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1\chapter{Exception Features}
4This chapter covers the design and user interface of the \CFA EHM
5and begins with a general overview of EHMs. It is not a strict
6definition of all EHMs nor an exhaustive list of all possible features.
7However, it does cover the most common structure and features found in them.
9\section{Overview of EHMs}
10% We should cover what is an exception handling mechanism and what is an
11% exception before this. Probably in the introduction. Some of this could
12% move there.
13\subsection{Raise / Handle}
14An exception operation has two main parts: raise and handle.
15These terms are sometimes known as throw and catch but this work uses
16throw/catch as a particular kind of raise/handle.
17These are the two parts that the user writes and may
18be the only two pieces of the EHM that have any syntax in a language.
21The raise is the starting point for exception handling,
22by raising an exception, which passes it to
23the EHM.
25Some well known examples include the @throw@ statements of \Cpp and Java and
26the \code{Python}{raise} statement of Python. In real systems, a raise may
27perform some other work (such as memory management) but for the
28purposes of this overview that can be ignored.
31The primary purpose of an EHM is to run some user code to handle a raised
32exception. This code is given, along with some other information,
33in a handler.
35A handler has three common features: the previously mentioned user code, a
36region of code it guards and an exception label/condition that matches
37against the raised exception.
38Only raises inside the guarded region and raising exceptions that match the
39label can be handled by a given handler.
40If multiple handlers could can handle an exception,
41EHMs define a rule to pick one, such as ``best match" or ``first found".
43The @try@ statements of \Cpp, Java and Python are common examples. All three
44also show another common feature of handlers: they are grouped by the guarded
48After an exception is raised comes what is usually the biggest step for the
49EHM: finding and setting up the handler for execution.
50The propagation from raise to
51handler can be broken up into three different tasks: searching for a handler,
52matching against the handler and installing the handler.
55The EHM begins by searching for handlers that might be used to handle
56the exception.
57The search will find handlers that have the raise site in their guarded
59The search includes handlers in the current function, as well as any in
60callers on the stack that have the function call in their guarded region.
63Each handler found is with the raised exception. The exception
64label defines a condition that is used with the exception and decides if
65there is a match or not.
67In languages where the first match is used, this step is intertwined with
68searching; a match check is performed immediately after the search finds
69a handler.
72After a handler is chosen, it must be made ready to run.
73The implementation can vary widely to fit with the rest of the
74design of the EHM. The installation step might be trivial or it could be
75the most expensive step in handling an exception. The latter tends to be the
76case when stack unwinding is involved.
78If a matching handler is not guaranteed to be found, the EHM needs a
79different course of action for this case.
80This situation only occurs with unchecked exceptions as checked exceptions
81(such as in Java) can make the guarantee.
82The unhandled action is usually very general, such as aborting the program.
85A common way to organize exceptions is in a hierarchical structure.
86This pattern comes from object-orientated languages where the
87exception hierarchy is a natural extension of the object hierarchy.
89Consider the following exception hierarchy:
93A handler labeled with any given exception can handle exceptions of that
94type or any child type of that exception. The root of the exception hierarchy
95(here \code{C}{exception}) acts as a catch-all, leaf types catch single types
96and the exceptions in the middle can be used to catch different groups of
97related exceptions.
99This system has some notable advantages, such as multiple levels of grouping,
100the ability for libraries to add new exception types and the isolation
101between different sub-hierarchies.
102This design is used in \CFA even though it is not a object-orientated
103language, so different tools are used to create the hierarchy.
105% Could I cite the rational for the Python IO exception rework?
108After the handler has finished, the entire exception operation has to complete
109and continue executing somewhere else. This step is usually simple,
110both logically and in its implementation, as the installation of the handler
111is usually set up to do most of the work.
113The EHM can return control to many different places, where
114the most common are after the handler definition (termination)
115and after the raise (resumption).
118For effective exception handling, additional information is often passed
119from the raise to the handler and back again.
120So far, only communication of the exception's identity is covered.
