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4 User Interface

gdb has several user interfaces, of which the traditional command-line interface is perhaps the most familiar.

4.1 Command Interpreter

The command interpreter in gdb is fairly simple. It is designed to allow for the set of commands to be augmented dynamically, and also has a recursive subcommand capability, where the first argument to a command may itself direct a lookup on a different command list.

For instance, the set command just starts a lookup on the setlist command list, while set thread recurses to the set_thread_cmd_list.

To add commands in general, use add_cmd. add_com adds to the main command list, and should be used for those commands. The usual place to add commands is in the _initialize_xyz routines at the ends of most source files.

To add paired set and show commands, use add_setshow_cmd or add_setshow_cmd_full. The former is a slightly simpler interface which is useful when you don't need to further modify the new command structures, while the latter returns the new command structures for manipulation.

Before removing commands from the command set it is a good idea to deprecate them for some time. Use deprecate_cmd on commands or aliases to set the deprecated flag. deprecate_cmd takes a struct cmd_list_element as it's first argument. You can use the return value from add_com or add_cmd to deprecate the command immediately after it is created.

The first time a command is used the user will be warned and offered a replacement (if one exists). Note that the replacement string passed to deprecate_cmd should be the full name of the command, i.e., the entire string the user should type at the command line.

4.2 UI-Independent Output—the ui_out Functions

The ui_out functions present an abstraction level for the gdb output code. They hide the specifics of different user interfaces supported by gdb, and thus free the programmer from the need to write several versions of the same code, one each for every UI, to produce output.

4.2.1 Overview and Terminology

In general, execution of each gdb command produces some sort of output, and can even generate an input request.

Output can be generated for the following purposes:

This section mainly concentrates on how to build result output, although some of it also applies to other kinds of output.

Generation of output that displays the results of an operation involves one or more of the following:

The ui_out routines take care of the first three aspects. Annotations are provided by separate annotation routines. Note that use of annotations for an interface between a GUI and gdb is deprecated.

Output can be in the form of a single item, which we call a field; a list consisting of identical fields; a tuple consisting of non-identical fields; or a table, which is a tuple consisting of a header and a body. In a BNF-like form:

<table> ==>
<header> <body>
<header> ==>
{ <column> }
<column> ==>
<width> <alignment> <title>
<body> ==>
{<row>}

4.2.2 General Conventions

Most ui_out routines are of type void, the exceptions are ui_out_stream_new (which returns a pointer to the newly created object) and the make_cleanup routines.

The first parameter is always the ui_out vector object, a pointer to a struct ui_out.

The format parameter is like in printf family of functions. When it is present, there must also be a variable list of arguments sufficient used to satisfy the % specifiers in the supplied format.

When a character string argument is not used in a ui_out function call, a NULL pointer has to be supplied instead.

4.2.3 Table, Tuple and List Functions

This section introduces ui_out routines for building lists, tuples and tables. The routines to output the actual data items (fields) are presented in the next section.

To recap: A tuple is a sequence of fields, each field containing information about an object; a list is a sequence of fields where each field describes an identical object.

Use the table functions when your output consists of a list of rows (tuples) and the console output should include a heading. Use this even when you are listing just one object but you still want the header.

Tables can not be nested. Tuples and lists can be nested up to a maximum of five levels.

The overall structure of the table output code is something like this:

       ui_out_table_begin
         ui_out_table_header
         ...
         ui_out_table_body
           ui_out_tuple_begin
             ui_out_field_*
             ...
           ui_out_tuple_end
           ...
       ui_out_table_end

Here is the description of table-, tuple- and list-related ui_out functions:

— Function: void ui_out_table_begin (struct ui_out *uiout, int nbrofcols, int nr_rows, const char *tblid)

The function ui_out_table_begin marks the beginning of the output of a table. It should always be called before any other ui_out function for a given table. nbrofcols is the number of columns in the table. nr_rows is the number of rows in the table. tblid is an optional string identifying the table. The string pointed to by tblid is copied by the implementation of ui_out_table_begin, so the application can free the string if it was malloced.

The companion function ui_out_table_end, described below, marks the end of the table's output.

— Function: void ui_out_table_header (struct ui_out *uiout, int width, enum ui_align alignment, const char *colhdr)

ui_out_table_header provides the header information for a single table column. You call this function several times, one each for every column of the table, after ui_out_table_begin, but before ui_out_table_body.

The value of width gives the column width in characters. The value of alignment is one of left, center, and right, and it specifies how to align the header: left-justify, center, or right-justify it. colhdr points to a string that specifies the column header; the implementation copies that string, so column header strings in malloced storage can be freed after the call.

— Function: void ui_out_table_body (struct ui_out *uiout)

This function delimits the table header from the table body.

