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* Cpplib: (cppinternals). Cpplib internals.
This file documents the internals of the GNU C Preprocessor.
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File:, Node: Top, Next: Conventions, Up: (dir)
The GNU C Preprocessor Internals
1 Cpplib--the GNU C Preprocessor
The GNU C preprocessor is implemented as a library, "cpplib", so it can
be easily shared between a stand-alone preprocessor, and a preprocessor
integrated with the C, C++ and Objective-C front ends. It is also
available for use by other programs, though this is not recommended as
its exposed interface has not yet reached a point of reasonable
The library has been written to be re-entrant, so that it can be used
to preprocess many files simultaneously if necessary. It has also been
written with the preprocessing token as the fundamental unit; the
preprocessor in previous versions of GCC would operate on text strings
as the fundamental unit.
This brief manual documents the internals of cpplib, and explains
some of the tricky issues. It is intended that, along with the
comments in the source code, a reasonably competent C programmer should
be able to figure out what the code is doing, and why things have been
implemented the way they have.
* Menu:
* Conventions:: Conventions used in the code.
* Lexer:: The combined C, C++ and Objective-C Lexer.
* Hash Nodes:: All identifiers are entered into a hash table.
* Macro Expansion:: Macro expansion algorithm.
* Token Spacing:: Spacing and paste avoidance issues.
* Line Numbering:: Tracking location within files.
* Guard Macros:: Optimizing header files with guard macros.
* Files:: File handling.
* Concept Index:: Index.

File:, Node: Conventions, Next: Lexer, Prev: Top, Up: Top
cpplib has two interfaces--one is exposed internally only, and the
other is for both internal and external use.
The convention is that functions and types that are exposed to
multiple files internally are prefixed with `_cpp_', and are to be
found in the file `internal.h'. Functions and types exposed to external
clients are in `cpplib.h', and prefixed with `cpp_'. For historical
reasons this is no longer quite true, but we should strive to stick to
We are striving to reduce the information exposed in `cpplib.h' to
the bare minimum necessary, and then to keep it there. This makes clear
exactly what external clients are entitled to assume, and allows us to
change internals in the future without worrying whether library clients
are perhaps relying on some kind of undocumented implementation-specific

File:, Node: Lexer, Next: Hash Nodes, Prev: Conventions, Up: Top
The Lexer
The lexer is contained in the file `lex.c'. It is a hand-coded lexer,
and not implemented as a state machine. It can understand C, C++ and
Objective-C source code, and has been extended to allow reasonably
successful preprocessing of assembly language. The lexer does not make
an initial pass to strip out trigraphs and escaped newlines, but handles
them as they are encountered in a single pass of the input file. It
returns preprocessing tokens individually, not a line at a time.
It is mostly transparent to users of the library, since the library's
interface for obtaining the next token, `cpp_get_token', takes care of
lexing new tokens, handling directives, and expanding macros as
necessary. However, the lexer does expose some functionality so that
clients of the library can easily spell a given token, such as
`cpp_spell_token' and `cpp_token_len'. These functions are useful when
generating diagnostics, and for emitting the preprocessed output.
Lexing a token
Lexing of an individual token is handled by `_cpp_lex_direct' and its
subroutines. In its current form the code is quite complicated, with
read ahead characters and such-like, since it strives to not step back
in the character stream in preparation for handling non-ASCII file
encodings. The current plan is to convert any such files to UTF-8
before processing them. This complexity is therefore unnecessary and
will be removed, so I'll not discuss it further here.
The job of `_cpp_lex_direct' is simply to lex a token. It is not
responsible for issues like directive handling, returning lookahead
tokens directly, multiple-include optimization, or conditional block
skipping. It necessarily has a minor ro^le to play in memory
management of lexed lines. I discuss these issues in a separate section
(*note Lexing a line::).
The lexer places the token it lexes into storage pointed to by the
variable `cur_token', and then increments it. This variable is
important for correct diagnostic positioning. Unless a specific line
and column are passed to the diagnostic routines, they will examine the
`line' and `col' values of the token just before the location that
`cur_token' points to, and use that location to report the diagnostic.
The lexer does not consider whitespace to be a token in its own
right. If whitespace (other than a new line) precedes a token, it sets
the `PREV_WHITE' bit in the token's flags. Each token has its `line'
and `col' variables set to the line and column of the first character
of the token. This line number is the line number in the translation
unit, and can be converted to a source (file, line) pair using the line
map code.
The first token on a logical, i.e. unescaped, line has the flag
`BOL' set for beginning-of-line. This flag is intended for internal
use, both to distinguish a `#' that begins a directive from one that
doesn't, and to generate a call-back to clients that want to be
notified about the start of every non-directive line with tokens on it.
Clients cannot reliably determine this for themselves: the first token
might be a macro, and the tokens of a macro expansion do not have the
`BOL' flag set. The macro expansion may even be empty, and the next
token on the line certainly won't have the `BOL' flag set.
