bugGNU Octave - Bugs: bug #45444, Cannot access private functions...


bug #45444: Cannot access private functions inside namespaces

Submitter:  Amro <amro_octave>
Submitted:  Tue 30 Jun 2015 02:05:32 PM UTC
Category:  Interpreter Severity:  3 - Normal
Priority:  5 - Normal Item Group:  Matlab Compatibility
Status:  Confirmed Assigned to:  None
Originator Name:  Open/Closed:  * Open
Release:  * dev Operating System:  * Any
Fixed Release:  None Planned Release:  None
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( Jump to the original submission )

Mon 24 Jan 2022 10:32:49 AM UTC, comment #18: 

Agree to @muhali.  The following copy&paste example (from comment #0) still fails in Octave 6.4.0, 7.0.91 and 8.0, but works with Matlab R2021a:

mkdir "./+foo/private";
f = fopen("./+foo/bar.m","wt");
fdisp (f, "function x = bar()");
fdisp (f, "    x = baz();");
fdisp (f, "endfunction");
f = fopen("./+foo/private/baz.m","wt");
fdisp (f, "function x = baz()");
fdisp (f, "    x = pi();");
fdisp (f, "endfunction");

error: 'baz' undefined near line 2, column 9
error: called from
    bar at line 2 column 7

This bug report took a bad strategy in reporting too many issues at the same time.  The @class and classdef portion of this report is resolved.  The +namespace part is still a problem.

Last point.  The given test suite of comment #8 is a gold mine:


Partially confirmed that test suite with Matlab R2021a and should be incorporated into Octave.

Kai Torben Ohlhus <siko1056>
Project Member
Tue 08 Dec 2020 03:58:32 PM UTC, comment #17: 

What was the reason that this bug was closed? I still see the bug in the current dev and stable versions, and I don't see how the test suite actually tests the OP's example.

Muhali <muhali>
Mon 11 Mar 2019 10:09:25 AM UTC, comment #16: 

It seems that this report lists several bugs that need separate fixes. For example, private functions inside a namespace are not working yet. See example in bug #54658 (flagged as a duplicate of this bug report).

Guillaume <gyom>
Mon 11 Mar 2019 12:00:37 AM UTC, comment #15: 

I think this has been fixed.  At any rate, I downloaded the zip file, unpacked it, and was able to run myclass_tst and it didn't pretty any errors.

Rik <rik5>
Project Administrator
Fri 22 Feb 2019 10:30:36 AM UTC, comment #14: 

With the recent work on classdef and +packages, does it become easier to allow private functions in +packages?

Guillaume <gyom>
Mon 03 Jul 2017 03:41:40 PM UTC, comment #13: 

Other workarounds:

args = varargin(2:end);



Amro <amro_octave>
Mon 03 Jul 2017 03:36:35 PM UTC, comment #12: 

So the issue I mentioned about "obj.method()" vs. "method(obj)" is probably related to the use of the "end" keyword in the expression. For example:


is not parsed correctly. While this works:

method_function(obj, varargin{2:end});

I can see it's been reported before: https://savannah.gnu.org/bugs/?50716

Amro <amro_octave>
Fri 30 Jun 2017 09:17:49 AM UTC, comment #11: 

Probably there are few problems here.

When using debugger, I have found that in Octave dev version,
varargin was empty, but in Matlab, it wasn't.

I have seen this problem also when trying to use "chebtest" from chebfun package http://www.chebfun.org.

Avinoam Kalma <avinoam>
Project Member
Fri 30 Jun 2017 08:45:21 AM UTC, comment #10: 

Don't know, I haven't had that problem in 4.2.1, it may be a regression in dev.

First I would verify it's indeed about "varargin". Based on the error you've shown in comment #7, I'm not so sure. Even if somehow "varargin" became empty, the call should still go through, and not give a mysterious "out of bound" error:

ret = myclass.static_function(varargin{:})

% if varargin is empty, the comma-separated list expands to empty, equivalent to:

ret = myclass.static_function()

I think it has to do with the "myclass.static_function()" call itself, somehow not parsing correctly?

I have seen something similar with regards to "obj.method()" vs. "method(obj)" on regular class methods (which I previously mentioned in comment #5)..

Amro <amro_octave>
Fri 30 Jun 2017 04:48:12 AM UTC, comment #9: 

As I saw in comment #7, there is a problem that varargin is not transferred to a class function.

Should I open a new bug report for this?

Avinoam Kalma <avinoam>
Project Member
Wed 28 Jun 2017 08:27:11 PM UTC, comment #8: 

I pushed a new branch "octave" at:


Basically I removed everything that doesn't work in Octave 4.2.1 as mentioned in previous comment (I also had to change some calls from "obj.method()" to "method(obj)" in some cases).

Result is that now all tests pass.

Simply diff the two branches to know what is currently not working in Octave:


To test the dev version of Octave, you can try incrementally adding stuff which got recently fixed (like local functions defined in class files, or private-folder functions being called from class methods).

Hope this helps.

(file #41064)

Amro <amro_octave>
Wed 28 Jun 2017 06:41:50 PM UTC, comment #7: 

Checking on Win-7, using dev version

>> __octave_config_info__ ("hg_id")
ans = 315a3dcc229c
>> cd class_file
>> myclass_test
error: called from
    call at line 35 column 25
    myclass_test at line 74 column 1
error: index (117): out of bound 15

The problem is that in line 133 of myclass.m
function ret = static_function(varargin)

varargin is {}(0x0) but in the calling function it is 'local_function'

Avinoam Kalma <avinoam>
Project Member
Sat 24 Jun 2017 01:30:29 PM UTC, comment #6: 

I'm attaching a zip file of repo for posterity's sake.

