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Function Resources
Volume Number:1
Issue Number:8
Column Tag:C Workshop

"Function Resources"

By Robert B. Denny, President, Alisa Systems, Inc., MacTutor Editorial Board

Several weeks ago, a group of us were having a "programmer's lament" discussion, centering around some of the seemingly needless holes in the Mac's development environment, in particular the Macintosh Development System (MDS) assembler/ linker package. I happen to know some of the private history behind it's implementation, and why it lacks librarian and selective linking support.



It is alleged that the developer pleaded for those features but "Apple" refused to pay for them, citing lack of need. Ah, well, such is the plight of us old-timers who got spoiled 5 years ago on 16-bit systems which had 32K of memory!

The conversation meandered to more fertile ground. We discussed such things as sharing code between applications running under Switcher, a common error alert system, and how one could implement a "package-like" resource that could be loaded, locked and jumped into at run time ... without linking it in ... written in C (or at least most of it).

Function Resources

The result of that discussion is a way to implement what I'll call Function Resources. A function resource (FR) is simply a resource that you can read in, lock down and call as a C function. It is not linked into your program (as would be a segment).


The techniques presented in this article are specific to the Apple MDS assembler/linker and to the Consulair Mac C compiler, which uses the Apple MDS system for assembly and linking. If you are using another development environment, the ideas presented here will still be of use, within the limits imposed by your development system.

I wrote my first function resource in assembler to get a feel for the way the MDS linker handles code that is assembled following a RESOURCE directive in the assembly source. That FR consists of a list of English language error messages for all of the system error codes, including those generated by the AppleTalk network drivers, and an alert display function.

The purpose was to provide a C-callable "package" that would put up a meaningful alert for any system error, and return an indication of whether the user pressed a "Quit" button or a "Resume" button. The resource contains all of the error messages, not the application. It isn't exactly in the spirit of the Mac interface, but it's very handy.


The application program contains a very small transfer function which simply loads the FR resource, locks it down, then does a JSR to it's beginning. Upon return from the FR, the transfer function unlocks the resource, which has the "purgeable" attribute, then returns the FR's function result to the caller.

Since the FR is not linked with the application, any sharing of data must be via parameters supplied with the call. However, there is nothing to prevent you from defining a "work area" in your program, then passing a pointer to the work area as a parameter to the FR.

If you write the FR itself so that it contains no read-write static data, then a single copy of the FR can be called by multiple applications and/or desk accessories. Such an FR is said to be re-entrant. R/W static data is called impure data, while read-only static data is called pure data. For a routine to be re-entrant, it must not contain impure data. FR's can have read-write data if it is allocated on the stack at entry, like automatic variables in C.

With this as a background, lets cover the steps needed to create and use a Function Resource:

1. Write the FR in assembler or C. Begin it with the assembler's RESOURCE directive.

2. Assemble and link the FR. Use the linker's /RESOURCES option prior to the FR module name to create a resource file.

3. Optionally, combine the FR with other resources such as dialogs, alerts and window templates via an RMAKER run.

4. Write a transfer function which will load and lock the resource and transfer control to the code contained therein.

5. Link the transfer function into your program.

6. Call the transfer function to use the function resource.

Creating the Function Resource

The MDS assembler and linker provide the support needed do create the function as a resource without any additional hacking with utilities such as "Fedit" or "ResEdit". The assembly must start with a RESOURCE directive, declaring the remainder of the module as resources rather then normal code. For example:

RESOURCE 'PROC' 2000 'Foo 1.2' 32

This declares the module as a resource, with resource ID of 2000, resource type of "PROC" and with the "purgeable" attribute bit set. The type of PROC is an arbitrary choice on my part. For an FR written in Mac C, put the RESOURCE directive inside #asm/#endasm at the top of the source file. The optional resource name can be anything.

