GDBtk Architecture

Thanks to Jim Blandy and Stan Shebs who might even recognize the occasional sentence.

GDB's original textual command line interface was inseparable from the GDB core code itself.  Code that builds a response to a request is distributed through out the GDB core.  The responses often being interspersed with both error messages and target responses.   The code generating the responses and their formatting are both arbitrary.

GDBtk was implemented by attaching to GDB using two separate mechanism: firstly all text responses to commands were captured, and secondly by hooking into specific GDB functions.

Text capture

Graphical user requests were mapped, by the GUI, onto a sequence of one or more GDB commands.  Each of these commands was then issued to GDB.  Any output from the command being captured by the GUI (see gdbtk_fputs()).  The GUI would then parse the command results (using pattern matching) and extract significant data returned by the query.

It should be immediately clear that this method is both complex and unreliable.  Any changes to GDB's textual responses may result in a need to update the corresponding GUI parsing code.


Perhaps better described as source level patches.

In addition to the capture of textual output from the GDB, GDBtk found it necessary to modify GDB so that the GUI was notified of certain internal events when they occurred.  Those events, in general, were to advise the GUI that part of the GUI's internal state was no longer consistent with that of GDB and those structures (or displays) should be updated.

A simple example of this would be the run command.   Before starting a target, GDB will check the executable being debugged to see if it has been modified.  If it has been modified GDB will re-load any symbol information.  For a GUI, such as GDBtk, that may in turn require the GUI to re-build its state (the display, variable windows).  (see gdbtk_pre_add_symbol() and gdbtk_post_add_symbol()).

Problems and limitations

Thanks to Keith Seitz and Stan Shebs

Error Handling


User Interface API


Please add arguments and notes on errors here.