lclint-interest message 33

Date: Wed, 14 Jun 95 14:01:10 -0400
From: evs (David Evans)
To: evs
In-Reply-To: Jon Freeman's message of Wed, 14 Jun 1995 13:16:27 -0400 <>
Subject: Introduction

> 1.  We have a routine for logging error messages that has exactly the
> same arguments as printf and fprintf.  On two occasions, we've gotten
> burned by calling this routine with the wrong number of arguments
> vis-a-vis the format string.  This was my primary motivation for looking
> around for a better version of lint.  If it's at all possible to get
> lclint to check these arguments as it does with printf, I would be
> extremely grateful.

Unfortunately, there is no way of doing this currently.  I ran into 
similar problems in checking the lclint source code and ended up
hard-coding the checks for one particular routine with variable
arguments.  (Of course, this isn't a satisfying general solution!)

If the argument format is exactly like printf, then you could perhaps
"trick" lclint into checking them like this by using a preprocessor
define on the command line.  For example, if your format routine is
called "format", you could add "-Dformat=printf" to the lclint command
line to get printf argument checking.  

If anyone knows of common enough general idioms for handling multiple
arguments that would be using in lclint, I'd be interested in hearing
about them.

> 2.  lclint is giving me false used-before-set warnings in the following
> way:  A lot of our routines have a local uninitialized char buffer that
> gets filled by passing it to a second, lower-level routine.  What's the
> best way to indicate to lclint that these buffers ARE getting initialized
> by the lower-level routines?

If I understand you correctly, what you need to do is specify that the
parameter to the second routine is an "out" parameter.  

Here's a small example:

char f()
  char **s;

  init_buf(s); /* use before definition? */
  return **s;

If init_buf is specified,

   void init_buf (char **buf);	

there is a use before definition error.  But, if it is specified,

   void init_buf (out char **buf);	

the parameter is not necessarily defined before the call and there is no
use before definition error.  (There would be, however, if buf is used
in the body of init_buf before it is defined.)

(For now, you need to write specifications to indicate out parameters.
In the next release you would be able to just put syntactic comments in
the code.)

> 3.  I've already gotten lclint to die painfully on a couple of occasions.
> I'll send transcripts later when it's convenient.  My question:  Have any
> of the lclint developers tried using a tool like Purify to catch memory-
> corruption problems?  It works like a charm for us, and it could greatly
> improve lclint's robustness.

Okay, thanks for the transcripts.  [Haven't looked at them yet, but I'll
get back to you when I do.]

We haven't tried using Purify on lclint, but do use the debugging
provided by the garbage collector.  I am currently working on adding
annotations and checks relating to dynamic memory usage to LCLint (and
finding lots of real errors in the process) so many of these errors can
be detected statically instead.  After this is done, it would be a good
idea to try something like Purify too, so see what errors the static
checking doesn't detect.

--- Dave
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University of Virginia, Computer Science