[GSoC 2023] .NET Developer Platform - Progress Report #4

Blog post by Trung Nguyen on Sun, 2023-07-23 00:00

Project status overview

C# bindings for some parts of the Haiku API is now available, along with basic .NET SDK support for building Haiku applications, in a .NET workload (more details below). The source code and install instructions are currently in this GitHub repo.

.NET custom builds for Haiku are still regularly updated to reflect the latest changes in both .NET and Haiku. Most recently, the datagram socket hack has been removed as SOCK_DGRAM support for Haiku has been merged.

At the moment, while waiting for necessary Haiku changes to allow .NET SDK builds to be stable, I am looking at ways to improve the API bindings and workloads. Specifically, I am trying to extract Doxygen documentation from the Haiku Book. I am also actively listening and responding to community feedback on my recent work on this forum thread.

Technical details

In this section I will go deep into the implementation details of the bindings and the Haiku workload in case anyone wants to take over this project or collaborate with me. Some may a be a bit too technical and uninteresting, so feel free to skip this section.

Haiku API bindings for C#

CppSharp bugs

CppSharp consists of a large number of hacks structured into “passes” and AST “visitors”. The implementation is imperfect; bugs are fixed on a case-by-case basis.

I have submitted several pull requests to CppSharp for bugs uncovered when generating Haiku API headers. For more details, you can visit the list of pull requests below.

Binding conventions


A kit is defined as the collection of symbols completely declared in the os/{KitName}Kit.h header, or any header included by it, excluding standard library and POSIX symbols.

Each kit is placed in its own C# namespace, prefixed with Haiku.. For example, the Interface kit will be available by using Haiku.Interface;.

Supported kits are declared in HaikuApiLibrary.cs.

Classes and members

Classes and member functions (methods) are named exactly the same in the bindings as in the Haiku API (in PascalCase).

Enumerations and members

Enumerations without names are ignored (more details in the Unfriendly elements section).

Enumerations with names are generated using PascalCase. Member of these enums are converted to PascalCase after stripping the B_ prefix. For example,

enum window_type {
	B_TITLED_WINDOW						= 1,
	B_MODAL_WINDOW						= 3,

translates to:

public enum WindowType : uint
    UntypedWindow = 0,
    TitledWindow = 1,
    ModalWindow = 3,
    DocumentWindow = 11,
    BorderedWindow = 20,
    FloatingWindow = 21

The conversion of enum names is handled automatically by CppSharp. enum members, on the other hand, are handled by HandleEnumItemNamesPass.

The exception to this rule is the BTabView::tab_side enumeration. Since a function named TabSide() already exists in the class, tab_side is translated to C# as TabSides. In the future, there should be a better way to handle this type of clash.

Non-member variables

Non-memeber variables, if not ignored, are gathered into a static class in the corresponding kit’s namespace. The class name is currently Symbols, but the name may change in future revisions of this bindings in favor of a more futureproof name (one that will not clash with any future Haiku kits/classes). For example, the variable be_app will be available as Haiku.App.Symbols.be_app. using static Haiku.App.Symbols; would therefore allow be_app to be used standalone just like in C++ code.

The name of these variables are the same as their original Haiku names; no name conversion occurs for members of the Symbols class.

The gathering of non-member variables is handled in the ProcessConstantsAndEnumerationsPass.

Unfriendly elements

These are some Haiku API elements that do not have any direct equivalent construct in C# or otherwise complicate the binding generation process.

Most of these are handled by SkipUnwantedSymbolsPass.


There are no macros in C#. Preprocessor symbols can only serve #if statements can cannot carry a value.

Furthermore, macros are invisible to the C++ syntax tree. CppSharp expands all macros before analyzing the headers.

Therefore, macros are currently ignored from API generation. Luckily, many B_-prefixed macros can and have been converted into const variables and/or enums.

There are some exceptions though. Macros that hold a string constant (such as B_UTF8_BULLET) cannot be converted into const char *, as pointers do not support compile-time concatenation like:

    B_UTF8_BULLET "Hello World!"

Then, there are some macros that signals the availability of features or API/ABI versions. These macros can be safely ignored in the C# bindings.

