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This is the archive for 28 July 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

After a couple of days of work, I have found that the only sensible way to allow dynamic loading of modules is that to create references for static data and let those to be separately managed by the garbage collector.

Consider strings, arrays of flat items or even user-defined classes that might go in the static data of a dynamically loaded module. If some item is take from by the user of the loaded module and sent around, it must stay alive as long as needed. If necessary, it must even keep alive the module that is hosting it, otherwise it should just stay around even after the module has died. I wouldn't love to keep a plugin around just because it has returned "OK" from inside a function it exposes, and that OK is kept somewhere for future records...

Adding the requirement that anything that goes or may ever go outside the dynamic module boundaries must reference the module back would be a nightmare. It may make sense for (some) classes and functions (and I think we can lower this requirement to the external/native code ones) but it's totally unreasonable for i.e. strings. Also the reverse requirement, that is, that a module must stays alive 'till all the data born from it are gone is pretty heavy.

So, the only sensible way to handle plugin-based dynamic (dischargeable) modules is that of making their static data references as soon as the module is linked dynamically in a virtual machine. When the module is gone, the reference items might still be around and keeping alive the related data.

For this reason, re-introducing the references was in order before completing the module loading system.

In the process, I also improved the usability of references that was somewhat limited in the old engine. Here follows a talk about it in our #falcon chan at