— Function: void ui_out_table_end (struct ui_out *uiout)

This function signals the end of a table's output. It should be called after the table body has been produced by the list and field output functions.

There should be exactly one call to ui_out_table_end for each call to ui_out_table_begin, otherwise the ui_out functions will signal an internal error.

The output of the tuples that represent the table rows must follow the call to ui_out_table_body and precede the call to ui_out_table_end. You build a tuple by calling ui_out_tuple_begin and ui_out_tuple_end, with suitable calls to functions which actually output fields between them.

— Function: void ui_out_tuple_begin (struct ui_out *uiout, const char *id)

This function marks the beginning of a tuple output. id points to an optional string that identifies the tuple; it is copied by the implementation, and so strings in malloced storage can be freed after the call.

— Function: void ui_out_tuple_end (struct ui_out *uiout)

This function signals an end of a tuple output. There should be exactly one call to ui_out_tuple_end for each call to ui_out_tuple_begin, otherwise an internal gdb error will be signaled.

— Function: struct cleanup * make_cleanup_ui_out_tuple_begin_end (struct ui_out *uiout, const char *id)

This function first opens the tuple and then establishes a cleanup (see Cleanups) to close the tuple. It provides a convenient and correct implementation of the non-portable1 code sequence:

          struct cleanup *old_cleanup;
          ui_out_tuple_begin (uiout, "...");
          old_cleanup = make_cleanup ((void(*)(void *)) ui_out_tuple_end,
                                      uiout);
     
— Function: void ui_out_list_begin (struct ui_out *uiout, const char *id)

This function marks the beginning of a list output. id points to an optional string that identifies the list; it is copied by the implementation, and so strings in malloced storage can be freed after the call.

— Function: void ui_out_list_end (struct ui_out *uiout)

This function signals an end of a list output. There should be exactly one call to ui_out_list_end for each call to ui_out_list_begin, otherwise an internal gdb error will be signaled.

— Function: struct cleanup * make_cleanup_ui_out_list_begin_end (struct ui_out *uiout, const char *id)

Similar to make_cleanup_ui_out_tuple_begin_end, this function opens a list and then establishes cleanup (see Cleanups) that will close the list.

4.2.4 Item Output Functions

The functions described below produce output for the actual data items, or fields, which contain information about the object.

Choose the appropriate function accordingly to your particular needs.

— Function: void ui_out_field_fmt (struct ui_out *uiout, char *fldname, char *format, ...)

This is the most general output function. It produces the representation of the data in the variable-length argument list according to formatting specifications in format, a printf-like format string. The optional argument fldname supplies the name of the field. The data items themselves are supplied as additional arguments after format.

This generic function should be used only when it is not possible to use one of the specialized versions (see below).

— Function: void ui_out_field_int (struct ui_out *uiout, const char *fldname, int value)

This function outputs a value of an int variable. It uses the "%d" output conversion specification. fldname specifies the name of the field.

— Function: void ui_out_field_fmt_int (struct ui_out *uiout, int width, enum ui_align alignment, const char *fldname, int value)

This function outputs a value of an int variable. It differs from ui_out_field_int in that the caller specifies the desired width and alignment of the output. fldname specifies the name of the field.

— Function: void ui_out_field_core_addr (struct ui_out *uiout, const char *fldname, struct gdbarch *gdbarch, CORE_ADDR address)

This function outputs an address as appropriate for gdbarch.

— Function: void ui_out_field_string (struct ui_out *uiout, const char *fldname, const char *string)

This function outputs a string using the "%s" conversion specification.

Sometimes, there's a need to compose your output piece by piece using functions that operate on a stream, such as value_print or fprintf_symbol_filtered. These functions accept an argument of the type struct ui_file *, a pointer to a ui_file object used to store the data stream used for the output. When you use one of these functions, you need a way to pass their results stored in a ui_file object to the ui_out functions. To this end, you first create a ui_stream object by calling ui_out_stream_new, pass the stream member of that ui_stream object to value_print and similar functions, and finally call ui_out_field_stream to output the field you constructed. When the ui_stream object is no longer needed, you should destroy it and free its memory by calling ui_out_stream_delete.

— Function: struct ui_stream * ui_out_stream_new (struct ui_out *uiout)

This function creates a new ui_stream object which uses the same output methods as the ui_out object whose pointer is passed in uiout. It returns a pointer to the newly created ui_stream object.

— Function: void ui_out_stream_delete (struct ui_stream *streambuf)

This functions destroys a ui_stream object specified by streambuf.

