Code Hygiene

In the past, submitting code to wine had a reputation for being difficult. We're trying several changes to make it easier for people to contribute code, but one thing we don't want to let go of are high standards for patches. Although we can't list all of the issues that might come up, here are a few that drew a lot of attention in the past.

Many of these could theoretically be checked automatically, and there are already basic scripts floating around for some of them. It hasn't been discussed yet, but having our testbot check for these down the road could be a worthwhile project.

Learn to Love Compiler Warnings

Rather than suppressing compiler warnings by default, it's a good habit to go the extra mile and fix them whenever possible. Gcc and Clang should use identical (or pretty close) names for their warning options.

Of course, if you use the -W flag to return all possible warnings when Building Wine as a whole, that may swamp you with too many errors at once to be useful. Enabling the warnings and running make in a single directory with changes shouldn't be overwhelming though:

cd dlls/one-I-changed/

At the very least, be sure to eliminate any warnings that weren't there before. Now if you can fix some old warnings in the process, without adding to the complexity of your patch, that never hurts. One other small project, if you're looking for ideas for Submitting Patches, is to build all of Wine with a specific warning or set of warnings in mind, then write up simple changes to fix them.

Listen to Your Functions

Although not every function returns a value that is critical to your function, the return values of some functions should always be used. For example, it is dangerous to not check the return value of a write() or system() call, and it's practically useless to throw away the one from strtoul().

Fortunately, since passing functions and parameters is one thing compilers are built to understand, you can automatically check during the build process for functions you should be listening to more carefully. All you need to do is pass a few warning flags to your compiler when you build:

CFLAGS="-O1 -Wp,-D_FORTIFY_SOURCE=1"    (minimum)
CFLAGS="-O2 -Wp,-D_FORTIFY_SOURCE=2"    (preferred)

This should give a warning for every important function call whose return value is ignored. And don't just nod your head as you pass the return value to a dummy variable; you really have to listen and process the return value with the proper tests.

Set Read-Only Data to const

This task actually isn't too difficult. After compiling whatever files you're working on, you can use objdump -x on the resulting object files, then cross-reference the .data and .rodata segments from the dump. Any variables in .data that shouldn't be written to can be set as const in your source, which should place them in .rodata once you rebuild the files. Of course, be sure to fix any new compile warnings your changes generate too.

After you've made your changes, rebuild and actually run your modified version of wine to test. It's important you do some real-world testing because a variable incorrectly set as const can often cause segfaults.

Avoid Superfluous Casts

Although clarity is a boon most of the time, it can actually be counter-productive to explicitly cast variables from one type to another when the compiler (and developers) implicitly understand it. Not only does it clutter up your lines of code, but more importantly, it can suppress compiler warnings that will otherwise warn you about casts you probably shouldn't be making.

The most flagrant versions of this revolve around... nothing, as in void functions, NULL values, etc. Here's a quick table of what these look like and how to fix them...

Description Solution Before After
Cast void * return value to another pointer type Let the compiler cast it implicitly (WCHAR *)HeapAlloc(GetProcessHeap(), 0, size) HeapAlloc(GetProcessHeap(), 0, size)
Cast NULL to a pointer or handle type Let the compiler cast it implicitly (HWND)NULL NULL
Cast NULL to an integer value or handle Just use zero instead (LRESULT)(HTREEITEM)NULL 0

Dealing with Strings

There are also a few specific rules to keep in mind for strings and functions that handle them.

Constants as Character Arrays

On Windows, the C compilers will naturally produce Unicode literals of the format needed by Windows / Wine. However, on unix systems, the compilers won't necessarily produce strings with the correct format. As a result, we manually define all "wide" string literals as constant character arrays.

So instead of passing these string literals to a Unicode-capable function...

SomeRandomFunctionW( "Hello" );
SomeRandomFunctionW( L"Hello" );

You will need to create a constant WCHAR array:

static const WCHAR helloW[] = {'H','e','l','l','o',0};
SomeRandomFunctionW( helloW );

No, this isn't convenient, but it keeps the code standards-compliant and portable across build environments. If you'll have a particularly long string or be entering these regularly, many text editors, such as emacs, should allow you to setup a macro for automatically converting strings to these arrays.

Buffer Allocation

Another thing to watch out for in Wine's Unicode support is the string size. When allocating buffers for Unicode strings, you should base your buffer size on


Technically, even this is incorrect due to the possibility of bonded pairs. However, in most cases, Wine should still be fine with it since we know in advance that characters outside the Basic Multilingual Plane won't be used.