When the need arises, some special handling is required for string macros. Other macros (integral or floating-point) can be converted to constants and/or enums as needed in the Haiku API headers themselves.

Unnamed enumerations

C# requires all enums to have a name. The name is necessary for any code that uses that enum’s members.

For unnamed enumerations, CppSharp generates a random identifier, which is not user-friendly at all. Therefore, instead of letting a weirdly named enum appear in the library, members of these enumerations are converted into constant variables by ProcessConstantsAndEnumerationsPass. These variables are then handled similar to other non-member variables.

Non-member variables

C# does not support non-member variables. Therefore, they are gathered into a single static class by ProcessConstantsAndEnumerationsPass.

Non-member functions

Non-member functions are currently ignored. These functions often provide some low-level functionality that should have been exposed either by .NET standard libraries or by the Haiku API.

Like on any other OSes, to use these functions, applications should write their own P/Invoke or LibraryImport wrappers.

Fields with the same name as methods

Some classes like BSize expose public fields (width, height) while also use getter functions (Width, Height). When converted to C# convention, the fields and the methods have a name clash.

Therefore, SkipUnwantedSymbolsPass ignores these fields in favor of the getter functions.

Kernel kit

The Kernel kit contains a large number of C-style structs serving non-member functions (which are already ignored). These structs might then reference POSIX structures, some of which might be a huge pain like union sigval.

To keep things simple, all structs in the Kernel kit are ignored. This should be fine since I am not aware of any essential OOP APIs present in the Kernel kit.

BPrivate symbols

All declarations in BPrivate are ignored. As the name suggests, analyzing these symbols require private headers, which are unstable.

Symbol references

While processing unfriendly elements, some references may become missing or invalid. ProcessDefaultParametersPass fixes bad enum item/non-member variable references.

CppSharp does not seem to work well with multiple modules referencing symbols from each other. When, for example, code in Support kit uses forward-declared classes in the App kit, CppSharp thinks that that class also exists in the Support kit. This causes compile errors in C#. To fix this, ProcessIncompleteTypesPass replaces all incomplete types with complete declarations from other modules.

Symbol names

CppSharp automatically replaces the names of every symbol to match with C# conventions. This is undesired for members of the Symbols static class. RestoreNamePass resolves this issue.

Default parameters

C# is more restrictive about default parameters than C++. C# default parameters must be a compile time constant (const variables, numbers, boolean, string, or null literals). C++, on the other hand, seems to allow any valid expression.

To handle this, CppSharp generates an overload when it detects that a default parameter cannot be calculated in compile time. However, the detection method is faulty and refuses to accept float constant variables.

Since fixing the underlying algorithm is complicated, I have added a EliminateFloatOverloadsPass to restore float default parameters.

BLooper problem

BLooper objects delete themselves after Quit() is called. When owning the object memory, the managed instance should know about this and dispose of the native pointer to prevent a double free().

To solve this problem, two lines of code has been injected into _QuitDelegateHook. This is the function whose address will be stored directly in the vtable. It acts as a trampoline between native C++ code and the managed BLooper.Quit() method:

        private static void _QuitDelegateHook(__IntPtr __instance)
            var __target = global::Haiku.App.BLooper.__GetInstance(__instance);
            __target.__ownsNativeInstance = false;
            __target.Dispose(false, callNativeDtor: false );

When C++ code calls BLooper::Quit(), the function above will forward the call to managed Haiku.App.BLooper.Quit(). After that, the managed looper will renounce its ownership of the pointer and call Dispose().

Note that this only affects calls from the C++ side. Calling the Haiku.App.BLooper.Quit() function from .NET does not dispose the looper. Managed callers should therefore make sure that Dispose() is called right after Quit().

Also note that attempting to use a managed BLooper after it has quitted would result in a segmentation fault due to a NULL pointer access, not a managed, catchable exception. This is because CppSharp does not handle wrapper objects with NULL pointers. Every wrapped function calls P/Invokes native C++ functions without conducting any sanity checks on the this pointer. The problem is therefore not BLooper-specific. This may be fixed (by me, if needed) in a future CppSharp version.

