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digitalmars.D.announce - D Language Foundation June 2023 Monthly Meeting Summary

reply Mike Parker <aldacron gmail.com> writes:
The monthly meeting for June 2023 took place on Friday the 2nd at 
15:00 UTC. It lasted about an hour. We had three new faces for 
this one: Adam D. Ruppe, Steven Schveighoffer, and Nick 
Treleaven. I'll be sending them invites to all of our future 
monthlies, but we've left it up to them to decide if they want to 
become regular or part-time members.

The following people attended:

* Walter Bright
* Ali Çehreli
* Martin Kinkelin
* Dennis Korpel
* Mathias Lang
* Átila Neves
* Razvan Nitu
* Mike Parker
* Adam D. Ruppe
* Robert Schadek
* Steven Schveighoffer
* Nick Treleaven

I opened with a reminder that Razvan had sent most of us an email 
reporting that he had set up an initial set of projects on [our 
GitHub Projects 
page](https://github.com/orgs/dlang/projects?query=is%3Aopen) as 
we'd decided in our planning sessions. The projects were all 
private. I emphasized that once we made them public, we needed to 
start focusing on them. The project list should become part of 
our regular workflow. I asked that everyone look over the project 
list and make sure they're okay with it, after which we could 
make it public. (We have since done so.)

Razvan said that when any of us submit a PR related to one of the 
projects, we should add it to the project so that anyone who 
wants to can follow along. Dennis said he was excited for us all 
to start using organized task lists, and Walter thanked Razvan 
for setting it up.

Next, I gave an update on the DConf submissions. We'd received 39 
submissions from 20 people and 1 team. We had already begun the 
selection process. I and one other person had made our selections 
and I was still waiting for two more. I reminded them that I 
wanted to publish the schedule as soon as possible, so I asked 
that they get their choices made over the weekend. (The four 
people making the selections were Walter, Átila, Ali, and me. I 
had all of the selections by Saturday night my time and 
subsequently informed all of the submission authors of their 

Finally, I told everyone about a conversation I'd had with 
someone who was planning to submit a proposal to add slices to C. 
Walter was happy to hear about that, as he had been informally 
pushing for that for years. He talked about his article on the 
topic ([C's Biggest 
Mistake](https://digitalmars.com/articles/C-biggest-mistake.html)) and how C++
had copied that mistake. He says it can be backward compatible in C and
analogous to D's slices, it just wouldn't allocate memory for you.

Robert said his biggest gripes had been added to the project 
list, so he was a happy camper.

Other than that, the only thing he had to report was an update on 
the Bugzilla to GitHub migration. At the time, I had done some 
testing with the program he wrote for it and found some problems 
with it, so he was going to work on fixing those and improving 
the usability. I had set up a dummy repository to test it out on 
and he would use that for further testing. (He got it back to me 
a couple of weeks later. I have since submitted two forum posts 
one](https://forum.dlang.org/post/pfpoeaoihsqpohumjvsi forum.dlang.org) and
[post two](https://forum.dlang.org/thread/kttzxwbbvdpzxlmoyv
o forum.dlang.org)) soliciting feedback and providing updates. You can track
the progress on this task in our [Enhance the Ecosystem

Mathias had nothing to report.

Martin had been on vacation, so had nothing completed to report 
on. His immediate plans were to finalize the LDC 1.33 release, 
which was based on D 2.103, then get to work on the 2.104 merge. 
(He announced [the first 1.33 beta on May 
14](https://forum.dlang.org/thread/umxjxuzvitbnmtezwspf forum.dlang.org) and
[the second on June 11](https://forum.dlang.org/thread/jmshfqmyceakivyhsynr forum.dlang.org)).

Dennis was in a car, so was only listening.

Ali had nothing to report. He was still using D at work. He was 
happily producing successful stuff with it.

