Category Archives: LDC Releases

D News Roundup

Version 2.097.0 of DMD, the D programming language reference compiler, was released on June 5th in the middle of new GDC and LDC release announcements, while preparations for two major D community events were underway: the Symmetry Autumn of Code 2021 and DConf Online 2021. We’ll cover it all in this post, with a focus first on the events.

Symmetry Autumn of Code 2021

Symmetry Investments logo

As I write, Symmetry Investments employs in the neighborhood of 180 full-time workers and manages over US$8 billion of capital, and they’re always on the lookout for more employees, including programmers to work with D and other languages. They sponsored DConf 2019 in London and have sponsored the annual Symmetry Autumn of Code since 2018, in which a handful of programmers are paid to work for four months on projects of benefit to the D ecosystem.

This year marks the fourth annual SAoC, and we are now accepting applications. Participants will plan four milestones for projects that benefit the D ecosystem and will be expected to work at least 20 hours per week on each milestone. Each participant will be rewarded US$1000 for the successful completion of each of the first three milestones. At the end of the final milestone, the SAoC committee will review the overall progress of each of the remaining participants. One will be rewarded with a final $US1000 payment and a free pass to the next real-world DConf, with reimbursement for travel and lodging. In last year’s event, a second participant was also awarded a fourth US$1000 payment.

Participation in SAoC has led to jobs for some lucky coders and has generally been a valuable learning experience for those who have completed it. Students currently enrolled in graduate or postgraduate university programs will be given priority, but applications are open to all. The application deadline is August 18th. Project ideas can be found in the D community’s projects repository at GitHub. See the Symmetry Autumn of Code page here at the D Blog for all the details on how to apply as a participant or as a mentor.

DConf Online 2021

For the second consecutive year, we were unable to hold a real-world DConf. Last year we launched the first annual DConf Online. And when I say annual, I mean annual! We’re doing it again this year and will continue to do it going forward even after the real-world DConfs are back on.

DConf Online 2021 will take place November 20 and 21 on the D Language Foundation’s YouTube channel. Once again, we’re looking for pre-recorded talks, livestream panels, and livecoding sessions. If you’d like to propose something in one of those categories, the application deadline is September 5. Please visit the DConf Online 2021 homepage for all the details.

And if you haven’t seen them yet, the DConf Online 2020 and DConf Online 2020 Q & A playlists are available on the same channel. You can also find a full list of talks and all the links (talk videos, slides, and Q & A videos) on the DConf Online 2020 homepage.

New compiler releases

D 2.097.0 is live in the latest release of DMD and the beta release of LDC, the LLVM-based D compiler. The new version of GDC also came into the world as part of GCC 11.1 at the end of April.

DMD 2.097.0

Digital Mars D logo

This version of DMD comes with 29 major changes and 144(!) fixed Bugzilla issues courtesy of 54 contributors. Changes include a few deprecations and several improvements to the standard library. Two things stand out:

  • while(auto n = expression) has been on a few wishlists for a while. Now it’s a reality. The same syntax that was already possible with if statements is considered idiomatic in certain circumstances (such as when checking if an item exists in an associative array). Expect the while condition assignment to start popping up in open-source D projects soon.
  • std.sumtype is another wishlist item that is a wish no more. The new SumType is a replacement for std.variant.Algebraic. It’s a discriminated union that makes good use of Design by Introspection with a nice match syntax for those looking for that sort of thing. It’s been quite a while since the last time a new module was added to the D standard library. Many thanks to Paul Backus for putting in the effort to see it through, and a very big Congratulations!

LDC 1.27.0-beta1

LDC logo

On the same day the new DMD was released, the first beta of LDC 1.27.0, which also supports D 2.097.0, was announced in the D forums.

On top of 2.097.0 support, this version of LDC provides greatly improved DLL support on Windows. The prebuilt Windows packages ship with DRuntime and Phobos DLLs. This is big news for D developers on Windows. We’ve long had issues with D DLLs that have prevented heavy use outside of simple interfaces (with APIs exported as extern(C) being the most reliable).