121A common communication method for adding information to an exception
122is putting fields into the exception instance
123and giving the handler access to them.
124% You can either have pointers/references in the exception, or have p/rs to
125% the exception when it doesn't have to be copied.
126Passing references or pointers allows data at the raise location to be
127updated, passing information in both directions.
131A common feature in many programming languages is a tool to pair code
132(behaviour) with data.
133In \CFA this is done with the virtual system,
134which allow type information to be abstracted away, recovered and allow
135operations to be performed on the abstract objects.
137Virtual types and casts are not part of \CFA's EHM nor are they required for
138an EHM.
139However, one of the best ways to support an exception hierarchy
140is via a virtual hierarchy and dispatch system.
141Ideally, the virtual system would have been part of \CFA before the work
142on exception handling began, but unfortunately it was not.
143Hence, only the features and framework needed for the EHM were
144designed and implemented for this thesis.
145Other features were considered to ensure that
146the structure could accommodate other desirable features in the future
147but are not implemented.
148The rest of this section only discusses the implemented subset of the
149virtual system design.
151The virtual system supports multiple ``trees" of types. Each tree is
152a simple hierarchy with a single root type. Each type in a tree has exactly
153one parent -- except for the root type which has zero parents -- and any
154number of children.
155Any type that belongs to any of these trees is called a virtual type.
156% A type's ancestors are its parent and its parent's ancestors.
157% The root type has no ancestors.
158% A type's descendants are its children and its children's descendants.
160For the purposes of illustration, a proposed, but unimplemented, syntax
161will be used. Each virtual type is represented by a trait with an annotation
162that makes it a virtual type. This annotation is empty for a root type, which
163creates a new tree:
165trait root_type(T) virtual() {}
167The annotation may also refer to any existing virtual type to make this new
168type a child of that type and part of the same tree. The parent may itself
169be a child or a root type and may have any number of existing children.
171% OK, for some reason the b and t positioning options are reversed here.
174trait child_a(T) virtual(root_type) {}
175trait grandchild(T) virtual(child_a) {}
176trait child_b(T) virtual(root_type) {}
185Every virtual type also has a list of virtual members and a unique id.
186Both are stored in a virtual table.
187Every instance of a virtual type also has a pointer to a virtual table stored
188in it, although there is no per-type virtual table as in many other languages.
190The list of virtual members is accumulated from the root type down the tree.
191Every virtual type
192inherits the list of virtual members from its parent and may add more
193virtual members to the end of the list which are passed on to its children.
194Again, using the unimplemented syntax this might look like:
196trait root_type(T) virtual() {
197        const char * to_string(T const & this);
198        unsigned int size;
201trait child_type(T) virtual(root_type) {
202        char * irrelevant_function(int, char);
205% Consider adding a diagram, but we might be good with the explanation.
207As @child_type@ is a child of @root_type@, it has the virtual members of
208@root_type@ (@to_string@ and @size@) as well as the one it declared
211It is important to note that these are virtual members, and may contain   
212arbitrary fields, functions or otherwise.
213The names ``size" and ``align" are reserved for the size and alignment of the
214virtual type, and are always automatically initialized as such.
215The other special case is uses of the trait's polymorphic argument
216(@T@ in the example), which are always updated to refer to the current
217virtual type. This allows functions that refer to the polymorphic argument
218to act as traditional virtual methods (@to_string@ in the example), as the
219object can always be passed to a virtual method in its virtual table.
221Up until this point, the virtual system is similar to ones found in
222object-oriented languages, but this is where \CFA diverges.
223Objects encapsulate a single set of methods in each type,
224universally across the entire program,
225and indeed all programs that use that type definition.
226The only way to change any method is to inherit and define a new type with
227its own universal implementation. In this sense,
228these object-oriented types are ``closed" and cannot be altered.
229% Because really they are class oriented.
231In \CFA, types do not encapsulate any code.
232Whether or not a type satisfies any given assertion, and hence any trait, is
233context sensitive. Types can begin to satisfy a trait, stop satisfying it or
234satisfy the same trait at any lexical location in the program.
