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Re: [Qemu-block] [Qemu-devel] Non-flat command line option argument synt

From: Markus Armbruster
Subject: Re: [Qemu-block] [Qemu-devel] Non-flat command line option argument syntax
Date: Fri, 03 Feb 2017 08:50:27 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.1 (gnu/linux)

"Dr. David Alan Gilbert" <address@hidden> writes:

> * Markus Armbruster (address@hidden) wrote:
>> = Introduction =
> <snip>
>> = Structured option argument syntax =
>> == JSON ==
>> The obvious way to provide the expressiveness of JSON on the command
>> line is JSON.  Easy enough[2].  However, besides not being compatible,
>> it's rather heavy on syntax, at least for simple cases.  Compare:
>>     -machine q35,accel=kvm
>>     -machine '{ "type": "q35", "accel": "kvm"}'
>> It compares a bit more favourably in cases that use our non-flat hacks.
>> Here's a flat list as KEY=VALUE,... with repeated keys, and as JSON:
>>     -semihosting-config enable,arg=eins,arg=zwei,arg=drei
>>     -semihosting-config '{ "enable": true, "arg": [ "eins", "zwei", "drei" ] 
>> }'
>> Arbitrary nesting with dotted key convention:
>>     -drive driver=qcow2,file.driver=gluster,
>>            file.volume=testvol,file.path=/path/a.qcow2,file.debug=9,
>>            file.server.0.type=tcp,
>>            file.server.0.host=,
>>            file.server.0.port=24007,
>>            file.server.1.type=unix,
>>            file.server.1.socket=/var/run/glusterd.socket
>>     -drive '{ "driver": "qcow2",
>>               "file": {
>>                   "driver": "gluster", "volume": "testvol",
>>                   "path": "/path/a.qcow2", "debug": 9,
>>                   "server": [ { "type": "tcp",
>>                                 "host": "", "port": "24007"},
>>                               { "type": "unix",
>>                                 "socket": "/var/run/glusterd.socket" } ] } }'
> So while I generally hate JSON, the -drive dotted key syntax makes
> me mad when it gets like this;  have a look
> at the block replication and quorum setups especially, that can end up
> with (from docs/COLO-FT.txt):
>   -drive 
> if=virtio,id=primary-disk0,driver=quorum,read-pattern=fifo,vote-threshold=1,\
>          children.0.file.filename=1.raw,\
>          children.0.driver=raw -S
>    that's just way too many .'s to ever properly understand.
> (I'm sure it used to be more complex).

Here's an idea to cut down on the dottery that drives you mad (and me
too): if KEY starts with '.', combine it with a prefix of the previous
one so that the result has the same number of name components.

Your example becomes

           children.0.file.filename=1.raw,.driver=raw -S

My example

     -drive driver=qcow2,file.driver=gluster,


     -drive driver=qcow2,

Mind, I'm not at all sure this is a *good* idea.  I suspect it's more
magic than it's worth.

>> Lines broken and indented for legibility; you need to join them for
>> actual use.
> Why? What's a \n between friends for JSON?

You're right, the JSON works as is.  Only the KEY=VALUE example doesn't.

>> Once you do, both variants are basically illegible.  This
>> is simply something that belongs into a config file rather than the
>> command line.  In a config file, JSON would be a better choice.
>> There's also the -drive file=json:... syntax.  It's a bad fit for
>> QemuOpts, because QemuOpts and JSON fight for the comma.  I'd show you
>> if I could get it to work.
>> We obviously can't replace QemuOpts with JSON.  But accepting JSON in
>> addition to QemuOpts is a debatable feature: it lets management
>> applications reuse the code to build QMP arguments for option arguments.
>> Since structured option arguments are always dictionaries, a JSON option
>> argument always starts with '{'.  If no QemuOpts argument can ever start
>> with '{', accepting either QemuOpts or a JSON object is unambiguous.
>> For a more detailed discussion of the following argument, see [3].
>> A QemuOpts argument normally starts with KEY.  We need to outlaw KEYs
>> starting with '{'.  QAPI outlaws such names, see docs/qapi-code-gen.txt.
>> QOM doesn't, but no such keys exist as far as I know.
>> QemuOpts permit abbreviating KEY=VALUE to just VALUE for one specific
>> KEY (the "implied" key).  We need to limit this to KEYs whose VALUE
>> can't start with '{'.  Most implied keys can't have such values.
>> Troublemakers include qemu-img's use of implied "file" keys.  You'd have
>> to say "file={my-tastelessly-named-file}" instead of just
>> "{my-tastelessly-named-file}".
> What worries me a bit is building shell scripts which include ['s and {'s
> tends to be painful.