The MDS linker is smart enough to properly handle relocatable references in assembled resources. On the other hand, it cannot resolve inter-module references when linking resources. This means that your FR must be written to assemble as a single .REL file. You can have several source files, but they must be pulled together at assembly or compile time by text "include" directives. Given that you have your FR's .REL file, use the following linker commands to create the resource file, ready to use:

/Globals -0
/Type 'RSRC'


The /OUTPUT directive gives the resource file it's name. The suffix ".PROC" is an arbitrary choice on my part, the name may be anything reasonable. The reason for the /GLOBALS directive will be covered later, just be sure it's there and you'll be safe. The "-0" is required because the linker wants a negative value for the parameter. The file type "RSRC" indicates the file contains generic resources. The /RESOURCES directive indicates the beginning of resource data.

The result of assembling and linking as just described is a resource file which contains a purgeable resource of type PROC, with resource ID of 2000, which consists of code beginning at the first location in the resource.

A Simple Function Resource

The following is the MDS assembly code for the error alert FR. The tables are not complete but it should be clear how to complete them.

Mac C uses registers D0-D6 to pass arguments, returning the function result in either D0 or A0, depending on whether the function returns a scalar or a pointer, respectively. Remember that the FR is called via the transfer function and not directly from the C program.

The text displayed in the alert box is formatted using the Dialog Manager's ParamText() function. If the error code and it's English message are in the tables, the display is in English. If not, the toolbox "NumToStr" binary to decimal ASCII conversion "package" is called to convert the error code and it is displayed as "unknown error N". See the RMAKER control file which follows the assembly source for more on the use of ParamText().

Figure 1 shows what the error alert looks like for a known status code, Figure 2 shows its appearance for an unknown status code. The "user prefix" is the word "OOPS" followed by a carriage return ('\r').

;    ** PERROR **
;    Function resource for displaying system/AppleTalk
;    error alert.
    Include    MacTraps.D
    Include    SysErr.txt        ; System error codes
    Include    AtalkEqu.D    ; AppleTalk error codes
    RESOURCE 'PROC' 2000 'Perror 1.0' 32
; P-string format by default
;   ENTRY:
;        D0.W  =   Error/status code
;        D1.L  ->  P-String to precede error message text
;        D2.W  =   Resource ID of alert box to use (normally
;                              2000)
    Link                a6,#-32     ; Workspace for NumToStr
    Move.W      d2,d7          ; Save Alert ID across ParamText
    Move.L       d1,-(sp)      ; -> Caller's message for       
                                                   ; ParamText
    Lea          codes,a0       ; A0 -> base of code table
    Move.W      (a0)+,d3    ; D3 = table code  (a0 -> offset)
    Beq.S      @20                ; (oops, end of table)
    Cmp.W    d0,d3           ; Matched?
    Beq.S     @30               ; (yes, display it)
    Addq      #2,a0               ; A0 -> next code
    Bra.S      @10
     ; Code not in table. Display "unknown error nn"
    Move.L      a6,a0          ; A0 -> temp buffer
    Ext.L          d0                  ; Sign-extend error code in D0
    Clr.W        -(sp)         ; Selector for NumToStr
    _Pack7                  ; A0 -> P-string of error code
     Pea       'Unknown error '         ; P2 = Our prefix 
                                                               ; (for 
     Move.L       a0,-(sp)                   ; P3 = Error code string 