235In this sense, a type's implementation in the set of functions and variables
236that allow it to satisfy a trait is ``open" and can change
237throughout the program.
238This capability means it is impossible to pick a single set of functions
239that represent a type's implementation across a program.
241\CFA side-steps this issue by not having a single virtual table for each
242type. A user can define virtual tables that are filled in at their
243declaration and given a name. Anywhere that name is visible, even if it is
244defined locally inside a function (although in this case the user must ensure
245it outlives any objects that use it), it can be used.
246Specifically, a virtual type is ``bound" to a virtual table that
247sets the virtual members for that object. The virtual members can be accessed
248through the object.
250This means virtual tables are declared and named in \CFA.
251They are declared as variables, using the type
252@vtable(VIRTUAL_TYPE)@ and any valid name. For example:
254vtable(virtual_type_name) table_name;
257Like any variable, they may be forward declared with the @extern@ keyword.
258Forward declaring virtual tables is relatively common.
259Many virtual types have an ``obvious" implementation that works in most
261A pattern that has appeared in the early work using virtuals is to
262implement a virtual table with the the obvious definition and place a forward
263declaration of it in the header beside the definition of the virtual type.
265Even on the full declaration, no initializer should be used.
266Initialization is automatic.
267The type id and special virtual members ``size" and ``align" only depend on
268the virtual type, which is fixed given the type of the virtual table, and
269so the compiler fills in a fixed value.
270The other virtual members are resolved using the best match to the member's
271name and type, in the same context as the virtual table is declared using
272\CFA's normal resolution rules.
274While much of the virtual infrastructure has been created,
275it is currently only used
276internally for exception handling. The only user-level feature is the virtual
277cast, which is the same as the \Cpp \code{C++}{dynamic_cast}.
282Note, the syntax and semantics matches a C-cast, rather than the function-like
283\Cpp syntax for special casts. Both the type of @EXPRESSION@ and @TYPE@ must be
284pointers to virtual types.
285The cast dynamically checks if the @EXPRESSION@ type is the same or a sub-type
286of @TYPE@, and if true, returns a pointer to the
287@EXPRESSION@ object, otherwise it returns @0p@ (null pointer).
288This allows the expression to be used as both a cast and a type check.
292The syntax for declaring an exception is the same as declaring a structure
293except the keyword:
295exception TYPE_NAME {
296        FIELDS
300Fields are filled in the same way as a structure as well. However, an extra
301field is added that contains the pointer to the virtual table.
302It must be explicitly initialized by the user when the exception is
305Here is an example of declaring an exception type along with a virtual table,
306assuming the exception has an ``obvious" implementation and a default
307virtual table makes sense.
310Header (.hfa):
312exception Example {
313        int data;
316extern vtable(Example)
317        example_base_vtable;
321Implementation (.cfa):
323vtable(Example) example_base_vtable
328%\subsection{Exception Details}
329This is the only interface needed when raising and handling exceptions.
330However, it is actually a shorthand for a more complex
331trait-based interface.
333The language views exceptions through a series of traits.
334If a type satisfies them, then it can be used as an exception. The following
335is the base trait all exceptions need to match.
337trait is_exception(exceptT &, virtualT &) {
338        // Numerous imaginary assertions.
341The trait is defined over two types: the exception type and the virtual table
342type. Each exception type should have a single virtual table type.
343There are no actual assertions in this trait because the trait system
344cannot express them yet (adding such assertions would be part of
345completing the virtual system). The imaginary assertions would probably come
346from a trait defined by the virtual system, and state that the exception type
347is a virtual type,
348that that the type is a descendant of @exception_t@ (the base exception type)
349and allow the user to find the virtual table type.
351% I did have a note about how it is the programmer's responsibility to make
352% sure the function is implemented correctly. But this is true of every
353% similar system I know of (except Agda's I guess) so I took it out.