__An issue with runtime hooks__

Razvan opened by reminding everyone that Teodor Dutu was still 
working on converting DRuntime hooks to templates and that the 
project was part of a major goal we had set to get to a 
pay-as-you-go DRuntime (which you [can follow on our project 
tracker](https://github.com/orgs/dlang/projects/34)). He had 
noticed that some of those hooks are [implemented in 
src/rt/lifetime.d). Nothing in the `rt` package is supposed to be imported
outside of the `rt` package itself (see [the DRuntime
README](https://github.com/dlang/dmd/blob/master/druntime/README.md)). However,
`object.d` needs to use some of those hooks, so it declares `extern(C)`
function prototypes to make that possible. He asked if anyone knew why we were
doing it that way.

Mathias said it's just for historical reasons. Many of those 
hooks had been moved to `core.internal`. Razvan was welcome to 
move more of them there if he wanted to. Razvan said he'd like to 
move everything from `lifetime.d` to `core.internal`. Some of 
those hooks also use private functions in that module which then 
use the GC. He had tried to lower one hook and had to resort to 
all sorts of trickery to make it compile. Mathias said to just 
move it. There's precedent for that.

Steve said he would caution against moving everything into a 
module that `object.d` imports because then everything is going 
to import everything. There's always some reason for hiding an 
implementation behind an `extern(C)` function, even if it's not 
always an exceptional one, but not importing the whole world in 
every module would be a good goal to keep in mind. Walter agreed. 
`object.d` is special in that every program is going to import 
it, so anything added to a module that `object.d` imports needs 
to be evaluated to understand if it's going to increase compile 
times for user programs.

Martin said there's more to it than that. It's the whole import 
graph with all of the `ModuleInfo` dependencies. If `object.d` is 
just importing stuff from internal packages, the compiler needs 
to load it, parse it, and check it, but if one of the 
`ModuleInfo` dependencies has a module constructor that depends 
on other modules, then as soon as you need one little thing from 
`object.d`, you're going to pull in half or more of DRuntime just 
due to the interdependencies. It's a tricky business.

Adam noted that `object.d` is responsible for the largest 
compile-time slowdown compared to D1. `import object` is more 
expensive than compiling his entire old D1 game that has fancy 
art and music.

Razvan said that he hadn't done any experiments, but `object.d` 
is already importing a large part of DRuntime. It's not importing 
`rt.lifetime`, but it's using the `extern(C)` functions from 
there. He doesn't know if those are hiding anything, but it seems 
they're `extern(C)` only to make them available at run time. 
Martin said we might do something like lazily importing the 
module during template lowering instead of importing everything 
into `object.d`.

After the sidetrack we got onto (summarized below), Razvan said 
he would experiment with moving some of the `rt` hooks into 
`core` for import to see what sort of impact it has.

__Sidetrack: static constructors__

Steve said this reminds him that we have this longstanding 
problem of import cycles when static constructors are present, 
and it can be hard to get rid of some of those. Yes, you can 
refactor your module system when that happens, but it's not 
always easy. That's one of the reasons why we have all these 
`extern(C)` prototypes. He wondered if there's any room for a 
feature that allows setting up a static constructor to indicate 
that it doesn't have any dependencies, i.e., it runs 
independently so shouldn't figure into the cycle detection.

Walter said the `pragma(crt_constructor)` will do that. Martin 
disagreed. You can't use the GC at that point, because it's 
initialized after CRT constructors are run. So it's not a direct 
one-to-one alternative. Walter said that, yes, it has to be 
independent. And that means being independent of the GC, too. 
Adam said that's not technically true. CRT constructors also have 
priority lists, and you can have them run before or after 
`malloc` is even run. They're not a solution to much of anything.

Walter said he'd used them to break cycles many times. He said 
CRT constructors are added to C's static initialization lists, 
which happens before D is even set up to run. So you have to be 
careful about what you're using it for, but it's very handy to 
have that. Mathias noted that's breaking the cycle by just 
removing the cycle detection. Walter said that's true, but they 
also have to be completely independent because the order in which 
CRT constructors are run is not defined. It's a system thing, so 
it requires more care than using D's static construction. But it 
exists. It's a way to run an initializer before C's `main` gets 

Adam said that works fine until someone puts it in a DLL. Walter 
agreed, and that's why you have to be careful with it. Adam then 
said that this is a general problem with D: someone points out an 
issue, and the answer is a workaround hack that works in some 
cases. We should be looking at fixing the actual D feature 
instead of punting it to a C thing that doesn't solve the problem 
for most people. Walter said the static constructors he'd looked 
at all worked rather nicely. They had no dependencies, although 
they were circular, so it worked fine to make CRT constructors 
out of them. It doesn't add any more problems that you don't 
already have in C when you're using static constructors.