There are some limitations to be aware of, such as the inability to directly access TLS variables across DLL boundaries (though it’s fine with accessor functions). Please see the release page for the details.

Thanks to Martin Kinkelin and all the LDC maintainers and contributors for their continued work on LDC. They aren’t getting paid for this. If you are a happy LDC user or just like the idea of the project, you can support their work by sponsoring Martin Kinkelin on GitHub.

GDC 11.1

In the GCC world, Iain Buclaw continues to make strides on the GDC compiler.

GDC 11.1 still uses the old C++ version of the D frontend, which feature-wise is mostly (see below) at D 2.076.1. There were significant issues in upstream DMD that prevented Iain from making the switch to the D version of the frontend in time to make the release window. He is currently aiming to make the switch in time for GDC 12. As a consolation, this release has support for three BSDs, Mac OS X, and MinGW!

Despite the older frontend, Iain has backported several fixes and optimizations, and even a few features, so it isn’t your grandfather’s D 2.076.1 that GDC supports. For example, the new bottom type that recently made its way through the D Improvement Proposal review process has found its way into this GDC release. See the forum announcement for details of all the new D goodness in GDC 11.1 and Please consider sponsoring his work on GitHub.

One-off donations

If you aren’t up for sponsoring Martin or Iain but would still like to support them financially, you can make one-time donations through the D Language Foundation. You can send money to the D General Fund, the D Open Collective, or to our PayPal account. Whichever method you choose, please be sure to leave a note that the donation is intended for LDC, GDC, or any D project you would like to support. We’ll make sure the appropriate person receives the money.

Other options for supporting the D programming language: visit the D Language Foundation donation page and donate to one of our funds, head to the DLang Swag Emporium and purchase any items that catch your eye (the D Rocket stuff rocks, and DConf Online 2021 swag will be available shortly), or consider using smile.amazon.com and selecting the D Language Foundation as your charity the next time you shop at Amazon.com (we are only available through the .com domain; browser extensions like SmartAmazonSmile for Firefox and AmazonSmileRedirect for Chrome make it easy to do).

Thanks to everyone who has, will, or continues to support the D programming language, either through donations of time or money. We’ve gotten where we are through community effort, and community effort will keep pushing us forward. D rocks!

A New Year, A New Release of D

Here in DLang Land we’re beginning the new year with a new release of the D reference compiler (DMD) and a beta release of the popular LLVM-based D compiler (LDC). D 2.095.0 is crammed full of 27 major changes and 78 fixes from 61 contributors. Following are some highlights that I expect some D programmers might find interesting, but please see the changelog for the full rundown. Those more interested in Bugzilla issue numbers can jump straight to the bugfix list

D 2.095.0

Digital Mars D logo

D’s support for other programming languages is important for interacting with existing codebases. C ABI compatibility has been strong from the beginning. Support for Objective-C and C++ came later. Though C++-compatibility is a bear to get right, it keeps improving with every compiler release. This release continues that trend and also enhances Objective-C support. We also see a number of QOL (quality-of-life) improvements throughout the compiler, libraries, and tools. DUB, the D build tool and package manager that ships with the compiler (and is also available separately), especially gets a good bit of love in this release.

C++ header generation

For a little while now, DMD has included experimental support for the generation of C++ header files from D source code, via the -CH command-line option, in order to facilitate calling D libraries from C++. For example, given the following D source file:

cpp-ex.d

extern(C++):
struct A {
    int x;
}

void printA(ref A a) {
    import std.stdio : writeln;
    writeln(a);
}

And the following command line:

dmd -HC cpp-ex.d

The compiler outputs the following to stdout (-HCf to specify a file name, and -HCd a directory):

// Automatically generated by Digital Mars D Compiler

#pragma once

#include <assert.h>
#include <stddef.h>
#include <stdint.h>
#include <math.h>

#ifdef CUSTOM_D_ARRAY_TYPE
#define _d_dynamicArray CUSTOM_D_ARRAY_TYPE
#else
/// Represents a D [] array
template<typename T>
struct _d_dynamicArray
{
    size_t length;
    T *ptr;

    _d_dynamicArray() : length(0), ptr(NULL) { }

    _d_dynamicArray(size_t length_in, T *ptr_in)
        : length(length_in), ptr(ptr_in) { }

    T& operator[](const size_t idx) {
        assert(idx < length);
        return ptr[idx];
    }

    const T& operator[](const size_t idx) const {
        assert(idx < length);
        return ptr[idx];
    }
};
#endif

struct A;

struct A
{
    int32_t x;
    A() :
        x()
    {
    }
};

extern void printA(A& a);

This release brings a number of fixes and improvements to this feature, as can be seen in the changelog. Note that generation of C headers is also supported via -H, -Hf, and -Hd.

