[Openmcl-devel] New (070408) OpenMCL snapshots available

Gary Byers gb at clozure.com
Sun Apr 8 23:54:10 PDT 2007

New (070408, it's still the 8th somewhere in the world) OpenMCL
snapshot archives are now available in <ftp://clozure.com/pub/testing>.

The release notes:

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-070408
- The FASL version changed (old FASL files won't work with this
   lisp version), as did the version information which tries to
   keep the kernel in sync with heap images.  Note that it's generally
   a lot easier to recompile recent sources with recent images, e.g.,
   trying to compile 070408 sources with an 070214 image is unlikely
   to work without tricky bootstrapping.
- There's now a Trac bug-tracking/wiki site for OpenMCL at
   <http://trac.clozure.com/openmcl>.  It needs bug reports; please
   visit that site and use the features there to report any bugs
   that you find.
   (CCL:DEFSTATIC var value &optional doc-string)
   is like DEFPARAMETER in that it proclaims the variable "var" to
   be special, sets its value to "value", and sets the symbol's
   VARIABLE documentation to the optional doc-string.  It differs
   from DEFPARAMETER in that it further asserts that the variable
   should never be bound dynamically in any thread (via LET/LAMBDA/etc.);
   the compiler treats any attempts to bind a "static" variable as an
   It is legal to change the value of a "static" variable, but since
   all threads see the same (static) binding of that variable it may
   be necessary to synchronize assignments made from multiple threads.
   (A "static" variable binding is effectively a shared, global resource;
   a dynamic binding is thread-private.)
   Access to the value of a static variable is typically faster than
   is access to the value a special variable that's not proclaimed to
   be "static".
   This functionality has been in MCL/OpenMCL for a long time under
   but the latter seemed to be a better name.
- The type of foreign object that a MACPTR points to can now be
   asserted (this means that a MACPTR object can contain a small
   integer which identifies the alleged FOREIGN-TYPE of the object that
   the points to.  RLET, MAKE-RECORD, and MAKE-GCABLE-RECORD (see below)
   assert the foreign type of the object that the MACPTR object they
   create (as do some new features of the ObjC bridge, described further
   PRINT-OBJECT on a MACPTR will try to print information about the
   asserted type of that pointer, as well as information about where
   the pointer was allocated (heap, stack) and whether it's scheduled
   for automatic reclamation by the GC.
   A few constructs that conceivable should assert the type of the
   pointers they create (e.g., some flavor of PREF, SLOT-VALUE in
   the ObjC bridge) don't yet do so.
   A rather obvious way of exploiting typed pointers - namely, extending
   DESCRIBE and INSPECT to show the contents of foreign records - is
   not yet implemented.
- MAKE-GCABLE-RECORD is like MAKE-RECORD, in that it "makes an instance
   of a foreign record type".  (Or, to be more banal about it, uses
   #_malloc to allocate a block of foreign memory of the size of the
   foreign record type named by its argument.)  MAKE-GCABLE-RECORD
   additionally tells the lisp garbage collector that it should free
   the foreign memory when the MACPTR object that describes it becomes
   When using "gcable pointers", it's important to remember the
   distinction between a MACPTR object (which is a lisp object, more-
   or-less like any other) and the block of foreign memory that the
   MACPTR object points to.  If a gcable MACPTR is the only thing
   in the world ("lisp world" or "foreign world") that references
   the underlying block of foreign memory, then freeing the foreign
   memory when it becomes impossible to reference it is convenient
   and sane.  If other lisp MACPTRs reference the underlying block
   of foreign memory or if the address of that foreign memory is
   passed to and retained by foreign code, having the GC free the
   memory may have unpleasant consequences if those other references
   are used.
- CCL:FREE (which is mostly just a wrapper around #_free that allows
   #_free to be called early in the bootstrapping process) is now