No more than it already is if your builder copes with arbitrary
filenames and such.  But point well taken.

> <snip>
>> === Structured values ===
>> The dotted key convention messes with KEY syntax to permit structured
>> values.  Works, but the more conventional way to support structured
>> values is a syntax for structured values.  
>> An obvious one is to use { KEY=VALUE, ...} for objects, and [ VALUE,
>> ... ] for arrays.  Looks like this:
>>     -drive 'driver=quorum,
>>             child=[{ driver=file, filename=disk1.img },
>>                    { driver=host_device, filename=/dev/sdb },
>>                    { driver=nbd, host=localhost } ]'
>> Again, lines broken and indented for legibility; you need to join them
>> for actual use.
>> There's a syntactic catch, though: a value of the form [ ... ] can
>> either be an array or a string.  Which one it is depends on the type of
>> the key.  To parse this syntax, you need to know the types, unlike JSON
>> or traditional QemuOpts.  Unless we outlaw strings starting with '{' or
>> '[', which feels impractical.
> I don't understand why [ could imply a string.


    -drive 'driver=quorum,
            child=[{ driver=file, filename={"foolish":"name"} },
                   { driver=host_device, filename=/dev/sdb },
                   { driver=nbd, host=[::1] } ]'

Three KEY=VALUE have their VALUE start with '[' or '{':

* child=[{ driver=file, ...

  This is an array, not a string, because child is an array.

* host=[::1]

  This is a string, not an array containing the string "::1", because
  host is a string.

* filename={"foolish":"name"}

  This is a string, not an object, because filename is a string.

Clearer now?

>> But wait, there's another syntactic catch: in traditional QemuOpts, a
>> value ends at the next unescaped ',' or '\0'.  Inside an object, it now
>> also ends at the next unescaped '}', and inside an array, at the next
>> unescaped ']'.  Or perhaps at the next space (the example above assumes
>> it does).  That means we either have to provide a way to escape '}', ']'
>> and space, or find another way to delimit string values, say require '"'
>> around strings whenever the string contains "funny" characters.
> How about a tighter rule that if you've got a structured value -
> i.e. you're inside either of [ or {, then you must " all strings
> (except keys that we keep clean).

Matter of taste.

Regardless, we need a way to escape '"'.  Doubling it would be
consistent with the existing escape of ','.

>> So, if escaped ',' wasn't ugly and confusing enough for you...
>> === Comparison ===
>> In my opinion, dotted keys are weird and ugly, but at least they don't
>> add to the quoting mess.  Structured values look better, except when
>> they do add to the quoting mess.
>> I'm having a hard time deciding which one I like less :)
>> Opinions?  Other ideas?
> Dave
>> [1] [PATCH v14 00/21] QAPI/QOM work for non-scalar object properties
>> (actually v15)
>> Message-Id: <address@hidden>
>> http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/qemu-devel/2016-09/msg08238.html
>> [2] [RFC PATCH] block: Crude initial implementation of -blockdev
>> Message-Id: <address@hidden>
>> http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/qemu-devel/2017-02/msg00182.html
>> [3] Message-ID: <address@hidden>
>> http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/qemu-devel/2016-10/msg04046.html
> --
> Dr. David Alan Gilbert / address@hidden / Manchester, UK

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