Default C++ standard change

Prior to this release, extern(C++) code was guaranteed to link with C++98 binaries out of the box. This is no longer true, and you will need to pass -extern-std=c++98 on the command line to maintain that behavior. The C++11 standard is now the default.

Additionally, the compiler will now accept -extern-std=c++20. In practice, the only effect this has at the moment is to change the compile-time value, __traits(getTargetInfo, "cppStd"), but new types may be added in the future.

Improved Objective-C support

Objective-C compatibility is enhanced in this release with support for Objective-C protocols. This is achieved by repurposing interface in an extern(Objective-C) context. Additionally, the attributes @optional and @selector help get the job done. Read the details and see an example in the changelog.

Improved compile-time feedback

Here’s a QOL issue that really became an annoyance after a deprecation in Phobos, the standard library: when instantiating templates, deprecation messages reported the source location deep inside the library where the deprecated feature was used (e.g., template constraints) and not the user-code instantiation that triggered it. No longer. You’ll now get a template instantiation trace just as you do on errors.

Another QOL feedback issue involved the absence of errors. The compiler would silently allow multiple definitions of identical functions in the same module. The compiler will now raise an error when it encounters this situation. However, multiple declarations are allowed as long as there is at most one definition. For mangling schemes where overloading is not supported (extern(C), extern(Windows), and extern(System)), the compiler will emit a deprecation message.

The mainSourceFile in DUB recipes

The mainSourceFile entry in DUB package recipes was a way to specify a source file containing a main function that should be excluded from unit tests when invoking dub test. However, when setting up other configurations where the file should also not be compiled, or where a different main source file was required, it was necessary to add the file to an excludedSourceFiles entry. This is no longer the case. If a mainSourceFile is specified in any configuration, it will automatically be excluded from other configurations.

Propagating compiler flags to dependencies

Not every existing compiler flag has a corresponding build setting for DUB recipes. The dflags entry allows for such flags to be configured for any project. For example, -fPic, or -preview=in. The catch is, it does not propagate to dependencies. Now, you can explicitly specify compiler flags for dependencies by adding a dflags parameter to any dependency entry in a dub.json recipe. For example:

{
    "name": "example",
    "dependencies": {
        "vibe-d": { "version" : "~>0.9.2", "dflags" : ["-preview=in"] }
    }
}

Unfortunately, it appears the implementation does not work for recipes in SDLang format (dub.sdl), so those of us who prefer that format over JSON will have to wait a bit.

LDC 1.025-beta1

LDC logo

This release of LDC brings the compiler up to date with the D 2.095.0 frontend, with the prebuilt packages based on LLVM v11.0.1. The biggest news in this release looks to be the new -linkonce-templates flag. This experimental feature causes the compiler to emit template symbols into each compilation unit that references them, “with optimizer-discardable linkonce-odr linkage”. The implementation has big wins both in terms of compile times when compiling with optimizations turned on and in cutting down on a class of template-related bugs. See the beta1 release notes for the details.

Happy New Year

On behalf of the D Language Foundation, I wish you all the very best for 2021. As a community, we weren’t affected much by the global pandemic. Sure, we were forced to cancel DConf 2020, but the silver lining is that it also motivated us to finally launch DConf Online in November. We fully intend to make this an annual event alongside of, not in place of, the real-world conference (when physically possible). Other than that, it was business as usual in D Land.