   exported; if its argument is a gcable pointer (e.g., created via
   MAKE-GCABLE-POINTER), it will tell the GC that the pointer's
   foreign memory has been freed "manually" before calling #_free.
- The mechanisms used to implement locks has changed (for the curious,
   the changes involve the use of spinlocks rather than a sequence
   of atomic additions.)  Someone demonstrated a case of deadlock
   (where a thread was waiting for a lock that was available) under
   the old implementation.  I'm not sure that I fully understand how
   that could have happened, but the new implementation at least has
   the advantage of being a little easier to understand and might be
   a tiny bit faster.  Please let me know if either of these assumptions
   was incorrect.
- An EOF (control-d) in the REPL (when standard input is a tty or pty
   device) has traditionally caused an exit to the outer break loop
   (or had no effect if the REPL was not in a break loop).  If
   CCL:*QUIT-ON-EOF* is set, an EOF causes the lisp to quit.  (It
   actually invokes a listener-specific method, so in a multi-listener
   window system environemt, it might simply cause the listener which
   receives the EOF to exit.)
   None of this has any effect when running under environments like
   SLIME, and (as mentioned above) only matters if the standard input
   devices is a tty or pseudo-tty (where it's possible to continue
   reading after an EOF has been read.)  If running under an xterm
   or OSX Terminal.app, standard input is probably a pty; if running
   in an Emacs shell buffer or under other means under emacs, different
   types of IPC mechanisms (pipes, sockets) might be used.
- SAVE-APPLICATION has historically changed the type of all MACPTR
   objects (turning them into "dead macptrs", since it's generally
   meaningless to refer to a foreign pointer from a previous session
   and generally better to get a type error than some more mysterious
   or severe failure).  This no longer happens for null pointers (pointers
   to address 0); COMPILE-FILE also now allows null pointers to be referenced
   as constants in compiled code.
- Not entirely coincidentally, CCL:+NULL-PTR+ is now defined as a constant
   (whose value is a null pointer.)  In some cases, it may be more
   efficient or convenient to pass CCL:+NULL-PTR+ to foreign code than
   it would be to call (CCL:%NULL-PTR) to "produce" one.
- Historically, OpenMCL (and MCL) have maintained a list of open file
   streams in the value of CCL:*OPEN-FILE-STREAMS*; maintaining this
   list helps to ensure that streams get closed in as orderly a manner
   as possible when the lisp exits.  The code which accessed this list
   didn't do so in a thread-safe manner.
   The list is now maintained in a lexical variable; the function
   CCL:OPEN-FILE-STREAMS returns a copy of that list,
   CCL:NOTE-OPEN-FILE-STREAM adds its argument (a file stream) to the
   list, and CCL:REMOVE-OPEN-FILE-STREAM removes its argument (a file stream)
   from the list.  (All of these functions use appropriate locking.)
- There were a number of timing-related problems related to PROCESS-INTERRUPT
   (usually involving rapidly and repeatedly interrupting a thread over
   a long period of time.)  This should be a lot more reliable now
   (exactly what could go wrong and why and how is all a little hard to
- Some Linux distributions may initialize the user's environment in
   a way that imposes a soft limit on the amount of virtual memory that
   a process is allowed to map.  OpenMCL now tries to raise this limit
   before reserving what may be a very large amount of address space,
   thanks to a patch from Andi Kleen.
- There were a number of problems with UTF-16 streams, found and
   fixed by Takehiko Abe.
- Takehiko Abe also provided fixes for some code in "ccl:lib;xref.lisp"
   and in source-file recording/reporting that (still) didn't understand
   the concept of EQL-SPECIALIZER metaobjects.
- ObjC bridge and ObjC examples
   The ObjC bridge provides a few new mechanisms for defining ObjC
   methods, for calling ObjC "generic functions" (e.g., message sending),
   and for dealing with frequently-used record types and with differences
   between 32-bit and (forthcoming) 64-bit ObjC/Cocoa implementations.