New lines are treated specially; exactly how the lexer handles them
is context-dependent. The C standard mandates that directives are
terminated by the first unescaped newline character, even if it appears
in the middle of a macro expansion. Therefore, if the state variable
`in_directive' is set, the lexer returns a `CPP_EOF' token, which is
normally used to indicate end-of-file, to indicate end-of-directive.
In a directive a `CPP_EOF' token never means end-of-file.
Conveniently, if the caller was `collect_args', it already handles
`CPP_EOF' as if it were end-of-file, and reports an error about an
unterminated macro argument list.
The C standard also specifies that a new line in the middle of the
arguments to a macro is treated as whitespace. This white space is
important in case the macro argument is stringified. The state variable
`parsing_args' is nonzero when the preprocessor is collecting the
arguments to a macro call. It is set to 1 when looking for the opening
parenthesis to a function-like macro, and 2 when collecting the actual
arguments up to the closing parenthesis, since these two cases need to
be distinguished sometimes. One such time is here: the lexer sets the
`PREV_WHITE' flag of a token if it meets a new line when `parsing_args'
is set to 2. It doesn't set it if it meets a new line when
`parsing_args' is 1, since then code like
#define foo() bar
would be output with an erroneous space before `baz':
This is a good example of the subtlety of getting token spacing
correct in the preprocessor; there are plenty of tests in the testsuite
for corner cases like this.
The lexer is written to treat each of `\r', `\n', `\r\n' and `\n\r'
as a single new line indicator. This allows it to transparently
preprocess MS-DOS, Macintosh and Unix files without their needing to
pass through a special filter beforehand.
We also decided to treat a backslash, either `\' or the trigraph
`??/', separated from one of the above newline indicators by
non-comment whitespace only, as intending to escape the newline. It
tends to be a typing mistake, and cannot reasonably be mistaken for
anything else in any of the C-family grammars. Since handling it this
way is not strictly conforming to the ISO standard, the library issues a
warning wherever it encounters it.
Handling newlines like this is made simpler by doing it in one place
only. The function `handle_newline' takes care of all newline
characters, and `skip_escaped_newlines' takes care of arbitrarily long
sequences of escaped newlines, deferring to `handle_newline' to handle
the newlines themselves.
The most painful aspect of lexing ISO-standard C and C++ is handling
trigraphs and backlash-escaped newlines. Trigraphs are processed before
any interpretation of the meaning of a character is made, and
unfortunately there is a trigraph representation for a backslash, so it
is possible for the trigraph `??/' to introduce an escaped newline.
Escaped newlines are tedious because theoretically they can occur
anywhere--between the `+' and `=' of the `+=' token, within the
characters of an identifier, and even between the `*' and `/' that
terminates a comment. Moreover, you cannot be sure there is just
one--there might be an arbitrarily long sequence of them.
So, for example, the routine that lexes a number, `parse_number',
cannot assume that it can scan forwards until the first non-number
character and be done with it, because this could be the `\'
introducing an escaped newline, or the `?' introducing the trigraph
sequence that represents the `\' of an escaped newline. If it
encounters a `?' or `\', it calls `skip_escaped_newlines' to skip over
any potential escaped newlines before checking whether the number has
been finished.
Similarly code in the main body of `_cpp_lex_direct' cannot simply
check for a `=' after a `+' character to determine whether it has a
`+=' token; it needs to be prepared for an escaped newline of some
sort. Such cases use the function `get_effective_char', which returns
the first character after any intervening escaped newlines.
The lexer needs to keep track of the correct column position,
including counting tabs as specified by the `-ftabstop=' option. This
should be done even within C-style comments; they can appear in the
middle of a line, and we want to report diagnostics in the correct
position for text appearing after the end of the comment.
Some identifiers, such as `__VA_ARGS__' and poisoned identifiers,
may be invalid and require a diagnostic. However, if they appear in a
macro expansion we don't want to complain with each use of the macro.
It is therefore best to catch them during the lexing stage, in
`parse_identifier'. In both cases, whether a diagnostic is needed or
not is dependent upon the lexer's state. For example, we don't want to
issue a diagnostic for re-poisoning a poisoned identifier, or for using
`__VA_ARGS__' in the expansion of a variable-argument macro. Therefore
`parse_identifier' makes use of state flags to determine whether a
diagnostic is appropriate. Since we change state on a per-token basis,
and don't lex whole lines at a time, this is not a problem.
Another place where state flags are used to change behavior is whilst
lexing header names. Normally, a `<' would be lexed as a single token.
After a `#include' directive, though, it should be lexed as a single
token as far as the nearest `>' character. Note that we don't allow
the terminators of header names to be escaped; the first `"' or `>'
terminates the header name.
