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What Are Coding Standards in C

Richard Stallman and other GNU project volunteers got together to define exactly what is C coding in no uncertain terms. For years there have been various competing standards, and many people would find that code that compiled with one compiler wouldn’t actually work with another one. They couldn’t port code between development environments, either, which is what makes this kind of a rule set very important to those who are writing code that needs to adhere to the GNU package. Items that were not set as standards by the rules should still remain consistent throughout a project.

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Coding Standards in C

Back in 1989 there were a variety of coding standards in C set in order to try and make the programming language usable across the board, and most of these are still in place in the 21st century despite numerous changes to the way that computers function.

Since the basic underlying theory is still the same, not much has changed that influenced the standards one way or another. That being said, there are a few cases where the old rules won’t work any more, and it’s important to keep this in mind at all times.

Never use the trigraph feature of standard C code. While it was nice in its day, it’s been de-emphasized by other ways of development. Generally if something can be developed using that feature it could just as easily be done with some other type of function.

Writing a new library shouldn’t be hard, and if it avoids having to use trigraph then it’s worth it because so many new compiler structures don’t provide any type of support for this feature any more. This means code that relies on it won’t load.

The 1999 and 2011 styles of C aren’t always fully supported, so don’t use too many features that are taken from then unless a compiler supports them and they’re supported only conditionally. It’s easy to support pre-standard compilers in a variety of programs, and developers might want to feel free. For instance, most function definitions are written like so:

int
foo (int x, int y)

A pre-standard style would instead read:

int
foo (x,y)
int x, y;

and then it would require a separate declaration to specify the prototype arguments:

int foo (int, int);

A Word About Man Pages

coding standards in c

Coding standards in C and matlab coding also cover documentation, and man pages are now considered secondary. It’s not expected that every GNU standard program will have a man page, but some of them do have them. It’s up to the developer whether to include them. Those who want to include them should keep in mind that supporting man pages require continual effort, because they have to be updated each individual time that the program is changed. The time spent on statistical data analysis might be better spent elsewhere.

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