   A lot of macros/functions/other things that really should have been
   exported from some package for the last few years finally have been
   exported from the OBJC or NS packages (and a lot of things that have
   historically been internal to CCL are re-imported into CCL).

   Cocoa (and the underlying Core Graphics libraries) have historically
   used 32-bit floats and 32-bit integers in data structures that describe
   geometry, font sizes and metrics, and elsewhere.  64-bit Cocoa will
   use 64-bit floats and 64-bit integers in many cases.

   The bridge defines the type NS:CGFLOAT as the lisp type of the
   preferred float type on the platform, and the constant NS:+CGFLOAT+.
   On DarwinPPC32, the foreign types :cgfloat, :<NSUI>nteger, and
   :<NSI>nteger are defined by the bridge (as 32-bit float, 32-bit
   unsigned integer, and 32-bit signed integer, respectively.); these
   types are defined (as 64-bit variants) in the 64-bit interfaces.

   All ObjC classes are properly named, either with a name exported
   from the NS package (in the case of a predefined class declared in
   the interface files) or with the name provided in the DEFCLASS
   form (with :METACLASS NS:+NS-OBJECT) which defines the class from
   lisp.  The class's lisp name is now proclaimed to be a "static"
   variable (as if by DEFSTATIC, as described above) and given the
   class object as its value.  In other words:

(send (find-class 'ns:ns-application) 'shared-application)


(send ns:ns-application 'shared-application)

   are equivalent.  (Since it's not legal to bind a "static" variable,
   it may be necessary to rename some things so that unrelated
   variables whose names coincidentally conflict with ObjC class names
   don't do so.)

- A new reader macro - #/ - reads a sequence of "constituent" characters
   (including colons) from the stream on which it appears and interns
   that sequence - with case preserved and colons intact - in a new package
   whose name is NEXTSTEP-FUNCTIONS, exporting the symbol from that package.
   This means that the act of reading "#/alloc" returns the the symbol
   NEXTSTEP-FUNCTIONS:|alloc|, and the act of reading "#/initWithFrame:"
   returns the symbol NEXTSTEP-FUNCTIONS:|initWithFrame:|.  The intent
   is that the reader macro can be used to construct symbols whose names
   match ObjC message names; the reader macro tries to do some sanity
   checks (such as insisting that a name that contains at least one
   colon ends in a colon), but isn't totally rigourous about enforcing
   ObjC message name conventions.

   A symbol read using this macro can be used as an operand in
   most places where an ObjC message name can be used, such as
   in the (@SELECTOR ...) construct (which is now OBJC:@SELECTOR,

   Marco Baringer proposed the idea of using a reader macro to
   construct lisp symbols which matched ObjC message names.

- The act of interning a new symbol in the NEXTSTEP-FUNCTIONS
   package triggers an interface database lookup of Objc methods
   with the corresponding message name.  If any such information
   is found, a special type of dispatching function is created
   and initialized and the weird-looking symbol is given that
   dispatching function as its function definition.

   The dispatching knows how to call declared ObjC methods defined on
   the message.  In many cases, all methods have the same foreign type
   signature, and the dispatching function merely passes any arguments
   that it receives to a function that does an ObjC message send with
   the indicated foreign argument and return types.  In other cases,
   where different ObjC messages have different type signatures, the
   dispatching function tries to choose a function that handles the
   right type signature based on the class of the dispatching function's
   first argument.

   If new information about ObjC methods is introduced (e.g., by
   using additional interface files or as ObjC methods are defined
   from lisp), the dispatch function is reinitialized to recognize
   newly-introduced foreign type signatures.

   The argument and result coercion that the bridge has tradionally
   supported is supported by the new mechanism (e.g., :<BOOL> arguments
   can be specified as lisp booleans and :<BOOL> results are returned
   as lisp boolean values, and an argument value of NIL is coerced to
   a null pointer if the corresponding argument type is :ID.

   Some ObjC methods accept variable numbers of arguments; the
   foreign types of non-required arguments are determined by the
   lisp types of those arguments (e.g., integers are passed as
   integers, floats as floats, pointers as pointers, record types
   by reference.)

   Some examples:

;;; #/alloc is a known message.
? #'#/alloc
;;; Sadly, #/foo is not ...
? #'#/foo
> Error: Undefined function: NEXTSTEP-FUNCTIONS:|foo|

;;; We can send an "init" message to a newly-allocated instance of
;;; "NSObject" by:

(send (send ns:ns-object 'alloc) 'init)

;;; or by

(#/init (#/alloc ns:ns-object))

   ObjC methods that "return" structures return them as gcable pointers
   when called via dispatch functions.  E.g., if "my-window" is an
   NS:NS-WINDOW instance, then

(#/frame my-window)

   will return a gcable pointer to a structure that describes that window's
   frame rectangle.  (The good news is that there's no need to use SLET
   or special structure-returning message send syntax; the bad news is
   that #_malloc, #_free, and the GC are all involved in the creation
   and eventual destruction of structure-typed return values.  Unless
   and until those factors negatively affect performance, the advantages
   seem to outweigh the disadvantages.)

