11 August 2018

Nuitka this week #3

New Series Rationale

This is working out well so far. I think driving more attention at the things that are going on can only be good. Also to explain will always help. It also kind of motivates me a bit.


Also as part of my communications offensive, I am using my Twitter account more regularly. I used to highlight important fixes, or occasionally releases of some importance there. I will continue to do only important stuff there, but with more regularity.

And I noticed in the past, even when I do not post, followers makes me happy. So here you go:

Follow @kayhayen

Goto Generators

This continues TWN #2 where I promised to speak more of it, and this is the main focus of my work on Nuitka right now.

Brief summary, context switches were how this was initially implemented. The main reason being that for C++ there never was going to be a way to save and restore state in the middle of an expression that involves constructors and destructors.

Fast forward some years, and C-ish entered the picture. No objects are used anymore, and Nuitka is purely C11 now, which has convenience of C++, but no objects. Instead goto is used a lot already. So every time an exception occurs, a goto is done, every time a branch is done, a loop exit or continue, you get it, another goto.

But so far, all Python level variables of a frame live on that C stack still, and the context switch is done with functions that swap stack. That is fast, but the imporant drawback is that it takes more memory. How deep of a stack will we need? And we can use really many, if you imagine a pool of 1000 coroutines, that quickly become impossible to deal with.

So, the new way of doing this basically goes like this:

def g():
    yield 1
    yield 2

This was some far becoming something along this lines:

PyObject *impl_g( NuitkaGenerator *generator )
     YIELD( const_int_1 );
     YIELD( const_int_2 );

     PyErr_SetException( StopIteration );
     return NULL;

The YIELD in there was basically doing the switching of the stacks and for the C code, it looked like a normal function call.

In the new approach, this is done:

PyObject *impl_g( NuitkaGenerator *generator )
     switch( generator->m_resume_point )
          case 1: goto resume_1;
          case 2: goto resume_2;

     generator->m_yielded = const_int_1;
     generator->resume_point = 1
     return NULL;

     generator->m_yielded = const_int_2;
     generator->resume_point = 2
     return NULL;

     PyErr_SetException( StopIteration );
     return NULL;

As you can see, the function has an initial dispatcher. Resume point 0 means we are starting at the top. Then every yield results in a function return with an updated resume point.

I experimented with this actually a long time ago, and experimental code was the result that remained in Nuitka. The problem left to solve was to store the variables that would normally live on the stack, in a heap storage. That is what I am currently working on.

This leads me to “heap storage”, which is what I am currently working on and will report on next week. Once that is there, goto generators can work, and will become the norm. Until then, I am refactoring a lot to get accesses to variable go through proper objects that know their storage locations and types.


So there have been 2 more hotfixes. One was to make the enum and __new__ compatibility available that I talked about last week in TWN #2 <./nuitka-this-week-2.html#python3-enumerators> coupled with a new minor things.

And then another one, actually important, where Python3 __annotations__ by default was the empty dictionary, but then could be modified, corrupting the Nuitka internally used one severely.

Right now I have on factory another fix for nested namespace packages in Python3 and that might become another hotfix soon.

As you know, I am following the git flow model, where it’s easy to push out small fixes, and just those, on top of the last release. I tend to decide based on importance. However, I feel that with the important fixes in the hotfixes now, it’s probably time to make a full release, to be sure everybody gets those.


Finishing heap storage is my top priority right now and I hope to complete the refactorings necessary in the coming week. I will also talk about how it also enables C types work next week.

Until next week then!