                                                             ; (for ParamText)
    Bra.S          @40
; Code found in table, we have English message
    Clr.L           d0                        ; Zero out D0.L
    Move.W     (a0),d0            ; D0 - offset to string
    Lea     Strings,a0              ; A0 -> base of strings
   Add.L         d0,a0                ; A0 -> our string
    Move.L      a0,-(sp)           ; P2 = Error message 
                                                       ; (for ParamText)
    Pea       L999                       ; P3 = nothing (for ParamText)
; Common code to display the alert
      Pea      L999                     ; P4 = nothing (for ParamText)
     _ParamText           ; Set the text (wipes d2!)
     Clr.W-(sp)                      ; For function result
     Move.W d7,-(sp)        ; P1 = alert ID
     Clr.L-(sp)                       ; Nil ProcPtr
     _StopAlert                 ; Put up the alert
     Move.W      (sp)+,d0    ; Return alert function result
     Unlk     a6                          ; Clean up
      Rts                                     ; Return to application's 
transfer                                                ; function
; The following table contains ordered pairs consisting of ; a system 
error code followed by the byte offset into a 
; list of strings of the error message for that error code.
dc.w       controlErr,      0
dc.w       statusErr,             (L2 - STRINGS)
dc.w       readErr,                 (L3 - STRINGS)
dc.w      writErr,                     (L4 - STRINGS)
dc.w      badUnitErr,           (L5 - STRINGS)
dc.w      unitEmptyErr,      (L6 - STRINGS)
dc.w     openErr,                 (L7 - STRINGS)
dc.w     closErr,                    (L8 - STRINGS)
dc.w     dRemovErr,         (L9 - STRINGS)
dc.w     dInstErr,                 (L10 - STRINGS)
dc.w     abortErr,                (L11 - STRINGS)
dc.w     notOpenErr,       (L12 - STRINGS)
additional codes & message offsets here
dc.w      0                            ; End of table
; This table contains the error messages, addressed by 
; the offsets contained in the previous table.
     L1:         dc.b           'I/O Control failed'
     L2:         dc.b           'I/O Status failed'
     L3:         dc.b          'I/O Read failed'
    L4:        dc.b          'I/O Write failed'
    L5:       dc.b           'Bad unit number'
    L6:       dc.b           'Unit is empty'
    L7:       dc.b           'I/O Open failed'
    L8:       dc.b          'I/O Close failed'
    L9:      dc.b          'Cannot remove open driver'
    L10:   dc.b          'Driver not found'
    L11:   dc.b          'I/O aborted by KillIO'
    L12:   dc.b          'I/O to unopened driver'
additional messages here
L999:     dc.b     0,0        ; Addressable empty string 

Assuming the above was assembled to a file called PERROR.REL, the next step is to link the REL file into a 0-based image in resource format. The linker control file is shown below:

 /Globals -0


The RMAKER control file for the error dialog FR combines the PROC resource with an alert box and item list. Note the statText item with the meta-characters of the form "^n" are used with the Dialog Manager ParamText() call to set up the alert for display.

 * Merge in the function resource
 Include Perror.PROC

 Type ALRT
 40 96 138 416
 Type DITL

 68 60 88 130

 68 190 88 260

 StaticText Disabled
 7 72 64 310

The Transfer Function

The transfer function is linked with the application. It provides the C-callable generic service needed to load the resource, lock it down, call it, unlock the resource and return. The following transfer function is written to be "generic", that is, independent of any particular FR, so that it may be used to call various FR's from Mac C. The first parameter to the transfer function is the resource ID of the PROC resource containing the desired FR. For the error alert FR, this is 2000. The remaining parameters are passed directly to the FR after removing the first parameter (the PROC ID). You supply the code to handle the case where the PROC resource can't be loaded.

; Inputs:
;        D0.W  = Resource ID of PROC
;       Other D-regs contain args for proc
; Outputs:
;       Returns FR's D0
; WARNING:  Supports a maximum of 7 parameters 
;                            following PROC ID.
         Include MacTraps.D
       Movem.L     a1-a5,-(sp); Just in case ...
      Clr.L             -(sp)                     ; Gets handle to FR
      Move.L       #'PROC',-(sp)   ; Resource type of FR
      Move.W      d0,-(sp)                ; Resource ID
     _GetResource                    ; Load FR resource
     Move.L         (sp)+,d0             ; D0 ->-> FR? (need test)
    Beq                @10                      ; (didn't get it!)
     Move.L       d0,a0                    ; A0 ->-> FR
     MoveM.L    d1-d6,-(sp)       ; Save d-parameters
     MoveM.L    (sp)+,d0-d5      ; Restore parameters 
                                                              ; shifted 
down in reg's
    Move.L       4(sp),d6              ; Get next parameter
    Move.L      a0,-(sp)                ; Save handle to FR
    Bset.B     #7,(a0)                   ; Lock it down
    Move.L    (a0),a0                   ; A0 -> FR's entry
   Jsr               (a0)                          ; Call perror
   Move.L     (sp)+,a0               ; A0 ->-> FR
  Bclr.B       #7,(a0)                    ; Unlock the FR
   MoveM.L    (sp)+,a1-a5      ; Restore a-regs
   Rts                                                  ; Return FR's 
    Handle resource load error here 

Using the "Perror" Function Resource

To call the error alert FR from a Mac C program, issue a function call of the following form:

          DoProc(2000, stat, prefix, 2000);

where "stat" is the 16-bit system status code for which to display the alert, "prefix" is a P-string containing text to be displayed in the alert prior to the English language error message, and the last 2000 is the resource number of the alert to use for the display. See the RMAKER file above for the description of the alert-2000 box used.