355There are two more traits for exceptions defined as follows:
357trait is_termination_exception(
358                exceptT &, virtualT & | is_exception(exceptT, virtualT)) {
359        void defaultTerminationHandler(exceptT &);
362trait is_resumption_exception(
363                exceptT &, virtualT & | is_exception(exceptT, virtualT)) {
364        void defaultResumptionHandler(exceptT &);
367Both traits ensure a pair of types is an exception type and
368its virtual table type,
369and defines one of the two default handlers. The default handlers are used
370as fallbacks and are discussed in detail in \autoref{s:ExceptionHandling}.
372However, all three of these traits can be tricky to use directly.
373While there is a bit of repetition required,
374the largest issue is that the virtual table type is mangled and not in a user
375facing way. So, these three macros are provided to wrap these traits to
376simplify referring to the names:
379All three take one or two arguments. The first argument is the name of the
380exception type. The macro passes its unmangled and mangled form to the trait.
381The second (optional) argument is a parenthesized list of polymorphic
382arguments. This argument is only used with polymorphic exceptions and the
383list is passed to both types.
384In the current set-up, the two types always have the same polymorphic
385arguments, so these macros can be used without losing flexibility.
387For example, consider a function that is polymorphic over types that have a
388defined arithmetic exception:
390forall(Num | IS_EXCEPTION(Arithmetic, (Num)))
391void some_math_function(Num & left, Num & right);
394\section{Exception Handling}
396As stated,
397\CFA provides two kinds of exception handling: termination and resumption.
398These twin operations are the core of \CFA's exception handling mechanism.
399This section covers the general patterns shared by the two operations and
400then goes on to cover the details of each individual operation.
402Both operations follow the same set of steps.
403First, a user raises an exception.
404Second, the exception propagates up the stack, searching for a handler.
405Third, if a handler is found, the exception is caught and the handler is run.
406After that control continues at a raise-dependent location.
407As an alternate to the third step,
408if a handler is not found, a default handler is run and, if it returns,
409then control
410continues after the raise.
412The differences between the two operations include how propagation is
413performed, where execution continues after an exception is handled
414and which default handler is run.
418Termination handling is the familiar kind of handling
419used in most programming
420languages with exception handling.
421It is a dynamic, non-local goto. If the raised exception is matched and
422handled, the stack is unwound and control (usually) continues in the function
423on the call stack that defined the handler.
424Termination is commonly used when an error has occurred and recovery is
425impossible locally.
427% (usually) Control can continue in the current function but then a different
428% control flow construct should be used.
430A termination raise is started with the @throw@ statement:
432throw EXPRESSION;
434The expression must return a reference to a termination exception, where the
435termination exception is any type that satisfies the trait
436@is_termination_exception@ at the call site.
437Through \CFA's trait system, the trait functions are implicitly passed into the
438throw code for use by the EHM.
439A new @defaultTerminationHandler@ can be defined in any scope to
440change the throw's behaviour when a handler is not found (see below).
442The throw copies the provided exception into managed memory to ensure
443the exception is not destroyed if the stack is unwound.
444It is the user's responsibility to ensure the original exception is cleaned
445up whether the stack is unwound or not. Allocating it on the stack is
446usually sufficient.
448% How to say propagation starts, its first sub-step is the search.
449Then propagation starts with the search. \CFA uses a ``first match" rule so
450matching is performed with the copied exception as the search key.
451It starts from the raise site and proceeds towards base of the stack,
452from callee to caller.
453At each stack frame, a check is made for termination handlers defined by the
454@catch@ clauses of a @try@ statement.
456try {
457        GUARDED_BLOCK
458} catch (EXCEPTION_TYPE$\(_1\)$ * [NAME$\(_1\)$]) {
459        HANDLER_BLOCK$\(_1\)$
460} catch (EXCEPTION_TYPE$\(_2\)$ * [NAME$\(_2\)$]) {
461        HANDLER_BLOCK$\(_2\)$
464When viewed on its own, a try statement simply executes the statements
465in the \snake{GUARDED_BLOCK} and when those are finished,
466the try statement finishes.
