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Title: [C API] Add PyFrame_GetVar(frame, name) function
Type: Stage:
Components: C API Versions: Python 3.11
Status: open Resolution:
Dependencies: Superseder:
Assigned To: Nosy List: Mark.Shannon, ncoghlan, vstinner
Priority: normal Keywords:

Created on 2022-03-22 14:41 by vstinner, last changed 2022-04-11 14:59 by admin.

Messages (8)
msg415776 - (view) Author: STINNER Victor (vstinner) * (Python committer) Date: 2022-03-22 14:41
In Python 3.10, it's possible to call PyFrame_FastToLocalsWithError() on a frame to get all variables as a dictionary. In Python, getting frame.f_locals calls PyFrame_FastToLocalsWithError(). It's used by the pdb module for example:

    self.curframe_locals = self.curframe.f_locals

The PyFrame_FastToLocalsWithError() function has multiple issues:

* It's inefficient.
* It may create a Python dictionary.
* It can fail to add items to the dictionary.
* Allocating memory can fail with memory allocation failure.

The problem is that a debugger or profiler should not modify a process when it inspects it. It should avoid allocation memory for example. I propose adding a new API to prevent that.

In Python 3.11, the PyFrameObject structure became opaque and changed deeply. There are differend kinds of variables stored differently:

* Free variables: maybe in frame->f_func->func_closure[index], maybe in frame->localsplus[index]
* Fast variable: frame->f_frame->localsplus[index]
* Cell variable: also need to call PyCell_GET()

Well... Look at _PyFrame_FastToLocalsWithError(), it's quite complicated ;-)

I propose to add a new public C API just to get a single variable value:

  PyObject* PyFrame_GetVar(PyFrameObject *frame, PyObject *name)

I prefer to use a PyObject* for the name. You can use PyUnicode_FromString() to get a PyObject* from a const char*.

This function would get the value where the variable is stored, it doesn't have a to create a dictionary. Return NULL if the variable doesn't exist.

If I understand correctly, it should be possible to ensure that this function would never raise an exception (never "fail"). So it should be possible to call it even if an exception is raised, which is convenient for a debugger.


I plan to implement this API, but first I would like to make sure that there is an agreement that such API is needed and helpful ;-)


See also draft PEP 558 and PEP 667 which propose API to *modify* variables and make sure that they remain consistent when they are set and then get. The scope of these PEPs is way wider than the simple propose PyFrame_GetVar() which would be simpler implementation than PyFrame_FastToLocalsWithError().
msg415779 - (view) Author: STINNER Victor (vstinner) * (Python committer) Date: 2022-03-22 14:47
> In Python 3.10, it's possible to call PyFrame_FastToLocalsWithError() on a frame to get all variables as a dictionary.

In 2018, it was decided to *not* document this function: see bpo-19431.

In C, It is possible to call PyObject_GetAttrString(frame, "f_locals") to call indirectly _PyFrame_FastToLocalsWithError() and get the dictionary.
msg415780 - (view) Author: STINNER Victor (vstinner) * (Python committer) Date: 2022-03-22 14:53
Currently, Tools/gdb/ uses PyFramePtr.iter_locals() which iterates on PyFrameObject.f_frame.localsplus.

There is a PyFramePtr.get_var_by_name() function which only checks for frame variables in PyFrameObject.f_frame.localsplus, or look up in globals and builtins. So it only supports some kinds of variables.
msg415784 - (view) Author: Mark Shannon (Mark.Shannon) * (Python committer) Date: 2022-03-22 15:04
I'm looking into adding two new APIs.
One to round out the getters for FrameObject and one to introspect the internal frame stack.

It would probably make more sense to add this capability to the frame stack API, as it would avoid creating the frame object as well as the locals dictionary.

E.g. `PyFrameStack_GetVar(int depth, PyObject *name)`
msg415790 - (view) Author: STINNER Victor (vstinner) * (Python committer) Date: 2022-03-22 15:29
See also:

* bpo-46836: [C API] Move PyFrameObject to the internal C API.
* bpo-46836: GH-32051 "Add Doc/c-api/frame.rst"
* bpo-40421: [C API] Add getter functions for PyFrameObject and maybe move PyFrameObject to the internal C API.
msg415792 - (view) Author: STINNER Victor (vstinner) * (Python committer) Date: 2022-03-22 15:32
If PyFrameStack_GetVar(depth, name) is added, would it make PyFrame_GetVar() irrelevant?
msg415802 - (view) Author: STINNER Victor (vstinner) * (Python committer) Date: 2022-03-22 18:09
See also bpo-42197: Disable automatic update of frame locals during tracing.
msg416371 - (view) Author: Nick Coghlan (ncoghlan) * (Python committer) Date: 2022-03-30 15:00
Mark's suggested frame stack API makes sense to me, but being able to get/set specific values through the full frame API seems like it would be useful even if the lower level API existed - if we don't get one of the proxy PEPs in shape to land in 3.11, trace functions written in C could still use this to avoid materialising the locals dict if they only needed to manipulate specific values.

Even after a fast locals proxy is defined, there would still be some saving in skipping creating the proxy object when only accessing known keys.

We'd need the name-to-index mapping on the code objects to implement this API efficiently, but that isn't a PEP level change in its own right (the proxy PEPs only mention it because they need it)
Date User Action Args
2022-04-11 14:59:57adminsetgithub: 91248
2022-03-30 15:00:53ncoghlansetmessages: + msg416371
2022-03-22 18:09:23vstinnersetmessages: + msg415802
2022-03-22 15:32:27vstinnersetmessages: + msg415792
2022-03-22 15:29:45vstinnersetmessages: + msg415790
2022-03-22 15:04:47Mark.Shannonsetmessages: + msg415784
2022-03-22 14:53:26vstinnersetmessages: + msg415780
2022-03-22 14:47:09vstinnersetmessages: + msg415779
2022-03-22 14:41:38vstinnercreate