Interpretation of some character sequences depends upon whether we
are lexing C, C++ or Objective-C, and on the revision of the standard in
force. For example, `::' is a single token in C++, but in C it is two
separate `:' tokens and almost certainly a syntax error. Such cases
are handled by `_cpp_lex_direct' based upon command-line flags stored
in the `cpp_options' structure.
Once a token has been lexed, it leads an independent existence. The
spelling of numbers, identifiers and strings is copied to permanent
storage from the original input buffer, so a token remains valid and
correct even if its source buffer is freed with `_cpp_pop_buffer'. The
storage holding the spellings of such tokens remains until the client
program calls cpp_destroy, probably at the end of the translation unit.
Lexing a line
When the preprocessor was changed to return pointers to tokens, one
feature I wanted was some sort of guarantee regarding how long a
returned pointer remains valid. This is important to the stand-alone
preprocessor, the future direction of the C family front ends, and even
to cpplib itself internally.
Occasionally the preprocessor wants to be able to peek ahead in the
token stream. For example, after the name of a function-like macro, it
wants to check the next token to see if it is an opening parenthesis.
Another example is that, after reading the first few tokens of a
`#pragma' directive and not recognizing it as a registered pragma, it
wants to backtrack and allow the user-defined handler for unknown
pragmas to access the full `#pragma' token stream. The stand-alone
preprocessor wants to be able to test the current token with the
previous one to see if a space needs to be inserted to preserve their
separate tokenization upon re-lexing (paste avoidance), so it needs to
be sure the pointer to the previous token is still valid. The
recursive-descent C++ parser wants to be able to perform tentative
parsing arbitrarily far ahead in the token stream, and then to be able
to jump back to a prior position in that stream if necessary.
The rule I chose, which is fairly natural, is to arrange that the
preprocessor lex all tokens on a line consecutively into a token buffer,
which I call a "token run", and when meeting an unescaped new line
(newlines within comments do not count either), to start lexing back at
the beginning of the run. Note that we do _not_ lex a line of tokens
at once; if we did that `parse_identifier' would not have state flags
available to warn about invalid identifiers (*note Invalid
In other words, accessing tokens that appeared earlier in the current
line is valid, but since each logical line overwrites the tokens of the
previous line, tokens from prior lines are unavailable. In particular,
since a directive only occupies a single logical line, this means that
the directive handlers like the `#pragma' handler can jump around in
the directive's tokens if necessary.
Two issues remain: what about tokens that arise from macro
expansions, and what happens when we have a long line that overflows
the token run?
Since we promise clients that we preserve the validity of pointers
that we have already returned for tokens that appeared earlier in the
line, we cannot reallocate the run. Instead, on overflow it is
expanded by chaining a new token run on to the end of the existing one.
The tokens forming a macro's replacement list are collected by the
`#define' handler, and placed in storage that is only freed by
`cpp_destroy'. So if a macro is expanded in the line of tokens, the
pointers to the tokens of its expansion that are returned will always
remain valid. However, macros are a little trickier than that, since
they give rise to three sources of fresh tokens. They are the built-in
macros like `__LINE__', and the `#' and `##' operators for
stringification and token pasting. I handled this by allocating space
for these tokens from the lexer's token run chain. This means they
automatically receive the same lifetime guarantees as lexed tokens, and
we don't need to concern ourselves with freeing them.
Lexing into a line of tokens solves some of the token memory
management issues, but not all. The opening parenthesis after a
function-like macro name might lie on a different line, and the front
ends definitely want the ability to look ahead past the end of the
current line. So cpplib only moves back to the start of the token run
at the end of a line if the variable `keep_tokens' is zero.
Line-buffering is quite natural for the preprocessor, and as a result
the only time cpplib needs to increment this variable is whilst looking
for the opening parenthesis to, and reading the arguments of, a
function-like macro. In the near future cpplib will export an
interface to increment and decrement this variable, so that clients can
share full control over the lifetime of token pointers too.
The routine `_cpp_lex_token' handles moving to new token runs,
calling `_cpp_lex_direct' to lex new tokens, or returning
previously-lexed tokens if we stepped back in the token stream. It also
checks each token for the `BOL' flag, which might indicate a directive
that needs to be handled, or require a start-of-line call-back to be
made. `_cpp_lex_token' also handles skipping over tokens in failed
conditional blocks, and invalidates the control macro of the
multiple-include optimization if a token was successfully lexed outside
a directive. In other words, its callers do not need to concern
themselves with such issues.

File:, Node: Hash Nodes, Next: Macro Expansion, Prev: Lexer, Up: Top
Hash Nodes
When cpplib encounters an "identifier", it generates a hash code for it
and stores it in the hash table. By "identifier" we mean tokens with
type `CPP_NAME'; this includes identifiers in the usual C sense, as
well as keywords, directive names, macro names and so on. For example,
all of `pragma', `int', `foo' and `__GNUC__' are identifiers and hashed
when lexed.
