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C data structures are different from Julia structures in that they do not keep type information. While most primitive types and bitstype structures of Julia have an identical memory layout as the corresponding C data, complexities arise when pointers and strings are embedded.

This package handles the situation, when pointered C-data generated in C have to be accessed in Julia code. It is also possible in Julia to construct a byte array, which can be processed by a C program given the layout of the C-structures.

This package was fundamental to implementing the FuseApi package.


]add CStructures


using CStructures

struct LayoutType <: Layout

cs = CStruct{LayoutType}(c_data)
cs.field = cs.field + 1

se = Cserialize(LayoutType, (field = 42,))
ccall((:cf, :libc), Cvoid, (Ptr{LayoutType},), se)

cg = CStructGuarded(se)
cg.field = 43 

Layout Elements

A data layout is described by a Julia bitstype struct, a fixed or variable vector descriptor, a Cstring, or a reference descriptor.

Bits Types

All primitve types defined in Julia, which have an identical C-representation can be used as layout descriptions. That includes immutable structs of such types, which have the isbitstype attribute.

String Type

The special type Cstring is used to represent a char* pointer. It occupies the space of any Ptr.

Reference Types

To describe C-pointers to primitive objects or C-structures, the Ptr{T} notion is used. Here T is a Julia type name. It needs to be defined in the code before the usage.

To support referencing types, which will be defined later, as is possible in C, the special construct LForwardReference{:S} was introduced which uses the symbolized name :S of the referenced type, which can be defined later. This feature will become obsolete, as soon as Julia will support forward references PR#32658.

Element type T must be a reference type.

Vector Types

A fixed length vector of N elements of type T is denoted LFixedVector{T,N}. It has the size of NTuple{N,T}, where T is any of the supported types. A pointer to a vector is Ptr{LFixedVector{T,N}} or LForwardReference{LFixedVector{T,N}}.

A variable length vector is denoted LVarVector{T,F} with the same restrictions to T as for fixed vectors. It can be embedded as the last element of a layout structure or the element type of a reference. The actual length can be calculated by F(x) with x the current structure, where the vector is referenced. Typically that uses to be F = (x) -> x.fieldname, the vector length stored in an integer field.

Layout Types

An bitstype struct, which is a subtype of Layout is composed of fields, which have an identical memory layout as a corresponding C-struct. The fields may be any of the mentioned layout types, but not directly self-referential (only via Ptr or LForwardReference).

Accessor Objects

Accessing C-Data

Serializing Julia-Data according to Layout

Complex Layout types don't have instances in general.


struct Commandline <: Layout
    argv::Ptr{LVarVector{Cstring, (x)->x.argc + 1}}
# Note `argv[1:argc]` correspond to argv[0] ... argv[argc-1] in `C` and `argv[argc+1] = CNull`.

Assuming a C-function returns a pointer to a C-structure with the layout of Commandline, that could be C-code like

struct Commandline {
    size_t argc; char** argv

The in Julia that could be accessed:

p = ccall(:argfunction, Ptr{Commandline}, ())
cline = CStruct(p)