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Files Metadata

mozbuild-files provide a mechanism for attaching metadata to files. Essentially, you define some flags to set on a file or file pattern. Later, some tool or process queries for metadata attached to a file of interest and it does something intelligent with that data.

Defining Metadata

Files metadata is defined by using the Files Sub-Context <mozbuild_subcontext_Files> in moz.build files. e.g.:

with Files('**/Makefile.in'):
    BUG_COMPONENT = ('Firefox Build System', 'General')

This working example says, for all Makefile.in files in every directory underneath this one - including this directory - set the Bugzilla component to Firefox Build System :: General.

For more info, read the docs on Files <mozbuild_subcontext_Files>.

How Metadata is Read

Files metadata is extracted in mozbuild_fs_reading_mode.

Reading starts by specifying a set of files whose metadata you are interested in. For each file, the filesystem is walked to the root of the source directory. Any moz.build encountered during this walking are marked as relevant to the file.

Let's say you have the following filesystem content:


For /root_file, the relevant moz.build files are just /moz.build.

For /dir1/foo and /dir1/subdir1/foo, the relevant files are /moz.build and /dir1/moz.build.

For /dir2, the relevant file is just /moz.build.

Once the list of relevant moz.build files is obtained, each moz.build file is evaluated. Root moz.build file first, leaf-most files last. This follows the rules of mozbuild_fs_reading_mode, with the set of evaluated moz.build files being controlled by filesystem content, not DIRS variables.

The file whose metadata is being resolved maps to a set of moz.build files which in turn evaluates to a list of contexts. For file metadata, we only care about one of these contexts: Files <mozbuild_subcontext_Files>.

We start with an empty Files instance to represent the file. As we encounter a files sub-context, we see if it is appropriate to this file. If it is, we apply its values. This process is repeated until all files sub-contexts have been applied or skipped. The final state of the Files instance is used to represent the metadata for this particular file.

It may help to visualize this. Say we have 2 moz.build files:

# /moz.build
with Files('*.cpp'):
    BUG_COMPONENT = ('Core', 'XPCOM')

with Files('**/*.js'):
    BUG_COMPONENT = ('Firefox', 'General')

# /foo/moz.build
with Files('*.js'):
    BUG_COMPONENT = ('Another', 'Component')

Querying for metadata for the file /foo/test.js will reveal 3 relevant Files sub-contexts. They are evaluated as follows:

  1. /moz.build - Files('*.cpp'). Does /*.cpp match /foo/test.js? No. Ignore this context.
  2. /moz.build - Files('**/*.js'). Does /**/*.js match /foo/test.js? Yes. Apply BUG_COMPONENT = ('Firefox', 'General') to us.
  3. /foo/moz.build - Files('*.js'). Does /foo/*.js match /foo/test.js? Yes. Apply BUG_COMPONENT = ('Another', 'Component').

At the end of execution, we have BUG_COMPONENT = ('Another', 'Component') as the metadata for /foo/test.js.

One way to look at file metadata is as a stack of data structures. Each Files sub-context relevant to a given file is applied on top of the previous state, starting from an empty state. The final state wins.

Finalizing Values

The default behavior of Files sub-context evaluation is to apply new values on top of old. In most circumstances, this results in desired behavior. However, there are circumstances where this may not be desired. There is thus a mechanism to finalize or freeze values.

Finalizing values is useful for scenarios where you want to prevent wildcard matches from overwriting previously-set values. This is useful for one-off files.

Let's take Makefile.in files as an example. The build system module policy dictates that Makefile.in files are part of the Build Config module and should be reviewed by peers of that module. However, there exist Makefile.in files in many directories in the source tree. Without finalization, a * or ** wildcard matching rule would match Makefile.in files and overwrite their metadata.

Finalizing of values is performed by setting the FINAL variable on Files sub-contexts. See the Files documentation <mozbuild_subcontext_Files> for more.

Here is an example with Makefile.in files, showing how it is possible to finalize the BUG_COMPONENT value.:

# /moz.build
with Files('**/Makefile.in'):
    BUG_COMPONENT = ('Firefox Build System', 'General')
    FINAL = True

# /foo/moz.build
with Files('**'):
    BUG_COMPONENT = ('Another', 'Component')

If we query for metadata of /foo/Makefile.in, both Files sub-contexts match the file pattern. However, since BUG_COMPONENT is marked as finalized by /moz.build, the assignment from /foo/moz.build is ignored. The final value for BUG_COMPONENT is ('Firefox Build System', 'General').

Here is another example:

with Files('*.cpp'):
    BUG_COMPONENT = ('One-Off', 'For C++')
    FINAL = True

with Files('**'):
    BUG_COMPONENT = ('Regular', 'Component')

For every files except foo.cpp, the bug component will be resolved as Regular :: Component. However, foo.cpp has its value of One-Off :: For C++ preserved because it is finalized.


FINAL only applied to variables defined in a context.

If you want to mark one variable as finalized but want to leave another mutable, you'll need to use 2 Files contexts.

Guidelines for Defining Metadata

In general, values defined towards the root of the source tree are generic and become more specific towards the leaves. For example, the BUG_COMPONENT for /browser might be Firefox :: General whereas /browser/components/preferences would list Firefox :: Preferences.