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21st Century C

Cover of 21st Century C by Ben Klemens Published by O'Reilly Media, Inc.
  1. 21st Century C
  2. SPECIAL OFFER: Upgrade this ebook with O’Reilly
  3. A Note Regarding Supplemental Files
  4. Preface
    1. C Is Punk Rock
    2. Q & A (Or, the Parameters of the Book)
    3. Standards: So Many to Choose From
      1. The POSIX Standard
    4. Some Logistics
      1. Conventions Used in This Book
      2. Using Code Examples
      3. Safari® Books Online
      4. How to Contact Us
      5. Acknowledgments
  5. I. The Environment
    1. 1. Set Yourself Up for Easy Compilation
      1. Use a Package Manager
      2. Compiling C with Windows
      3. Which Way to the Library?
      4. Using Makefiles
      5. Using Libraries from Source
      6. Using Libraries from Source (Even if Your Sysadmin Doesn’t Want You To)
      7. Compiling C Programs via Here Document
    2. 2. Debug, Test, Document
      1. Using a Debugger
      2. Using Valgrind to Check for Errors
      3. Unit Testing
      4. Interweaving Documentation
      5. Error Checking
    3. 3. Packaging Your Project
      1. The Shell
      2. Makefiles vs. Shell Scripts
      3. Packaging Your Code with Autotools
    4. 4. Version Control
      1. Changes via diff
      2. Git’s Objects
      3. Trees and Their Branches
      4. Remote Repositories
    5. 5. Playing Nice with Others
      1. The Process
      2. Python Host
  6. II. The Language
    1. 6. Your Pal the Pointer
      1. Automatic, Static, and Manual Memory
      2. Persistent State Variables
      3. Pointers Without malloc
    2. 7. C Syntax You Can Ignore
      1. Don’t Bother Explicitly Returning from main
      2. Let Declarations Flow
      3. Cast Less
      4. Enums and Strings
      5. Labels, gotos, switches, and breaks
      6. Deprecate Float
    3. 8. Obstacles and Opportunity
      1. Cultivate Robust and Flourishing Macros
      2. Linkage with static and extern
      3. The const Keyword
    4. 9. Text
      1. Making String Handling Less Painful with asprintf
      2. A Pæan to strtok
      3. Unicode
    5. 10. Better Structures
      1. Compound Literals
      2. Variadic Macros
      3. Safely Terminated Lists
      4. Foreach
      5. Vectorize a Function
      6. Designated Initializers
      7. Initialize Arrays and Structs with Zeros
      8. Typedefs Save the Day
      9. Return Multiple Items from a Function
      10. Flexible Function Inputs
      11. The Void Pointer and the Structures It Points To
    6. 11. Object-Oriented Programming in C
      1. What You Don’t Get (and Why You Won’t Miss It)
      2. Extending Structures and Dictionaries
      3. Functions in Your Structs
      4. Count References
    7. 12. Libraries
      1. GLib
      2. POSIX
      3. The GNU Scientific Library
      4. SQLite
      5. libxml and cURL
  7. Epilogue
  8. Glossary
  9. Bibliography
  10. Index
  11. About the Author
  12. Colophon
  13. SPECIAL OFFER: Upgrade this ebook with O’Reilly
  14. Copyright
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Chapter 2. Debug, Test, Document

Crawling  Over your window  You think I’m confused,  I’m waiting ...  To complete my current ruse.

Wire, “I Am the Fly”

This chapter will cover tools for debugging, testing, and documenting your writing—the essentials to take your writing from a potentially useful set of scripts to something you and others can rely on.

Because C gives you the freedom to do idiotic things with memory, debugging means both the quotidian problem of checking our logic (with gdb) and the more technical problem of checking for memory misallocations and leaks (with Valgrind). On the documentation side, this chapter covers one tool at the interface level (Doxygen) and another that helps you document and develop every step of the program (CWEB).

The chapter also gives a quick introduction to the test harness, which will allow you to write lots of tests for your code quickly. Once all your tests are written, nothing can possibly go wrong, but the chapter concludes with some considerations about error reporting just in case.

Using a Debugger

The first tip about the debugger is simple and brief:

Use a debugger, always.

Some of you will find this to be not much of a tip, because who possibly wouldn’t use a debugger? But many users come from languages that throw up a backtrace at the first sign of trouble, and didn’t get to the part where their C textbook introduces the debugger (it is often in the other topics segment, somewhere around Chapter 15). So now we’re all on the same page: ...

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