Function Duplication

In Wine, we shouldn't call any ASCII functions from within Unicode ones. Not only is the conversion from Unicode to ASCII lossy (if even possible), but it's actually slower nowadays with most unix systems supporting Unicode by default.

When Microsoft implemented Unicode support, they decided just to duplicate every API call that accepts strings, whether directly as a parameter or within a structure. Then, extra conversion functions were added to convert between them. Windows also decided on UCS-2 (a predecessor to UTF-16) rather than UTF-8 for its Unicode strings so Unicode-compatible functions have names ending with W (for "wide" 2 byte characters), while non-Unicode functions (that take strings encoded in whatever the current codepage is) end in A for ANSI.

Because there is no overlap between the two like with UTF-8, you'll need to use "wide" versions of every string function when handling Unicode, e.g. strlenW rather than strlen. Any functions that expect null-terminated strings also require a wide equivalent, since the ANSI functions are not designed to expect null bytes.

Messages that deal with strings also have A/W versions, and both Wine and Windows have a good deal of infrastructure for converting between them as needed. You should always check the encoding of your target window before sending such messages, though exactly how depends on the messaging component. Some widgets use the IsWindowUnicode function, while others send a preliminary message to the window to ask what format it wants.

Because "wide" strings contain embedded null bytes, you can't print them with a normal printf, which is used by Winedbg. If you need to inject a "wide" string into a debug message, we've written a special conversion function debugstr_w that you can use like this:

TRACE("this is a wide string: %s\n", debugstr_w(widestr));

Handling Duplicate Code

When working on a problem that's similar to one addressed elsewhere, "cut-and-paste" coding can be a kludgy but very effective way to prototype. The goal should always be to minimize duplication in your patches though, bundling common code into distinct modules whenever possible. That said, you can have situations where the current structure of the source or the build process would make this kind of refactoring a significant project.

In developing wine, we've come across a few situations like this, where refactoring still isn't expedient. So in the meanwhile, we try to at least keep the code in sync. Here is a list of current "cut-and-paste" relationships in the wine source tree:

Purpose File A File B Current Status
Demangle VC++ symbols into C function prototypes dlls/msvcrt/undname.c tools/winedump.msmangle.c Memory allocation needs to be rewritten to allow for a complete sync
Read dwarf2 info from ELF modules dlls/dbghelp/dwarf.c dlls/ntdll/signal_x86_64.c 100% synced since 27 Mar 2010
Use the minidump method for debug info tools/winedump/minidump.c programs/winedbg/tgt_minidump.c 100% synced since 29 Aug 2015

Remember that these duplications are seen as necessary evils, but if you sincerely believe something similar is the best solution for your problem at the moment, definitely discuss it with the other developers on the wine developers' mailing list. Also, if you do get your patch submitted, please add an entry for your duplication to the above table.

Debug Info in Critical Sections

If you ever need to implement or improve a CRITICAL_SECTION in wine, you should definitely set some debug info from the very get-go. This applies to both static CRITICAL_SECTION instances ...

static CRITICAL_SECTION foo_cs;
static CRITICAL_SECTION_DEBUG foo_cs_debug =
    0, 0, &foo_cs,
    { &foo_cs_debug.ProcessLocksList,
      &foo_cs_debug.ProcessLocksList },
    0, 0, { (DWORD_PTR)(__FILE__ ": foo_cs") }
static CRITICAL_SECTION foo_cs = { &foo_cs_debug, -1, 0, 0, 0, 0 };

... and dynamic ones (which happen to look much neater)

if (name.DebugInfo) name.DebugInfo->Spare[0] = (DWORD_PTR)(__FILE__ ": cs");

Of course, don't forget to do the right thing for your dynamic variables and unset DebugInfo before deleting the variable

if (name.DebugInfo) name.DebugInfo->Spare[0] = 0;

Keep in mind that not all CRITICAL_SECTION objects use these exact constructors and destructors

16-bit Separation

Wine supports old 16-bit executables, but since many users might not be interested in this feature, we have a build option to disable it: --disable-win16. However, especially in its early versions, wine had a significant amount of overlap between its 16 and 32-bit functions.

This shouldn't be nearly as much of a problem now (it might be resolved entirely), but any changes should respect the separation so be sure that your submission:

  • Places code for 16-bit support in its own file in the appropriate 16-bit dll
  • Doesn't call 16-bit DLLs from a 32-bit one (with LoadLibrary16 or GetModuleHandle16)
  • Doesn't use a 16-bit include file for any 32-bit code
  • Doesn't implement a 16-bit function in a file for 32-bit code

If you come across what you believe is a necessary exception, you can always discuss it on the wine developer's mailing list.

See Also

This page was last edited on 27 March 2016, at 17:59.