Walter said the reason circular constructors are a problem is 
because there's no way to tell which one should come first. Adam 
said we should fix that. Walter asked if it's something that 
really needs fixing. If you have modules importing each other, 
there isn't any obvious way to determine which has priority. If 
you import more modules in there, you create more problems. 
Adding keywords to D to say which one should come first doesn't 
make a whole lot of sense. That's why he's never done it.

Mathias said to some degree he agrees with Adam. The compiler 
should be smarter about detecting module dependencies. Walter 
didn't see how. Mathias said that currently, it assumes there are 
dependencies on everything. If it were a bit smarter, most of 
those cases could probably be handled. Walter said he didn't know 
how it could reliably determine which one should come first. 
However, if Mathias or Adam (or anyone else) came up with a 
proposal for that, he'd be interested to see if someone could 
solve it cleanly.

Steve said his point in bringing it up was to see if we can think 
about that as an enhancement. Walter said we can. Steve detailed 
a case that had come up in Discord where an exception was thrown 
during static construction, but there was no stack trace because 
a particular DRuntime static constructor hadn't yet run. These 
kinds of problems aren't uncommon.

Átila said he found out the hard way that cycle detection can 
vary depending on if you compile everything all at once, or 
separately by module or by package. One of them might say there 
are no cyclic dependencies, but another says there are (Steve 
said in the chat window that this is a straight-up bug). Átila 
had also learned that static constructors should always be 
`nothrow`. Walter said he couldn't see why anyone would write a 
static constructor that throws. Átila said the point is, it's not 
muscle memory. It's easy to forget to add `nothrow`. Walter asked 
him to file an enhancement request on Bugzilla to make static 
construction `nothrow`.

Adam proposed one possible way to solve the problem: you can see 
which symbols are referenced inside a function, so if you can see 
that it doesn't reference anything outside of its namespace, you 
can then infer that it is independent. Another: you could do a 
`pragma(nocycle)` or something. There are a few things we could 
do if we're willing to change the language.

I suggested we revisit this in the future. That took us back to 

__The project tracker__
Razvan said he had been looking at updating [the project 
with the tasks we had discussed at our planning sessions. Before 
this meeting, he'd had a meeting with Mathias to discuss [items 
in the ecosystem 
category](https://github.com/orgs/dlang/projects/23). They 
concluded that there are two projects each of them could own, but 
there are other projects for which we need to find owners. For 
example, WebASM support. He didn't know who proposed it, but we 
didn't have a description yet of what it entails. We needed to 
iron out the specific tasks. He then noted that two projects 
Robert had proposed (an incremental compiler daemon and built-in 
Language Server Protocol support), though independent projects, 
also fit under the 'dmd as a library' concept.

He said that in a few weeks, he would be hosting [the D Summer 
(which he usually runs with Eduard Staniloiu) at the Politechnica 
University of Bucharest. He hoped to identify some students whom 
he could nudge toward some of the projects on our list.

Nick said he had been looking at the [Gripes and Wishes 
ishes-feedback.md). He wanted to go through it and think about it more but
would like to discuss it at some point. I told him that the plan was to
ultimately resolve all the items on that list in some form (implement it,
reject it, push it off until later, etc.). We had already selected a few items
with which we seeded our task lists. I shared with him [the notes I'd made from
the planning session](https://holistic-steam-572.notion.site/Projects-75c5253da0884
9b89d9594591acac92) where we'd discussed it, which includes items from the
Gripes and Wishes feedback and others proposed in the meeting.

I told Nick that Ali and I were managing the community-focused 
projects, one of which was going through old articles and other 
documentation on dlang.org and bringing them up to date. Given 
all of the work he'd put into fixing up the documentation, I 
thought it would be great if he could help us with that. He said 
that sounded good.

