Perl - Term::Terminfo - version 0.06

I've just uploaded a new version of Term::Terminfo. In brief; this is a small wrapper around the terminfo database, and can be used to enquire about properties of a given terminal. For annoying historic reasons, each of these properties is known by at least two names; its short "capname", a two or three letter code often found in the actual file on disk, and a longer "varname", the name of a variable in the curses C library, which stores its value for the current terminal.

This latest version, 0.06, adds a whole duplicate set of methods - varname accessors. Prior to 0.06, the properties were only accessible using their short capnames.

It's probably best to use the longer varnames anyway. They are more self-documenting, and a little more future-proof against the admittedly-remote possibility of new variables being added in the future.

I'm also planning to support unibilium in a later version. This is a standalone terminfo-parsing library, which is useful for reading terminfo data without linking against the full curses library. This is especially useful when trying to build a replacement for curses...


XS beats Pure Perl

Someone reported some test failures trying to install Tickit, which seemed to be related to shortcomings in Text::CharWidth. The latter seems to have very poor unit test coverage on itself, so the failures didn't appear during its installation, only when Tickit::Utils was tested against it. On initial inspection I wondered if Text::CharWidth simply wasn't using wcswidth(3) correctly, and whether I should get around to my plan of rewriting bits of Tickit::Utils in XS instead for performance, as well as work around this bug.

This turned out to be quite a good idea. Implementing cols2chars() and chars2cols() in XS instead of Perl makes them at least 10 times faster. I tested it on four strings; two ASCII and two Unicode; a long and a short of each:


In fact, some cases it turns out to be 24 times faster.

I haven't looked into too much detail on why, but I suspect a large amount of the reason is to do with the way the XS functions primarily walk along the internal UTF-8 representation of the strings, counting bytes, characters, and columns as they go, and returning the appropriate count(s) when the required. The pureperl implementation doesn't have direct access to the byte offsets, so only has character numbers to work to. The frequent character-to-byte or byte-to-character conversions at all the boundaries between the functions result in multiple UTF-8 byte skip counting steps along the string each time a function is entered or left, generally slowing it down.

As to the original test failure, it turned out to be entirely unrelated lack of locale support in the platform's libc. The XS implementations fail there in the same way. But having implemented the above improvements, I decided to leave them in anyway.

XS faster than Pure Perl; who'd have thought it?