#with #callback #closures #locals #cps

with_locals

Function attribute to return references to locals by using CPS

11 unstable releases (3 breaking)

0.3.0-rc1 Oct 30, 2020
0.2.0 Oct 30, 2020
0.1.1 Oct 5, 2020
0.0.1-alpha-2 Sep 1, 2020

#87 in Rust patterns

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::with_locals

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CPS sugar in Rust, to "return" values referring to locals.

Let's start with a basic example: returning / yielding a format_args local.

use ::core::fmt::Display;
use ::with_locals::with;

#[with('local)]
fn hex (n: u32) -> &'local dyn Display
{
    &format_args!("{:#x}", n)
}

The above becomes:

use ::core::fmt::Display;

fn with_hex <R, F> (n: u32, f: F) -> R
where           F : FnOnce(&'_     dyn Display) -> R,
 // for<'local> F : FnOnce(&'local dyn Display) -> R,
{
    f(&format_args!("{:#x}", n))
}

f: F, here, is called a continuation: instead of having a function return / yield some element / object, the function takes, instead, the "logic" of what the caller would have liked to do with that element (once it would have received it), so that it is the callee who handles that object instead.

By shifting the logic like so, it is the callee and not the caller who runs that logic, which thus happens before the callee returns, so before it cleans its locals and makes things that refer to it dangle.

This is the whole point of all this strategy!

Now, to call / use the above function, one can no longer bind the "result" of that function to a variable using a let binding, since that mechanism is reserved for actual returns, and the actual code running in the caller's stack.

Instead, one calls / uses that with_hex function using closure / callback syntax:

with_hex(66, |s| {
    println!("{}", s);
})

This is extremely powerful, but incurs in a rightward drift everytime such a binding is created:

with_hex(1, |one| {
    with_hex(2, |two| {
        with_hex(3, |three| {
            // ughhh ..
        })
    })
})

Instead, it would be nice if the compiler / the language provided a way for let bindings to magically perform that transformation:

let one = hex(1);
let two = hex(2);
let three = hex(3);

Operating in this fashion is called Continuation-Passing Style, and cannot be done implicitly in Rust. But that doesn't mean one cannot get sugar for it.

Enters #[with]!

#[with] let one = hex(1);
#[with] let two = hex(2);
#[with] let three = hex(3);
  • This can also be written as:

    let one: &'ref _ = hex(1);
    let two: &'ref _ = hex(2);
    let three: &'ref _ = hex(3);
    

    That is, let bindings that feature a "special lifetime".

When applied to a function, it will tranform all its so-annotated let bindings into nested closure calls, where all the statements that follow the binding (within the same scope) are moved into the continuation.

Here is an example:

# use ::with_locals::with; #[with] fn hex (n: u32) -> &'ref dyn ::core::fmt::Display { &format_args!("{:#x}", n) }
#
#[with]
fn hex_example ()
{
    let s: String = {
        println!("Hello, World!");
        #[with]
        let s_hex = hex(66);
        println!("s_hex = {}", s_hex); // Outputs `s_hex = 0x42`
        let s = s_hex.to_string();
        assert_eq!(s, "0x42");
        s
    };
    assert_eq!(s, "0x42");
}

The above becomes:

# use ::with_locals::with; #[with] fn hex (n: u32) -> &'ref dyn ::core::fmt::Display { &format_args!("{:#x}", n) }
#
fn hex_example ()
{
    let s: String = {
        println!("Hello, World!");
        with_hex(66, |s_hex| {
            println!("s_hex = {}", s_hex); // Outputs `s_hex = 0x42`
            let s = s_hex.to_string();
            assert_eq!(s, "0x42");
            s
        })
    };
    assert_eq!(s, "0x42");
}

Trait methods

Traits can have #[with]-annotated methods too.

