[openssl-project] Style guide updates

Kurt Roeckx kurt at roeckx.be
Sat Jan 27 12:03:04 UTC 2018

On Sat, Jan 27, 2018 at 12:26:38AM +0000, Matt Caswell wrote:
> On 26/01/18 20:27, Kurt Roeckx wrote:
> > On Fri, Jan 26, 2018 at 02:06:27PM +0000, Matt Caswell wrote:
> >> - Use size_t for sizes of things
> > 
> > How do you feel about ssize_t?
> When I did the size_t work in libssl one of things I was trying hard to
> eradicate was the constant casting of types from one thing to another.
> It was common to see things like one function use an int for a size, and
> then pass that to a function that uses a long for a size, but which then
> needs to call something that uses a size_t. I saw numerous instances of
> the same values being cast 4 or 5 times in a single chain of events
> (often going back and forwards between the same type).
> Such casts are dangerous and should be avoided as much as possible.
> Negative numbers can suddenly become large positives. Large positives
> can suddenly get truncated or go negative. Stuff that works safely on
> one platform is dangerous on another. You have to be really careful
> about bounds checking, and experience showed that we just weren't that
> good at it.
> By deciding on a single type for sizes we can avoid lots of casts. The
> same argument might apply for other types of things too - but sizes are
> an extremely common instance of this. size_t is here to stay (we are
> already committed to in our API, and many C library calls expect it). I
> think that, in general, introducing ssize_t into the mix is not helpful.
> It will inevitably lead to casts between size_t and ssize_t and back
> again - and all the problems that that entails.
> Obviously the argument for using ssize_t is its ability to hold negative
> numbers. Actually though it is quite rare for something to validly have
> a negative size. Often the reason for wanting a negative value is to be
> able to have some kind of error state (e.g. <0 means error, >=0 means
> its a real size). This is then trying to force two different types of
> meaning into a single thing and introduces even more problems. Suddenly
> an error code when cast to a size_t becomes a valid size and vice versa.
> I think we should generally be trying to avoid APIs (internal and
> external) that work like that. Instead we should try and separate the
> concepts, e.g. the return code of a function is a simple success/failure
> indicator; a returned size is passed back via a pointer argument.

It's just that there seem to be 2 camps, one saying that all types
should be signed except when it's to access the bits. The other
that a size can't be negative so you go for an unsigned type. If
it's a signed type you could check that they gave you a negative
value by accident and return an error.

One problem with the unsigned type is that in theory you could
store the double amount of data but in practice you probably can't
because you'll run into undefined behavior caused by the ptrdiff_t
which is signed.

Anyway, I'm fine with either.


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