Best Practices

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DWARF Best Practices

This is a draft proposal for review by the DWARF Workgroup.

Compilation Unit Names

For DW_TAG_compilation_unit and DW_TAG_partial_unit DIEs, the name attribute should contain the path name of the primary source file from which the compilation unit was derived (see Section 3.1.1). If the compiler was invoked with a full path name, it is recommended to use the path name as given to the compiler, although it is considered acceptable to convert the path name to an equivalent path where none of the components is a symbolic link. If the compiler was invoked with a relative path name, it is recommended to use the relative path name as given to the compiler; a consumer must be able to locate the source file by combining the compilation directory (see DW_AT_comp_dir) with the relative path name.

Names of Program Entities

For modules, subroutines, variables, parameters, constants, types, and labels, the DW_AT_name attribute should contain the name of the corresponding program object as it appears in the source code, without any qualifiers such as namespaces, containing classes, or modules (see Section 2.15). A consumer can easily reconstruct the fully-qualified name from the DIE hierarchy. In general, the value of DW_AT_name should be such that a fully-qualified name constructed from the DW_AT_name attributes of the object and its containing objects will uniquely represent that object in a form natural to the source language.

For template instantiations, the DW_AT_name attribute should contain both the source language name of the object and the template parameters that distinguish one instantiation from another. The resulting string should be in the natural form for the language, and should have a canonical representation (i.e., different producers should generate the same representation). For C++, the string should match that produced by the target platform's canonical demangler; spaces should only be inserted where syntactically required by the compiler.

The producer may also generate a DW_AT_linkage_name attribute for program objects, but the presence of this attribute should never be required to distinguish one program object from another. The DIE hierarchy is able to provide qualifiers for the name, and the DW_AT_name attribute itself provides template parameters. In the case of overloaded functions, the DW_TAG_formal_parameter DIEs belonging to the function DIE can provide the necessary information to distiguish one overload from another. In many cases, however, it is expensive for a consumer to parse the hierarchy, and the presence of the mangled name may be beneficial to performance. In other cases, the producer may choose to generate a limited subset of debug information, and the mangled name may substitute for the missing information.