Provided by: libtest-refcount-perl_0.10-1_all bug

NAME

       "Test::Refcount" - assert reference counts on objects

SYNOPSIS

          use Test::More tests => 2;
          use Test::Refcount;

          use Some::Class;

          my $object = Some::Class->new();

          is_oneref( $object, '$object has a refcount of 1' );

          my $otherref = $object;

          is_refcount( $object, 2, '$object now has 2 references' );

DESCRIPTION

       The Perl garbage collector uses simple reference counting during the normal execution of a
       program. This means that cycles or unweakened references in other parts of code can keep
       an object around for longer than intended. To help avoid this problem, the reference count
       of a new object from its class constructor ought to be 1. This way, the caller can know
       the object will be properly DESTROYed when it drops all of its references to it.

       This module provides two test functions to help ensure this property holds for an object
       class, so as to be polite to its callers.

       If the assertion fails; that is, if the actual reference count is different to what was
       expected, either of the following two modules may be used to assist the developer in
       finding where the references are.

       ·   If Devel::MAT is installed, this test module will use it to dump the state of the
           memory after a failure. It will create a .pmat file named the same as the unit test,
           but with the trailing .t suffix replaced with -TEST.pmat where "TEST" is the number of
           the test that failed (in case there was more than one).

       ·   If Devel::FindRef module is installed, a reverse-references trace is printed to the
           test output.

       See the examples below for more information.

FUNCTIONS

   is_refcount
          is_refcount( $object, $count, $name )

       Test that $object has $count references to it.

   is_oneref
          is_oneref( $object, $name )

       Assert that the $object has only 1 reference to it.

   refcount
          $count = refcount( $object )

       Since version 0.09.

       Returns the reference count of the given object as used by the test functions.  This is
       useful for making tests that don't care what the count is before they start, but simply
       assert that the count hasn't changed by the end.

          use Test::Refcount import => [qw( is_refcount refcount )];
          {
             my $count = refcount( $object );

             do_something( $object );

             is_refcount( $object, $count, 'do_something() preserves refcount' );
          }

EXAMPLE

       Suppose, having written a new class "MyBall", you now want to check that its constructor
       and methods are well-behaved, and don't leak references. Consider the following test
       script:

          use Test::More tests => 2;
          use Test::Refcount;

          use MyBall;

          my $ball = MyBall->new();
          is_oneref( $ball, 'One reference after construct' );

          $ball->bounce;

          # Any other code here that might be part of the test script

          is_oneref( $ball, 'One reference just before EOF' );

       The first assertion is just after the constructor, to check that the reference returned by
       it is the only reference to that object. This fact is important if we ever want "DESTROY"
       to behave properly. The second call is right at the end of the file, just before the main
       scope closes. At this stage we expect the reference count also to be one, so that the
       object is properly cleaned up.

       Suppose, when run, this produces the following output (presuming Devel::MAT::Dumper is
       available):

          1..2
          ok 1 - One reference after construct
          not ok 2 - One reference just before EOF
          #   Failed test 'One reference just before EOF'
          #   at ex.pl line 26.
          #   expected 1 references, found 2
          # SV address is 0x55e14c310278
          # Writing heap dump to ex-2.pmat
          # Looks like you failed 1 test of 2.

       This has written a ex-2.pmat file we can load using the "pmat" shell and use the
       "identify" command on the given address to find where it went:

          $ pmat ex-2.pmat
          Perl memory dumpfile from perl 5.28.1 threaded
          Heap contains 25233 objects
          pmat> identify 0x55e14c310278
          HASH(0)=MyBall at 0x55e14c310278 is:
          ├─(via RV) the lexical $ball at depth 1 of CODE() at 0x55e14c3104a0=main_cv, which is:
          │ └─the main code
          └─(via RV) value {self} of HASH(2) at 0x55e14cacb860, which is (*A):
            └─(via RV) value {cycle} of HASH(2) at 0x55e14cacb860, which is:
              itself

       (This document isn't intended to be a full tutorial on Devel::MAT and the "pmat" shell;
       for that see Devel::MAT::UserGuide).

       Alternatively, this produces the following output when using Devel::FindRef instead:

          1..2
          ok 1 - One reference after construct
          not ok 2 - One reference just before EOF
          #   Failed test 'One reference just before EOF'
          #   at demo.pl line 16.
          #   expected 1 references, found 2
          # MyBall=ARRAY(0x817f880) is
          # +- referenced by REF(0x82c1fd8), which is
          # |     in the member 'self' of HASH(0x82c1f68), which is
          # |        referenced by REF(0x81989d0), which is
          # |           in the member 'cycle' of HASH(0x82c1f68), which was seen before.
          # +- referenced by REF(0x82811d0), which is
          #       in the lexical '$ball' in CODE(0x817fa00), which is
          #          the main body of the program.
          # Looks like you failed 1 test of 2.

       From this output, we can see that the constructor was well-behaved, but that a reference
       was leaked by the end of the script - the reference count was 2, when we expected just 1.
       Reading the trace output, we can see that there were 2 references that could be found -
       one stored in the $ball lexical in the main program, and one stored in a HASH. Since we
       expected to find the $ball lexical variable, we know we are now looking for a leak in a
       hash somewhere in the code. From reading the test script, we can guess this leak is likely
       to be in the bounce() method. Furthermore, we know that the reference to the object will
       be stored in a HASH in a member called "self".

       By reading the code which implements the bounce() method, we can see this is indeed the
       case:

          sub bounce
          {
             my $self = shift;
             my $cycle = { self => $self };
             $cycle->{cycle} = $cycle;
          }

       From reading the tracing output, we find that the HASH this object is referenced in also
       contains a reference to itself, in a member called "cycle". This comes from the last line
       in this function, a line that purposely created a cycle, to demonstrate the point. While a
       real program probably wouldn't do anything quite this obvious, the trace would still be
       useful in finding the likely cause of the leak.

       If neither "Devel::MAT::Dumper" nor "Devel::FindRef" are available, then these detailed
       traces will not be produced. The basic reference count testing will still take place, but
       a smaller message will be produced:

          1..2
          ok 1 - One reference after construct
          not ok 2 - One reference just before EOF
          #   Failed test 'One reference just before EOF'
          #   at demo.pl line 16.
          #   expected 1 references, found 2
          # Looks like you failed 1 test of 2.

BUGS

       ·   Temporaries created on the stack

           Code which creates temporaries on the stack, to be released again when the called
           function returns does not work correctly on perl 5.8 (and probably before). Examples
           such as

              is_oneref( [] );

           may fail and claim a reference count of 2 instead.

           Passing a variable such as

              my $array = [];
              is_oneref( $array );

           works fine. Because of the intention of this test module; that is, to assert reference
           counts on some object stored in a variable during the lifetime of the test script,
           this is unlikely to cause any problems.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

       Peter Rabbitson <ribasushi@cpan.org> - for suggesting using core's "B" instead of
       "Devel::Refcount" to obtain refcounts

AUTHOR

       Paul Evans <leonerd@leonerd.org.uk>