>> evaluation.
>> That said, it's not clear to me how faithful do we need the "frame
>> variable" algorithm to be. The frame variable syntax does not precisely
>> follow the c++ semantics anyway. And a simple "recurse into subclasses"
>> algorithm is going to be understandable and be "close enough" under
>> nearly all circumstances. Virtual inheritance is used very seldomly, and
>> shadowing of members defined in a base class is even rarer.
>> While analysing this code I've found much more serious bugs (e.g.,
>> accessing a transparent member fetches a random other value if the class
>> it is in also has base cases; fetching a transparent member in a base
>> class does not work at all), which seem to have existed for quite some
>> time without being discovered.
>> For that reason I am tempted to just implement a basic "recurse into
>> subclasses" algorithm inside ValueObject::GetChildMemberWithName, and
>> not bother with the virtual inheritance details, nor with being able to
>> customize this algorithm to the needs of a specific language.
>> What do you think?
>> regards,
>> Pavel
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