One convenient method of handling errors in Mac C programs is to use the "signal" mechanism to break out of the normal control flow and go to an error handler that invokes the Perror alert FR to display the error in an alert. For example:

   if(stat = CatchSignal())
        Whatever other recovery & cleanup

Writing Function Resources in C

The "Perror" function resource is a simple example, written in assembly language to make the concept clear. Typically, however, you'll want to implement function resources in C, with a minimum of assembly "glue".

This is straightforward if you need only have automatic variables. Things get stickier if you want to have multiple functions in the FR, with data having module-wide scope. An additional com- plication arises if you wish to access the calling application's QuickDraw varia- bles (to set patterns, for example).

Mac C normally uses register A5 as a base register for accessing application globals. In fact, this is a Macintosh programming convention; the toolbox expects A5 to point to the boundary between application parameters and application globals.

Static data is declared by the compiler using assembler "DS" directives. The linker collects these and "assigns" stor- age by computing a negative offset for use with a base register for each global item. Normally, this base register is A5. For example:

        static int foo;
                             foo = func();

expands to (approximately):

        FOO:        DS.L           1
                    JSR            FUNC
                    MOVE.L         D0,FOO(A5)

Most toolbox calls require A5 to point to the "magic place". Therefore, an FR written in C should use a base register other than A5, usually A4. Fortunately, the Mac C compiler has an option to specify what A-register it is to use as the static data base register. This feature was meant for use by desk accessories written in C:

    #Options    R=4        /* Use A4 for statics */

Now for the final touch. If we are to keep the FR re-entrant, then it cannot contain read/write static data. But suppose we want to have read/write variables with module-wide scope? Here's how.

Declare the "static" variables as usual. Then reserve a chunk of space on the stack as a big automatic array belonging to the "first" FR function, the one which is called by the transfer function. Then, immediately on entry to the FR, bash A4 to point to the last cell in the automatic array. Thus, the automatic array serves as the "globals" area for the FR, based on A4, and the various functions in the FR may access the variables as if they were statically declared in the outermost (module) scope. And the FR is still re-entrant because the space is allocated at run-time on the caller's stack.

When the linker computes the negative offsets to assign to the static variables, it assumes that A5 is being used for the base register and that the statics are the application's globals. This being the case, it automatically reserves space for the QuickDraw globals. This causes the "first" static to have an offset of -200 hex.

This offset can be supressed by including the linker directive "/GLOBALS -0" in the control file used to link the FR. That's "minus zero" ... needed because of a bug/feature in the linker. It wants to see a negative value with the /GLOBALS switch and won't accept zero. But minus zero is OK. The linker command file shown above contains this directive.

There is one VERY important caveat here. Static initializers will not work. Therefore, the FR must manually initialize the static data, Pascal style upon FR entry (after bashing A4, of course).

Perhaps you're saying to yourself, "Is all of this worth it?" Consider the uses for re-entrant run-time loadable functions.

"Packages" similar to the Standard File package can be implemented using this technique. The second FR I wrote uses the lookup dialog described last month to allow selection of named objects on an AppleTalk network.

A family of related applications could share functions contained in a single resource file. Remember that the code in the FR is not linked with the application, therefore reducing the disk space used by the program file.

Common code could be shared between applications running under the Switcher by loading the FR into the system heap. This would save both memory and disk space.