(Nick has put out a steady stream of PRs since then, but I 
haven't yet arranged a time for us to discuss the documentation 
update project. I do intend to schedule a meeting with Nick and 
Ali to coordinate an approach to it. I've recently set up [a 
dedicated project in the project 
tracker](https://github.com/orgs/dlang/projects/38) and seeded it 
with a couple of tasks that came up in our recent quarterly 

Steve said that after a discussion at one of the BeerConfs, he 
had built a library that's an exact copy of how we lay out 
associative arrays but can be built at compile time. Then at run 
time, you can cast it to a normal associative array and it just 
works. We should be able to have a hook that does this. Since he 
already had the run-time part of it working, it just needed 
someone to handle the compiler side of it. He said that would be 
a huge win if we could get it working, as people complain all the 
time that they can't statically initialize associative arrays.

Átila said it sounded awesome, and Walter thanked him for working 
on it. I noted that we had discussed it at a planning session and 
marked it as a future task (as per [my previously linked 
89d9594591acac92)). However, this does seem to fall under our current goal of
stabilizing the language, so if there was a path for us to get it implemented
sooner, that would be great.

Steve gave a brief description of what needed to be done, but he 
said he didn't know enough about the compiler internals to 
implement it. But if someone could give him the necessary hook, 
then he could write the hook. Walter said we should put it on the 

(Steve and Walter had a call about this a couple of weeks later. 
The outcome: Walter thinks it's feasible, probably with some 
modifications to the initializer code in the compiler, but he 
doesn't have the time for it right now. He suggested Steve do a 
writeup of what needs to be done and post it to the forums to see 
if he can find someone to help with the compiler part of it.)

Adam said it was hard for him to think of issues to bring up 
specifically, as when he encounters one he usually just finds a 
workaround and moves on. The static constructor cycles we 
discussed earlier were an example of that. Even if we do fix the 
problem, it won't affect him directly, but it would be great if 
the language worked as advertised. Being told to "just use C" 
isn't helpful, and he would like to see that attitude change.

I asked him to flesh out one of the possible solutions he had 
mentioned earlier, then at a future meeting, we can decide if 
it's something we should pursue. I told him I'd follow up with 
him in a week or so.

(When I reached out to him later, Adam proposed an attribute that 
causes a static constructor to be added to the order-independent 
list rather than the order-dependent list, e.g.,

shared static this() {}


He then brought up `object.factory`, which [he had written a blog 
ctory-alternatives) (he had posted the link in the chat during our discussion
about static constructor cycles, as the article touches on that). He said he
had written it in response to a pull request that was going to add a new trait
that Walter had said could replace `object.factory`, but Adam said it wouldn't
actually do that. It would help if Walter would try to use things like this
himself so he could see when something is going to be a dead end. Then we
wouldn't end up with cruft just lingering in the compiler.

Átila said he was tired of `shared` and he wished someone would 
take it off his plate. That's what he'd been working on and he 
just wanted it to go away. He'd been trying to get DRuntime to 
compile with `-preview=nosharedaccess`. He'd found some bugs 
along the way, and some other things were simply annoying. But if 
that goes well, then he'll move on to Phobos. He didn't 
anticipate any big problems getting it to compile with the 
switch. And then after that, he'll start trying it with different 
dub packages.

As an example of the kinds of issues he'd encountered, he had 
figured out that his changes to DRuntime for using `fprintf` 
would be a pain to anyone ever using that function. If you're 
passing in `stdout` or `stderr`, you're going to have to atomic 
load every single time. Is that what we want? He wasn't sure. But 
he couldn't see any other way to do it since those are `shared` 

Walter said that in that case, C does all the locking and takes 
care of the synchronization for us. Átila said that had crossed 
his mind. But, though implementations probably do it that way in 
real life, he didn't think there was any guarantee from the C 
standard. Walter said that, pragmatically, it's all taken care 
of. We should make `stdout` and friends unshared and let the C 
standard library deal with it. Átila said that, again, it had 
crossed his mind, but there were potential problems because of 
how DRuntime uses them internally.

