nest syntax alternative

Remi Forax forax at
Wed Feb 20 11:42:49 UTC 2019

----- Mail original -----
> De: "John Rose" <john.r.rose at>
> À: "Brian Goetz" <brian.goetz at>
> Cc: "amber-spec-experts" <amber-spec-experts at>
> Envoyé: Mercredi 20 Février 2019 00:52:32
> Objet: Re: nest syntax alternative

> On Feb 19, 2019, at 2:50 PM, Brian Goetz <brian.goetz at> wrote:
>> …we are still left with the same problem of finding the source file
>> corresponding to com/foo/X.class, because it will not necessarily be the
>> corresponding com/foo/ in the source path.

I don't get why it's complicated.

For def-site convergence, as you said we need an attribute inside X.class that says that X is inside XY, like the InnerClass attribute.

For the use-site convergence, we should generate classfile of X to be flat i.e. X can be in the source file XY while still being generated as X and not X inside XY. If we don't generate X flat, it will not be compatible to seal an existing interface (it will disrupt the use site).


> Yes, this is a key problem.  A flattened "binary name" like pkg.X
> or pkg.X$Y is converted to a file system query on an internal
> name like pkg/X.class or pkg/X$Y.class.  If both classes were
> to be defined in one bundle of bits, then (I think) one of the
> following conditions must hold:  A reference to either class
> must converge to a reference to that one *.class file, or else
> (given that a reference to either class internalizes as a
> reference to a specific classfile name unique to it) both
> class file names must somehow converge to locate a
> single copy of the bits.
> More concisely either this:
> pkg.X, pkg.Y =converge=> pkg/XY.class => bits for X, Y
> or this:
> (pkg.X => pkg/X.class, pkg.Y => pkg/Y.class) =converge=> bits for X, Y
> The first alternative appears to require a convergence
> mapping at the name level, while the second can also
> rely on a convergence mapping in the file system (sym.
> links) or in the files themselves (brief forwarding records).
> The first alternative seems to me to split again into two
> ways, depending on whether the user of a class name
> has a burden to record the convergence.  That is, if
> my source code refers to X or Y, does javac place an
> extra bit of information that helps locate their common
> definition XY?  Or is it the job of the JVM and other
> implementors of the classpath mechanism to scan
> definitions like XY and "register" their willingness to
> define both names?
> Leaning some more on the (odd but suggestive) term
> "convergence", the alternatives might be called:
> 1. def-site convergence
> 2. use-site convergence
> 3. class-path convergence
> …based on where the primary responsibility of
> converging X, Y to XY occurs.
> Use-site convergence is actually a pretty reasonable
> technique for nested classes, since Java mandates
> that, if a compiler which translates X.Y to pkg.X$Y
> at the source level must *also* record that X is the
> definer of X.Y in the InnerClasses attribute.  This
> gives a possible "hook" for extending class loaders
> to search pkg/X.class for a nearby definition of
> pkg.X$Y.  This technique could probably be extended
> to associate "affiliated" classes which are not actually
> related by a nesting relation, but instead are located
> in the same source file.
> So use-site convergence (via some InnerClasses-like
> stuffing) could help guide classpath searches.  It would
> *not* help with source-path searches, however; those
> would have to crawl through package folders and peek
> inside of source files to find hidden class declarations.
> In fact, the source-path mechanisms seem (to me) more
> resistant (than classpath mechanisms) to any notion of
> convergence, since we are talking about human-written
> source files, not classfiles which we have some control
> over.  Nevertheless, the logic of the alternatives above
> applies somewhat to source-path considerations also:
> 1. def-site convergence = source path scanners need
> to peek inside all path files
> 2. use-site convergence = source files need an explicit
> "import X from Y" type statement to declare locations
> 3. path convergence = source paths need to be augmented
> with summaries (pre-compiled?) of what's stored where,
> perhaps rolled up in package-info.*.
> It seems to me we might make progress with a mixed
> solution:  Inner classes use today's available hooks
> affiliated classes use forwarding pointers (def-site c.)
> in the file system, either sym-links if appropriate or
> stub classfiles which emulate sym-links on systems
> which lack them.  E.g., the stub classfile X.class
> would contain a zero-length constant pool and
> the unqualified name of the classfile XY.class
> which defines X in that same package & folder.
> (Yep, Maarten, you sparked some musings.)
> — John

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