468However, while the guarded statements are being executed, including any
469invoked functions, all the handlers in these statements are included in the
470search path.
471Hence, if a termination exception is raised, these handlers may be matched
472against the exception and may handle it.
474Exception matching checks the handler in each catch clause in the order
475they appear, top to bottom. If the representation of the raised exception type
476is the same or a descendant of @EXCEPTION_TYPE@$_i$, then @NAME@$_i$
477(if provided) is
478bound to a pointer to the exception and the statements in @HANDLER_BLOCK@$_i$
479are executed. If control reaches the end of the handler, the exception is
480freed and control continues after the try statement.
482If no termination handler is found during the search, then the default handler
483(\defaultTerminationHandler) visible at the raise statement is called.
484Through \CFA's trait system the best match at the raise statement is used.
485This function is run and is passed the copied exception.
486If the default handler finishes, control continues after the raise statement.
488There is a global @defaultTerminationHandler@ that is polymorphic over all
489termination exception types.
490The global default termination handler performs a cancellation
491(as described in \vref{s:Cancellation})
492on the current stack with the copied exception.
493Since it is so general, a more specific handler can be defined,
494overriding the default behaviour for the specific exception types.
496For example, consider an error reading a configuration file.
497This is most likely a problem with the configuration file @config_error@,
498but the function could have been passed the wrong file name @arg_error@.
499In this case the function could raise one exception and then, if it is
500unhandled, raise the other.
501This is not usual behaviour for either exception so changing the
502default handler will be done locally:
505        void defaultTerminationHandler(config_error &) {
506                throw (arg_error){arg_vt};
507        }
508        throw (config_error){config_vt};
515Resumption exception handling is less familar form of exception handling,
516but is
517just as old~\cite{Goodenough75} and is simpler in many ways.
518It is a dynamic, non-local function call. If the raised exception is
519matched, a closure is taken from up the stack and executed,
520after which the raising function continues executing.
521The common uses for resumption exceptions include
522potentially repairable errors, where execution can continue in the same
523function once the error is corrected, and
524ignorable events, such as logging where nothing needs to happen and control
525should always continue from the raise site.
527Except for the changes to fit into that pattern, resumption exception
528handling is symmetric with termination exception handling, by design
529(see \autoref{s:Termination}).
531A resumption raise is started with the @throwResume@ statement:
533throwResume EXPRESSION;
535% The new keywords are currently ``experimental" and not used in this work.
536It works much the same way as the termination raise, except the
537type must satisfy the \snake{is_resumption_exception} that uses the
538default handler: \defaultResumptionHandler.
539This can be specialized for particular exception types.
541At run-time, no exception copy is made. Since
542resumption does not unwind the stack nor otherwise remove values from the
543current scope, there is no need to manage memory to keep the exception
546Then propagation starts with the search,
547following the same search path as termination,
548from the raise site to the base of stack and top of try statement to bottom.
549However, the handlers on try statements are defined by @catchResume@ clauses.
551try {
552        GUARDED_BLOCK
553} catchResume (EXCEPTION_TYPE$\(_1\)$ * [NAME$\(_1\)$]) {
554        HANDLER_BLOCK$\(_1\)$
555} catchResume (EXCEPTION_TYPE$\(_2\)$ * [NAME$\(_2\)$]) {
556        HANDLER_BLOCK$\(_2\)$
559Note that termination handlers and resumption handlers may be used together
560in a single try statement, intermixing @catch@ and @catchResume@ freely.
561Each type of handler only interacts with exceptions from the matching
562kind of raise.
563Like @catch@ clauses, @catchResume@ clauses have no effect if an exception
564is not raised.
566The matching rules are exactly the same as well.
567The first major difference here is that after
568@EXCEPTION_TYPE@$_i$ is matched and @NAME@$_i$ is bound to the exception,
569@HANDLER_BLOCK@$_i$ is executed right away without first unwinding the stack.
570After the block has finished running, control jumps to the raise site, where
571the just handled exception came from, and continues executing after it,
572not after the try statement.