- Since foreign pointers are now (sometimes, somewhat) typed, it's
   possible to treat pointers to some foreign types as "instances of
   built-in classes."  Specifically, a pointer to an :<NSR>ect is
   recognized as an instance of the built-in class NS:NS-RECT, a
   pointer to an <NSS>ize is treated as an instance of NS:NS-SIZE,
   <NSP>oint is recognized as NS:NS-POINT, and <NSR>ange maps to
   NS:NS-RANGE.  (There are a few other more obscure structure
   types that get this treatment, and with a little more work the
   mechanism could be made extensible.)

   For each of these built-in classes:

   - a PRINT-OBJECT method is defined

   - a foreign type name derived from the class name (e.g., :NS-RECT
     for NS:NS-RECT) is made an alias for the corresponding type
     (so it's possible to say (RLET ((R :NS-RECT)) ...)).

   - the class is is integrated into the type system (so that
     (TYPEP R 'NS:NS-RECT) is fairly efficently implemented.)

   - inlined accessor and setf inverses are defined for the structure
     type's fields.  In the case of an :<NSR>ect, the fields in question
     are the fields of the embedded point and size, so NS:NS-RECT-X,
     are defined.  The accessors and setter functions typecheck their
     arguments and the setters handle coercion to the approprate type
     of CGFLOAT where applicable.

   - an initialization function is defined; (NS:INIT-NS-SIZE s w h) is
     roughly equivalent to (SETF (NS:NS-SIZE-WIDTH s) w
     (NS:NS-SIZE-HEIGHT s) h), but might be a little more efficient.

   - a creation function is defined: (NS:NS-MAKE-POINT x y) is basically
     equivalent to:

   - a macro is defined which (much like RLET) stack-allocates an
     instance of the foreign record type, optionally iniitializes
     that instance, and executes a body of code with a variable
     bound to that instance.  E.g.

     (ns:with-ns-range (r loc len)
       (format t "~& range has location ~s, length ~s"
          (ns:ns-range-location r) (ns:ns-range-length r)))

     which is probably not the world's most realistic example.

    Note that it's possible to construct a record
    instance that has a very short useful lifetime:

    (#/initWithFrame: new-view (ns:ns-make-rect 100 100 200 200))

    The rectangle above will -eventually- get reclaimed by the GC;
    if you don't want to give the GC so much work to do, you might
    prefer to do:

    (ns:with-ns-rect (r 100 100 200 200)
      (#/initWithFrame: new-view r))

  - The macro OBJC:DEFMETHOD can be used to define ObjC methods.
    It looks superficially like CL:DEFMETHOD in some respects.
    The syntax is:

    (OBC:DEFMETHOD name-and-result-type ((receiver-arg-and-class) &rest other-args) &body body)


    "name-and-result-type" is either an ObjC message name (use #/ !)
    for methods that return a value of type :ID, or a list of an ObjC
    message name and a foreign type specifier for methods with a different
    foreign result type

    "receiver-type-and-class" is a two-element list whose CAR is
    a variable name and whose CADR is the lisp name of an ObjC class
    or metaclass.  The receiver variable name can be any bindable
    lisp variable name, but SELF (in some package) might be a reasonable
    choice.  The receiver variable is declared to be "unsettable", i.e.,
    it is an error to try to change the value of the receiver in the
    body of the method definition.

    "other-args" are either variable names (denoting parameters of type
    :ID) or 2-element lists whose first element is a variable name and
     whose second element is a foreign type specifier.

   For example:

(objc:defmethod (#/characterAtIndex: :unichar)
     ((self hemlock-buffer-string) (index :<NSUI>nteger))

   The method "characterAtIndex:", when invoked on an object of class
   HEMLOCK-BUFFER-STRING with an additional argument of type :<NSU>integer
   returns a value of type :unichar.)

