In part 1, part 2 and part 3 of this article series I have shown you some problems that we found in existing code (in our own code as well, and we thought that that code was perfect). Today we will discuss a few other problems that we found.
Wrong order of arguments in indexed ASSIGN in the SDK
Have you ever tried to change the caption of a tab page in a Vulcan app that uses the GUI classes with something like that? :
SELF:oDCMyTabControl:TabCaption[#MyTabPage] := "New caption"
If you have tried that, then you must have noticed that this code does not work in Vulcan (it does not work in VO either), the tab page remains unchanged! X# revealed why, it is because the TabCaption ACCESS/ASSIGN pair has been declared incorrectly in VO (and subsequently also in Vulcan):
ASSIGN TabCaption(symTabName , cCaption) CLASS TabControl
This is an indexed ACCESS/ASSIGN, and in the ASSIGN declaration one parameter is the name (as a SYMBOL) of the tab page caption to change and the other is the new caption. But the order in which the parameters have been entered is incorrect! The first parameter should be the new value to be assigned, followed by the index expression(s). This is revealed by the X# compiler which reports:
error XS9039: The parameters for the Access and Assign declarations must match by name and type. The first ASSIGN parameter is the value, the other parameters are the indexers and must be the same as the ACCESS parameters.
So this ASSIGN should have been defined as:
ASSIGN TabCaption(cCaption , symTabName) CLASS TabControl
After making that change in the SDK code, now changing the caption of a tab page via code is working perfectly!
Weird problem with _winNMDATETIMESTRING in the VOSDK
This is by far the strangest problem we have found with the help of X#, while trying to compile the original SDK from VO. You can see it by navigating through the repo explorer of ANY version of VO to the CommCtrl module of the Win32 API Library, press CTRL+M to open all the entities of that module in the editor and search for “_winNMDATETIMESTRING”. This will point you to that chunk of code in the editor:
DEFINE DTN_USERSTRING := (DTN_FIRST + 2) // the user has entered a string
MEMBER _winNMDATETIMESTRING ALIGN 1
MEMBER nmhdr IS _winNMHDR
MEMBER pszUserString AS PSZ
MEMBER st IS _winSYSTEMTIME
MEMBER dwFlags AS DWORD
Something looks very bizarre here, doesn’t it? At least it looked bizarre to our compiler, which reported a parser error when compiling that code in X#. After a few minutes fearing that the unexpected Athens snow and cold had made our eyes “see” things that were not there, we realized what had really happened: Many, many years ago, the original authors of the VO SDK had accidentally typed “MEMBER _winNMDATETIMESTRING ALIGN 1” instead of “STRUCTURE _winNMDATETIMESTRING ALIGN 1”, causing the whole structure to get somehow embedded as part of the DEFINE DTN_USERSTRING entity above! The result of this is that the _winNMDATETIMESTRING STRUCTURE is not actually available in the SDK and this problem has been carried over also to Vulcan, where this structure is not available either. Of course this is not something of huge importance, but it was a pretty weird problem that X# revealed and I wanted to share it with you!
Typo in ShellWindow:Dispatch() of the VO SDK
This is another problem in the existing VO SDK, you can see it by opening the Dispatch() method of the ShellWindow class in the GUI Classes, again in any version of VO (or in the Vulcan SDK). In about the middle part of that entity, you will see this code:
CASE (uMsg == WM_SETCURSOR)
IF (oEvt:wParam) != (DWORD(_CAST, hwndClient))
lclient := FALSE
lclient := TRUE
lHelpEnable := TRUE
lHelpEnable := FALSE
lHelpEnable := FALSE
SELF:__HandlePointer(oEvt, lHelpCursorOn, lclient)
When compiling this in X#, the compiler reports: warning XS0219: The variable 'lHelpEnable' is assigned but its value is never used. That made us look more closely to the code and realize there is another typo, the 2nd argument passed to the __HandlePointer() method should be “lHelpEnable”, not “lHelpCursorOn” as it is now. So this is another thing that must be corrected in the VO SDK.
Miscellaneous potential problems revealed by X#
Most of the issues in code revealed by X# that were described above are critical ones, as in most cases they lead to serious problems when executing it at runtime. But by no means are those the only problems revealed by the compiler. X# also warns us about many other, less critical, things in our code, like inconsistent accessibility (for example when a PUBLIC method has a parameter of a type that is INTERNAL), class fields or events that are left (accidentally?) uninitialized and much more. I personally found many dozens of them when compiling XIDE in x#! Those warnings are for up to the developer to decide if he/she wants to follow the compiler’s advice to adjust the code or not. Describing all those cases would probably require a whole book, but maybe some of them could be covered in another blog article in the future.