# use ::with_locals::with;
#
trait ToStr {
    #[with('local)]
    fn to_str (self: &'_ Self) -> &'local str
    ;
}

Example of an implementor:

# use ::with_locals::with; trait ToStr { #[with] fn to_str (self: &'_ Self) -> &'ref str ; }
#
impl ToStr for u32 {
    #[with('local)]
    fn to_str (self: &'_ u32) -> &'local str
    {
        let mut x = *self;
        if x == 0 {
            // By default, the macro tries to be quite smart and replaces
            // both implicitly returned and explicitly returned values, with
            // what the actual return of the actual `with_...` function must
            // be: `return f("0");`.
            return "0";
        }
        let mut buf = [b' '; 1 + 3 + 3 + 3]; // u32::MAX ~ 4_000_000_000
        let mut cursor = buf.len();
        while x > 0 {
            cursor -= 1;
            buf[cursor] = b'0' + (x % 10) as u8;
            x /= 10;
        }
        // return f(
        ::core::str::from_utf8(&buf[cursor ..]) // refers to a local!
            .unwrap()
        // );
    }
}
# #[with]
# fn main ()
# {
#     let s: &'ref str = 42.to_str();
#     assert_eq!(s, "42");
# }

Example of a user of the trait (≠ an implementor).

# use ::with_locals::with; trait ToStr { #[with] fn to_str (self: &'_ Self) -> &'ref str ; }
#
impl<T : ToStr> ::core::fmt::Display for __<T> {
    #[with] // you can #[with]-annotate classic function,
            // in order to get the `let` assignment magic :)
    fn fmt (self: &'_ Self, fmt: &'_ mut ::core::fmt::Formatter<'_>)
      -> ::core::fmt::Result
    {
        //      You can specify the
        //      special lifetime instead of applying `[with]`
        //      vvvv
        let s: &'ref str = self.0.to_str();
        fmt.write_str(s)
    }
}
// (Using a newtype to avoid coherence issues)
struct __<T : ToStr>(T);

See examples/main.rs for more detailed examples within a runnable file.

Usage and the "Special lifetime".

Something important to understand w.r.t. how #[with] operates, is that sometimes it must perform transformations (such as changing a foo() call into a with_foo(...) call), and sometimes it must not; it depends on the semantics the programmer wants to write (that is, not all function calls rely on CPS!).

Since a procedural macro only operates on syntax, it cannot understand such semantics (e.g., it is not possible for a proc-macro to replace foo() with with_foo() if, and only if, foo does not exist).

Because of that, the macro expects some syntactic marker / hints that tell it when (and where!) to work:

  1. Obviously, the attribute itself needs to have been applied (on the enscoping function):

    #[with('special)]
    fn ...
    
    • Note: if no override is provided, #[with] defaults to #[with('ref)].
  2. Then, the macro will inspect to see if there is a "special lifetime" within the return type of the function.

    //        +-------------+
    //        |             |
    //     --------         V
    #[with('special)] // vvvvvvvv
    fn foo (...)   -> ...'special...
    

    That will trigger the transformation of fn foo into fn with_foo, with all the taking-a-callback-parameter shenanigans.

    Otherwise, it doesn't change the prototype of the function.

  3. Finally, the macro will also inspect the function body, to perform the call-site transformations (e.g., let x = foo(...) into with_foo(..., |x| { ... })).

    These transformations are only applied:

    • On the #[with]-annotated statements: [with] let ...;

    • Or, on the statements carrying a type annotation that mentions the "special lifetime":

      let x: ... 'special ... = foo(...);
      

Remarks

  • By default, the "special lifetime" is 'ref. Indeed, since ref is a Rust keyword, it is not a legal lifetime name, so it is impossible for it to conflict with some real lifetime parameter equally named.

  • But #[with] allows you to rename that lifetime to one of your liking, by providing it as the first parameter of the attribute (the one applied to the function, of course):

    use ::core::fmt::Display;
    use ::with_locals::with;
    
    #[with('local)]
    fn hello (name: &'_ str) -> &'local dyn Display
    {
        &format_args!("Hello {}!", name)
    }
    

Advanced usage

If you are well acquainted with all this CPS / callback style, and would just like to have some sugar when defining callback-based functions, but do not want the attribute to mess up with the code inside the function body (i.e., if you want to opt-out of the magic continuation calls at return sites & co.),

  • for instance, because you are interacting with other macros (since they lead to opaque code as far as #[with] is concerned, making it unable to "fix" the code inside, which may lead to uncompilable code),

then, know that you can:

  • directly call the with_foo(...) functions with hand-written closures.