A Template Function Resource in C

Next we'll look at a template for writing FR's in C. The techniques for linking and transfer are the same as those already presented. The DoProc() transfer function will work just fine with the C language FR


    RESOURCE 'PROC' 1234 'Templ_1.0'
    Include        MACTRAPS.D

  * Declare pseudo-static variables here, then 
  * define COM_SIZE equal to the total number
  * of bytes needed for the pseudo-statics.
static int a;
static short b;
struct QDVars *QD; /* Our QD pointer */ 
#define COM_SIZE nn

  * Entry is here, at the beginning of the module
Func(p1, p2)
int p1; /* Declare these as needed */
int p2;
 char CommonVars[COM_SIZE]; /* Pseudo statics */
 Ptr appl_port;  /* Saves caller's port */
  * Preliminary set-up stuff. 
 #GetPort(&appl_port);  /* Save caller's port */
 The rest of the main function goes here

Other functions may be coded here. References to the "static" variables are normal.

; Initialization and A4 hacking routines
save_a4:     dc.l0               ; A4 pointer is kept here
grafSize       equ    $CE       ; Size of QD's variables

    Lea       save_a4,a0           ; Dumb 68000 designers!
    Move.L         d0,(a0)          ; Initialize our "statics" base
    Move.L        d0,a4              ; A4 -> our pseudo-statics
    Move.L        a5,d0             ; D0 -> QD's magic cell
    Sub.L        #grafSize,d0     ; D0 -> QDVars
    Move.L     d0,QD(a4)          ; Save it in our common vars
; This routine is used to re-establish our A4 context for
; functions which are called back from the toolbox, such
; action routines for TrackControl(), and "filter procs"
; for ModalDialog().
    Move.L        save_a4,A4              ; PC-relative, eh?

Notice the convenience of PC-relative addressing such as that used for acces- sing "save_a4" above. When I first started working with the 68000, I nearly lost my mind until I discovered that PC-relative is illegal as a destination addressing mode! My reference manual neglected to mention that little fact.

This wraps up our discussion of function resources. It is my hope that, despite the orientation to Apple's MDS and to Mac C, the information given here will be of use to C programmers in general. I'd be interested to hear from readers on how they implemented these ideas with their C systems.

Update Event Handling Revisited

Last month, the C Workshop presented a large example source listing of a callable function that implements a general purpose "selector dialog" similar to that used by the Standard File package. Along with bringing together the ideas discussed over several previous issues, the example showed how to use the "filter procedure" hook provided by the ModalDialog() service of the Dialog Manager.

The update event handler in the filter procedure is incorrect. The "test program" I used to check out the selector dialog function did not uncover a glaring error. Please refer to last month's article for background information.

It turns out that if you do anything at all with update events in your filter procedure, you must handle all update activities. The update procedure must start with a call to BeginUpdate(), which copies the update region into the "vis" region and sets the update region to NIL.

I tried to be tricky and skip the call to BeginUpdate(), draw only the "special" items in the dialog box, then return FALSE to ModalDialog, signalling it that it should handle the update event. Well, under the test program, it worked fine, but in a real application, I discovered that the lack of a call to BeginUpdate() caused my "special stuff" to get redrawn lots of unnecessary times.

So I put in the call to BeginUpdate(), figuring that if I didn't call EndUpdate() and I returned FALSE, ModalDialog() would still finish the job. I should have known...

When ModalDialog() gets control back from the filter procedure and it sees that the event is an update event, it immediately calls BeginUpdate(). This sets the visRgn to the update region, which was set to NIL by my call to BeginUpdate() in the filter procedure.

The moral of the story is that filter procedures which call BeginUpdate() must do all required updates to the dialog and then return TRUE to ModalDialog(). This indicates that the event was completely taken care of by the filter proc.

Rather than show the corrected code for the update portion of the filter procedure, I'll leave the bug fixes as an exercise. Some hints: Use TextBox() to draw statText items. A single call to DrawControls() will update all buttons and scrollers in the dialog. Call TEUpdate() for each EditText item in the dialog.

Feedback Wanted

The articles presented in the C Workshop over the past few months have been highly technical in content. I would like to know if there are a significant number of readers for whom the article content has been too advanced. Until next month ...


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Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
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Let’s Work Together Apple Technician This position is based in Portland, ME Life at nfrastructure At nfrastructure, we understand that our success results from our Read more
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