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Home » Archived » DSDP - Real-Time Software Components (RTSC) » @GlobalEnums feature -- a proposal
@GlobalEnums feature -- a proposal [message #481171] Wed, 19 August 2009 23:42
Bob Frankel is currently offline Bob FrankelFriend
Messages: 8
Registered: July 2009
Junior Member
i would like to propose a @GlobalEnum feature for XDCspec, which
subsumes a design pattern that has been used elsewhere -- notably, when
managing a potentially open-ended set of codes representing (say)
commands passed to device drivers. today, this is implemented using the
(advanced and somewhat exotic) @EncodedTypes feature of XDCspec; an
example can be seen in ti.sdo.DriverTypes.ControlCmd.

besides providing a cleaner way to manage what effectively becomes an
*extensible* enumerated type, the implementation i am envisioning has a
number of technical advantages over the current approach using
@EncodedTypes: the (unique) target value of each enumerated value is
determined "early" in the meta-domain, and hence is available for
meta-code to assign to other configs and/or internal state object
fields; and the (unique) target value of each enumerated value of a
particular enumerated type will be assigned sequentially, and hence can
be represented using integral types smaller than 'Int'. [working as i
am these days with 8-bit MCUs with only 1K of RAM, i am declaring a lot
more 'UInt8' fields in my State structs than i ever have before!!!]

a corrollary of the @GlobalEnum feature is that the set of associated
enum-values are *not* all declared in one place; rather, any
module/interface in any package can essentially "augment" a previously
spec'd @GlobalEnum type. here's an minimal example to illustrate the

module ModA {

enum Codes { C1, C2, ... }
// base enum type with a base set of values
// ModA.C1, ModA.C2, ...


module ModB {

enum Codes : ModA.Codes { C1, C2, ... }
// extend the base enum with the values
//ModB.C1, ModB.C2, ...


needless to say, use of 'C1' as a name by itself is ambiguous;
qualification by the associated module is required (which is the case
with ordinary enums as well). put another way, each enumerated value
has a *unique* name, by virtue of being qualified by a globally-unique
module name. but unlike oridinary enums (where here, ModA.C1 *and*
ModB.C1 would be assigned '0', ModA.C2 *and* ModB.C2 would be assigned
'1', etc), that fact that ModB.Codes "isa" ModA.Codes the backend
implementation will ensure that { ModA.C1, ModA.C2, ... ModB.C1,
ModB.C2, ... } have *unique* sequential values.

though you may not have seen it before, the ':' within the enum decl in
ModB is already supported in XDCspec; it is used to denote the
"representation type" of this enum. if, for example, i knew that the
extensible set ModA.Codes would contain only a few dozen values, i could
have written something like this....

module ModA {

enum Codes : UInt8 { C1, C2, ... } // base enum type with a
base set of values ModA.C1, ModA.C2, ...


then, when i declare a var/field of type ModA.Codes, the actual size
will be smaller than the default 'Int' used by almost all compilers. by
extension, ModB.Codes is "typedef'd" to ModA.Codes and hence acquires
its choice of representation. [the implementation i'm envisioning could
actually *assert* that the total space of enumerated values of a
particular enumerated type can indeed fit into the space implied by the
optional representation type]

so how is this different from ordinary enums, other than the fact that
the set of values can now be enumerated across multiple units delivered
by multiple vendors? for one, there is no guarantee that the *numeric
value* of a particular enum constant will be the *same* over time --
it's just guaranteed to be *unique* (and as small as possible) with a
particular executable program. [mapping these target values to more
meaningful strings can always -- and indeed should -- be handled in the

peeking under the hood, the implementation i'm imagining would in fact
render each enumerated value as a readonly config param of some integral
type; upon loading the module, this parameter will be automatically
initialized to an appropriate serial number maintained for each
@GlobalEnum type. beside being immutable in the meta-domain, these
configs will basically melt-away in the target-domain through WPO. but
unlike ordinary C enums (whose values are known at *compile-time*),
@GlobalEnum values cannot be used in C 'switch' statements;
discriminating a value of these types will require a sequence of
'if/else' tests or a hand-crafted jump-table if really necessary.

regarding the latter point, previous experience has shown that while the
enumerated set may have a relatively large number of values overall
(representing, say, a universe of "driver commands"), any particular
device driver will only be concerned about a relatively small subset.
but again, since values are assigned sequentially -- and ordering within
any particular enum { ... } decl is preserved, it is possible to
efficiently dispatch on contiguous sets of values in the overall universe.

as i may have implied throughout, i do have a need for this feature in
my work and will at least implement something in the near-term to
further understand the @GlobalEnum feature; if/when this feature is
broadly available is another matter altogether. i would, however,
appreciate any thoughts/comments/suggestions before diving into the code....
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