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Re: Unbalanced change hooks (part 2)

From: Eli Zaretskii
Subject: Re: Unbalanced change hooks (part 2)
Date: Sun, 31 Jul 2016 18:03:19 +0300

> Date: Sun, 31 Jul 2016 12:16:42 +0000
> From: Alan Mackenzie <address@hidden>
> Cc: Óscar Fuentes <address@hidden>,
>       Richard Copley <address@hidden>
> I propose that the call to signal_before_change should be removed from
> prepare_to_modify_buffer, and that it should be called explicitly from
> the places it is needed.  This would allow bug #240[79]4 to be fixed.
> Comments?


First, I don't agree with your conclusion that calls to
before-change-functions and after-change-functions must always be
balanced.  For starters, they aren't, and never have been.  Neither is
it written anywhere that they should, and your interpretation of the
ELisp manual seems to take the desired world for the real one.

My interpretation of these two variables is that they are two hooks
provided for different kinds of features, because hooking into both
should not generally be required.  It should suffice for an
application that wants to react to a change in a buffer to hook into
after-change-functions only.

But even if I agree, for the sake of argument, with your
interpretation, let's put this issue into a proper perspective, okay?
We have a single major mode (albeit a very important one, one that I
use every day) that under very specific conditions apparently fails to
discard its caches, because its design assumed calls to these two
hooks will always be balanced.  As a solution, you are proposing a
change in a very low-level and delicate part of Emacs, which means
significant changes to code that was basically unchanged for more than
20, if not 30 years.  This code is involved in almost every operation
on buffer text, and so changes you propose will necessarily cause
ripples all over Emacs.  Just look what the code you propose to change

  . call barf-if-buffer-read-only
  . set the buffer's redisplay flag
  . affect the undo recording
  . save the region when select-active-regions is non-nil
  . sets deactivate-mark non-nil

Can you imagine how much Lisp code and basic features will be affected
by calling this where we never did before?  All that for the benefit
of a single major mode that fails in a single, albeit important use

I'm sorry, but that makes very little sense to me.

So I suggest to take one or two steps back, and try to find a safer
solution for the problem.  Doing so will also greatly enhance the
chances of Emacs users to see the solution in the next Emacs release
(whereas doing what you suggest will push it back to Emacs 26 or maybe
even later).


1) Why does CC Mode need both hooks?  What does it do in each one of
them, in the specific use case reported in the named bugs?  And why
isn't it enough to make only the change you proposed in part 1 of your

2) Can this problem be fixed in CC Mode itself, without touching
either insert-file-contents or insdel.c functions?

3) If the answer to 2) above is a categorical NO (but please provide
enough arguments so we could be very sure it is that), then I _might_
be convinced to consider changes to insert-file-contents only, and
only for the case when both VISIT and REPLACE are non-nil.  That's
because I think this combination is only used by revert-buffer and
similar functionality (if someone knows about other callers that do
this, please holler), so the ripples will be not as wide as if we mess
with insdel.c.  (Still, even this possibility scares the living s**t
out of me; it should do that to you as well.)  To this end, please
tell which calls to del_range_byte in insert-file-contents are
involved with this use case and cause trouble to CC Mode, and maybe we
could change only those, in addition to the 'if' clause that guards
the call to before-change-functions.

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