More fun with scopes and ScriptObjectMirror

A. Sundararajan sundararajan.athijegannathan at
Wed Dec 11 06:27:59 PST 2013

avatar/js project passes the relevant node.js tests (tests that check no 
leak of vars from module files). Apparently, none of the modules have 
"var" less declarations.


On Wednesday 11 December 2013 07:13 PM, Tim Fox wrote:
> On 11/12/13 13:28, A. Sundararajan wrote:
>> Our emails crossed (again!).
> Hehe, we really must stop doing that! ;)
>> I suggested that option based on avatar/js code..
> fwiw, this is also the approach used in rhino-require 
> It's actually the first thing I considered because it's so simple, and 
> it's pure JS so portable between engines. However this approach is 
> flawed as it doesn't prevent the leakage of globals not declared using 
> var, i.e.
> someglobal = 3;
> Which is what led me down the more complex route with explicitly 
> manipulating scopes at the engine level...
> Do you guys not consider the leakage of non var globals not a big 
> issue? Personally I ruled out this approach because of that, but maybe 
> I should reconsider it (?)
> In the long term though, I think it would be nice if Nashorn provided 
> the mechanism to implement require() with real isolation.
>> Sundar
>> On Wednesday 11 December 2013 06:40 PM, Tim Fox wrote:
>>> On 11/12/13 12:53, Attila Szegedi wrote:
>>>> On Dec 11, 2013, at 1:13 PM, Tim Fox <timvolpe at> wrote:
>>>>> Confused...
>>>>> I assumed that if two scripts where run with their own script 
>>>>> context, then they would already have separate globals, i.e. if I do
>>>>> myglobal = 1
>>>>> in module 1 that won't be visible in module 2.
>>>> That's true, but then you also end up with the need for 
>>>> ScriptObjectMirrors between them, and that was what I suggested you 
>>>> try to avoid.
>>>>> So I'm not sure really what --global-per-engine really means, if 
>>>>> the modules have their own globals anyway. I guess my 
>>>>> understanding must be wrong somewhere.
>>>> Well, it will mean that modules won't have their own globals… 
>>>> --global-per-engine will make it so that the Global object is 
>>>> specific to the ScriptEngine, and not to the ScriptContext, e.g. 
>>>> even if you replace the ScriptContext of the engine, when scripts 
>>>> are run, they'll still see the same global object as before the 
>>>> replacement. The gist of it is:
>>>> a) without --global-per-engine, the Global object is specific to a 
>>>> ScriptContext, each ScriptContext has its own. ENGINE_SCOPE 
>>>> Bindings object of the context is actually a mirror of its Global.
>>>> b) with --global-per-engine, the Global object lives in the 
>>>> ScriptEngine. ENGINE_SCOPE Bindings object of the context is just a 
>>>> vanilla SimpleBindings (or whatever you set it to), and Global will 
>>>> delegate property getters for non-existent properties to it (but 
>>>> it'll still receive property setters, so new global variables 
>>>> created by one script will be visible by another; no isolation there).
>>>> What I was suggesting is that your module loading code would look 
>>>> something like:
>>>> // The engine that you use
>>>> ScriptEngine engine = new NashornScriptEngine().getEngine(new 
>>>> String[] { "--global-per-engine" });
>>>> ...
>>>> // when loading a module
>>>> Bindings moduleVars = new SimpleBindings();
>>>> moduleVars.put("require", requireFn);
>>>> moduleVars.put("module", moduleDescriptorObj);
>>>> moduleVars.put("exports", exportsObj);
>>>> Bindings prevBindings = engine.getBindings(ENGINE_SCOPE);
>>>> engine.setBindings(moduleVars, ENGINE_SCOPE);
>>>> try {
>>>>      engine.eval(moduleSource);
>>>> } finally {
>>>>     engine.setBindings(prevBindings, ENGINE_SCOPE);
>>>> }
>>>> return exportsObj;
>>>> NB: your modules would _not_ run in isolated globals. I thought 
>>>> they do, but I just spoke to Sundar and he explained the mechanism 
>>>> to me so now I see they won't -- see above the case b).
>>>> They could pollute each other's global namespace (since it's 
>>>> shared). Hopefully they'd adhere to Modules/Secure recommendation 
>>>> and refrain from doing so, but you can't really enforce it.
>>>> My require() implementation in Rhino could provide real isolation, 
>>>> but this is unfortunately impossible in Nashorn. Nashorn makes an 
>>>> assumption that the global object during execution of a script is 
>>>> an instance of jdk.nashorn.internals.objects.Global; in Rhino, it 
>>>> could have been anything so there I was able to run a module in a 
>>>> new scope that had the actual Global object as its prototype, so it 
>>>> could catch all variable assignments in itself and essentially make 
>>>> the Global read only (albeit objects in it mutable - e.g. a module 
>>>> could still extend Array prototype etc.).
>>>> In Nashorn, it's the other way round with "--global-per-engine" - 
>>>> Global object is the one immediately visible to scripts, and 
>>>> ENGINE_SCOPE Bindings object is used as source of properties that 
>>>> aren't found in the Global. Here, Global catches variable 
>>>> assignments and ENGINE_SCOPE Bindings object ends up being 
>>>> immutable (although objects in it are obviously still mutable, so 
>>>> the module can build up its "exports" object).
>>>> Basically, you have a choice between having shared globals (no 
>>>> isolation) without mirrors (and then you won't run into any issues 
>>>> with mirrors), or separate globals (with real isolation), but then 
>>>> also mirrors, and then you might run into limitations of mirrors 
>>>> (e.g. they can't be automatically used as Runnable etc. callbacks 
>>>> from Java and so on.)
>>> I also considered a third option - executing all modules in a single 
>>> global, but wrapping the module code in a function to hide any top 
>>> level globals declared as vars, e.g. if module is:
>>> var someglobal = "hello";
>>> module.exports = someglobal;
>>> after wrapping it becomes:
>>> (function(module) {
>>>   var someglobal = "hello");
>>>   module.exports = someglobal;
>>> })();
>>> which hides someglobal.
>>> However this doesn't work with modules that use globals by omitting 
>>> var, e.g.
>>> someglobal = "hello";
>>> module.exports = someglobal;
>>> Now, there are far fewer CommonJS modules  which use globals without 
>>> var (as it's bad practice) but still enough to make this not a good 
>>> option either :(
>>>> I'm not trying to justify or otherwise qualify any of the design 
>>>> decisions here, just trying to help you understand its constraints.
>>>> Attila.

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