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JDT Core Programmer Guide/ECJ/Generate

The Code Generation phase is responsible for creating .class files in the format as defined in JVMS (see the spec page for latest versions). Also some errors are detected and reported only in this phase


  • This phase is driven by generatedCode() methods in individual AST classes.
  • The result is accumulated into an instance of org.eclipse.jdt.internal.compiler.ClassFile per type.
  • The work horse for all the details of byte code is class CodeStream, with its subclasses StackMapFrameCodeStream and TypeAnnotationCodeStream, which are used es required by the target Java version.


As mentioned above subtypes of CodeStream implement different capabilities:

  • stack maps are generated for 1.6 and above
  • type annotations are generated for 1.8 and above

Wide mode

Additionally, byte code can be generated in one of two addressing modes: regular and wide. In regular mode, relative code offsets must be smaller than 0x8000. In regular mode, opcodes like goto are used as opposed to goto_w in wide mode. Code generation always starts in regular mode, but as soon as a jump requires an offset larger than 0x7FFF code generation for the current method is aborted (by throwing new AbortMethod(CodeStream.RESTART_IN_WIDE_MODE, _), which causes a restart in AbstractMethodDeclaration.generateCode() or similar. The current mode is stored as CodeStream.wideMode.

A full restart is done, because instructions like goto vs goto_w have different size in bytes. So changing a goto instruction to become goto_w will invalidated all byte code offsets after the instruction. OTOH, jump offsets are only known once the target label has been placed into the stream. As a result code generation needs to now the length of a jump before the position of the jump target is known. The easiest way to find out is thus trial and error :)

Local variable optimization

Restarting code generation for a given method may also happen for another reason as detailed in bug 328519:

Local variables are assigned to byte code positions during BlockScope.computeLocalVariablePositions(..), where for the sake of optimization, unused locals may not get a position assigned.

For "compound" uses (postIncrement or compoundAssignment), however, real usedness is found out only during generateCode() itself. The idea here is that expressions like i++ while technically reading the variable, don't necessarily indicate that the value is actually used by the program. When the expression is used as a statement, the read value is discarded. When it appears in an expression position, the value is used. For technical reasons, information about use as statement vs expression is available only during generateCode (via parameter valueRequired).

So if code gen started, thinking a local does not require a position, and later detects this assumption was wrong, a restart is triggered with CodeStream.RESTART_CODE_GEN_FOR_UNUSED_LOCALS_MODE.

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