12.7. Source code

12.7.1. Code style

We intentionally do not have too many code conventions in the PMIx code base. All languages

  • 4 space tabs. No more, no less.

  • NEVER use actual tab characters; always use spaces. Both emacs and vim have secret mojo that can automatically use spaces when you hit the <TAB> key. This makes the code look the same in every browser, regardless of individual tab display settings. C / C++

  • When comparing constants for equality or inequality, always put the constant on the left. This is defensive programming: if you have a typo in the test and miss a ! or =, you’ll get a compiler error. For example:

    /* Do this */
    if (NULL == foo) { ... }
    /* Because if you have a typo (i.e., = instead of ==), this will
       be a compile error rather than a subtle bug */
    if (NULL = foo) { ... }
  • More defensive programming: always include blocks in curly braces { }, even if they are only one line long. For example:

    /* Do this */
    if (whatever) {
        return OMPI_SUCCESS;
    /* Not this */
    if (whatever)
       return OMPI_SUCCESS;
  • PMIx requires a C99-compliant compiler.

    • C++-style comments are now allowed (and preferred).

    • C99-style mixing declarations are allow allowable (and preferred).

  • ALWAYS include pmix_config.h as your first #include file. There are very, very few cases where this is not true (E.g., some bizarre Windows scenarios). But in 99.9999% of cases, this file should be included first so that it can affect system-level #include files if necessary.

  • Filenames and symbols must follow the prefix rule (see [e-mail thread](http://www.open-mpi.org/community/lists/devel/2009/07/6389.php)):

    • Filenames must be prefixed with <framework>_<component>.

    • Public symbols must be prefixed in components with pmix_<framework>_<component>. When in doubt about whether a symbol is public, be safe and add the prefix.

    • Non-public symbols must be declared static or otherwise made to not appear in the global scope.

  • ALWAYS #define macros, even for logical values.

    • The GNU Way is to #define a macro when it is “true” and to #undef it when it is “false”.

    • In PMIx, we always #define a logical macro to be either 0 or 1 – we never #undef it.

    • The reason for this is defensive programming: if you are only checking if a preprocessor macro is defined (via #ifdef FOO or #if defined(FOO)), you will get no warning when compiling if you accidentally misspell the macro name. However, if you use the logic test #if FOO with an undefined macro (e.g., because you misspelled it), you’ll get a compiler warning or error.


      Misspelled macro names can be tremendously difficult to find when they are buried in thousands of lines of code; we will take all the help from the preprocessor/compiler that we can get!

    /* GNU Way - you will get no warning from the compiler if you
       misspell "FOO"; the test will simply be false */
    #ifdef FOO
    /* PMIx Way - you will get a warning from the compiler if you
       misspell "FOO"; the result of the test is a different value
       than whether you spelled the macro name right or not */
    #if FOO
    #endif Shell scripting

Please read some of the existing shell code in the source code tree and try to use a similar style.

  • Always enclose evaluated shell variables in quotes to ensure that multi-token values are handled properly.

    # This is bad
    if test $foo = bar; then
    # This is good
    if test "$foo" = "bar"; then
    • The one exception to this is that when doing an assignment to a shell variable from another shell variable, it is not necessary to use quotes on the right hand side:

      # This is harmless, but unnecessary
      # This is actually sufficient, even for multi-token values of $bar
  • Do not use the == operator for test — this is a GNU extension and can cause portability problems on BSD systems. Instead, use the single = operator.

    # This is bad
    if test "$foo" == "bar"; then
    # This is good
    if test "$foo" = "bar"; then m4

We do not have specific coding style guidelines for m4 (the language used to create the configure script). Please read some of the existing m4 code in the source code tree and try to use a similar style.

12.7.2. Tree layout

There are a few notable top-level directories in the source tree:

  • The main PMIx source is under the src directory

  • config: M4 scripts supporting the top-level configure script

  • etc: Some miscellaneous text files

  • docs: Source code for PMIx documentation

  • examples: Trivial example programs

  • include: The public PMIx headers

The src directory generates a top-level library named libpmix. It can be built as either a static or shared library. The directory structure under it includes:

  • class: C++-like “classes” (using the OPAL class system) specific to this project

  • include: Top-level internal include files

  • mca: MCA frameworks and components specific to PMIx

  • runtime: Startup and shutdown of PMIx at runtime

  • tools: Executables specific to PMIx

  • util: Random utility code

The layout of the mca tree is strictly defined to be of the form:


To be explicit: it is forbidden to have a directory under the mca tree that does not meet this template (with the exception of base directories, explained below). Hence, only framework and component code can be in the mca tree.

That is, framework and component names must be valid directory names (and C variables; more on that later). For example, the CLIENT PTL component is located in mca/ptl/client/.

The name base is reserved; there cannot be a framework or component named base. Directories named base are reserved for the implementation of the MCA and frameworks. Here are a few examples (as of the v6.0.x source tree):

# Main implementation of the MCA

# Implementation of the ptl framework

# Implementation of the client component of the ptl framework

Under these mandated directories, frameworks and/or components may have arbitrary directory structures, however.

12.7.3. Symbol Visibility

The PMIX_EXPORT macro provides a method to annotate symbols to indicate their intended visibility when compiling dynamically shared object files (e.g., libpmix.so).

The macro expands to the appropriate compiler and platform flags for marking whether a symbol should be explicitly made public in the PMIx library namespace. The PMIX_EXPORT attribute is used to declare that a symbol is to be visible outside of the PMIx DSO’s scope.


This is entirely related to dynamic library compilation and does not apply to static compilation.