Each node in the hash table contain various information about the
identifier it represents. For example, its length and type. At any one
time, each identifier falls into exactly one of three categories:
* Macros
These have been declared to be macros, either on the command line
or with `#define'. A few, such as `__TIME__' are built-ins
entered in the hash table during initialization. The hash node
for a normal macro points to a structure with more information
about the macro, such as whether it is function-like, how many
arguments it takes, and its expansion. Built-in macros are
flagged as special, and instead contain an enum indicating which
of the various built-in macros it is.
* Assertions
Assertions are in a separate namespace to macros. To enforce
this, cpp actually prepends a `#' character before hashing and
entering it in the hash table. An assertion's node points to a
chain of answers to that assertion.
* Void
Everything else falls into this category--an identifier that is not
currently a macro, or a macro that has since been undefined with
When preprocessing C++, this category also includes the named
operators, such as `xor'. In expressions these behave like the
operators they represent, but in contexts where the spelling of a
token matters they are spelt differently. This spelling
distinction is relevant when they are operands of the stringizing
and pasting macro operators `#' and `##'. Named operator hash
nodes are flagged, both to catch the spelling distinction and to
prevent them from being defined as macros.
The same identifiers share the same hash node. Since each identifier
token, after lexing, contains a pointer to its hash node, this is used
to provide rapid lookup of various information. For example, when
parsing a `#define' statement, CPP flags each argument's identifier
hash node with the index of that argument. This makes duplicated
argument checking an O(1) operation for each argument. Similarly, for
each identifier in the macro's expansion, lookup to see if it is an
argument, and which argument it is, is also an O(1) operation. Further,
each directive name, such as `endif', has an associated directive enum
stored in its hash node, so that directive lookup is also O(1).

File:, Node: Macro Expansion, Next: Token Spacing, Prev: Hash Nodes, Up: Top
Macro Expansion Algorithm
Macro expansion is a tricky operation, fraught with nasty corner cases
and situations that render what you thought was a nifty way to optimize
the preprocessor's expansion algorithm wrong in quite subtle ways.
I strongly recommend you have a good grasp of how the C and C++
standards require macros to be expanded before diving into this
section, let alone the code!. If you don't have a clear mental picture
of how things like nested macro expansion, stringification and token
pasting are supposed to work, damage to your sanity can quickly result.
Internal representation of macros
The preprocessor stores macro expansions in tokenized form. This saves
repeated lexing passes during expansion, at the cost of a small
increase in memory consumption on average. The tokens are stored
contiguously in memory, so a pointer to the first one and a token count
is all you need to get the replacement list of a macro.
If the macro is a function-like macro the preprocessor also stores
its parameters, in the form of an ordered list of pointers to the hash
table entry of each parameter's identifier. Further, in the macro's
stored expansion each occurrence of a parameter is replaced with a
special token of type `CPP_MACRO_ARG'. Each such token holds the index
of the parameter it represents in the parameter list, which allows
rapid replacement of parameters with their arguments during expansion.
Despite this optimization it is still necessary to store the original
parameters to the macro, both for dumping with e.g., `-dD', and to warn
about non-trivial macro redefinitions when the parameter names have
Macro expansion overview
The preprocessor maintains a "context stack", implemented as a linked
list of `cpp_context' structures, which together represent the macro
expansion state at any one time. The `struct cpp_reader' member
variable `context' points to the current top of this stack. The top
normally holds the unexpanded replacement list of the innermost macro
under expansion, except when cpplib is about to pre-expand an argument,
in which case it holds that argument's unexpanded tokens.
When there are no macros under expansion, cpplib is in "base
context". All contexts other than the base context contain a
contiguous list of tokens delimited by a starting and ending token.
When not in base context, cpplib obtains the next token from the list
of the top context. If there are no tokens left in the list, it pops
that context off the stack, and subsequent ones if necessary, until an
unexhausted context is found or it returns to base context. In base
context, cpplib reads tokens directly from the lexer.
If it encounters an identifier that is both a macro and enabled for
expansion, cpplib prepares to push a new context for that macro on the
stack by calling the routine `enter_macro_context'. When this routine
returns, the new context will contain the unexpanded tokens of the
replacement list of that macro. In the case of function-like macros,
`enter_macro_context' also replaces any parameters in the replacement
list, stored as `CPP_MACRO_ARG' tokens, with the appropriate macro
argument. If the standard requires that the parameter be replaced with
its expanded argument, the argument will have been fully macro expanded
`enter_macro_context' also handles special macros like `__LINE__'.
Although these macros expand to a single token which cannot contain any
further macros, for reasons of token spacing (*note Token Spacing::)
and simplicity of implementation, cpplib handles these special macros
by pushing a context containing just that one token.
