Emilua is a concurrency runtime for Lua programs. The intra-VM concurrency support is exploited to offer async I/O. IO errors reported from the operating system are preserved and reported back to the user. That’s specially important for logging and tracing.

POSIX systems report errors through errno. Meanwhile Windows report errors through GetLastError(). In both cases, we have an integer holding an error code. So that’s the first piece of information captured and reported.

The enumeration for errno cannot be extended by libraries or user code, so each new module that uses the same error reporting style (integer error codes) must defined their own enumeration (which can safely conflict with error code values from errno). The origin of the integer code defines the error domain. For instance, POSIX’s getaddrinfo() uses its own set of error codes (EAI_…​). The error domain is the second piece of information captured and reported by Emilua: that’s the error category.

An error reported by Emilua is a Lua table with two members:

code: integer

The error code (e.g. value from errno).

category: userdata

An object that encodes the error domain (e.g. whether value was read out of errno).

Extra information about the error’s origin might be available depending on the function that throws the error (e.g. many functions attach the integer "arg" for EINVAL errors).

The error category

Error categories define the metamethods __tostring() and __eq(). The category for errors read from errno (or GetLastError() on Windows) will return "system" for __tostring(). That’s the category’s name.

Another important category on Emilua is the "generic" category. This category is meant to represent POSIX errors (even on Windows). The purpose of this category is to compare errors portably so you can write cross-platform programs, but you’ll see more on that later.

message(self, code: integer) → string

Returns the explanatory message string for the error specified by code.

For the "system" category on POSIX platforms, that’s the same as strerror(3p).

The error table

The metatable for raised error tables also define the metamethods __tostring() and __eq(). Its __tostring() is just a shorthand to use the category’s message(). Only code and category are compared for __eq() and extra members are ignored.

togeneric(self) → error_code

That’s a function present in __index. It’ll return the default error condition for self.

For instance, filesystem.create_hard_link() will report the original error from the OS so you don’t lose information on errors. On Windows, this function might throw ERROR_ALREADY_EXISTS, but this error maps perfectly to POSIX’s EEXIST. If you’re reacting on error codes to determine an action to take (i.e. you’re actually handling the error instead of throwing it up higher in the stack or logging/tracing it), then adding the specific error code for each platform serves you no purpose. That’s the purpose for the function togeneric(). If there’s a mapping between the error code and POSIX, it’ll return a new error table from the "generic" category. If no such mapping exists, the original error is returned.

local ok, ec = pcall(...)
if ec:togeneric() == generic_error.EEXIST then
    -- ...

RDF error categories

Errors are also user-extensible by defining your own error categories. Emilua has the concept of modules defined by RDF’s Turtle files[1]. In the future, this will also be used to define application/packaging resources in Android and Windows binaries, for instance. However, right now, they’re only used to define error categories.

# Easter egg codes from:
# <>

@prefix cat: <>.

	a <>;
	cat:error [
		cat:code 1;
		cat:alias "ED";
		# The experienced user will know what is wrong.
		cat:message "?"
	], [
		cat:code 2;
		cat:alias "EGREGIOUS";
		# You did what?
		cat:message "You really blew it this time",
			"VocĂȘ realmente se superou dessa vez"@pt-BR
	], [
		cat:code 3;
		cat:alias "EIEIO";
		# Go home and have a glass of warm, dairy-fresh milk.
		cat:message "Computer bought the farm"
	], [
		cat:code 4;
		cat:alias "EGRATUITOUS";
		# This error code has no purpose.
		cat:message "Gratuitous error"

[Turtle is] RDF syntax for those with taste

— David Robillard
LV2 co-author

Just throw a .ttl file in the place where you’d put your .lua file and the module system will find it.

local my_error_category = require "/my_error_category"

-- it creates a new error every time,
-- so you don't need to worry about reusing
-- old values
local my_error = my_error_category.EGREGIOUS
my_error.context = "Lorem ipsum"

You can also refer to errors in a category module by number, but that should be avoided:


You can also define a mapping for generic errors:

@prefix cat: <>.

	a <>;
	cat:error [
		cat:code 1;
		cat:alias "operation_would_block",
		cat:message "Resource temporarily unavailable";
		cat:generic_error "EAGAIN"

It might be useful to define generic errors for categories other than "generic" too[2]. However Emilua doesn’t offer this ability yet as someone needs to put some thought on the design.

This is an unusual design in the Lua ecosystem, so you might want some rationale: