[llvm-dev] Proposal to add preprocessor warning for unused command line macros

David Blaikie via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Mon May 6 13:32:50 PDT 2019

My concern would be that most build systems have their command line
arguments built up for the whole project - (eg: I want the 32 bit API
to this library, so I add -DFOO_LIB_32 to my project command line
arguments). The specific compilations that use that macro vary over
time, depending on which parts of the project use the library (maybe I
start with the usage in one source, then refactor it into anotehr
file, etc).

So I'm not sure warning on unused would suit - thinking of them sort
of like a generic header file that all the code includes - and we
can't warn about the unused macros in such a header because maybe in
one situation it's included only a fraction of its macros are used.
(same as other unused entities in headers/on the command line).

- Dave

On Mon, May 6, 2019 at 1:26 PM Mats Bengtsson via llvm-dev
<llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:
> This is a proposal for either adding a new, or updating an existing
> command line option such that a diagnostic can optionally be produced
> for unused -D macros.
> Long-lived large projects with thousands of files and many
> contributors have a tendency to accumulate build options over time. As
> time passes some build options like macros become replaced, obsolete,
> or simply no longer used.
> At the same time it is becoming more and more common that build
> environments such as Bazel are used to try to minimize the build
> effort and more importantly speed up builds. Build acceleration tools
> commonly use the build options, and among them macros, to determine if
> the output from a build is equivalent or not with a later build of the
> same compilation unit.
> The commands ...
> $ clang -DFOO example.c
> .. and ...
> $ clang -DBAR example.c
> ... produce 100% identical output, since neither macro FOO nor BAR
> affect the compilation unit. However, the build acceleration tools
> that do not run the preprocessor will not detect that the input to the
> compilation stage is identical and so will treat the output as unequal
> and run the build two times, when once would have been sufficient.
> There are two command line options that at present do not produce a
> diagnostic for an unused command line macro, but which might be
> expanded to do this task also;
> -Wunused-macros
> Produces diagnostic only for macros defined in the main source code
> file that are not subsequenty used. No diagnostic for command line
> macros, and no diagnostic for macros defined in header files included
> by the source code file.
> -Wunused-command-line-argument
> Produces diagnostic for command line arguments that are not
> applicable. But there is no diagnostic for command line macros that
> are not used.
> An alternative might be to add a specific option for use by the
> preprocessor to produce a diagnostic for macros defined on the command
> line, but not used by the source code file. This is my proposed named
> for such an option;
> -Wunused-command-line-macros
> It is more likely than not that some of the command line macros are
> intended to be consumed only by header files included by the source
> code file, and not used at all in the source code itself. So the
> option should be be implemented such that only macros occurring on the
> command line >after< the option are subject to produce a diagnostic,
> if not used. So for example;
> $ clang -DFOO -Wunused-command-line-macros -DBAR example.c
> ... if we assume the "example.c" source code file uses neither of the
> two macros FOO and BAR, a diagnostic will only be produced for BAR,
> and none for FOO.
> Is this a reasonable proposal? Comments?
> An alternate solution might be for the preprocessor to dump out a list
> of macros it has seen during processing. The build acceleration tools
> can then hoover up this information in order to make more informed
> decisions on which build options actually have an effect on the
> produced output.
> Thank you for your attention,
> Mats Bengtsson
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