At a personal level, the lives of some in our community were disrupted last year in ways large and small. Please remember that, though the primary object that brings us together is our enthusiasm for the D programming language, we are all still human beings behind our keyboards. The majority of work that gets done in our community is carried out on a volunteer basis. All of us, as the beneficiaries, must never forget that the health and well-being of everyone in our community take top priority over any work we may want or expect to see completed. We encourage everyone to keep an ear open for those who may need to borrow it, and never be afraid to communicate that need when it feels necessary. Sometimes, an open ear can make a very big difference.

Thanks to all of you for your participation in the D community, whether as a user, a contributor, or both. Stay safe, and have a very happy 2021.

Recent D Compiler Releases

Digital Mars D logoThe LDC team closed out the old year with release 1.19.0 of the LLVM-based D compiler, and the core D team opened the new year with version 2.090.0 of the reference D compiler, DMD. And if you haven’t yet heard, there was some big news about the GCC-based D compiler, GDC, a while back. Time to catch up!

LDC 1.19.0

This release updates the LDC compiler to D front end version 2.089.1, which was the current version when the compiler was released on the day after Christmas. The prebuilt packages are based on LLVM 9.01.

Among the big items in this release is some love for Android. The prebuilt DRuntime/Phobos library is now available for all supported Android targets. This release can be used in conjunction with Adam Ruppe’s D Android project, a collection of helper programs and interfaces, currently in beta, to facilitate D development on Android with LDC.

Windows users will find that the bundled MinGW-based link libraries for Windows development have been upgraded. They are now derived from .def files from the MinGW-w64 7.0.0 package. These libraries allow you to use the Windows system libraries without needing to install the Windows SDK.

DMD 2.090.0

The latest version of DMD was announced on January 7th. It ships with 10 major changes and 71 closed issues courtesy of 48 contributors.

With this release, it’s now possible to do more with lazy parameters. D has long supported lazy parameters:

An argument to a lazy parameter is not evaluated before the function is called. The argument is only evaluated if/when the parameter is evaluated within the function. Hence, a lazy argument can be executed 0 or more times.

Under the hood, they are implemented as delegates. Now, it’s possible to get at the underlying delegate by taking the address of the parameter, an operation which was previously illegal.

import std.stdio;

void chillax(lazy int x)
{
    auto dg = &x;
    assert(dg() == 10);
    writeln(x);
}

void main()
{
    chillax(2 * 5);
}

This release also renders obsolete a D idiom used by those who find themselves with a need to distinguish between finalization (non-deterministic object destruction usually initiated by the garbage collector) and normal destruction (deterministic object destruction) from inside a class or struct destructor.

With the current GC implementation, it’s illegal to perform some GC operations during finalization. However, D does not provide for separate finalizers and destructors. There is only ~this, which is referred to as a destructor even though it fills both roles. This sometimes presents difficulties when implementing destructors for types that are intended to be used with both GC and non-GC allocation. Any cleanup activity that touches the GC could throw an InvalidMemoryOperationError. Hence the need for the aforementioned workaround.

Now it’s possible to call the static GC member function, core.memory.GC.inFinalizer, to get your bearings in a destructor. It returns true if the current thread is performing object finalization, in which case you don’t want to be taking any actions that touch on GC operations. (I’ve been waiting for something like this before writing the next article in my GC series.)

GDC

Thanks to the hard work of Iain Buclaw, Johannes Pfau, and all of the volunteers who have maintained and contributed to it over the years, GDC was accepted into GCC 9 in late 2018 and made available as part of the GCC 9.1 package released in May of last year. GCC 9.2 was released last August. This version of GDC implements version 2.076 of the D front end. You can build it yourself or install it from the same place you install the GCC 9.x series.

LDC 1.8.0 Released

LDC, the D compiler using the LLVM backend, has been actively developed for going on a dozen years, as laid out by co-maintainer David Nadlinger in his DConf 2013 talk. It is considered one of two production compilers for D, along with GDC, which uses the gcc backend and has been accepted for inclusion into the gcc tree.

The LDC developers are proud to announce the release of version 1.8.0, following a short year and a half from the 1.0 release. This version integrates version 2.078.3 of the D front-end (see the DMD 2.078.0 changelog for the important front-end changes), which is itself written in D, making LDC one of the most prominent mixed D/C++ codebases. You can download LDC 1.8.0 and read about the major changes and bug fixes for this release at GitHub.