The final thing that `enter_macro_context' does before returning is
to mark the macro disabled for expansion (except for special macros
like `__TIME__'). The macro is re-enabled when its context is later
popped from the context stack, as described above. This strict
ordering ensures that a macro is disabled whilst its expansion is being
scanned, but that it is _not_ disabled whilst any arguments to it are
being expanded.
Scanning the replacement list for macros to expand
The C standard states that, after any parameters have been replaced
with their possibly-expanded arguments, the replacement list is scanned
for nested macros. Further, any identifiers in the replacement list
that are not expanded during this scan are never again eligible for
expansion in the future, if the reason they were not expanded is that
the macro in question was disabled.
Clearly this latter condition can only apply to tokens resulting from
argument pre-expansion. Other tokens never have an opportunity to be
re-tested for expansion. It is possible for identifiers that are
function-like macros to not expand initially but to expand during a
later scan. This occurs when the identifier is the last token of an
argument (and therefore originally followed by a comma or a closing
parenthesis in its macro's argument list), and when it replaces its
parameter in the macro's replacement list, the subsequent token happens
to be an opening parenthesis (itself possibly the first token of an
It is important to note that when cpplib reads the last token of a
given context, that context still remains on the stack. Only when
looking for the _next_ token do we pop it off the stack and drop to a
lower context. This makes backing up by one token easy, but more
importantly ensures that the macro corresponding to the current context
is still disabled when we are considering the last token of its
replacement list for expansion (or indeed expanding it). As an
example, which illustrates many of the points above, consider
#define foo(x) bar x
foo(foo) (2)
which fully expands to `bar foo (2)'. During pre-expansion of the
argument, `foo' does not expand even though the macro is enabled, since
it has no following parenthesis [pre-expansion of an argument only uses
tokens from that argument; it cannot take tokens from whatever follows
the macro invocation]. This still leaves the argument token `foo'
eligible for future expansion. Then, when re-scanning after argument
replacement, the token `foo' is rejected for expansion, and marked
ineligible for future expansion, since the macro is now disabled. It
is disabled because the replacement list `bar foo' of the macro is
still on the context stack.
If instead the algorithm looked for an opening parenthesis first and
then tested whether the macro were disabled it would be subtly wrong.
In the example above, the replacement list of `foo' would be popped in
the process of finding the parenthesis, re-enabling `foo' and expanding
it a second time.
Looking for a function-like macro's opening parenthesis
Function-like macros only expand when immediately followed by a
parenthesis. To do this cpplib needs to temporarily disable macros and
read the next token. Unfortunately, because of spacing issues (*note
Token Spacing::), there can be fake padding tokens in-between, and if
the next real token is not a parenthesis cpplib needs to be able to
back up that one token as well as retain the information in any
intervening padding tokens.
Backing up more than one token when macros are involved is not
permitted by cpplib, because in general it might involve issues like
restoring popped contexts onto the context stack, which are too hard.
Instead, searching for the parenthesis is handled by a special
function, `funlike_invocation_p', which remembers padding information
as it reads tokens. If the next real token is not an opening
parenthesis, it backs up that one token, and then pushes an extra
context just containing the padding information if necessary.
Marking tokens ineligible for future expansion
As discussed above, cpplib needs a way of marking tokens as
unexpandable. Since the tokens cpplib handles are read-only once they
have been lexed, it instead makes a copy of the token and adds the flag
`NO_EXPAND' to the copy.
For efficiency and to simplify memory management by avoiding having
to remember to free these tokens, they are allocated as temporary tokens
from the lexer's current token run (*note Lexing a line::) using the
function `_cpp_temp_token'. The tokens are then re-used once the
current line of tokens has been read in.
This might sound unsafe. However, tokens runs are not re-used at the
end of a line if it happens to be in the middle of a macro argument
list, and cpplib only wants to back-up more than one lexer token in
situations where no macro expansion is involved, so the optimization is

File:, Node: Token Spacing, Next: Line Numbering, Prev: Macro Expansion, Up: Top
Token Spacing
First, consider an issue that only concerns the stand-alone
preprocessor: there needs to be a guarantee that re-reading its
preprocessed output results in an identical token stream. Without
taking special measures, this might not be the case because of macro
substitution. For example:
#define PLUS +
#define EMPTY
#define f(x) =x=
==> + + - - + + = = =
==> ++ -- ++ ===
One solution would be to simply insert a space between all adjacent
tokens. However, we would like to keep space insertion to a minimum,
both for aesthetic reasons and because it causes problems for people who
still try to abuse the preprocessor for things like Fortran source and
For now, just notice that when tokens are added (or removed, as
shown by the `EMPTY' example) from the original lexed token stream, we
need to check for accidental token pasting. We call this "paste
avoidance". Token addition and removal can only occur because of macro
expansion, but accidental pasting can occur in many places: both before
and after each macro replacement, each argument replacement, and
additionally each token created by the `#' and `##' operators.