Miscellaneous hacks

There are a few more hacks here and there in the HaikuApiGenerator project. Most of these hacks, especially the ones involving evil regex usage, come with a comment explaining the motivation.

.NET workload for Haiku

.NET workloads are extensions to the SDK that provides developers with tools to work with a certain technology. Most of the time this “technology” is often a specific OS like Android, macOS, but sometimes it could be a framework like MAUI.

Workloads are scarcely documented by .NET. The dotnet workload CLI command is documented here, but it does not show how workloads work in the inside. There are also workload-related design proposals published on GitHub, but these have some differences to what is actually implemented. This might be the reason why not many people outside of Microsoft (and Samsung) knows how to create workloads.

In this blog I will document the basic components of every workload, including the new one made for Haiku.

Advertising manifest

This package advertises the presence of workloads to the .NET SDK. For Microsoft workloads, they are shipped along with the main SDK. For Haiku, an installation script has been provided.

For every .NET SDK version band, there should be a different manifest package.

Manifests are often named $"{Publisher}.NET.Sdk.{WorkloadName}". The containing package is named $"{Publisher}.NET.Sdk.{WorkloadName}.Manifest.{SdkVersionBand}". Haiku’s manifest is therefore called $"Trungnt2910.NET.Sdk.Haiku.Manifest.{SdkVersionBand}" (the publisher might be changed to Haiku if the Haiku organization decides to make this official and take over the project).

The manifest package is installed in $"{DOTNET_ROOT}/sdk-manifests/{SdkVersionBand}". A folder named after the manifest, in lowercase, should be present after installation. For example, for our package the folder should be nameed "trungnt2910.net.sdk.haiku" (notice the lack of the ".manifest" suffix).

The installation folder typically contains two files:


This file declares the workloads, their supported platforms, and the NuGet packages they require.

  "version": "0.1.0",
  "workloads": {
    "haiku": {
      "description": ".NET SDK Workload for building Haiku applications.",
      "packs": [
      "platforms": [ "win-x64", "linux-x64", "osx-x64", "osx-arm64", "haiku-x64" ]
  "packs": {
    "Haiku.Sdk": {
      "kind": "sdk",
      "version": "0.1.0"
    "Haiku.Ref": {
      "kind": "framework",
      "version": "0.1.0"
    "Haiku.Runtime.haiku-x64": {
      "kind": "framework",
      "version": "0.1.0"
    "Haiku.Templates": {
      "kind": "template",
      "version": "0.1.0"

The file recognizes three kinds of packs:

  • sdk: SDK packs often contains MSBuild logic. More will be discussed in SDK pack.
  • framework: Framework packs contain binaries, both native and managed. There are two main kinds, reference and runtime.
  • template: Template packs contain useful templates for the workload. These packages are the same as normal .NET template packages found on NuGet.

The packs listed in the manifest JSON file will be searched on every installed NuGet feeds. At the time of writing, Haiku workload packages are not available on nuget.org yet, so the installation of a custom GitHub Packages NuGet feed is required.


This MSBuild target file is called by all .NET SDK projects. It should therefore be minimal to avoid negatively affecting all projects built on the current machine. The actual SDK build logic should be placed in the SDK package.

A typical file:

  • Calls the OS-specific SDK if an OS-specific TFM (Target Framework Moniker) is detected:
  <Import Project="Sdk.targets" Sdk="Haiku.Sdk" Condition="'$(TargetPlatformIdentifier)' == 'haiku'" />
  • Registers the OS name as a supported target platform on supported SDK versions:
  <ItemGroup Condition=" '$(TargetFrameworkIdentifier)' == '.NETCoreApp' and $([MSBuild]::VersionGreaterThanOrEquals($(TargetFrameworkVersion), '6.0')) ">
    <SdkSupportedTargetPlatformIdentifier Include="haiku" DisplayName="Haiku" />

SDK pack

This package should contain MSBuild logic that sets appropriate properties and add necessary targets in .NET projects consuming the workload.

By convention, the MSBuild entry point of the SDK pack is Sdk.targets. This target can import other MSBuild files in the same package if needed.

The SDK pack for Haiku currently only contains a simple Sdk.targets file. It can be broken down into three parts.