Steve told Átila he was interested in getting the shared stuff 
working, and asked him to ping if he needed any help.

__Tweeting about D__

Walter started by telling us his evil plan to increase his 
follower count on Twitter had borne some fruit. He'd tried 
various things and found that what worked was thinking of a 
feature of D that could fit into a single tweet and just write 
about it. That had generated a fair amount of interest from other 
people. He'd also been tweeting about whatever he was working on 
and had added some hashtags for programming communities. It 
seemed to have worked out positively so far. He encourages 
everyone who uses Twitter to do something similar. Tweet about 
what you're working on in D or your favorite D features.


He had fixed enough problems with ImportC that he thought it was 
ready for use. It wasn't perfect. There were still some missing 
things, like variable-length arrays, a C feature he dislikes 
intensely. It's something not commonly encountered. However, 
someone had posted to Bugzilla about it, so though he was hoping 
to avoid it he may end up having to do something about it. Other 
people had pointed out that all of Microsoft's intrinsics that D 
didn't support. He was also hoping we wouldn't have to deal with 
that. But in general, ImportC seemed to be working. The closer we 
can get to not having to do any manual C bindings, the better. 
Even if you can import a C header file and it mostly works, then 
you only have to write a few bindings by hand, it's still a big 

Steve said it was not exactly clear what the result with ImportC 
was going to be. He remembered at one of the BeerConfs he had 
mentioned the issues he had porting Raylib to D because of all 
the crazy preprocessor stuff it does in its internal headers, and 
Walter had suggested trying ImportC. He had tried it, but it had 
broken in some really deep vector stuff, and he wasn't sure what 
was happening. If the goal is to be able to import header files 
to link against C libraries, that's one thing, but if you want to 
build dependencies with ImportC, that's a different thing. Was 
the goal to import header files, import header files with a few 
tweaks, or build C projects? It would be nice to have that 

Walter said the Number One goal for ImportC was to obviate the 
need to write C bindings by hand. The next goal is to make it 
easier for your C code to call D code. The interface works both 
ways. The third goal is to compile your C code with ImportC. 
That's probably not achievable because it's unlikely ImportC is 
ever going to support all of the compiler extensions out there. 
It's like Microsoft's blizzard of intrinsic functions. It's kind 
of an impractical goal to try to support all of that. He likes to 
try to get ImportC to compile as much as he can because that 
makes it more usable. But some things it likely will never be 
able to.

Martin said that from his perspective it's only goal Number One 
that counts. If you look at how libraries are built these days 
with all the CMake configurations and such, if we want to have 
all of that in the D compiler, too, or support in CMake for D 
compilers to compile C files, it's not worthwhile. On Linux, we 
all link against the prebuilt distro packages anyway, or at least 
those which are available. So for him, the absolute single goal 
of ImportC is the import of header files.

Walter said Martin was right. We'll never succeed in making 
ImportC a general-purpose C compiler. But, for example, [Phobos 
has the zlib package](https://dlang.org/phobos/std_zlib.html) 
which is a bunch of C code. There's no reason we can't compile 
that with ImportC and dogfood it. That's a worthwhile goal. It 
should be able to compile standard-conforming C code. It's 
unreasonable to try to implement all of the GNU C and Clang 

A lot of ImportC contains hacks to get it to compile the various 
header files, and that's going to continue. For example, it 
recognizes the GNU inline assembler code, except it just ignores 
it because it can't compile it. But some of the C header files 
require you to benignly parse it to be able to import the header 
file. ImportC is never going to compile GNU assembly syntax, 
because it's all wrapped up in how their assembler works. It's 
too big a project and a waste of time to compile that. So it's 
always going to have limitations like that, and that's okay.

Adam thought there was nothing to gain by compiling zlib with 
ImportC since you can just use a C compiler. Martin said it was 
kind of nice to compile it with ImportC because then you don't 
need a C compiler to compile DMD/DRuntime/Phobos.

Dennis noted that you currently can't import `.h` files directly, 
only `.c` and `.i` files. Walter said that's because of a 
disagreement he and Iain had about the implementation. Since Iain 
wasn't present, he felt it wouldn't be fair to debate the issue 
in this meeting.