(file #41038)

Amro <amro_octave>
Sat 24 Jun 2017 01:17:08 PM UTC, comment #5: 

Thanks John.

Inspired by the test case submitted by @gyom in #51276, I created a more extensive set of tests to cover more cases. The files can be found here:


To run, cd into each directory one at a time, then run the scripts +myclass_test+ and +myclass_test_handles+ (you'll need to perform "clear -c"/"clear all" in between).

Here are the things covered in the tests:

  • class defined in a self-contained file, versue class defined in @-folder (I'm referring to "classdef" style of classes)
  • class inside +package folder and class inside nested packages +package/+subpackage (both cases of classes, self contained and @-folder)
  • different kinds of functions: method function, nested function, static function, local function, private function
  • in the case of @-folder class, test functions defined directly inside the class file or in an external separate m-file inside the folder
  • testing both calling functions directly, or by returning a function handle

I ran the tests in MATLAB R2017a, no errors.

I then tried in Octave 4.2.1, here's a list of things that are apparently broken:

  • defining +local_fuction+ inside a classdef file isn't supported.
  • this syntax doesnt work: +@myclass.static_function+, instead we have to use: +@(varargin) myclass.static_function(varargin{:})+
  • same thing when using an object: +@obj.method_function+ or +@obj.static_function+
  • in some case calling methods as +obj.method_function()+ doesnt work right, instead we have to use +method_function(obj)+
  • creating a function handle to a nested method is not supported +@nested_function+
  • +private_function+ could not be called from functions defined inside the class file, only externally defined functions could access it (like +method2_function+ or +static2_function+)
  • an exception to the previous point is when the class is defined inside a package, in which case even +method2_function+ and +static2_function+ cannot call +private_function+
  • inconsistency when taking function handle to a member method: +@method2_function+ sometimes works, but +@method_function+ never does

Some of these bugs have been reported before, e.g #41723, #45351.
I ran the tests in Octave 4.2.1, I appreciate if someone could try it in dev...

Amro <amro_octave>
Tue 20 Jun 2017 09:48:32 PM UTC, comment #4: 

I checked in the following changeset:


This could probably use a test file.  Would someone like to add one and close this report?

John W. Eaton <jwe>
Project Administrator
Sat 24 Oct 2015 11:17:00 PM UTC, comment #3: 

Just confirming this bug for me, and that Carnë's code (i.e. old-style OO code) works.

Carnë: out of curiosity; if you put your code under a namespace (e.g. +Foo), does your class still see the private method?

Tasos Papastylianou <tpapastylianou>
Tue 30 Jun 2015 04:42:11 PM UTC, comment #2: 

I was talking about the new classdef-style OOP:

$ cat ./testdir/@foo/foo.m
classdef foo
        function obj = foo()
            disp ("Calling foo constructor");

$ cat ./testdir/@foo/private/baz.m
function baz()
    disp ("baz was called");

Amro <amro_octave>
Tue 30 Jun 2015 04:33:42 PM UTC, comment #1: 

I can't reproduce this for @class folders:

$ cat playground/@foo/foo.m
function foo ()
  disp ("Calling foo constructor");
  baz ();
$ cat playground/@foo/private/baz.m
function baz ()
  disp ("baz was called");
$ octave
octave-gui:1> addpath ("/home/carandraug/playground")
octave-gui:2> foo ()
Calling foo constructor
baz was called

Carnë Draug <carandraug>
Project Member
Tue 30 Jun 2015 02:05:32 PM UTC, original submission:  

The following describes an issue related to path, packages and classes, and private functions:


where "bar.m" is a function that calls a private function "baz.m".

function x = bar()
    x = baz();


function x = baz()
    x = pi;

In Octave the following fails (while it works fine in MATLAB):

>> addpath('C:\testdir')
>> foo.bar()
error: 'baz' undefined near line 2 column 9
error: called from
    bar at line 2 column 7

I had to explicitly add the private folder to the path for it to work:

>> addpath('C:\testdir\+foo\private')
>> foo.bar
ans =  3.1416

Similarly, private functions inside @-class folders:


Trying to call "myfun.m" from class methods will generate a similar 'undefined function' error...

This was initially reported in #45410, but I'm creating a separate bug report for it.

Amro <amro_octave>


(Note: upload size limit is set to 16384 kB, after insertion of the required escape characters.)

Attach Files:

Attached Files
file #41064:  test_functions_scope-octave.zip added by amro_octave (28KiB - application/x-zip-compressed)
file #41038:  test_functions_scope-master.zip added by amro_octave (39KiB - application/x-zip-compressed)


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    Follow 11 latest changes.

    Date Changed by Updated Field Previous Value => Replaced by
    2022-01-24 siko1056 StatusFixed Confirmed
        Open/ClosedClosed Open
        SummaryPrivate functions inside namespace and class directories Cannot access private functions inside namespaces
    2019-03-11 rik5 StatusReady For Test Fixed
        Open/ClosedOpen Closed
    2018-09-14 mtmiller Dependencies- bugs #54658 is dependent
    2017-06-28 amro_octave Attached File- Added test_functions_scope-octave.zip, #41064
    2017-06-24 amro_octave Attached File- Added test_functions_scope-master.zip, #41038
    2017-06-20 jwe StatusNone Ready For Test
        Release4.0.0 dev
    2017-06-20 mtmiller Dependencies- bugs #51276 is dependent

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