Structures are the C equivalent of records. A structure type is defined by struct struct-name { type field-name; type field-name; ... } e.g. struct student_type { char name[20]; int ID; } Elements of that type are defined by struct student_type fred, bill, all_students[100]; Because it is tedious to have to remember to use the word ``struct'' in these, the stucture is often ``typedef''-ed to avoid this: typedef struct student_type { char name[20]; int ID; } student_type; student_type fred, bill; You access fields of a structure with the ``.'' notation: fred.ID = 891234; strcpy(, "fred"); It is common to have pointers to structures. The straightforward notation is clumsy, so a shorthand is available (*student_ptr).ID = ... student_ptr->ID = ... (Note that the student_ptr must be pointing to a valid record!)


Some functions to manipulate student structures. void print(student_type *s) { printf("Name: %s\n", s->name); printf("ID: %d\n", s->ID); } student_type * read(student_type *s) { int ID; char name[20]; if (scanf("%d %19s", &ID, name) == EOF) return NULL; s->ID = ID; strcpy(s->name, name); return s; }


Printing the current date. The standard library has a number of time-related functions. The first is #include <time.h> time_t time(time_t *timer) This returns the current time, in some unspecified format. This can be changed into a known format by functions such as #include <time.h> struct tm *localtime(time_t *timer) The structure tm has fields struct tm { int tm_sec; /* 0..61 */ int tm_min; /* 0..59 */ int tm_hour;/* 0..23 */ int tm_wday; /* 0..6 */ int tm_mon; /* 0..11 */ ... } This allows you access to the localtime. For example int current_day(void) { struct tm *local; time_t t; t = time(NULL); local = localtime(&t); return local->tm_wday; }


Structures can be recursive, as in lists or trees.

You need to use pointers inside the data structure. Some dynamic list functions:

typedef struct list { int elmt; struct list *next; } list_elmt, *list_ptr; list_ptr new_elmt(int n) { list_ptr p; p = (list_ptr) malloc( sizeof(list_elmt)); if (p != NULL) { p->elmt = n; p->next = NULL; } return p; } void print_list(list_ptr p) { while (p != NULL) { printf(" %d", p->elmt); p = p->next; } } list_ptr make_list(void) { /* create a list storing 0..9 (or as much of it as possible). */ list_ptr start_list, p; int n; start_list = p = new_elmt(0); if (p == NULL) return NULL; for (n = 1; n < 10; n++) { p->next = new_elmt(n); if (p->next == NULL) break; p = p->next; } return start_list; }


The first stage of compilation is to pass the source through the preprocessor. This expands out certain symbols and produces another C source file (that you do not normally see).

Include files

The statement #include file reads in the contents of the file at that point. These should be specification files, giving details of data-types, function definitions, etc. The filename can either be enclosed in double quotes "..." or in brackets <...> #include "myspec.h" #include <stdio.h> names in quotes normally refer to header files in your current directory, names in brackets refer to files located in a standard place (usually /usr/include on Unix).


If a piece of text is #define'd, then whenever that piece of text is encountered, the remainder of the line following is substituted for it #define MAX_SIZE 10 #define WARNING \ printf("Warning!!!\n"); if (x == 0) WARNING If the thing being defined has parameters then they act as a macro and parameter subsitution is performed #define SUM(x, y) x + y a = SUM(b, c); Macros are useful, but they can be a source of obscure errors: a = SUM(b, c) * d; becomes a = b + c * d Prevent this (and similar things) by enclosing everything in brackets #define SUM(x, y) ((x) + (y)) Macros that use their arguments more than once can go wrong when used in situations with side-effects: #define islower(x) \ ((ch) >= 'a' && \ (ch) <= 'z') if (islower(getchar())) ...

Conditional compilation

The ifdef construct allows the preprocessor to keep or omit pieces of code. I often have this: #define DEBUG #ifdef DEBUG printf("Reached this bit\n"); #endif

Multiple files

A C program can be across many files.

When a variable or function is declared static, it is not visible outside of its own file. This allows functions to be grouped together as a ``package''. Here is a simple stack package:

#define SIZE 10 static int TOS = 0; static stack[SIZE]; int push(int n) { if (TOS == SIZE - 1) /* full up, return false */ return 0; stack[TOS++] = n; return 1; } int pop(int *n) { if (TOS == 0) return 0; *n = stack[--TOS]; return 1; } For completeness, this should have a specification file ``stack.h'' containing extern int push(int n); extern int pop(int *n); Multiple files can be compiled all at once by placing them all on the command line: gcc -o prog src1.c src2.c ...


There are smarter methods to avoid unneccessary compilations, which avoid having to compile all the source files at once. By hand, a smarter method of compiling three files to make one executable is gcc -c src1.c gcc -c src2.c gcc -c src3.c gcc -o prog src1.o src2.o src3.o When any one of the files changes, only one of the three ``conditional'' compiles has to be repeated, plus the final link compile.

This can be automated using the ``make'' command. This expects a file ``Makefile'' which contains dependency instructions. These are of the form

file : files it depends upon <tab> instructions to bring it up to date For example OBJS = src1.o src2.o src3.o CFLAGS = -g src1.o : src1.c gcc -c $(CFLAGS) src1.c src2.o : src2.c gcc -c $(CFLAGS) src2.c src3.o : src3.c gcc -c $(CFLAGS) src3.c prog : $(OBJS) gcc -o prog $(CFLAGS) $(OBJS) Then whenever you make a change, running ``make'' automatically figures out which commands to run.

make has inbuilt rules about many things, including how to compile C files. The above can be abbreviated to

OBJS = src1.o src2.o src3.o CFLAGS = -g prog : $(OBJS) gcc -o prog $(CFLAGS) $(OBJS)

System doco


uname - get information about current system


     int uname (name)
     struct utsname *name;

uname() stores information identifying
the current operating system in the 
structure pointed to by name.

uname() uses the structure defined in 
,  the members of which 

          struct utsname {
               char sysname[9];
               char nodename[9];
               char nodeext[65-9];
               char release[9];
               char version[9];
               char machine[9];
uname() places a null-terminated character
string naming the current  operating 
system  in  the character array sysname;
this string is SunOS on Sun systems. 

nodename is set to the name  that  the 
system is known by on a communications 
network; this is the same value  as  is 
returned  by  gethostname(2).  release 
and version are set to values that further
identify the operating system.  

machine is set to a standard name  that
identifies the hardware on which the 
SunOS system is running. This is the same 
as  the  value  displayed  by arch(1).

uname() returns:

     0    on success.
     -1   on failure.

arch(1), uname(1), gethostname(2)
This doco defines the header file to use and the calling syntax of the function (note that it uses ``old style'' C syntax in which the parameter types are listed after the function). The description shows what the structure is. If you aren't told it, then you probably don't need to know it. The return values are shown generally indicating success or fail. The See Also points you to other relevant functions. From this we can write

This page is, copyright Jan Newmarch.
It is maintained by Jan Newmarch.
Last modified: 14 August, 1995
Creative Commons License Copyright © Jan Newmarch under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.1 Australia License.