Chapter 5: Pre-loading input lines

In some programs it may be desirable to have the currently scanned line available, even though all its contents hasn't been read yet by flexc++.

E.g., when the g++ compiler detects an error or warning it displays the full line in which the error or warning condition arose, as well as a column indicator indicating where the condition was observed (below, a condition where the current input line should be displayed is simply called a `condition').

Flexc++ could use one of the following approaches to provide the required condition information:

5.1: Using start conditions to pre-load input lines

Since the scanner has full control over what happens before and after determining the next token, the lexical scanner's rules can be designed so that it always first reads a line, and then re-reads that line in another start condition. The Scanner object keeps the last-read line, a column indicator, and a reset flag, which is initially set to true and also after reading a newline. If the reset flag is true, the column indicator is set to 0, otherwise it is updated to the length of the currently matched text. Here is the initial section of the class Scanner, showing the new data members:

    class Scanner: public ScannerBase
    {
        std::string d_storedLine;
        size_t d_column = 0;
        bool d_reset = true;
    
        public:
        ...
    };
        

Of course, the lexer won't return for all matched text, but once a rule has been matched the posCode member is called, so this function can update the column and reset indicators:


    void Scanner::postCode(PostEnum__ type) 
    {
        if (not d_reset)
            d_column += length();
        else
        {
            d_reset = false;
            d_column = 0;
        }
    }
        

The scanner's default rule (the StartCondition__::INITIAL scanner simply reads the initial line, and then pushes the line back onto the scanner's queue. A simple .* will ensure that all the line's characters are read. Having matched a line it must still be broken down into tokens, for which the %x main start condition is used. The default (INITIAL) scanner's rule looks like this:


    .*                                  {
                                            d_storedLine = matched();
                                            push(d_storedLine);
                                            begin(StartCondition__::main);
                                            d_reset = true;
                                        }
        

Now that the line has been stored, it's time to obtain its tokens, which is the responsibility of the StartCondition__::main start condition:


    <main>{
        [ \t]+                              // skip white space chars.
        [0-9]+                              return NUMBER;
        [[:alpha:]_][[:alpha:][:digit:]_]*  return IDENTIFIER;
        [][]                                return SIGNAL;
        .                                   return matched()[0];
        \n                                  begin(StartCondition__::INITIAL);
    }
        

Identifiers and numbers are returned as tokens, square brackets are returned as SIGNAL tokens, indicating that we would like to see the lines and columns in which they were found, white space characters are ignored, and all other characters are returned as-is.

Once a token is returned, d_column is updated to indicate the column number of the last-matched character. To obtain the matched text's initial column number, subtract length() - 1.

Here is a simple main function, reading its cin stream, and showing lines, column indicators, line numbers, and column numbers of detected square brackets:

#include <iostream>
#include <iomanip>
#include "scanner.h"

using namespace std;

int main()
{
    Scanner scanner;        // define a Scanner object

    while (int token = scanner.lex())   // get all tokens
    {
        string const &text = scanner.matched();
        switch (token)
        {
            case IDENTIFIER:
                cout << "identifier: " << text << '\n';
            break;

            case NUMBER:
                cout << "number: " << text << '\n';
            break;

            case SIGNAL:
            {
                cout << 
                        '\n' <<
                        scanner.line() << '\n' <<
                        setw(scanner.column()) << '^' << "\n"
                        "Line " << scanner.lineNr() << ", column " <<
                        scanner.column() << 
                                ": saw `" << scanner.matched() << "'\n\n";
            }
            break;

            default:
                cout << "char. token: `" << text << "'\n";
            break;
        }
    }
}

5.2: Wrapping input streams

Streams offering the contents and last-read column positions of the currently scanned line could be passed to the scanner. The streams that are processed by the scanner become wrapper streams around the streams that are actually processed by the scanner.

This approach uses multiple inheritance to add std::streambuf and std::istream facilities to the class Scanner. However, these facilities are for internal use only: they are merely used for wrapping the std::istream that is actually passed to the scanner.

Once the set of files have been generated from the rules file (e.g., lexer) the file Scanner.h is available, and this file will be slightly modified: we'll use triple inheritance for the class Scanner:


class Scanner: private ScannerStreambuf, private std::istream, 
               public ScannerBase 
    

Only for the ScannerBase public inheritance is used: the initial two classes are used to implement Scanner in terms of these classes. The class IStreambuf is doing all the magic and is discussed below. The std::istream base class receives ScannerStreambuf's address, turning Scanner objects into std::istream objects, but only so for the benefit of the Scanner object itself. ScannerBase, of course, is left untouched.

