10 May 2017

Error free using a library

I use libraries a lot, but there are few things that make using them a bit obscure and may lead to the non-descript message "Load lg32 error: filename.lg32" in the status bar and debug window. In addition, a compiled library may produce strange runtime errors.

BUG - Runtime errors
When you run a project which includes a library it may generate strange, seemingly unrelated error messages. In particular the error "Hash Internal Error 1/2 (Version?)" pops up regularly. The reason for runtime errors inside the code of a library is a bug(!) in applying the setting for Branch Optimizations.

For a lg32 file, GFA-BASIC wants to apply the Full Optimization for Exe setting on the compiling process. However, it is never applied at all, because the code applies this setting in the wrong place, after the code is compiled ;). Consequently, the compiler switches to the trackbar/slider setting from Branch Optimizations.
This is a bug from a long time ago and it is simply never tested properly.

In general objectcode generated for a lg32 file is position independent, it differs from code generated for  EXE (and GLL files). Therefor, the lg32-generated code for the jump-tables for Switch/Case statements and On n GoSub/Call statements are wrong (this is also true for a GLL, for which I always use the default settings). 

The only setting that work flawlessly is the None setting of the slider in 'Branch Optimizations' and uncheck the 'Full Optimization' check box. 

A lg32-file has to be compiled using the default settings for Branch Optimizations.
The slider must be set to the first position (None) and the checkbox Full Optimization for Exe must be unchecked.

Note - The slider setting is applied to compiling code in memory, independent of the required output file type (EXE, LG32, or GLL). The most right position (Full) is exactly the same as checking the Full Optimization for Exe - box. This way you can test fully optimized code inside the IDE.

Note - The branch optimizations of the compiler do not lead to remarkable performance results. These days with fast CPUs and large caches performance increase is hard to provide, the only real performance increase is accomplished by using Naked procedures. Remember however, Naked procedures do not include termination code and do not allow exception handlers.

The $Library statement
The $Library statement loads a lg32 file into memory. But sometimes it cannot locate the lg32 file. The IDE code to find a lg32 file is a bit complicated. In some conditions you may omit the extension and in others you cannot. It depends on the inclusion of a path in $Library statement. For instance, you may include a relative path (relative to the current directory, mostly the g32-file directory, but not necessarily), but than the extension must be provided. It's all a bit incoherent. But there is a solution that always works correctly. That is - the library is always located properly.

Solution for load errors
This solution adds more functionality to the $Library statement and so it complements the current functionality. You must add a (new) register entry to the GFA/BASIC key in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software setting. The key must be named "lg32path" and the value can contain multiple full paths separated by commas. (The value uses the same syntax a the PATH environment variable).

New key: "lg32path", REG_SZ
Value: "C:\GFA\Include, D:\GFA\MyLibs"

Have fun with lg32 file.

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