574For instance, a resumption used to send messages to the logger may not
575need to be handled at all. Putting the following default handler
576at the global scope can make handling the exception optional by default.
578void defaultResumptionHandler(log_message &) {
579    // Nothing, it is fine not to handle logging.
581// ... No change at raise sites. ...
582throwResume (log_message){strlit_log, "Begin event processing."}
585\subsubsection{Resumption Marking}
587A key difference between resumption and termination is that resumption does
588not unwind the stack. A side effect is that, when a handler is matched
589and run, its try block (the guarded statements) and every try statement
590searched before it are still on the stack. Their presence can lead to
591the recursive resumption problem.\cite{Buhr00a}
592% Other possible citation is MacLaren77, but the form is different.
594The recursive resumption problem is any situation where a resumption handler
595ends up being called while it is running.
596Consider a trivial case:
598try {
599        throwResume (E &){};
600} catchResume(E *) {
601        throwResume (E &){};
604When this code is executed, the guarded @throwResume@ starts a
605search and matches the handler in the @catchResume@ clause. This
606call is placed on the stack above the try-block.
607Now the second raise in the handler searches the same try block,
608matches again and then puts another instance of the
609same handler on the stack leading to infinite recursion.
611While this situation is trivial and easy to avoid, much more complex cycles
612can form with multiple handlers and different exception types.
613To prevent all of these cases, each try statement is ``marked" from the
614time the exception search reaches it to either when a handler completes
615handling that exception or when the search reaches the base
616of the stack.
617While a try statement is marked, its handlers are never matched, effectively
618skipping over it to the next try statement.
624There are other sets of marking rules that could be used.
625For instance, marking just the handlers that caught the exception
626would also prevent recursive resumption.
627However, the rules selected mirror what happens with termination,
628so this reduces the amount of rules and patterns a programmer has to know.
630The marked try statements are the ones that would be removed from
631the stack for a termination exception, \ie those on the stack
632between the handler and the raise statement.
633This symmetry applies to the default handler as well, as both kinds of
634default handlers are run at the raise statement, rather than (physically
635or logically) at the bottom of the stack.
636% In early development having the default handler happen after
637% unmarking was just more useful. We assume that will continue.
639\section{Conditional Catch}
640Both termination and resumption handler clauses can be given an additional
641condition to further control which exceptions they handle:
645First, the same semantics is used to match the exception type. Second, if the
646exception matches, @CONDITION@ is executed. The condition expression may
647reference all names in scope at the beginning of the try block and @NAME@
648introduced in the handler clause. If the condition is true, then the handler
649matches. Otherwise, the exception search continues as if the exception type
650did not match.
652The condition matching allows finer matching by checking
653more kinds of information than just the exception type.
655try {
656        handle1 = open( f1, ... );
657        handle2 = open( f2, ... );
658        handle3 = open( f3, ... );
659        ...
660} catch( IOFailure * f ; fd( f ) == f1 ) {
661        // Only handle IO failure for f1.
662} catch( IOFailure * f ; fd( f ) == f3 ) {
663        // Only handle IO failure for f3.
665// Handle a failure relating to f2 further down the stack.
667In this example, the file that experienced the IO error is used to decide
668which handler should be run, if any at all.
671% I know I actually haven't got rid of them yet, but I'm going to try
672% to write it as if I had and see if that makes sense:
675Within the handler block or functions called from the handler block, it is
676possible to reraise the most recently caught exception with @throw@ or
677@throwResume@, respectively.
679try {
680        ...
681} catch( ... ) {
682        ... throw;
683} catchResume( ... ) {
684        ... throwResume;
687The only difference between a raise and a reraise is that reraise does not
688create a new exception; instead it continues using the current exception, \ie
689no allocation and copy. However the default handler is still set to the one
690visible at the raise point, and hence, for termination could refer to data that
691is part of an unwound stack frame. To prevent this problem, a new default
692handler is generated that does a program-level abort.
