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003-pleasant-c.7 2.6KB

PLEASANT-C(7)      FreeBSD Miscellaneous Information Manual      PLEASANT-C(7)

     Pleasant C – it's good, actually

     I've been writing a lot of C lately and actually find it very pleasant.
     I want to talk about some of its ergonomic features.  These are C99
     features unless otherwise noted.

   Initializer syntax
     Struct and union initializer syntax is well generalized.  Designators can
     be chained, making initializing nested structs easy, and all
     uninitialized fields are zeroed.

           struct {
                   struct pollfd fds[2];
           } loop = {
                   .fds[0].fd = STDIN_FILENO,
                   .fds[1].fd = STDOUT_FILENO,
                   .fds[0].events = POLLIN,
                   .fds[1].events = POLLOUT,

   Variable-length arrays
     VLAs can be multi-dimensional, which can avoid manual stride
     multiplications needed to index a flat malloc(3)'d array.

           uint8_t glyphs[len][height][width];
           fread(glyphs, height * width, len, stdin);

   Incomplete array types
     The last field of a struct can be an “incomplete” array type, which means
     it doesn't have a length.  A variable amount of space for the struct can
     be malloc(3)'d, or the struct can be used as a sort of pointer with

           struct Line {
                   enum Filter type;
                   uint8_t data[];
           } *line = &[1 + lineSize()];

   Anonymous struct and union fields (C11)
     Members of structs or unions which are themselves structs or unions can
     be unnamed.  In that case, each of the inner fields is treated as a
     member of the outer struct or union.  This makes working with tagged
     unions nicer.

           struct Message {
                   enum { Foo, Bar } type;
                   union {
                           uint8_t foo;
                           uint32_t bar;
           } msg = { .type = Foo, .foo = 0xFF };

   Static assert (C11)
     Assertions can be made at compile time.  Most useful for checking sizes
     of structs.

           static_assert(13 == sizeof(struct PNGHeader), "PNG IHDR size");

   Leading-break switch
     This one is just an odd style choice I came across that C happens to
     allow.  To prevent accidental fall-through in switch statements, you can
     put breaks before the case labels.

           while (0 < (opt = getopt(argc, argv, "h:w:"))) {
                   switch (opt) {
                           break; case 'h': height = optarg;
                           break; case 'w': width = optarg;
                           break; default:  return EX_USAGE;


     This document is produced from mdoc(7) source available from Code Toilet:

     This isn't meant to be advice.  It's just how I like to write C, and I
     don't “ship” software in C.

Causal Agency                 September 30, 2018                 Causal Agency