Look at how the preprocessor gets whitespace output correct
normally. The `cpp_token' structure contains a flags byte, and one of
those flags is `PREV_WHITE'. This is flagged by the lexer, and
indicates that the token was preceded by whitespace of some form other
than a new line. The stand-alone preprocessor can use this flag to
decide whether to insert a space between tokens in the output.
Now consider the result of the following macro expansion:
#define add(x, y, z) x + y +z;
sum = add (1,2, 3);
==> sum = 1 + 2 +3;
The interesting thing here is that the tokens `1' and `2' are output
with a preceding space, and `3' is output without a preceding space,
but when lexed none of these tokens had that property. Careful
consideration reveals that `1' gets its preceding whitespace from the
space preceding `add' in the macro invocation, _not_ replacement list.
`2' gets its whitespace from the space preceding the parameter `y' in
the macro replacement list, and `3' has no preceding space because
parameter `z' has none in the replacement list.
Once lexed, tokens are effectively fixed and cannot be altered, since
pointers to them might be held in many places, in particular by
in-progress macro expansions. So instead of modifying the two tokens
above, the preprocessor inserts a special token, which I call a
"padding token", into the token stream to indicate that spacing of the
subsequent token is special. The preprocessor inserts padding tokens
in front of every macro expansion and expanded macro argument. These
point to a "source token" from which the subsequent real token should
inherit its spacing. In the above example, the source tokens are `add'
in the macro invocation, and `y' and `z' in the macro replacement list,
It is quite easy to get multiple padding tokens in a row, for
example if a macro's first replacement token expands straight into
another macro.
#define foo bar
#define bar baz
==> [baz]
Here, two padding tokens are generated with sources the `foo' token
between the brackets, and the `bar' token from foo's replacement list,
respectively. Clearly the first padding token is the one to use, so
the output code should contain a rule that the first padding token in a
sequence is the one that matters.
But what if a macro expansion is left? Adjusting the above example
#define foo bar
#define bar EMPTY baz
#define EMPTY
[foo] EMPTY;
==> [ baz] ;
As shown, now there should be a space before `baz' and the semicolon
in the output.
The rules we decided above fail for `baz': we generate three padding
tokens, one per macro invocation, before the token `baz'. We would
then have it take its spacing from the first of these, which carries
source token `foo' with no leading space.
It is vital that cpplib get spacing correct in these examples since
any of these macro expansions could be stringified, where spacing
So, this demonstrates that not just entering macro and argument
expansions, but leaving them requires special handling too. I made
cpplib insert a padding token with a `NULL' source token when leaving
macro expansions, as well as after each replaced argument in a macro's
replacement list. It also inserts appropriate padding tokens on either
side of tokens created by the `#' and `##' operators. I expanded the
rule so that, if we see a padding token with a `NULL' source token,
_and_ that source token has no leading space, then we behave as if we
have seen no padding tokens at all. A quick check shows this rule will
then get the above example correct as well.
Now a relationship with paste avoidance is apparent: we have to be
careful about paste avoidance in exactly the same locations we have
padding tokens in order to get white space correct. This makes
implementation of paste avoidance easy: wherever the stand-alone
preprocessor is fixing up spacing because of padding tokens, and it
turns out that no space is needed, it has to take the extra step to
check that a space is not needed after all to avoid an accidental paste.
The function `cpp_avoid_paste' advises whether a space is required
between two consecutive tokens. To avoid excessive spacing, it tries
hard to only require a space if one is likely to be necessary, but for
reasons of efficiency it is slightly conservative and might recommend a
space where one is not strictly needed.

File:, Node: Line Numbering, Next: Guard Macros, Prev: Token Spacing, Up: Top
Line numbering
Just which line number anyway?
There are three reasonable requirements a cpplib client might have for
the line number of a token passed to it:
* The source line it was lexed on.
* The line it is output on. This can be different to the line it was
lexed on if, for example, there are intervening escaped newlines or
C-style comments. For example:
foo /* A long
comment */ bar \
foo bar baz
* If the token results from a macro expansion, the line of the macro
name, or possibly the line of the closing parenthesis in the case
of function-like macro expansion.
The `cpp_token' structure contains `line' and `col' members. The
lexer fills these in with the line and column of the first character of
the token. Consequently, but maybe unexpectedly, a token from the
replacement list of a macro expansion carries the location of the token
within the `#define' directive, because cpplib expands a macro by
returning pointers to the tokens in its replacement list. The current
implementation of cpplib assigns tokens created from built-in macros
and the `#' and `##' operators the location of the most recently lexed
token. This is a because they are allocated from the lexer's token
runs, and because of the way the diagnostic routines infer the
appropriate location to report.
The diagnostic routines in cpplib display the location of the most
recently _lexed_ token, unless they are passed a specific line and
column to report. For diagnostics regarding tokens that arise from
macro expansions, it might also be helpful for the user to see the
original location in the macro definition that the token came from.