— Function: void ui_out_field_stream (struct ui_out *uiout, const char *fieldname, struct ui_stream *streambuf)

This function consumes all the data accumulated in streambuf->stream and outputs it like ui_out_field_string does. After a call to ui_out_field_stream, the accumulated data no longer exists, but the stream is still valid and may be used for producing more fields.

Important: If there is any chance that your code could bail out before completing output generation and reaching the point where ui_out_stream_delete is called, it is necessary to set up a cleanup, to avoid leaking memory and other resources. Here's a skeleton code to do that:

      struct ui_stream *mybuf = ui_out_stream_new (uiout);
      struct cleanup *old = make_cleanup (ui_out_stream_delete, mybuf);
      ...
      do_cleanups (old);

If the function already has the old cleanup chain set (for other kinds of cleanups), you just have to add your cleanup to it:

       mybuf = ui_out_stream_new (uiout);
       make_cleanup (ui_out_stream_delete, mybuf);

Note that with cleanups in place, you should not call ui_out_stream_delete directly, or you would attempt to free the same buffer twice.

4.2.5 Utility Output Functions

— Function: void ui_out_field_skip (struct ui_out *uiout, const char *fldname)

This function skips a field in a table. Use it if you have to leave an empty field without disrupting the table alignment. The argument fldname specifies a name for the (missing) filed.

— Function: void ui_out_text (struct ui_out *uiout, const char *string)

This function outputs the text in string in a way that makes it easy to be read by humans. For example, the console implementation of this method filters the text through a built-in pager, to prevent it from scrolling off the visible portion of the screen.

Use this function for printing relatively long chunks of text around the actual field data: the text it produces is not aligned according to the table's format. Use ui_out_field_string to output a string field, and use ui_out_message, described below, to output short messages.

— Function: void ui_out_spaces (struct ui_out *uiout, int nspaces)

This function outputs nspaces spaces. It is handy to align the text produced by ui_out_text with the rest of the table or list.

— Function: void ui_out_message (struct ui_out *uiout, int verbosity, const char *format, ...)

This function produces a formatted message, provided that the current verbosity level is at least as large as given by verbosity. The current verbosity level is specified by the user with the set verbositylevel command.2

— Function: void ui_out_wrap_hint (struct ui_out *uiout, char *indent)

This function gives the console output filter (a paging filter) a hint of where to break lines which are too long. Ignored for all other output consumers. indent, if non-NULL, is the string to be printed to indent the wrapped text on the next line; it must remain accessible until the next call to ui_out_wrap_hint, or until an explicit newline is produced by one of the other functions. If indent is NULL, the wrapped text will not be indented.

— Function: void ui_out_flush (struct ui_out *uiout)

This function flushes whatever output has been accumulated so far, if the UI buffers output.

4.2.6 Examples of Use of ui_out functions

This section gives some practical examples of using the ui_out functions to generalize the old console-oriented code in gdb. The examples all come from functions defined on the breakpoints.c file.

This example, from the breakpoint_1 function, shows how to produce a table.

The original code was:

      if (!found_a_breakpoint++)
        {
          annotate_breakpoints_headers ();
     
          annotate_field (0);
          printf_filtered ("Num ");
          annotate_field (1);
          printf_filtered ("Type           ");
          annotate_field (2);
          printf_filtered ("Disp ");
          annotate_field (3);
          printf_filtered ("Enb ");
          if (addressprint)
            {
              annotate_field (4);
              printf_filtered ("Address    ");
            }
          annotate_field (5);
          printf_filtered ("What\n");
     
          annotate_breakpoints_table ();
        }

Here's the new version:

       nr_printable_breakpoints = ...;
     
       if (addressprint)
         ui_out_table_begin (ui, 6, nr_printable_breakpoints, "BreakpointTable");
       else
         ui_out_table_begin (ui, 5, nr_printable_breakpoints, "BreakpointTable");
     
       if (nr_printable_breakpoints > 0)
         annotate_breakpoints_headers ();
       if (nr_printable_breakpoints > 0)
         annotate_field (0);
       ui_out_table_header (uiout, 3, ui_left, "number", "Num");		/* 1 */
       if (nr_printable_breakpoints > 0)
         annotate_field (1);
       ui_out_table_header (uiout, 14, ui_left, "type", "Type");		/* 2 */
       if (nr_printable_breakpoints > 0)
         annotate_field (2);
       ui_out_table_header (uiout, 4, ui_left, "disp", "Disp");		/* 3 */
       if (nr_printable_breakpoints > 0)
         annotate_field (3);
       ui_out_table_header (uiout, 3, ui_left, "enabled", "Enb");	/* 4 */
       if (addressprint)
         {
          if (nr_printable_breakpoints > 0)
            annotate_field (4);
          if (print_address_bits <= 32)
            ui_out_table_header (uiout, 10, ui_left, "addr", "Address");/* 5 */
          else
            ui_out_table_header (uiout, 18, ui_left, "addr", "Address");/* 5 */
         }
       if (nr_printable_breakpoints > 0)
         annotate_field (5);
       ui_out_table_header (uiout, 40, ui_noalign, "what", "What");	/* 6 */
       ui_out_table_body (uiout);
       if (nr_printable_breakpoints > 0)
         annotate_breakpoints_table ();

