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Overview
Comment:Tweaks to the new assert documentation.
Timelines: family | ancestors | descendants | both | trunk
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SHA3-256: 19d3bdb7e33eb3066f59e30600eac85e0d9ba697363dc4274d99184974011850
User & Date: drh 2018-03-23 17:50:33
Context
2018-03-23
18:18
Cross-reference whyc.html to the HN and Reddit comments. check-in: a8bc3a4771 user: drh tags: trunk
17:50
Tweaks to the new assert documentation. check-in: 19d3bdb7e3 user: drh tags: trunk
17:42
Updates to the whyc.html and assert.html documentation pages. check-in: e7ab215c5b user: drh tags: trunk
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Changes to pages/assert.in.

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<p>The ALWAYS(X) and NEVER(X) macros are a weaker statement about the
truth of X.  The presence of ALWAYS(X) or NEVER(X) means that the developers
believe X is always or never true, but there is no proof, or the proof
is complex and error-prone, or the proof depends on other aspects 
of the system that seem likely to change.

<p>In other systems, developers sometimes use assert(X) in a way that is
similar to the use of ALWAYS(X) or NEVER(X) in SQLite.
Developers will add an assert(X) as a 
[https://blog.regehr.org/archives/1576|tacit acknowledgement that they
do not fully believe that X is always true].
We believe that this use of assert(X) is wrong and violates the intent
and purpose of having assert(X) available in C in the first place.
An assert(X) should not be seen as a safety-net or top-rope used to
guard against mistakes.  Nor is assert(X) appropriate for defense-in-depth.
An ALWAYS(X) or NEVER(X) macro, or something similar, should be used in 
those cases because ALWAYS(X) or NEVER(X) will be followed by code to
actually deal with the problem in the case where the programmers reasoning
turns out to be wrong.  Since the code that follows ALWAYS(X) or NEVER(X)
is untested, it should be something very simple, like a "return" statement,
that is easily verified by inspection.

<p>The [https://golang.org|Go programming language] omits assert().
The Go developers
[https://golang.org/doc/faq#assertions|recognize this is contentious].







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<p>The ALWAYS(X) and NEVER(X) macros are a weaker statement about the
truth of X.  The presence of ALWAYS(X) or NEVER(X) means that the developers
believe X is always or never true, but there is no proof, or the proof
is complex and error-prone, or the proof depends on other aspects 
of the system that seem likely to change.

<p>In other systems sometimes use assert(X) in a way that is
similar to the use of ALWAYS(X) or NEVER(X) in SQLite.
Developers will add an assert(X) as a 
[https://blog.regehr.org/archives/1576|tacit acknowledgement that they
do not fully believe that X is always true].
We believe that this use of assert(X) is wrong and violates the intent
and purpose of having assert(X) available in C in the first place.
An assert(X) should not be seen as a safety-net or top-rope used to
guard against mistakes.  Nor is assert(X) appropriate for defense-in-depth.
An ALWAYS(X) or NEVER(X) macro, or something similar, should be used in 
those cases because ALWAYS(X) or NEVER(X) will be followed by code to
actually deal with the problem when the programmers reasoning
turns out to be wrong.  Since the code that follows ALWAYS(X) or NEVER(X)
is untested, it should be something very simple, like a "return" statement,
that is easily verified by inspection.

<p>The [https://golang.org|Go programming language] omits assert().
The Go developers
[https://golang.org/doc/faq#assertions|recognize this is contentious].