Since that is exactly the information each token carries, such an
enhancement could be made relatively easily in future.
The stand-alone preprocessor faces a similar problem when determining
the correct line to output the token on: the position attached to a
token is fairly useless if the token came from a macro expansion. All
tokens on a logical line should be output on its first physical line, so
the token's reported location is also wrong if it is part of a physical
line other than the first.
To solve these issues, cpplib provides a callback that is generated
whenever it lexes a preprocessing token that starts a new logical line
other than a directive. It passes this token (which may be a `CPP_EOF'
token indicating the end of the translation unit) to the callback
routine, which can then use the line and column of this token to
produce correct output.
Representation of line numbers
As mentioned above, cpplib stores with each token the line number that
it was lexed on. In fact, this number is not the number of the line in
the source file, but instead bears more resemblance to the number of the
line in the translation unit.
The preprocessor maintains a monotonic increasing line count, which
is incremented at every new line character (and also at the end of any
buffer that does not end in a new line). Since a line number of zero is
useful to indicate certain special states and conditions, this variable
starts counting from one.
This variable therefore uniquely enumerates each line in the
translation unit. With some simple infrastructure, it is straight
forward to map from this to the original source file and line number
pair, saving space whenever line number information needs to be saved.
The code the implements this mapping lies in the files `line-map.c' and
Command-line macros and assertions are implemented by pushing a
buffer containing the right hand side of an equivalent `#define' or
`#assert' directive. Some built-in macros are handled similarly.
Since these are all processed before the first line of the main input
file, it will typically have an assigned line closer to twenty than to

File:, Node: Guard Macros, Next: Files, Prev: Line Numbering, Up: Top
The Multiple-Include Optimization
Header files are often of the form
#ifndef FOO
#define FOO
to prevent the compiler from processing them more than once. The
preprocessor notices such header files, so that if the header file
appears in a subsequent `#include' directive and `FOO' is defined, then
it is ignored and it doesn't preprocess or even re-open the file a
second time. This is referred to as the "multiple include
Under what circumstances is such an optimization valid? If the file
were included a second time, it can only be optimized away if that
inclusion would result in no tokens to return, and no relevant
directives to process. Therefore the current implementation imposes
requirements and makes some allowances as follows:
1. There must be no tokens outside the controlling `#if'-`#endif'
pair, but whitespace and comments are permitted.
2. There must be no directives outside the controlling directive
pair, but the "null directive" (a line containing nothing other
than a single `#' and possibly whitespace) is permitted.
3. The opening directive must be of the form
#ifndef FOO
#if !defined FOO [equivalently, #if !defined(FOO)]
4. In the second form above, the tokens forming the `#if' expression
must have come directly from the source file--no macro expansion
must have been involved. This is because macro definitions can
change, and tracking whether or not a relevant change has been
made is not worth the implementation cost.
5. There can be no `#else' or `#elif' directives at the outer
conditional block level, because they would probably contain
something of interest to a subsequent pass.
First, when pushing a new file on the buffer stack,
`_stack_include_file' sets the controlling macro `mi_cmacro' to `NULL',
and sets `mi_valid' to `true'. This indicates that the preprocessor
has not yet encountered anything that would invalidate the
multiple-include optimization. As described in the next few
paragraphs, these two variables having these values effectively
indicates top-of-file.
When about to return a token that is not part of a directive,
`_cpp_lex_token' sets `mi_valid' to `false'. This enforces the
constraint that tokens outside the controlling conditional block
invalidate the optimization.
The `do_if', when appropriate, and `do_ifndef' directive handlers
pass the controlling macro to the function `push_conditional'. cpplib
maintains a stack of nested conditional blocks, and after processing
every opening conditional this function pushes an `if_stack' structure
onto the stack. In this structure it records the controlling macro for
the block, provided there is one and we're at top-of-file (as described
above). If an `#elif' or `#else' directive is encountered, the
controlling macro for that block is cleared to `NULL'. Otherwise, it
survives until the `#endif' closing the block, upon which `do_endif'
sets `mi_valid' to true and stores the controlling macro in `mi_cmacro'.
`_cpp_handle_directive' clears `mi_valid' when processing any
directive other than an opening conditional and the null directive.
With this, and requiring top-of-file to record a controlling macro, and
no `#else' or `#elif' for it to survive and be copied to `mi_cmacro' by
`do_endif', we have enforced the absence of directives outside the main
conditional block for the optimization to be on.
Note that whilst we are inside the conditional block, `mi_valid' is
likely to be reset to `false', but this does not matter since the
closing `#endif' restores it to `true' if appropriate.
Finally, since `_cpp_lex_direct' pops the file off the buffer stack
at `EOF' without returning a token, if the `#endif' directive was not
followed by any tokens, `mi_valid' is `true' and `_cpp_pop_file_buffer'
remembers the controlling macro associated with the file. Subsequent
calls to `stack_include_file' result in no buffer being pushed if the
controlling macro is defined, effecting the optimization.