   Arguments that wind up as some non-:ID pointer type (pointers,
   records passed by value) are represented as typed foreign pointers
   (so the higher-level, type-checking accessors can be used on
   arguments of type :ns-rect, :ns-pointe, etc.)

   Within the body of methods defined via OBJC:DEFMETHOD, the local
   function CL:CALL-NEXT-METHOD is defined.  It isn't quite as
   general as CL:CALL-NEXT-METHOD is when used in a CLOS method,
   but it has some of the same semantics.  It accepts as many arguments
   as are present in the containing method's "other args" list and
   invokes version of the containing method that would have been
   invoked on instances of the receiver's class's superclass with
   the receiver and other provided arguments.  (The idiom of passing
   the current method's arguments to the next method is common enough
   that the CALL-NEXT-METHOD in OBJC:DEFMETHODs should probably do
   this if it receives no arguments.)

   A method defined via OBJC:DEFMETHOD that returns a structure "by value"
   can do so by returning a record created via MAKE-GCABLE-RECORD, by
   returning the value returned via CALL-NEXT-METHOD, or by other similar
   means.  Behind the scenes, there may be a pre-allocated instance of
   the record type (used to support native structure-return conventions),
   and any value returned by the method body will be copied to this
   internal record instance.  Within the body of a method defined with
   OBJC:DEFMETHOD that's declared to return a structure type, the local
   macro OBJC:RETURNING-FOREIGN-STRUCT can be used to access the internal

   (objc:defmethod (#/reallyTinyRectangleAtPoint: :ns-rect)
     ((self really-tiny-view) (where :ns-point))
     (objc:returning-foreign-struct (r)
       (ns:init-ns-rect r (ns:ns-point-x where) (ns:ns-point-y where)
                           single-float-epsilon single-float-epsilon)

  - If OBJC:DEFMETHOD introduces a new ObjC message, a ... message
    to that effect.  Sometimes, these messages are merely informative
    (and barely informative, at that ...), but they may also indicate
    that a message name is misspelled (or possibly missing a trailing
    colon.)  If a method is redefined in such a way that it's type
    signature changes, a continuable error is signaled.

  - there used to be some fairly obscure reasons that led to
    MAKE-OBJC-INSTANCE being a bit more efficient than MAKE-INSTANCE
    in some cases (some of the methods invoked by MAKE-INSTANCE did
    some extra work to handle Lisp slots even if the class didn't
    define any Lisp slots.  This work isn't done anymore, and consequently
    there's less reason to prefer MAKE-OBJC-INSTANCE.  (MAKE-OBJC-INSTANCE
    is still defined and exported from the OBJC:PACKAGE).

  - the preferred means of loading an add-on framework and processing
    the declarations in its interfaces has changed several times over
    the last several months.  The currently preferred (new) way to
    do that is via the new function OBJC:LOAD-FRAMEWORK

    (OBJC:LOAD-FRAMEWORK framework-name interface-dir)

    where "framework-name" is a string which names the framework and
    "interface-dir" is a keyword that names the associated set of
    interfaces.  OBJC:LOAD-FRAMEWORK should find and initialize the
    framework bundle (looking in standard framework search paths),
    introduce new ObjC classes to CLOS, update information about
    declared messages and their methods' type signatures, adjust
    affected dispatch functions, and make the interfaces other
    definitions available.  The order in which it does these
    things isn't specified, and may change in the future.

  - Most Cocoa-related examples (the demo IDE, the Rubix and Webkit
    examples) have been rewritten to use the new bridge features.
    (I may have missed some contributed examples; if people want
    to convert these, that'd be great.)  It's too early to say
    whether the new approach is better or worse than the old, but
    I've (so far) found some of the code easier to read and maintain.
    We might find that some things that (for instance) SEND does
    more efficiently could and should be done via SEND (I'm thinking
    mostly of struct-return stuff), but so far I haven't seen the
    new stuff keel over.

    The converted code looks like "lisp code with strange-looking
    function names" at first glance, and that seems about right.
    The function names might get to look more familiar as the
    reader becomes more familiar with Cocoa; as someone here pointed
    out, it's arguably good that the function names are distinctive
    in that that helps to remind the reader that these are likely
    lower-level functions that are less tolerant of type- and other
    errors than the typical lisp function would be.

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