Coding

Various coding styles have been used during the history of the codebase, and the result is not very consistent. However, we’re now trying to converge to a single style, so please use it in new code. Old code will be converted gradually.

  • Basic rules specified in src/.clang-format. Use a recent clang-format-3.5 to format automatically.
    • Braces on new lines for namespaces, classes, functions, methods.
    • Braces on the same line for everything else.
    • 4 space indentation (no tabs) for every block except namespaces.
    • No indentation for public/protected/private or for namespaces.
    • No extra spaces inside parenthesis; don’t do ( this )
    • No space after function names; one space after if, for and while.

Block style example:

namespace foo
{
class Class
{
    bool Function(char* psz, int n)
    {
        // Comment summarising what this section of code does
        for (int i = 0; i < n; i++) {
            // When something fails, return early
            if (!Something())
                return false;
            ...
        }

        // Success return is usually at the end
        return true;
    }
}
}

Doxygen comments

To facilitate the generation of documentation, use doxygen-compatible comment blocks for functions, methods and fields.

For example, to describe a function use:

/**
 * ... text ...
 * @param[in] arg1    A description
 * @param[in] arg2    Another argument description
 * @pre Precondition for function...
 */
bool function(int arg1, const char *arg2)

A complete list of @xxx commands can be found at http://www.stack.nl/~dimitri/doxygen/manual/commands.html. As Doxygen recognizes the comments by the delimiters (/** and */ in this case), you don’t need to provide any commands for a comment to be valid; just a description text is fine.

To describe a class use the same construct above the class definition:

/**
 * Alerts are for notifying old versions if they become too obsolete and
 * need to upgrade. The message is displayed in the status bar.
 * @see GetWarnings()
 */
class CAlert
{

To describe a member or variable use:

int var; //!< Detailed description after the member

Also OK:

///
/// ... text ...
///
bool function2(int arg1, const char *arg2)

Not OK (used plenty in the current source, but not picked up):

//
// ... text ...
//

A full list of comment syntaxes picked up by doxygen can be found at http://www.stack.nl/~dimitri/doxygen/manual/docblocks.html, but if possible use one of the above styles.

Development tips and tricks

compiling for debugging

Run configure with the –enable-debug option, then make. Or run configure with CXXFLAGS=”-g -ggdb -O0” or whatever debug flags you need.

debug.log

If the code is behaving strangely, take a look in the debug.log file in the data directory; error and debugging messages are written there.

The -debug=… command-line option controls debugging; running with just -debug or -debug=1 will turn on all categories (and give you a very large debug.log file).

testnet and regtest modes

Run with the -testnet option to run with “play zcash” on the test network, if you are testing multi-machine code that needs to operate across the internet.

If you are testing something that can run on one machine, run with the -regtest option. In regression test mode, blocks can be created on-demand; see qa/rpc-tests/ for tests that run in -regtest mode.

DEBUG_LOCKORDER

Zcash is a multithreaded application, and deadlocks or other multithreading bugs can be very difficult to track down. Compiling with -DDEBUG_LOCKORDER (configure CXXFLAGS=”-DDEBUG_LOCKORDER -g”) inserts run-time checks to keep track of which locks are held, and adds warnings to the debug.log file if inconsistencies are detected.

Locking/mutex usage notes

The code is multi-threaded, and uses mutexes and the LOCK/TRY_LOCK macros to protect data structures.

Deadlocks due to inconsistent lock ordering (thread 1 locks cs_main and then cs_wallet, while thread 2 locks them in the opposite order: result, deadlock as each waits for the other to release its lock) are a problem. Compile with -DDEBUG_LOCKORDER to get lock order inconsistencies reported in the debug.log file.

Re-architecting the core code so there are better-defined interfaces between the various components is a goal, with any necessary locking done by the components (e.g. see the self-contained CKeyStore class and its cs_KeyStore lock for example).

Threads

  • ThreadScriptCheck : Verifies block scripts.
  • ThreadImport : Loads blocks from blk*.dat files or bootstrap.dat.
  • StartNode : Starts other threads.
  • ThreadDNSAddressSeed : Loads addresses of peers from the DNS.
  • ThreadMapPort : Universal plug-and-play startup/shutdown
  • ThreadSocketHandler : Sends/Receives data from peers on port 8233.
  • ThreadOpenAddedConnections : Opens network connections to added nodes.
  • ThreadOpenConnections : Initiates new connections to peers.
  • ThreadMessageHandler : Higher-level message handling (sending and receiving).
  • DumpAddresses : Dumps IP addresses of nodes to peers.dat.
  • ThreadFlushWalletDB : Close the wallet.dat file if it hasn’t been used in 500ms.
  • ThreadRPCServer : Remote procedure call handler, listens on port 8232 for connections and services them.
  • ZcashMiner : Generates zcash (if wallet is enabled).
  • Shutdown : Does an orderly shutdown of everything.

Pull Request Terminology

Concept ACK - Agree with the idea and overall direction, but have neither reviewed nor tested the code changes.

utACK (untested ACK) - Reviewed and agree with the code changes but haven’t actually tested them.

Tested ACK - Reviewed the code changes and have verified the functionality or bug fix.

ACK - A loose ACK can be confusing. It’s best to avoid them unless it’s a documentation/comment only change in which case there is nothing to test/verify; therefore the tested/untested distinction is not there.

NACK - Disagree with the code changes/concept. Should be accompanied by an explanation.