A quick word on how we handle the
#if !defined FOO
case. `_cpp_parse_expr' and `parse_defined' take steps to see whether
the three stages `!', `defined-expression' and `end-of-directive' occur
in order in a `#if' expression. If so, they return the guard macro to
`do_if' in the variable `mi_ind_cmacro', and otherwise set it to `NULL'.
`enter_macro_context' sets `mi_valid' to false, so if a macro was
expanded whilst parsing any part of the expression, then the
top-of-file test in `push_conditional' fails and the optimization is
turned off.

File:, Node: Files, Next: Concept Index, Prev: Guard Macros, Up: Top
File Handling
Fairly obviously, the file handling code of cpplib resides in the file
`files.c'. It takes care of the details of file searching, opening,
reading and caching, for both the main source file and all the headers
it recursively includes.
The basic strategy is to minimize the number of system calls. On
many systems, the basic `open ()' and `fstat ()' system calls can be
quite expensive. For every `#include'-d file, we need to try all the
directories in the search path until we find a match. Some projects,
such as glibc, pass twenty or thirty include paths on the command line,
so this can rapidly become time consuming.
For a header file we have not encountered before we have little
choice but to do this. However, it is often the case that the same
headers are repeatedly included, and in these cases we try to avoid
repeating the filesystem queries whilst searching for the correct file.
For each file we try to open, we store the constructed path in a
splay tree. This path first undergoes simplification by the function
`_cpp_simplify_pathname'. For example, `/usr/include/bits/../foo.h' is
simplified to `/usr/include/foo.h' before we enter it in the splay tree
and try to `open ()' the file. CPP will then find subsequent uses of
`foo.h', even as `/usr/include/foo.h', in the splay tree and save
system calls.
Further, it is likely the file contents have also been cached,
saving a `read ()' system call. We don't bother caching the contents of
header files that are re-inclusion protected, and whose re-inclusion
macro is defined when we leave the header file for the first time. If
the host supports it, we try to map suitably large files into memory,
rather than reading them in directly.
The include paths are internally stored on a null-terminated
singly-linked list, starting with the `"header.h"' directory search
chain, which then links into the `<header.h>' directory chain.
Files included with the `<foo.h>' syntax start the lookup directly
in the second half of this chain. However, files included with the
`"foo.h"' syntax start at the beginning of the chain, but with one
extra directory prepended. This is the directory of the current file;
the one containing the `#include' directive. Prepending this directory
on a per-file basis is handled by the function `search_from'.
Note that a header included with a directory component, such as
`#include "mydir/foo.h"' and opened as
`/usr/local/include/mydir/foo.h', will have the complete path minus the
basename `foo.h' as the current directory.
Enough information is stored in the splay tree that CPP can
immediately tell whether it can skip the header file because of the
multiple include optimization, whether the file didn't exist or
couldn't be opened for some reason, or whether the header was flagged
not to be re-used, as it is with the obsolete `#import' directive.
For the benefit of MS-DOS filesystems with an 8.3 filename
limitation, CPP offers the ability to treat various include file names
as aliases for the real header files with shorter names. The map from
one to the other is found in a special file called `header.gcc', stored
in the command line (or system) include directories to which the mapping
applies. This may be higher up the directory tree than the full path to
the file minus the base name.

File:, Node: Concept Index, Prev: Files, Up: Top
Concept Index
* Menu:
* assertions: Hash Nodes. (line 6)
* controlling macros: Guard Macros. (line 6)
* escaped newlines: Lexer. (line 6)
* files: Files. (line 6)
* guard macros: Guard Macros. (line 6)
* hash table: Hash Nodes. (line 6)
* header files: Conventions. (line 6)
* identifiers: Hash Nodes. (line 6)
* interface: Conventions. (line 6)
* lexer: Lexer. (line 6)
* line numbers: Line Numbering. (line 6)
* macro expansion: Macro Expansion. (line 6)
* macro representation (internal): Macro Expansion. (line 19)
* macros: Hash Nodes. (line 6)
* multiple-include optimization: Guard Macros. (line 6)
* named operators: Hash Nodes. (line 6)
* newlines: Lexer. (line 6)
* paste avoidance: Token Spacing. (line 6)
* spacing: Token Spacing. (line 6)
* token run: Lexer. (line 192)
* token spacing: Token Spacing. (line 6)

Tag Table:
Node: Top950
Node: Conventions2635
Node: Lexer3577
Ref: Invalid identifiers11490
Ref: Lexing a line13439
Node: Hash Nodes18212
Node: Macro Expansion21091
Node: Token Spacing30038
Node: Line Numbering35898
Node: Guard Macros39983
Node: Files44774
Node: Concept Index48240

End Tag Table