This example, from the print_one_breakpoint function, shows how to produce the actual data for the table whose structure was defined in the above example. The original code was:

        annotate_record ();
        annotate_field (0);
        printf_filtered ("%-3d ", b->number);
        annotate_field (1);
        if ((int)b->type > (sizeof(bptypes)/sizeof(bptypes[0]))
            || ((int) b->type != bptypes[(int) b->type].type))
          internal_error ("bptypes table does not describe type #%d.",
                          (int)b->type);
        printf_filtered ("%-14s ", bptypes[(int)b->type].description);
        annotate_field (2);
        printf_filtered ("%-4s ", bpdisps[(int)b->disposition]);
        annotate_field (3);
        printf_filtered ("%-3c ", bpenables[(int)b->enable]);
        ...

This is the new version:

        annotate_record ();
        ui_out_tuple_begin (uiout, "bkpt");
        annotate_field (0);
        ui_out_field_int (uiout, "number", b->number);
        annotate_field (1);
        if (((int) b->type > (sizeof (bptypes) / sizeof (bptypes[0])))
            || ((int) b->type != bptypes[(int) b->type].type))
          internal_error ("bptypes table does not describe type #%d.",
                          (int) b->type);
        ui_out_field_string (uiout, "type", bptypes[(int)b->type].description);
        annotate_field (2);
        ui_out_field_string (uiout, "disp", bpdisps[(int)b->disposition]);
        annotate_field (3);
        ui_out_field_fmt (uiout, "enabled", "%c", bpenables[(int)b->enable]);
        ...

This example, also from print_one_breakpoint, shows how to produce a complicated output field using the print_expression functions which requires a stream to be passed. It also shows how to automate stream destruction with cleanups. The original code was:

         annotate_field (5);
         print_expression (b->exp, gdb_stdout);

The new version is:

       struct ui_stream *stb = ui_out_stream_new (uiout);
       struct cleanup *old_chain = make_cleanup_ui_out_stream_delete (stb);
       ...
       annotate_field (5);
       print_expression (b->exp, stb->stream);
       ui_out_field_stream (uiout, "what", local_stream);

This example, also from print_one_breakpoint, shows how to use ui_out_text and ui_out_field_string. The original code was:

       annotate_field (5);
       if (b->dll_pathname == NULL)
         printf_filtered ("<any library> ");
       else
         printf_filtered ("library \"%s\" ", b->dll_pathname);

It became:

       annotate_field (5);
       if (b->dll_pathname == NULL)
         {
           ui_out_field_string (uiout, "what", "<any library>");
           ui_out_spaces (uiout, 1);
         }
       else
         {
           ui_out_text (uiout, "library \"");
           ui_out_field_string (uiout, "what", b->dll_pathname);
           ui_out_text (uiout, "\" ");
         }

The following example from print_one_breakpoint shows how to use ui_out_field_int and ui_out_spaces. The original code was:

       annotate_field (5);
       if (b->forked_inferior_pid != 0)
         printf_filtered ("process %d ", b->forked_inferior_pid);

It became:

       annotate_field (5);
       if (b->forked_inferior_pid != 0)
         {
           ui_out_text (uiout, "process ");
           ui_out_field_int (uiout, "what", b->forked_inferior_pid);
           ui_out_spaces (uiout, 1);
         }

Here's an example of using ui_out_field_string. The original code was:

       annotate_field (5);
       if (b->exec_pathname != NULL)
         printf_filtered ("program \"%s\" ", b->exec_pathname);

It became:

       annotate_field (5);
       if (b->exec_pathname != NULL)
         {
           ui_out_text (uiout, "program \"");
           ui_out_field_string (uiout, "what", b->exec_pathname);
           ui_out_text (uiout, "\" ");
         }

Finally, here's an example of printing an address. The original code:

       annotate_field (4);
       printf_filtered ("%s ",
             hex_string_custom ((unsigned long) b->address, 8));

It became:

       annotate_field (4);
       ui_out_field_core_addr (uiout, "Address", b->address);

4.3 Console Printing

4.4 TUI


Footnotes

[1] The function cast is not portable ISO C.

[2] As of this writing (April 2001), setting verbosity level is not yet implemented, and is always returned as zero. So calling ui_out_message with a verbosity argument more than zero will cause the message to never be printed.