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From: Jonathan Turkanis (technews_at_[hidden])
Date: 2005-04-18 15:51:16

George M. Garner Jr. wrote:
> Johnathan,
>> I'd appreciate it if you would comment out the declaration and
>> implementation of xsgetn and see if you still experience problems.
> It makes the problem worse. Then I get reads for a single character
> from std::streambuf<>::uflow():
> virtual int_type uflow()
> { // get a character from stream, point past it
> return (_Traits::eq_int_type(_Traits::eof(), underflow())
> ? _Traits::eof() : _Traits::to_int_type(*_Gninc()));
> }

underflow or uflow should only be called when the input buffer is empty. The
only effect of removing xsgetn should be that the default xsgetn kicks in. The
default reads up to n characters "as if by repeated calls to sbumpc()," which
means it reads from the buffer, filling it as necessary using uflow.

>>> Fortunately, it is relatively trivial to disable Iostreams buffering
>>> altogether and write a buffering_shim_filter.
>> You can simply set the buffer size to zero when you add a filter to a
>> chain.
> Actually not! I was much chagrinned to find that you cannot disable
> input buffering. Setting the input buffer and pback buffers to 0
> actually results in an input buffer size of either 4 or 1, depending
> on whether or not I disable your STLPort workaround.

Unfortunately I'm not sure it's really a "workaround." As far as I can tell,
STLPort's implementation is conforming, which means the buffer-sizing policy is
necessary to handle an arbitrary conforming standard library.

> :-( I do think
> it should be possible for someone not using STLPort to disable input
> buffering.

The stream buffers in a chain provide the guarantee that a single character can
always be put back, so a buffer size of at least one is necessary. I guess I
could relax this requirment for stream buffers which are not part of a chain,
but I'd have to be convinced that maintaining a putback buffer is sometimes a
performance bottleneck.

> The following modified code appears to work:

Thanks for the code. Unfortunately I can't test it now, since I'm in the middle
of adding support for non-blocking i/o and the codebase is in flux.

Would it be fair to characterize you code as follows?

1. undeflow and xsgetn both contain speicial code to handle the unbuffered case
2. xsgetn fills the request by invoking the underlying source only if n is big;
otherwise it fills the request from the buffer, calling overflow as necessary.

Regarding 1, I'd like to handle the unbuffered case by writing a separate stream
buffer, unbuffered_streambuf, which combines the unbuffered sections from the
various indirect_streambuf virtual functions. This would offer a tiny
performance advantage, because there would be no check for the unbuffered case
while performing i/o, but mostly it would make the code easier to read.
Unfortunately, the necessity to deal with STLPort-type implementations makes
this impractical. If I could be convinced that STLPort's behavior is
non-conforming, I might do this. That still leaves the question whether the
"unbuffered" streambuf should have a putback buffer of size 1, as is usual.

Regarding 2, your implementation of xsgetn is essentially the same as a quality
default implementation, except for the optimization for very large n. In the
absence of data showing the large n optimization is significant, I'd prefer to
use the default implementation to spare code size.

I'm interested to know whether I've understood your code correctly, whether you
think always providing a putback buffer of size is unreasonable, and whether you
think the optimization for large n is critical.

Best Regards,

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