ExtUtils::Constant version 0.16

A module to generate XS code to import C header constants.

This module arose during the development track for perl 5.8, as part of the
reworking of h2xs, the perl program that creates boilerplate for perl

h2xs contains routines to extract constants from specified C header files and
make them available in the module's perl namespace. h2xs does this by building
C code that delivers the value of constants on demand at run time. Prior to
5.8, h2xs wrote out a potentially massive switch statement in initial XS
file, then left it up to the programmer to add any new constants needed. The
switch statement wasn't overly efficient, could be large enough to make
compiler optimisers choke, and attempting to add new constants or make other
changes was prone to error (eg try finding the value of POSIX::ELOOP on perl
5.004_04 and earlier)

h2xs as of 5.8.0 uses a new strategy of embedding the information about
which constants it found in the Makefile.PL, and using a new module,
ExtUtils::Constant, to build the switch table up at Makefile.PL run time.
This means that you can add more constants easily, by just editing the
definition, and you have more flexibility in what your "macros" can do,
and what types they return. For example, Fcntl's XS file after its initial
#includes is now down to these 5 lines:

#include "const-c.inc"

MODULE = Fcntl		PACKAGE = Fcntl

INCLUDE: const-xs.inc

and the massive switch statement is now stored as instructions in Makefile.PL
to rebuild it. ExtUtils::Constant also uses a radically different strategy to
build the C code, in an attempt to maximise the chance that the compiler will
use branch tables making the initial switch statements more efficient, and
choosing a switch strategy to minimise the amount of linear searching of
similar constant names.

The documentation is arguably a bit scant currently, with the best examples
probably being the various Makefile.PL files in the ext/ subdirectory of the
5.8.0 distribution. I do plan to improve it; however I feel it better to get
this working version up on CPAN and let people use it, rather than sit on it
until the documentation is up to scratch.

I believe ExtUtils::Constant is completely Unicode safe, but as a consequence
of running various pathological cases as regression tests, the tests will
fail on perl5.6.0, due to its numerous Unicode bugs. Please upgrade to 5.6.1,
or better still 5.8.0.

Bug reports from 5.6.0 users (even users on OS X dependent on Apple to ship
5.6.1) will be acknowledged, tested on 5.6.1, and if not repeatable on 5.6.1
will be noted as known failures due to 5.6.0, with no further action taken.

I am sorry if this sounds unhelpful, but I have better things to do with
the limited free time I can donate to this module than to go chasing bugs
known to already have a fix.

By all means send patches to work round 5.6.0 features; if they don't conflict
with 5.005, 5.6.1, or 5.8.0 they will go in.


You may distribute this work under the terms of either the GNU General
Public License or the Artistic License, as specified in perl's README

Copyright © 2001, 2002, 2005 Nicholas Clark