Register supported platforms and versions

    <SupportedPlatform Include="haiku" />


    <TargetPlatformVersion Condition=" '$(TargetPlatformVersion)' == '' ">$(_DefaultTargetPlatformVersion)</TargetPlatformVersion>

    <SdkSupportedTargetPlatformVersion Include="0.1.0" />

The target platform version should match the Haiku OS version. Technically, it should be 1 (for Haiku R1). 0.1.0 is currently used for experimental workload versions.

In the future, if Haiku R2 is released, the workload can declare 2 as a SdkSupportedTargetPlatformVersion along with 1. This way, Haiku .NET projects can use this workload to build net[something].0-haiku2.0 along with net[something].0-haiku1.0 for Haiku R1.

Register and reference runtime packs

  <!-- Register Haiku runtime -->

  <!-- Reference Haiku runtime -->
  <ItemGroup Condition=" '$(DisableImplicitFrameworkReferences)' != 'true' ">

This code tells the .NET SDK about Haiku API libraries that should be included in every Haiku project. TargetingPackName should point to the reference libraries pack, and RuntimePackNamePatterns should point to the runtime libraries pack (**RID** will be substituted with the actual RID by .NET).

Should .NET on Haiku reach more platforms like arm64, the new RID should be added to RuntimePackRuntimeIdentifiers.

Set project properties

  <!-- Project properties -->
    <_IsHaikuDefined>$([System.Text.RegularExpressions.Regex]::IsMatch('$(DefineConstants.Trim())', '(^|;)HAIKU($|;)'))</_IsHaikuDefined>
    <DefineConstants Condition="!$(_IsHaikuDefined)">HAIKU;$(DefineConstants)</DefineConstants>

    <_HaikuIsExe Condition="$(OutputType.Equals('exe', StringComparison.InvariantCultureIgnoreCase)) or $(OutputType.Equals('winexe', StringComparison.InvariantCultureIgnoreCase))">true</_HaikuIsExe>

  <PropertyGroup Condition="'$(_HaikuIsExe)' == 'true'">
    <!-- Must be self-contained. Framework-dependent builds cannot see our custom runtime. -->

The first property group defines the HAIKU constant, allowing code such as:

    // Some Haiku-specific hack

The second and third groups are related to a hack. When building an Exe project, SelfContained must be set when using custom workloads. Otherwise, .NET will not copy workload libraries and errors will occur. When SelfContained is true, a RuntimeIdentifier must also be set in the project. For more details about this hack, see my Reddit post.

This SDK package is still in its early stages. In the future, just like how the Android .NET SDK can do a variety of Android-related tasks, the SDK for Haiku can also be expanded to do things like (not included in this GSoC project’s scope):

  • Handling application resources.
  • Automaticallly generating Haiku recipes, or even .hpkg files for testing.
  • Running Roslyn analzyers to detect Haiku API anti-patterns.

Reference libraries pack

References libraries packs, or targeting packs, provide a set of lightweight libraries used only during development and compilation. These libraries contain platform-neutral APIs, and may or may not have complete implementations. They are the .NET equivalent of C/C++ headers.

Currently, for the Haiku workload, the reference library is the same as the runtime library for haiku-x64 (the only supported platform at the moment).

To allow the .NET SDK to recognize reference libraries, .dll files (and .xml documentation files, if any), should be placed at $"ref/net{Version}/". This is handled in the package’s project file:

    <_ManagedFiles Include="$(_HaikuRootDirectory)src/Haiku/bin/$(Configuration)/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)/Haiku.dll"
                   CopyToOutputDirectory="PreserveNewest" Visible="false" Link="ref/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)/Haiku.dll"
                   PackagePath="ref/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)" TargetPath="ref/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)" />
    <_DocumentationFiles Include="$(_HaikuRootDirectory)src/Haiku/bin/$(Configuration)/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)/Haiku.xml"
                         CopyToOutputDirectory="PreserveNewest" Visible="false" Link="ref/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)/Haiku.xml"
                         PackagePath="ref/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)" TargetPath="ref/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)" />

    <_PackageFiles Include="@(_ManagedFiles)" />
    <_PackageFiles Include="@(_DocumentationFiles)" />

Building the targeting pack also involves generating a FrameworkList.xml, which is a declaration of all reference libraries available in a pack. The format of this file is the same as RuntimeList.xml of the runtime libraries pack documented below.

