Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mea Culpa

I was so excited about getting IronPython 2.7.2 out the door, I briefly dropped my common sense and made a change to IronPython that never should have been made without triggering another RC release. So what the hell happened?

The change in question is f8cce37. The correction is 4a76497.

What Broke?

The property in question – MaybeNotImplemented – checks to see if a method’s return type has the MaybeNotImplemented attribute, which tells IronPython that the operator may return NotImplemented; this indicates that the attempted operation doesn’t work and that other options should be tried. Without specifying [return:MaybeNotImplemented] on a native method, IronPython won’t generate code to perform the other operations.

Windows Phone Fixes

The issue that triggered the initial change was #32374. This is interesting in itself, as it turns out that MethodInfo.ReturnParameter is not supported on Windows Phone 7 – it exists, and it compiles, but it throws NotSupportException. Joy.

Since mobile support was new, I figured that making a change specific to Windows Phone should be OK. And it probably would have been, had I done what I originally intended and put the new WP7 code in an #if block and left the original code intact. But instead I decided that if the new code worked for both, why not use it?

Static Typing is Not Enough

Notice how small the fix is? MethodInfo.ReturnTypeCustomAttributes returns an ICustomAttributeProvider, which has the IsDefined method. As it turns out, MethodInfo also implements ICustomAttributeProvider. This means that the original fix compiled, ran, and worked for most cases, but failed on others. And they failed in the worst possible way – silently (except for the part where the program breaks).

But but but … TESTS!

Yes, the tests should have caught it. Unfortunately IronPython has been running for a while without paying much attention to the state of the tests, and there’s really no one to blame for this except me. Most of the CPython standard library tests fail at some point or another, which drowns out the useful failures in a sea of noise. This, of course, has to change, so for 2.7.3 I’m focusing on the much smaller set of tests specifically for IronPython (not those inherited from CPython).

After this, there’s no way 2.7.3 is going out without at least that baseline set of tests green, and once I get them in order all new contributions will have to pass the relevant tests. This should be the only time that I have to do an emergency release.

In the meantime, IronPython is available, which fixes this issue.