The class ScannerStreambuf maintains and offers the contents of the currently scanned line and column numbers of returned characters. The Scanner's interface shares its members line and column to make this information available to any class that may access the Scanner object. To accomplish this the following declarations are added Scanner's public interface:


    using ScannerStreambuf::line;
    using ScannerStreambuf::column;
        

The member explicit Scanner(std::istream &in = std::cin, std::ostream &out = std::cout) now must make sure the ScannerStreambuf and std::istream are properly initialized before the ScannerBase can be initialized. the ScannerStreambuf is a wrapper around the actual std::istream, and it receives the initial stream from the constructor's arguments. This completes the ScannerStreambuf construction, making std::istream's std::streambuffer available. The interesting part comes next: now that the Scanner is an std::istream it can simply be passed to ScannerBase as the input file to be processed (cf. figure 1).

Figure 1: Scanner: triple inheritance

The code implementing this organization looks like this:


    Scanner::Scanner(std::istream &in, std::ostream &out)
    :
        ScannerStreambuf(cin),
        istream(this),
        ScannerBase(*this, cout)
    {}
        

5.2.1: The class ScannerStreambuf

The class ScannerStreambuf uses two data members (d_line and d_column) to store, respectively, the line that's currently being scanned and the column to where the scanning process has proceeded. In addition it needs access to the actual input stream (in this example only one stream is used, so a std::istream &d_in can be used; if stream-switching should be supported then use a std::istream *d_inPtr), and it uses a one-character buffer (there's no real need to use a bigger buffer, as the input stream may already define its own buffer, and the scanner merely reads its input one character at the time anyway (through Input::get).

ScannerStreambuf only needs a very basic interface:


    class ScannerStreambuf: public std::streambuf
    {
        std::istream &d_in;
        std::string d_line;
        size_t d_column = 0;
        char d_ch;
    
        public:
            ScannerStreambuf(std::istream &in);
    
            std::string const &line() const;
            size_t column() const;
    
        private:
            int underflow() override;    
    };
        
The members line and column are simple accessors, returning, respectively d_line and d_column. The constructor initializes d_in and installs an empty buffer:

    ScannerStreambuf::ScannerStreambuf(istream &in)
    :
        d_in(in)
    {
        setg(0, 0, 0);
    }
        

The member underflow isn't complicated either: if all characters in d_line have been processed (which is initially true) the next line is read into d_line, adding a newline character to d_line.

Then the next character in d_line is assigned to d_ch, and the input buffer is defined to point at d_ch. Here is its implementation:


    int ScannerStreambuf::underflow()
    {
        if (d_column == d_line.length())
        {
            if (!getline(d_in, d_line))
                return EOF;
    
            d_column = 0;
            d_line += '\n';
        }
        d_ch = d_line[d_column++];
        setg(&d_ch, &d_ch, &d_ch + 1);
        return *gptr();
    }
        

5.2.2: Illustration

Here is a set of lexer-rules which is used to illustrate the various approaches with:

%filenames scanner

%%

[ \t\n]+                            // skip white space chars.
[0-9]+                              return NUMBER;
[[:alpha:]_][[:alpha:][:digit:]_]*  return IDENTIFIER;
[][]                                return SIGNAL;
.                                   return matched()[0];




Identifiers and numbers are returned as tokens, square brackets are returned as SIGNAL tokens, indicating that we would like to see the lines and columns in which they were found, white space characters are ignored, and all other characters are returned as-is.

The main function uses the column and line members, which were added to the class Scanner:

int main()
{
    ScannerStreambuf buf(cin);
    istream in(&buf);

    string line;

    Scanner scanner(in);                // define a Scanner object

    while (int token = scanner.lex())   // get all tokens
    {
        string const &text = scanner.matched();
        switch (token)
        {
            case IDENTIFIER:
                cout << "identifier: " << text << '\n';
            break;

            case NUMBER:
                cout << "number: " << text << '\n';
            break;

            case SIGNAL:
            {
                cout << 
                        '\n' <<
                        scanner.line() << 
                        setw(scanner.column()) << '^' << "\n"
                        "Line " << scanner.lineNr() << ", column " <<
                        scanner.column() << 
                                ": saw `" << scanner.matched() << "'\n\n";
            }
            break;

            default:
                cout << "char. token: `" << text << "'\n";
            break;
        }
    }
}

The IStreambuf wraps around cin, and is passed to an istream, which in turn is passed to the Scanner object. When the scanner returns SIGNAL tokens their lines, column indicators, line numbers and column numbers are shown.

Members like switchStream and pushStream, expecting std::istream references can also be used, if the actual input streams are wrapped in ScannerStreambuf objects, which are passed to istream objects which are, in turn, passed to switchStream and pushStream. The members expecting names of streams should of course not be used, since the scanner creates plain std::ifstream objects for them.