ForeignPtr naming

Simon Marlow simonmar at
Thu Mar 20 07:31:01 EST 2003

> > This is all fine, except that implementing finalizer ordering slows
> > down ForeignPtrs quite a bit, in particular mallocForeignPtr takes a
> > 20% hit just allocating the IORef needed to store the list of
> > finalizers.  Ideas for a better implementation are welcome.
> Having obviously optimized the hell out of mallocForeignPtr, it sounds
> like it's time to optimize the hell out of IORef. :-)
> Or, on the assumption that the slowdown comes from splitting what was
> a single object into 2 or even three separate objects, do what it
> takes to turn it back into a single object - i.e., put a mutable
> field directly in the MFP object.
> Best of all, do as CAML has done and add the machinery (and semantics
> changes) necessary so that whenever you have a tuple with a mutable
> field in it, GHC will implement it without adding an indirection
> through a separate IORef object.  Highly worthwhile and might possibly
> help with your MFP problem :-)

I already optimised away one level of indirection by using a strict
field and -funbox-strict-fields (standard practice when putting an IORef
in a constructor :-), but there is still a separate object for the
primitive mutable variable.  Folding this into the constructor is an
interesting idea - I'll muse on it.
> > Anyway, this message is really about what names we should use for
> > the old Haskell-finalizer versions of newForeignPtr and
> > addForeignPtrFinalizer (and as such it doesn't have any bearing on
> > the FFI spec 1.0).
> I'm rather taken by 'oldNewForeignPtr'.

That implies the functionality is deprecated, rather than just
non-portable, which is not the case at all.

> > I'm assuming that we want to keep these functions in some form in
> > GHC - where to put them is one issue; Foreign.ForeignPtr is a
> > possibility (but not ForeignPtr), or GHC.ForeignPtr.
> I'd put them in GHC.ForeignPtr and make no other change in their name.

One vote for GHC.ForeignPtr then.  Any others?

> Easy for people to transition, easy for people to see non-portable
> code, probably little risk of collision with the ffi-mandated FunPtr
> versions.

On the subject of non-portability: the hierarchy is scattered with
non-portable libraries, because the decision was taken a while back not
to use the hierarchy to indicate portability, but to use it to guide
programmers towards *functionality*.  There are exceptions - eg. for
extensions which are likely to remain compiler-specific.  I don't think
Haskell finalizers are necessarily GHC-specific, so putting them under
GHC doesn't seem right in the long term.


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