__Windows DLL support__

Walter said he had been looking into the longstanding problems 
with Windows DLL support. In poking around, he'd found that 
documentation for it was practically non-existent. What little 
does exist is spread out among random source files and various 
areas in the documentation. So as his first step in trying to 
solve the problems, he was writing an article that lays out how 
Windows DLLs work and how that fits in with D. Once he finishes 
that, he should have a good understanding of what the problems 
are and how to fix them. He knows it's been a sore in the side of 
D developers on Windows for a long time, and he was ready to put 
his focus on it now.

Martin noted that LDC has some support for DLLs that he'd come up 
with. Rainer Schütze had opened a PR that tried to mimic LDC's 
approach, but he hadn't looked at it and didn't know how far 
Rainer had gotten with it. It's a complicated topic. He had often 
thought of writing an article about it but hadn't made the time 
for it. He was open to discussion to elaborate on how LDC does 
things, though it would be a long and heavily technical 
discussion, so he wasn't looking forward to it. But we'll need it 
at some point.

Walter said they do need to discuss it, as it appears he might be 
reinventing the wheel on what Martin had done, but he didn't know 
what Martin had done or how LDC handles it. Martin said it 
involves many things: DRuntime parts, and compiler parts. The 
main problem is importing data symbols from other binaries. Then 
there's the Windows limitation of restricting the number of 
symbols to 64K per DLL, which means large DLLs that export 
everything like on POSIX systems aren't an option. It also 
involves dub and what he thinks would be desirable behavior to 
make this work in a very simplistic fashion so that people don't 
need to change their code. It's a big topic.

Walter said he'd keep working on the article and make it 
available so that Martin could poke holes in it. He wanted to get 
all of this organized.

We had a couple of planning sessions after this, [on which I've 
reported](https://forum.dlang.org/thread/jmtcppvsweimsojladlj forum.dlang.org).
Our next big meeting was a quarterly on July 7. I'll have the summary for that
in a couple of weeks. Our next monthly meeting is scheduled for July 14 at
15:00 UTC.

If you have something you'd like to discuss with us at one of our 
monthlies, please let me know and I'll arrange to bring you into 
one. Additionally, if you're interested in contributing in some 
way but aren't sure where to start, please get in touch with me. 
I'll be happy to chat with you to determine where your interests 
align with our goals. Then maybe we can find ways to help each 
Jul 13
next sibling parent Mike Parker <aldacron gmail.com> writes:
On Thursday, 13 July 2023 at 14:00:49 UTC, Mike Parker wrote:

 said in the chat window that this is a straight-up bug). Átila 
 had also learned that static constructors should always be 
 `nothrow`. Walter said he couldn't see why anyone would write a 
 static constructor that throws. Átila said the point is, it's 
 not muscle memory. It's easy to forget to add `nothrow`. Walter 
 asked him to file an enhancement request on Bugzilla to make 
 static construction `nothrow`.
I forgot to add the follow up on this. Átila did open the issue, and Razvan submitted a PR to see what breaks. https://issues.dlang.org/show_bug.cgi?id=23973 https://github.com/dlang/dmd/pull/15318
Jul 13
prev sibling parent Paul Backus <snarwin gmail.com> writes:
On Thursday, 13 July 2023 at 14:00:49 UTC, Mike Parker wrote:
 Finally, I told everyone about a conversation I'd had with 
 someone who was planning to submit a proposal to add slices to 
 C. Walter was happy to hear about that, as he had been 
 informally pushing for that for years. He talked about his 
 article on the topic ([C's Biggest 
 Mistake](https://digitalmars.com/articles/C-biggest-mistake.html)) and how C++
had copied that mistake. He says it can be backward compatible in C and
analogous to D's slices, it just wouldn't allocate memory for you.
Last time this topic came up, I did some research and found a proposal for slices in C23 that was ultimately rejected: https://forum.dlang.org/post/jofetbpwdufuhjznvtja forum.dlang.org If they have not already, the author of this new proposal may wish to familiarize themself with N2660 and its reception by WG 14.
Jul 13