Tutorial - Adding a GBytes Marshaler

This tutorial is based on a request for adding a Python bytes to GBytes argument marshaler for introspected functions 729541.

Working with GI Interactively

To get started, we can inspect a GI function which takes a GBytes argument interactively to determine what the argument is in terms of GI (ipython is very helpful here):

PyGI exposes GI functions as custom callable objects which also implement the GIFunctionInfo API and its base classes.

>>> from gi.repository import GLib
>>> Gio.MemoryInputStream.new_from_bytes

Get the GIArgInfo:

>>> Gio.MemoryInputStream.new_from_bytes.get_arguments()
>>> arg, = _
>>> arg

Determine argument type using :

>>> ty = arg.get_type()
>>> ty
>>> ty.get_tag_as_string()

At this point we know the argument type tag is an "interface" or GI_TYPE_TAG_INTERFACE so g_type_info_get_interface should be valid for the GITypeInfo.

>>> iface = ty.get_interface()

In this case get_interface() is giving us a GIStructInfo. We can then verify a valid GType is available using g_registered_type_info_get_g_type() (GIRegisteredTypeInfo is a base class of GIStructInfo):

>>> gtype = iface.get_g_type()
>>> gtype
<GType GBytes (12737104)>

We also have to find the fundamental GType for GBytes:

>>> gtype.fundamental
<GType GBoxed (72)>

Mapping out the C Code

We now have enough information to correlate to the various switch statements in the PyGI caching system which will help us place our new marshaling code. Starting with pygi-cache.c:pygi_arg_cache_new you can trace through _arg_cache_new_for_interface and finally land in pygi-struct-marshal.c:pygi_arg_struct_new_from_info.

For this bug, we are looking to add a "from py" marshaling convenience. So we could add a new conditional in _pygi_marshal_from_py_interface_struct within the G_TYPE_BOXED conditional. However, note this text in the function:

    /* FIXME: handle this large if statement in the cache
     *        and set the correct marshaller

What this means is _pygi_marshal_from_py_interface_struct is actually dispatching to sub-types of GIStructInfo at runtime for every argument. Not very ideal considering we have this whole caching system for marshaling arguments.

Instead what we should really do is create a new from_py_marshaller and from_py_cleanup callack pair specifically for GBytes arguments which are baked in at cache setup time. Essentially specializing GBytes as early as possible in _arg_cache_from_py_interface_struct_setup by setting arg_cache->from_py_marshaller and arg_cache->from_py_cleanup.

Marshaler Callbacks

Relevant marshaler callbacks are declared in pygi-cache.h and we need an implementation of both PyGIMarshalFromPyFunc and PyGIMarshalCleanupFunc.

typedef gboolean (*PyGIMarshalFromPyFunc) (PyGIInvokeState   *state,
                                           PyGICallableCache *callable_cache,
                                           PyGIArgCache      *arg_cache,
                                           PyObject          *py_arg,
                                           GIArgument        *arg,
                                           gpointer          *cleanup_data);

typedef void (*PyGIMarshalCleanupFunc) (PyGIInvokeState *state,
                                        PyGIArgCache    *arg_cache,
                                        PyObject        *py_arg, /* always NULL for to_py cleanup */
                                        gpointer         data,
                                        gboolean         was_processed);

PyGIMarshalFromPyFunc is called for each argument prior to executing the callee, the relevant bits are as follows:

  • py_arg - This is the input PyObject the Python caller is passing to the GI function. We need to type check this and do a mini dispatch depending on the type (PyBytes or buffer protocol check, PyGIBoxed, and Py_None).

  • arg - This is the target memory are marshaler will fill out. In this case arg->v_pointer will be assigned a pointer to a GBytes object.

  • arg_cache->allow_none - If TRUE, py_arg can be Py_None and arg->v_pointer should be set to NULL, returning TRUE from the marshaling callback.

  • arg_cache->transfer - Determines how memory should be managed for the argument.

  • cleanup_data - This is an output argument that can be set to custom data which passed back to us in the cleanup callback as "data", used for freeing relevant memory after the callee returns. In our case this will either be NULL or a GBytes pointer, in which case we should call g_bytes_unref() on the data.

PyGIMarshalCleanupFunc is called after the callee finishes and to cleanup any temporary data we created while the callee was running.

Transfer Semantics

A py_arg input of type PyGIBoxed is a direct wrapping of an existing GBoxed. This is a fairly simple case to deal with, we just need to extract the boxed pointer (pyg_boxed_get) and assign it to arg->v_pointer. For GI_TRANSFER_EVERYTHING we also need to add a reference the callee can own by calling g_bytes_ref on this pointer.

In the case where we are passed a PyBytes (or Python object implementing the buffer protocol), we need to create a new GBytes which holds a pointer to the PyBytes data. Zero copy can easily be achieved when transfer is GI_TRANSFER_NOTHING because a read-only buffer can be retrieved from Python and passed to the GBytes constructor (without a free_func). We know the lifetime of the PyBytes is valid at least until the callee completes. The trick here is we also need to set *cleanup_data to the newly created GBytes so our cleanup callback can free the GBytes. Since we didn't set a free_func when constructing the GBytes, calling g_bytes_unref will not touch our Python owned data.

For converting a PyBytes with transfer mode as GI_TRANSFER_EVERYTHING, we basically follow the same as above with some extra tricks. Since the callee is intending to own the GBytes we pass it, we must pass it something which is guaranteed to survive after our Python function returns (must exist after our cleanup callback). The easiest technique here is to memcpy the result of the PyBytes data and construct a GBytes using g_bytes_new_with_free_func, with a free_func of g_free and user_data of the bytes (no need for setting cleanup_data because the C callee owns everything).

However, it is possible to achieve zero copy with PyBytes and GI_TRANSFER_EVERYTHING by creating a custom free_func which calls Py_DECREF. However, this free_func must wrap any Python API calls with PyGILState_Ensure/Release pairs:

threaded_py_bytes_free (PyObject *py_bytes)
    PyGILState_STATE state = PyGILState_Ensure ();
    Py_DECREF (py_bytes);
    PyGILState_Release (state);

gboolean marshal (...)
    /* ... py_arg type and transfer checks ... */
    char *buf = NULL;
    Py_ssize_t length;
    PyBytes_AsStringAndSize (py_arg, &buf, &length);
    arg->v_pointer = g_bytes_new_with_free_func (buf, length, threaded_py_bytes_free, py_arg);
    *cleanup_data = NULL;
    return True;

The above zero copy implementation could also possibly be implemented using memoryviews for accessing a Py_buffer instead of requiring a PyBytes type as input.

Marshaler Implementation

This section is left up to the reader as an exercise, remember to write tests!

Projects/PyGObject/GBytesMarshalerTutorial (last edited 2014-05-08 21:44:43 by SimonFeltman)