This is the mail archive of the mailing list for the GCC project.

Index Nav: [Date Index] [Subject Index] [Author Index] [Thread Index]
Message Nav: [Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]
Other format: [Raw text]

Re: Switching to C++ by default in 4.8

On Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 2:43 AM, Richard Guenther
<> wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 4:24 AM, Lawrence Crowl <> wrote:
>> On 4/10/12, Jakub Jelinek <> wrote:
>>> That when stepping through code in the debugger you keep
>>> enterring/exiting these one liner inlines, most of them really
>>> should be at least by default considered just as normal statements
>>> (e.g. glibc heavily uses artificial attribute for those, still
>>> gdb doesn't hide those by default).
>> You do want to step into those inline functions, except when you do.
>> In the short term, we can make the debugger behave as though they did
>> not exist. ?In the longer term, we really want debugging tools that
>> help C++ programmers. ?One way to get there is to use C++ ourselves.
> Fix the debugger first please.
>>> > The above is just quickly cooked up examples. A carefully
>>> > designed C++ based API can be self documenting and make the
>>> > client code very readable. It is hard to believe that there is
>>> > no room for improvement in GCC.
>>> Do you have examples? ?E.g. I haven't touched gold, because,
>>> while it is a new C++ codebase, looks completely unreadable to
>>> me, similarly libdw C++ stuff. ?A carefully designed C based API
>>> can be self documenting and make the code very readable as well,
>>> often more so.
>> If you just look at any decently sized code base, it'll look pretty
>> much unreadable. ?The question is how quickly can someone who learns
>> the base vocabulary can produce reasonable modifications.
>> There are many places where C++ can help substantially. ?For example:
>> () The C++ postfix member function call syntax means that following
>> a chain of attributes is a linear read of the expression. ?With C
>> function call syntax, you need to read the expression inside out.
> It's a matter of what you are used to (consider LISP).
>> () C++ has both overloaded functions and member functions, so you can
>> use the same verb to talk about several different kinds of objects.
>> With C function names, we have to invent a new function name for
>> each type. ?Such names are longer and burden both the author and
>> the reader of the code.
> Agreed. ?Function overloading is one of the nice things that does not
> automatically make the code-base look "partial C++". ?Likewise
> operator overloading can make things like
> ? ? ? ? ? ?bit_offset = double_int_add (bit_offset,
> ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? tree_to_double_int
> ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? (DECL_FIELD_BIT_OFFSET (field)));
> be just
> ? ? ? ? ? bit_offset = bit_offset + DECL_FIELD_BIT_OFFSET (field);
> it still looks like C but with some C++ "magic".

Function overloading is both bless and curse. It makes code look
better, but may reduce debuggability.

>> () Standard C++ idioms enable mashing program components with ease.
>> The C++ standard library is based on mixing and matching algorithms
>> and data structures, via the common idiom of iterators.
> Sort-of agreed. ?Though iterator-style (and more so functor style) was never
> one of my favorite.
>> () The overloadable operator new means that memory can be
>> _implicitly_ allocated in the right place.
> Implicit allocation is bad. ?In a compiler you want to _see_ where you
> spend memory.

overload operator new per class allows memory management easier --
many different allocation policies (e.g pool based) can be easily

>> () Constructors and destructors reduce the number of places in the
>> code where you need to do explicit memory management. Without garbage
>> collection, leaks are less frequent. ?With garbage collection, you
>> have much less active garbage, and can run longer between collection
>> runs. ?Indeed, a conservative collector would be sufficient.
> Time will tell.
>> () Constructors and destructors also neatly handle actions that
>> must occur in pairs. ?The classic example is mutex lock and unlock.
>> Within GCC, timevar operations need to happen in pairs.
> Agreed.
>> () Class hierarchies (even without virtual functions) can directly
>> represent type relationships, which means that a debugger dump of
>> a C++ type has little unnecessary information, as opposed to the
>> present union of structs approach with GCC trees.
> In GCC trees only the "base" is a union, and it is so as implementation
> detail. ?That gdb does not grok a 'tree' well is because gdb is stupid.
> All the information is there.
>> () Class hierarchies also mean that programmers can distinguish
>> in the pointer types that a function needs a decl parameter,
>> without having to say 'all trees' versus 'a very specific tree'.
>> The static type checking avoids run-time bugs.
> True. ?In a very limited set of cases. ?C++ is not powerful enough
> to express pointer-to-everything-that-would-be-considered-a-gimple-val.
> Maybe C++ is not the right choice after all? ?(I suppose C++ concepts
> would have helped here? pointer-to-tree-that-fulfils-is_gimple_val ...
> (though is_gimple_val is not be a static property).
>> I have written compilers in both C and C++. ?I much prefer the
>> latter.
> Did you ever try to convert an existing large C codebase to C++?
> I would not expect a very good result and rather start from scratch.
> So I don't see that we ever arrive (or want to arrive) at a pure C++-style
> GCC. ?Instead I expect we end up (and desire to end up) with GCC
> compiled with a C++ compiler that uses C++ features to make the
> existing style more readable and maintainable.

I like your proposal (from my reading) about keeping core APIs in C,
while the rest can be migrated (gradually).


> Richard.
>> --
>> Lawrence Crowl

Index Nav: [Date Index] [Subject Index] [Author Index] [Thread Index]
Message Nav: [Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]