    This is kind of obvious given how the functions end up defined, and is definitely a possibility that should not be overlooked.

  • and/or you can add a continuation_name = some_identifier parameter to the #[with] attribute to disable the automatic return continuation(<expr>) transformations;

    • Note that #[with] will then provide a some_identifier! macro that can be used as a shorthand for return some_identifier(...).

      This can be especially neat if the identifier used is, for instance, return_: you can then write return_!( value ) where a classic function would have written return value, and it will correctly expand to return return_(value) (return the value returned by the continuation).

Example

use ::core::fmt::Display;
use ::with_locals::with;

#[with(continuation_name = return_)]
fn display_addr (addr: usize) -> &'ref dyn Display
{
    if addr == 0 {
        return_!( &"NULL" );
    }
    with_hex(addr, |hex| {
        return_(&format_args!("0x{}", hex))
    })
}
// where
#[with]
fn hex (n: usize) -> &'ref dyn Display
{
    &format_args!("{:x}", n)
}

Powerful unsugaring

Since some statements are wrapped inside closures, that basic transformation alone would make control flow statements such as return, ?, continue and break to stop working when located in the scope of a #[with] let ... statement (after it).

use ::core::fmt::Display;
use ::with_locals::with;

#[with]
fn hex (n: u32) -> &'ref dyn Display
{
    &format_args!("{:#x}", n)
}

fn main ()
{
    for n in 0 .. { // <- `break` cannot refer to this:
        with_hex(n, |s| { // === closure boundary ===
            println!("{}", s);     // ^ Error!
            if n >= 5 {            // |
                break; // ------------+
            }
        })
    }
}

And yet, when using the #[with] let sugar the above pattern seems to work:

use ::core::fmt::Display;
use ::with_locals::with;

#[with]
fn hex (n: u32) -> &'ref dyn Display
{
    &format_args!("{:#x}", n)
}

#[with]
fn main ()
{
    for n in 0 .. {
        #[with]
        let s = hex(n);
        println!("{}", s);
        if n >= 5 {
            break;
        }
    };
}
  • Click here to see how this is done

    This is achieved by bundling the expected control flow information within the return value of the provided closure:

    for n in 0 .. {
        enum ControlFlow<T> {
            /// The statements evaluated to a value of type `T`.
            Eval(T),
    
            /// The statements "called" `break`.
            Break,
        }
    
        match with_hex(n, |s| ControlFlow::Eval({
            println!("{}", s);
            if n >= 5 {
                return ControlFlow::Break;
            }
        }))
        {
            ControlFlow::Eval(it) => it,
            ControlFlow::Break => break,
        }
    }
    

Debugging / Macro expansion

If, for some reason, you are interested in seeing what's the actual code generated / emitted by a #[with] attribute invocation, then all you have to do is to enable the expand-macros Cargo feature:

[dependencies]
# ...
with_locals = { version = "...", features = ["expand-macros"] }

This will display the emitted code with a style very similar to cargo-expand, but with two added benefits:

  • It does not expand all the macros, just the #[with] one. So, if within the body of a function there is something like a println! call, the actual internal formatting logic / machinery will remain hidden and not clobber the code.

  • Once the Cargo feature is enabled, a special env var can be used to filter the desired expansions:

    WITH_LOCALS_DEBUG_FILTER=pattern cargo check
    
    • This will then only display the expansions for functions whose name contains the given pattern. Note that this does not involve the fully qualified name (with the outer modules), it's the bare name only.
  • That being said, this only works when the procedural macro is evaluated, and rustc will try to cache the result of such invocations. If that's the case, all you have to do is perform some dummy change within the involved file, and save.

Dependencies

~0.4–0.9MB
~21K SLoC