695\subsection{Comparison with Reraising}
696In languages without conditional catch -- that is, no ability to match an
697exception based on something other than its type -- it can be mimicked
698by matching all exceptions of the right type, checking any additional
699conditions inside the handler and re-raising the exception if it does not
700match those.
702Here is a minimal example comparing both patterns, using @throw;@
703(no operand) to start a re-raise.
705\begin{tabular}{l r}
707try {
708    do_work_may_throw();
709} catch(exception_t * exc ;
710                can_handle(exc)) {
711    handle(exc);
719try {
720    do_work_may_throw();
721} catch(exception_t * exc) {
722    if (can_handle(exc)) {
723        handle(exc);
724    } else {
725        throw;
726    }
731At first glance, catch-and-reraise may appear to just be a quality-of-life
732feature, but there are some significant differences between the two
735A simple difference that is more important for \CFA than many other languages
736is that the raise site changes with a re-raise, but does not with a
737conditional catch.
738This is important in \CFA because control returns to the raise site to run
739the per-site default handler. Because of this, only a conditional catch can
740allow the original raise to continue.
742The more complex issue comes from the difference in how conditional
743catches and re-raises handle multiple handlers attached to a single try
744statement. A conditional catch will continue checking later handlers while
745a re-raise will skip them.
746If the different handlers could handle some of the same exceptions,
747translating a try statement that uses one to use the other can quickly
748become non-trivial:
751Original, with conditional catch:
754} catch (an_exception * e ; check_a(e)) {
755        handle_a(e);
756} catch (exception_t * e ; check_b(e)) {
757        handle_b(e);
760Translated, with re-raise:
763} catch (exception_t * e) {
764        an_exception * an_e = (virtual an_exception *)e;
765        if (an_e && check_a(an_e)) {
766                handle_a(an_e);
767        } else if (check_b(e)) {
768                handle_b(e);
769        } else {
770                throw;
771        }
774(There is a simpler solution if @handle_a@ never raises exceptions,
775using nested try statements.)
777% } catch (an_exception * e ; check_a(e)) {
778%     handle_a(e);
779% } catch (exception_t * e ; !(virtual an_exception *)e && check_b(e)) {
780%     handle_b(e);
781% }
783% } catch (an_exception * e)
784%   if (check_a(e)) {
785%     handle_a(e);
786%   } else throw;
787% } catch (exception_t * e)
788%   if (check_b(e)) {
789%     handle_b(e);
790%   } else throw;
791% }
792In similar simple examples, translating from re-raise to conditional catch
793takes less code but it does not have a general, trivial solution either.
795So, given that the two patterns do not trivially translate into each other,
796it becomes a matter of which on should be encouraged and made the default.
797From the premise that if a handler could handle an exception then it
798should, it follows that checking as many handlers as possible is preferred.
799So, conditional catch and checking later handlers is a good default.
801\section{Finally Clauses}
803Finally clauses are used to perform unconditional cleanup when leaving a
804scope and are placed at the end of a try statement after any handler clauses:
806try {
807        GUARDED_BLOCK
808} ... // any number or kind of handler clauses
809... finally {
810        FINALLY_BLOCK
813The @FINALLY_BLOCK@ is executed when the try statement is removed from the
814stack, including when the @GUARDED_BLOCK@ finishes, any termination handler
815finishes or during an unwind.
816The only time the block is not executed is if the program is exited before
817the stack is unwound.
819Execution of the finally block should always finish, meaning control runs off
820the end of the block. This requirement ensures control always continues as if
821the finally clause is not present, \ie finally is for cleanup, not changing
822control flow.
823Because of this requirement, local control flow out of the finally block
824is forbidden. The compiler precludes any @break@, @continue@, @fallthru@ or
825@return@ that causes control to leave the finally block. Other ways to leave
826the finally block, such as a @longjmp@ or termination are much harder to check,
827and at best require additional run-time overhead, and so are only
830Not all languages with unwinding have finally clauses. Notably, \Cpp does
831without it as destructors, and the RAII design pattern, serve a similar role.
