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<h1>Matching the Clang AST</h1>
<p>This document explains how to use Clang's LibASTMatchers to match interesting
nodes of the AST and execute code that uses the matched nodes. Combined with
<a href="LibTooling.html">LibTooling</a>, LibASTMatchers helps to write
code-to-code transformation tools or query tools.</p>
<p>We assume basic knowledge about the Clang AST. See the
<a href="IntroductionToTheClangAST.html">Introduction to the Clang AST</a> if
you want to learn more about how the AST is structured.</p>
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<h2 id="intro">Introduction</h2>
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<p>LibASTMatchers provides a domain specific language to create predicates on Clang's
AST. This DSL is written in and can be used from C++, allowing users to write
a single program to both match AST nodes and access the node's C++ interface
to extract attributes, source locations, or any other information provided on
the AST level.</p>
<p>AST matchers are predicates on nodes in the AST. Matchers are created
by calling creator functions that allow building up a tree of matchers, where
inner matchers are used to make the match more specific.</p>
</p>For example, to create a matcher that matches all class or union declarations
in the AST of a translation unit, you can call
<a href="LibASTMatchersReference.html#recordDecl0Anchor">recordDecl()</a>.
To narrow the match down, for example to find all class or union declarations with the name "Foo",
insert a <a href="LibASTMatchersReference.html#hasName0Anchor">hasName</a>
matcher: the call recordDecl(hasName("Foo")) returns a matcher that matches classes
or unions that are named "Foo", in any namespace. By default, matchers that accept
multiple inner matchers use an implicit <a href="LibASTMatchersReference.html#allOf0Anchor">allOf()</a>.
This allows further narrowing down the match, for example to match all classes
that are derived from "Bar": recordDecl(hasName("Foo"), isDerivedFrom("Bar")).</p>
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<h2 id="writing">How to create a matcher</h2>
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<p>With more than a thousand classes in the Clang AST, one can quickly get lost
when trying to figure out how to create a matcher for a specific pattern. This
section will teach you how to use a rigorous step-by-step pattern to build the
matcher you are interested in. Note that there will always be matchers missing
for some part of the AST. See the section about <a href="#writing">how to write
your own AST matchers</a> later in this document.</p>
<p>The precondition to using the matchers is to understand how the AST
for what you want to match looks like. The <a href="IntroductionToTheClangAST.html">Introduction to the Clang AST</a>
teaches you how to dump a translation unit's AST into a human readable format.</p>
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<p>In general, the strategy to create the right matchers is:</p>
<li>Find the outermost class in Clang's AST you want to match.</li>
<li>Look at the <a href="LibASTMatchersReference.html">AST Matcher Reference</a> for matchers that either match the
node you're interested in or narrow down attributes on the node.</li>
<li>Create your outer match expression. Verify that it works as expected.</li>
<li>Examine the matchers for what the next inner node you want to match is.</li>
<li>Repeat until the matcher is finished.</li>
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<h2 id="binding">Binding nodes in match expressions</h2>
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<p>Matcher expressions allow you to specify which parts of the AST are interesting
for a certain task. Often you will want to then do something with the nodes
that were matched, like building source code transformations.</p>
<p>To that end, matchers that match specific AST nodes (so called node matchers)
are bindable; for example, recordDecl(hasName("MyClass")).bind("id") will bind
the matched recordDecl node to the string "id", to be later retrieved in the
<a href="">match callback</a>.</p>
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<h2 id="writing">Writing your own matchers</h2>
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<p>There are multiple different ways to define a matcher, depending on its
type and flexibility.</p>
<li><b>VariadicDynCastAllOfMatcher&ltBase, Derived></b><p>Those match all nodes
of type <i>Base</i> if they can be dynamically casted to <i>Derived</i>. The
names of those matchers are nouns, which closely resemble <i>Derived</i>.
VariadicDynCastAllOfMatchers are the backbone of the matcher hierarchy. Most
often, your match expression will start with one of them, and you can
<a href="#binding">bind</a> the node they represent to ids for later processing.</p>
<p>VariadicDynCastAllOfMatchers are callable classes that model variadic
template functions in C++03. They take an aribtrary number of Matcher&lt;Derived>
and return a Matcher&lt;Base>.</p></li>
<li><b>AST_MATCHER_P(Type, Name, ParamType, Param)</b><p> Most matcher definitions
use the matcher creation macros. Those define both the matcher of type Matcher&lt;Type>
itself, and a matcher-creation function named <i>Name</i> that takes a parameter
of type <i>ParamType</i> and returns the corresponding matcher.</p>
<p>There are multiple matcher definition macros that deal with polymorphic return
values and different parameter counts. See <a href="">ASTMatchersMacros.h</a>.
<li><b>Matcher creation functions</b><p>Matchers are generated by nesting
calls to matcher creation functions. Most of the time those functions are either
created by using VariadicDynCastAllOfMatcher or the matcher creation macros
(see below). The free-standing functions are an indication that this matcher
is just a combination of other matchers, as is for example the case with
<a href="LibASTMatchersReference.html#callee1Anchor">callee</a>.</p></li>