State of javac support for lworld-values.

Karen Kinnear karen.kinnear at
Thu Mar 15 18:23:05 UTC 2018


I sent a email yesterday, and just sent out a .pdf summarizing a new proposal:
Summary - proposing that we add a clue (annotation?) for javac that a value-based class
is migrating to become a value type, and allow javac to be strict with new value types
and have a choice on handling migrating types. The JVM will continue to be lenient
to allow migration.

If it makes sense to you and the langtools team -

This would keep the strictness you have implemented for new value types.

We would like to ask for a way to identify migrating value-based classes to value types,
both so that we can write tests of JVM functionality, and of course so that we can
experiment with migration and separate compilation.

If you could find a way for us to identify in source that we have a value-based class
migrating to a value type, and to limit the strictness for new value types for now - that would
enable us to use javac to write tests for the JVM.

It would also allow us all to start experiments with migration and separation compilation,
which would be helpful for the JVM, as well as informative for the langtools strictness

So this would explain why we are leaving existing bytecodes such as checkcast and instanceof
behavior alone. And request that you only put the null checks in for statically known new value types.

more embedded:

> On Mar 13, 2018, at 8:53 PM, John Rose <john.r.rose at> wrote:
> On Mar 13, 2018, at 3:04 PM, Karen Kinnear <karen.kinnear at <mailto:karen.kinnear at>> wrote:
>> 1. Frederic made a good point - a value type can not have an inner class, i.e. a non-static nested class, since it does not have identity.
> Putting on my Mr. Inner Classes hat, I say, not so fast!
> Inner-ness is a scoping relation, not an identity relation.
> There's nothing about value classes that keeps them from
> being either inner or outer.  Let's not be hasty to find reasons
> that values don't "code like a class" everywhere it makes sense.
> (Strong heuristic:  If a value-based class can do X, then a
> value type can do X, 99% probability.  That applies here.)
> At the VM level, an inner class has a this$0 reference to the
> outer instance.  For a value outer class, the this$0 is a flattenable
> copy of the outer instance.  We could be clever and make it
> not flat, but I think that's taking a legitimate decision away
> from the user.
This was not about flattenable or nullability. This was a question about identity.
Perhaps I misunderstand and an experiment would help here. If this$0 refers
to an outer instance - not sure what happens if we are now operating on a copy
of that instance?
> I grant you that, given an object class and a value class to nest
> together, the object class should usually be the outer and the
> value the inner.  But it's a user decision, not a VM or language
> decision, which goes in which.
>> 2. Arrays extract from EG minutes: - which I just typed in Friday night
>> - I don’t think you have had time to make the value array changes yet?
>> Based on emails this week between Mr Simms, Remi, John on valhalla-dev at <mailto:valhalla-dev at> <mailto:valhalla-dev at <mailto:valhalla-dev at>>, here is a summary of a new proposal:
>>   Value type arrays are always flattenable, and therefore not nullable
> Yes, their elements are flat, thus not nullable.  Just to make sure:
> The arrays are proper object types and their references are nullable.
>>   If the end user wants non-flattenable/nullable they can use Object[] or Interface[] or maybe a future reflective API if needed that creates a reference array - but for now let us assume that value type arrays are always flattenable, prototype that and then we can assess what the cost might be if we need dynamic checking.
>>    As with fields, implementation determines if the component is actually flattened.
>>   bytecode implications:
>>      aaload - returns default from default initialized value type component
>>      aastore - throws NPE if attempt to store null. Must store default value for component
>>      anewarray/multianewarray - if the component is a value type, create a value type array
Srikanth - for fields I think you disallow null assignment for value types. I was assuming you would want a similar disallow null assignment to value type array indices.
> Thanks for writing that down, Karen.
>> I believe there are two major open issues:
>> 1. you identified one - which is the discussion around <init>, which I think also includes
>> handling of __MakeDefault
> Yes, we haven't touched <init> yet.  I think the language folks need to
> decide what value constructors look like before we can start to talk
> translation strategy.  My crystal ball tells me that <init> will be irrelevant
> to value types, even though at the source level constructors will be
> important.  ("Codes like a class…")  The JVM rules around <init> are
> just relentlessly pointer-oriented, so we'll probably break new ground
> for value factories.  (If we win big, then that ground will serve for
> factories on object classes and interfaces too, but that's just my
> hunch for now.)
Is there an rfe here? 
So how does instance initialization happen for testing right now before this gets resolved?
>> 2. I think we are still working through nullability of a value type issues
>> I know you and John exchanged a number of emails over the past few weeks.
>> I also believe that last Wednesday at both the Valhalla-vm and valhalla EG meetings
>> we discussed again nullability relative to value type fields.
> I hope we don't find any important use cases for nullable values, in
> which case such fields will be relegated to the JVM puzzler list
> and maybe JLS chapter 13 (binary compatibility).
This is the value-based class migrates to value type proposal.
>> Value type fields:
>>  I would like to have a follow-up discussion about nullability of value types based on ACC_FLATTENABLE, 
>> and how to handle migration.
>> The key points below that I want us to revisit are:
>>>    - Value instances may not be compared with == or !=. == and != cannot have any value operand(s)
> This is a conservative choice.  We could assign x.equals(y) as the meaning
> of x==y for x, y values.  That's a language team choice, and I don't see
> a decision on that coming soon.  I recommend filing a tracking issue.
Conservative for new value types.
May I suggest that allowing this is conservative for migrating value types.
>>>    - Null cannot be assigned to value types
please - just for new value types
>>>    - Null cannot be casted to or compared with value types.
please - just for new value types
>>>    - Fields may be flagged as being__Flattenable. This results in the ACC_FLATTENABLE(0x100) field flag bit being set in the class file. Besides setting this flag bit, the compiler does not use this flag.
> There are three more places where I'd like to see more work soon-ish:
> 1. Flip the default on __Flattenable, making another temporary modifier
> __NotFlattened and having the compiler start to issue ACC_FLATTENABLE
> by default when it sees that a field is a value type.  This is tricky and may
> require additional preloading in javac.  (Not in the VM.)  It's where we want
> to get to; eventually removing both pseudo-modifiers (if possible) except
> maybe for test code (or just use jcod).
My proposal was in part in response to this request (and your other emails John),
For new value types - make ACC_FLATTENABLE the default for now.
Let’s do that experiment before we decide which way we want the flag or the name for it.
> 2. Flip the default on 'final', in the sense that javac doesn't care whether
> a value class's instance field is declared final or not.  We want to reserve
> the distinction for potential uses, TBD.
EG - John challenged folks to make alternative proposals.
> 3. Allow the __Atomic modifier (or the "volatile" modifier if Brian OKs it)
> on value classes, with an ACC_VOLATILE on the class, and appropriate
> processing in the classfile parser to unflatten, as I outlined elsewhere.
This is on our todo list once we get basic stuff working.
> If (as I think) constructors will translate to factory methods not <init>,
> then there's nothing for us tools and VM folks to do until the language
> folks hash out more details about value class constructors.
thanks for all the reviews and insights,
> Thanks!
> — John

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