More platforms

Kai Nacke, the other LDC co-maintainer, talked at DConf 2016 about taking D everywhere, to every CPU architecture that LLVM supports and as many OS platforms as we can. LDC is a cross-compiler: the same program can compile code for different platforms, in contrast to DMD and GDC, where a different DMD/GDC binary is needed for each platform. Towards that end, this release continues the existing Android cross-compilation support, which was introduced with LDC 1.4. A native LDC compiler to both build and run D apps on your Android phone is also available for the Termux Android app. See the wiki page for instructions on how to use one of the desktop compilers or the native compiler to compile D for Android.

The LDC team has also been putting out LDC builds for ARM boards, such as the Raspberry Pi 3. Download the armhf build if you want to try it out. Finally, some developers have expressed interest in using D for microservices, which usually means running in an Alpine container. This release also comes with an Alpine build of LDC, using the just-merged Musl port by @yshui. This port is brand new. Please try it out and let us know how well it works.

Linking options – shared default libraries

LDC now makes it easier to link with the shared version of the default libraries (DRuntime and the standard library, called Phobos) through the -link-defaultlib-shared compiler flag. The change was paired with a rework of linking-related options. See the new help output:

Linking options:

-L= - Pass to the linker
-Xcc= - Pass to GCC/Clang for linking
-defaultlib=<lib1,lib2,…> - Default libraries to link with (overrides previous)
-disable-linker-strip-dead - Do not try to remove unused symbols during linking
-link-defaultlib-debug - Link with debug versions of default libraries
-link-defaultlib-shared - Link with shared versions of default libraries
-linker=<lld-link|lld|gold|bfd|…> - Linker to use
-mscrtlib=<libcmt[d]|msvcrt[d]> - MS C runtime library to link with
-static

Other new options

  • -plugin=... for compiling with LLVM-IR pass plugins, such as the AFLfuzz LLVM-mode plugin
  • -fprofile-{generate,use} for Profile-Guided Optimization (PGO) based on the LLVM IR code (instead of PGO based on the D abstract syntax tree)
  • -fxray-{instrument,instruction-threshold} for generating code for XRay instrumentation
  • -profile (LDMD2) and -fdmd-trace-functions (LDC2) to support DMD-style profiling of programs

Vanilla compiler-rt libraries

LDC uses LLVM’s compiler-rt runtime library for Profile-Guided Optimization (PGO), Address Sanitizer, and fuzzing. When PGO was first added to LDC 1.1.0, the required portion of compiler-rt was copied to LDC’s source repository. This made it easy to ship the correct version of the library with LDC, and make changes for LDC specifically. However, a copy was needed for each LLVM version that LDC supports (compiler-rt is compatible with only one LLVM version): the source of LDC 1.7.0 has 6 (!) copies of compiler-rt’s profile library.

For the introduction of ASan and libFuzzer in the official LDC binary packages, a different mechanism was used: when building LDC, we check whether the compiler-rt libraries are available in LLVM’s installation and, if so, copy them into LDC’s lib/ directory. To use the same mechanism for the PGO runtime library, we had to remove our additions to that library. Although the added functionality is rarely used, we didn’t want to just drop it. Instead, the functionality was turned into template-only code, such that it does not need to be compiled into the library (if the templated functionality is called by the user, the template’s code will be generated in the caller’s object file).

With this change, LDC no longer needs its own copy of compiler-rt’s profile library and all copies were removed from LDC’s source repository. LDC 1.8.0 ships with vanilla compiler-rt libraries. LDC’s users shouldn’t notice any difference, but for the LDC team it means less maintenance burden.

Onward

A compiler developer’s work is never done. With this release out the door, we march onward toward 1.9. Until then, start optimizing your D programs by downloading the pre-compiled LDC 1.8.0 binaries for Linux, Mac, Windows, Alpine, ARM, and Android, or build the compiler from source from our GitHub repository.

Thanks to LDC contributors Johan Engelen and Joakim for coauthoring this post.