# Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Cecil Conclusion

I finished the Cecil.Reflection.Emit prototype of ikvmc. As I, unfortunately, expected the performance isn't acceptable. Compiling tools.jar takes approx. 18 seconds with the Ref.Emit backend, but takes 51 seconds with the Cecil based backend.

Now, I'm not knocking Mono.Cecil because of its performance, because I think the design was based on making it easy to load an assembly, tweak it and write it back out again. For that application the design makes a lot of sense, but it is less efficient for a write only task.

However, I did have to conclude that Mono.Cecil is not mature enough for usage with ikvmc. I had to write my own custom attribute encoder to work around Mono.Cecil's brokenness and I found that it doesn't properly support custom modifiers.

What Next

Given that neither Ref.Emit nor Cecil look like viable short term strategies for multi target support in ikvmc, I think it makes sense to start working on the 0.38 release now and put off the splitting of IKVM.OpenJDK.ClassLibrary.dll until the next release. I know this will disappoint some people, especially since it grew by about 4.7MB again (mostly due to the inclusion of the charsets.jar character encodings).

I don't have a timetable, but don't expect the release tomorrow. It'll be a while. First OpenJDK6 b12 needs to be released (and integrated) and then a whole lot of testing needs to be done.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008 06:11:46 (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [3]
# Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Using Mono.Cecil instead of Reflection.Emit in IKVMC

I prototyped a Reflection.Emit layer for Mono.Cecil and integrated it with ikvmc. Preliminary results:

  • It looks like it is feasible to replace "using System.Reflection.Emit;" with "using Cecil.Reflection.Emit;" and only require a handful of "#if CECIL"s sprinkled through the code.
  • Mono.Cecil is lacking some functionality required by ikvmc (global methods, multi module assemblies, support for calli signatures [AFAICT], support for byte[] arguments in custom attributes)
  • Given the architecture of Mono.Cecil I'm worried that it will perform worse than Reflection.Emit (which, on .NET, is already pretty slow).

I'm pretty sure there are more issues waiting to be discovered, but these I found while trying to compile a relatively simple .class file. I got it to generate a verifiable assembly using the following ikvmc command:

        ikvmc test.class -target:library -nostacktraceinfo

If you want to play along, the Cecil.Reflection.Emit layer plus the ikvmc patch (relative to current cvs) can be found here.

At this point I'm not sure what's next. I don't feel working on Mono.Cecil is the best use of my time. I may have to put the multi assembly feature of ikvmc on the back burner (which also means no progress in splitting up IKVM.OpenJDK.ClassLibrary.dll).

On a more possitive note, doing this work made me realize that ConstructorBuilder is a useless annoyance and I can simplify some ikvm code by only using MethodBuilder (it turns out that DefineMethod can also be used to define a constructor).

Well, I will be able to do this once Mono's DefineMethod is fixed so that it notices that a constructor is created and not insert another default constructor.

Update: Zoltan already fixed the Mono bug. Thanks!

Update 2: Jb Evain pointed out that global methods are supported (simply add the methods to the <Module> type) and that calli is supported via Mono.Cecil.CallSite.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008 17:39:21 (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 10 August 2008
Reflection.Emit Bug

I started working on support for compiling multiple assemblies at once with ikvmc (to support mutual depedencies) and ran into a rather annoying bug:

using System;
using System.Reflection;
using System.Reflection.Emit;

class Program
  static void Main()
    AssemblyBuilder ab1 = AppDomain.CurrentDomain.DefineDynamicAssembly(new AssemblyName("A1"), AssemblyBuilderAccess.Save);
    AssemblyBuilder ab2 = AppDomain.CurrentDomain.DefineDynamicAssembly(new AssemblyName("A2"), AssemblyBuilderAccess.Save);
    ModuleBuilder mod1 = ab1.DefineDynamicModule("A1");
    ModuleBuilder mod2 = ab2.DefineDynamicModule("A2");

    TypeBuilder tb1 = mod1.DefineType("T1");
    TypeBuilder tb2 = mod2.DefineType("T2");

    ConstructorBuilder cb1 = tb1.DefineConstructor(MethodAttributes.Public, CallingConventions.Standard, null);
    ConstructorBuilder cb2 = tb2.DefineConstructor(MethodAttributes.Public, CallingConventions.Standard, new Type[] { tb1 });

    ILGenerator ilgen = cb1.GetILGenerator();

    ilgen.Emit(OpCodes.Newobj, cb2);

Running this on .NET 2.0 SP1 results in:

Unhandled Exception: System.Runtime.InteropServices.COMException (0x80131130): Record not found on lookup. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x80131130)
   at System.Reflection.Module._InternalGetMemberRef(Module refedModule, Int32 tr, Int32 defToken)
   at System.Reflection.Emit.ModuleBuilder.InternalGetConstructorToken(ConstructorInfo con, Boolean usingRef)
   at System.Reflection.Emit.ILGenerator.GetMethodToken(MethodBase method, Type[] optionalParameterTypes)
   at System.Reflection.Emit.ILGenerator.Emit(OpCode opcode, ConstructorInfo con)
   at Program.Main() in c:\vsp\RefEmitBugRepro\Program.cs:line 23

The "no Microsoft bug filing" policy is still in effect, so I won't be filing a bug with Microsoft for this.


For the scenario above there is a (painful) workaround. You can create your own ConstructorInfo subclass that represents the constructor you want to call, if you do that ILGenerator.Emit() will end up in a different code path to lookup the token and that code path does work.

I haven't tried it, but I assume this workaround also works for methods and fields.

I think that for ikvmc I won't be using this workaround, but instead I'll treat this as a good reason to finally start looking into using Mono.Cecil instead of Reflection.Emit.

Sunday, 10 August 2008 10:02:40 (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [3]
# Thursday, 07 August 2008
New Development Snapshot

Time for another snapshot.

Changes since previous development snapshot:

  • Removed support for building with GNU Classpath class library.
  • DatagramSocket: Implemented connected datagram sockets using .NET 2.0 API.
  • DatagramSocket: Used .NET 2.0 Socket.IOControl() API to disable WSAECONNRESET errors (when not connected).
  • DatagramSocket: Throw PortUnreachableException from receive() if we receive WSAECONNRESET while connected.
  • Various java.util.zip compatibility and bug fixes.
  • Fixed bytecode compiler not to generate unneeded GC.KeepAlive() in constructor for Exception types that don't have a finalize() method.
  • Fixed #2001802 contributed by Andy Malakov.
  • Fixed #2001799.
  • Fixed #2006953.
  • Fixed file I/O error handling incompatibilities.
  • Added ghost array tagging to be able to report the instantiated class (instead of the object[] which is allocated instead).
  • Fixed ldc <class> where <class> is a ghost array.
  • Fixed bug in instanceof <class> where <class> is a Serializable[].
  • Removed Mono workarounds that are no longer needed with Mono 2.0.


Development snapshots are intended for evaluating and keeping track of where the project is going, not for production usage. The binaries have not been extensively tested and are not strong named.

This version supports .NET 2.0 SP1 and Mono 2.0.

Binaries available here: ikvmbin-0.37.3141.zip

Thursday, 07 August 2008 08:13:00 (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0]