Runtime libraries pack

Unlike reference libraries, runtime libraries contain full implementations and are platform-specific. They are used by applications during runtime.

Runtime libraries can also include native .so files. In the Haiku workload, libHaikuGlue.so, the glue library containing inline functions not included in libbe.so, is provided.

As these packages are platform-specific, their names are often ended by a RID, such as Haiku.Runtime.haiku-x64, or Haiku.Runtime.haiku-arm64 if arm64 support is added in the future.

Runtime library package paths are also different from targeting ones. They are located at "runtimes/{RID}/lib/net{Version}/" (for managed .dll and .pdb symbols), or "runtimes/{RID}/native/" (for native libraries).

    <_ManagedFiles Include="$(_HaikuRootDirectory)src/Haiku/bin/$(Configuration)/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)/Haiku.dll"
                   CopyToOutputDirectory="PreserveNewest" Visible="false" Link="runtimes/haiku-x64/lib/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)/Haiku.dll"
                   PackagePath="runtimes/haiku-x64/lib/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)" TargetPath="runtimes/haiku-x64/lib/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)" />

    <_SymbolFiles Include="$(_HaikuRootDirectory)src/Haiku/bin/$(Configuration)/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)/Haiku.pdb" IsSymbolFile="true"
                  CopyToOutputDirectory="PreserveNewest" Visible="false" Link="runtimes/haiku-x64/lib/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)/Haiku.pdb"
                  PackagePath="runtimes/haiku-x64/lib/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)" TargetPath="runtimes/haiku-x64/lib/net$(_HaikuNetVersion)" />

    <_NativeFiles Include="$(_HaikuRootDirectory)out/generated/libHaikuGlue.so" IsNative="true"
                  CopyToOutputDirectory="PreserveNewest" Visible="false" Link="runtimes/haiku-x64/native/libHaikuGlue.so"
                  PackagePath="runtimes/haiku-x64/native" TargetPath="runtimes/haiku-x64/native" />
    <_NativeFiles Include="$(_HaikuRootDirectory)out/generated/libHaikuGlue.a" IsNative="true"
                  CopyToOutputDirectory="PreserveNewest" Visible="false" Link="runtimes/haiku-x64/native/libHaikuGlue.a"
                  PackagePath="runtimes/haiku-x64/native" TargetPath="runtimes/haiku-x64/native" />

    <_PackageFiles Include="@(_ManagedFiles)" />
    <_PackageFiles Include="@(_SymbolFiles)" />
    <_PackageFiles Include="@(_NativeFiles)" />

In addition to libraries, the package should provide a RuntimeList.xml declaration. Microsoft has provided a CreateFrameworkListFile in its internal package, Microsoft.DotNet.SharedFramework.Sdk, to handle the generation of this file as well as FrameworkList.xml.

The MSBuild code for this is included in workload/Shared/Frameworks.targets in my dotnet-haiku repo. It is adapted from internal Microsoft code. There are some parts I do not fully understand, such as the _Classifications part, but what’s important is that it just works if you set _ManagedFiles, _SymbolFiles, _NativeFiles, and _DocumentationFiles correctly in the runtime and targeting pack projects.

Templates pack

Template packages in .NET workloads are not different from normal template packs, which are already fully documented by Microsoft.


This is the longest blog post in this series, and it took me a whole day to write. Some parts might sound boring; some might seem like gibberish for those who are not used to MSBuild. That said, this really is the content I wish I had when I was building my first .NET 6 workload last year.

Once again, I might have left some points behind, if there are any questions about any part of my port, builds, or workloads, feel free to leave them in the comments section or ping me on IRC.

Appendix - Pull requests/patches

Like the previous blog, I will have a list of pull requests/patches. Those that have been included in the previous blog (pending and still pending now, or already merged) are not displayed here.




No new pending pull requests at the time of writing, though haiku/haiku#6616 (“Add clone_memory syscall”) and dotnet/runtime#86391 (“Haiku: Configuration support”) have both been pending for quite a long time.