832Although destructors and finally clauses can be used for the same cases,
833they have their own strengths, similar to top-level function and lambda
834functions with closures.
835Destructors take more work to create, but if there is clean-up code
836that needs to be run every time a type is used, they are much easier
837to set up for each use. % It's automatic.
838On the other hand, finally clauses capture the local context, so are easy to
839use when the cleanup is not dependent on the type of a variable or requires
840information from multiple variables.
844Cancellation is a stack-level abort, which can be thought of as as an
845uncatchable termination. It unwinds the entire current stack, and if
846possible, forwards the cancellation exception to a different stack.
848Cancellation is not an exception operation like termination or resumption.
849There is no special statement for starting a cancellation; instead the standard
850library function @cancel_stack@ is called, passing an exception. Unlike a
851raise, this exception is not used in matching, only to pass information about
852the cause of the cancellation.
853Finally, as no handler is provided, there is no default handler.
855After @cancel_stack@ is called, the exception is copied into the EHM's memory
856and the current stack is unwound.
857The behaviour after that depends on the kind of stack being cancelled.
859\paragraph{Main Stack}
860The main stack is the one used by
861the program's main function at the start of execution,
862and is the only stack in a sequential program.
863After the main stack is unwound, there is a program-level abort.
865The first reason for this behaviour is for sequential programs where there
866is only one stack, and hence no stack to pass information to.
867Second, even in concurrent programs, the main stack has no dependency
868on another stack and no reliable way to find another living stack.
869Finally, keeping the same behaviour in both sequential and concurrent
870programs is simple and easy to understand.
872\paragraph{Thread Stack}
873A thread stack is created for a \CFA @thread@ object or object that satisfies
874the @is_thread@ trait.
875After a thread stack is unwound, the exception is stored until another
876thread attempts to join with it. Then the exception @ThreadCancelled@,
877which stores a reference to the thread and to the exception passed to the
878cancellation, is reported from the join to the joining thread.
879There is one difference between an explicit join (with the @join@ function)
880and an implicit join (from a destructor call). The explicit join takes the
881default handler (@defaultResumptionHandler@) from its calling context while
882the implicit join provides its own, which does a program abort if the
883@ThreadCancelled@ exception cannot be handled.
885The communication and synchronization are done here because threads only have
886two structural points (not dependent on user-code) where
887communication/synchronization happens: start and join.
888Since a thread must be running to perform a cancellation (and cannot be
889cancelled from another stack), the cancellation must be after start and
890before the join, so join is used.
892% TODO: Find somewhere to discuss unwind collisions.
893The difference between the explicit and implicit join is for safety and
894debugging. It helps prevent unwinding collisions by avoiding throwing from
895a destructor and prevents cascading the error across multiple threads if
896the user is not equipped to deal with it.
897It is always possible to add an explicit join if that is the desired behaviour.
899With explicit join and a default handler that triggers a cancellation, it is
900possible to cascade an error across any number of threads,
901alternating between the resumption (possibly termination) and cancellation,
902cleaning up each
903in turn, until the error is handled or the main thread is reached.
905\paragraph{Coroutine Stack}
906A coroutine stack is created for a @coroutine@ object or object that
907satisfies the @is_coroutine@ trait.
908After a coroutine stack is unwound, control returns to the @resume@ function
909that most recently resumed it. @resume@ reports a
910@CoroutineCancelled@ exception, which contains a references to the cancelled
911coroutine and the exception used to cancel it.
912The @resume@ function also takes the \defaultResumptionHandler{} from the
913caller's context and passes it to the internal report.
915A coroutine only knows of two other coroutines,
916its starter and its last resumer.
917The starter has a much more distant connection, while the last resumer just
918(in terms of coroutine state) called resume on this coroutine, so the message
919is passed to the latter.
921With a default handler that triggers a cancellation, it is possible to
922cascade an error across any number of coroutines,
923alternating between the resumption (possibly termination) and cancellation,
924cleaning up each in turn,
925until the error is handled or a thread stack is reached.
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