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3.7. Predefined Macros

Several object-like macros are predefined; you use them without supplying their definitions. They fall into three classes: standard, common, and system-specific.

In C++, there is a fourth category, the named operators. They act like predefined macros, but you cannot undefine them.

3.7.1. Standard Predefined Macros

The standard predefined macros are specified by the relevant language standards, so they are available with all compilers that implement those standards. Older compilers may not provide all of them. Their names all start with double underscores.

__FILE__

This macro expands to the name of the current input file, in the form of a C string constant. This is the path by which the preprocessor opened the file, not the short name specified in #include or as the input file name argument. For example, "/usr/local/include/myheader.h" is a possible expansion of this macro.

__LINE__

This macro expands to the current input line number, in the form of a decimal integer constant. While we call it a predefined macro, it's a pretty strange macro, since its "definition" changes with each new line of source code.

__FILE__ and __LINE__ are useful in generating an error message to report an inconsistency detected by the program; the message can state the source line at which the inconsistency was detected. For example,

fprintf (stderr, "Internal error: "
                 "negative string length "
                 "%d at %s, line %d.",
         length, __FILE__, __LINE__);

An #include directive changes the expansions of __FILE__ and __LINE__ to correspond to the included file. At the end of that file, when processing resumes on the input file that contained the #include directive, the expansions of __FILE__ and __LINE__ revert to the values they had before the #include (but __LINE__ is then incremented by one as processing moves to the line after the #include).

A #line directive changes __LINE__, and may change __FILE__ as well. Chapter 6 Line Control.

C99 introduces __func__, and GCC has provided __FUNCTION__ for a long time. Both of these are strings containing the name of the current function (there are slight semantic differences; see the GCC manual). Neither of them is a macro; the preprocessor does not know the name of the current function. They tend to be useful in conjunction with __FILE__ and __LINE__, though.

__DATE__

This macro expands to a string constant that describes the date on which the preprocessor is being run. The string constant contains eleven characters and looks like "Feb 12 1996". If the day of the month is less than 10, it is padded with a space on the left.

If GCC cannot determine the current date, it will emit a warning message (once per compilation) and __DATE__ will expand to "??? ?? ????".

__TIME__

This macro expands to a string constant that describes the time at which the preprocessor is being run. The string constant contains eight characters and looks like "23:59:01".

If GCC cannot determine the current time, it will emit a warning message (once per compilation) and __TIME__ will expand to "??:??:??".

__STDC__

In normal operation, this macro expands to the constant 1, to signify that this compiler conforms to ISO Standard C. If GNU CPP is used with a compiler other than GCC, this is not necessarily true; however, the preprocessor always conforms to the standard unless the -traditional-cpp option is used.

This macro is not defined if the -traditional-cpp option is used.

On some hosts, the system compiler uses a different convention, where __STDC__ is normally 0, but is 1 if the user specifies strict conformance to the C Standard. CPP follows the host convention when processing system header files, but when processing user files __STDC__ is always 1. This has been reported to cause problems; for instance, some versions of Solaris provide X Windows headers that expect __STDC__ to be either undefined or 1. Chapter 12 Invocation.

__STDC_VERSION__

This macro expands to the C Standard's version number, a long integer constant of the form yyyymmL where yyyy and mm are the year and month of the Standard version. This signifies which version of the C Standard the compiler conforms to. Like __STDC__, this is not necessarily accurate for the entire implementation, unless GNU CPP is being used with GCC.

The value 199409L signifies the 1989 C standard as amended in 1994, which is the current default; the value 199901L signifies the 1999 revision of the C standard. Support for the 1999 revision is not yet complete.

This macro is not defined if the -traditional-cpp option is used, nor when compiling C++ or Objective-C.

__STDC_HOSTED__

This macro is defined, with value 1, if the compiler's target is a hosted environment. A hosted environment has the complete facilities of the standard C library available.

__cplusplus

This macro is defined when the C++ compiler is in use. You can use __cplusplus to test whether a header is compiled by a C compiler or a C++ compiler. This macro is similar to __STDC_VERSION__, in that it expands to a version number. A fully conforming implementation of the 1998 C++ standard will define this macro to 199711L. The GNU C++ compiler is not yet fully conforming, so it uses 1 instead. It is hoped to complete the implementation of standard C++ in the near future.

__OBJC__

This macro is defined, with value 1, when the Objective-C compiler is in use. You can use __OBJC__ to test whether a header is compiled by a C compiler or a Objective-C compiler.

__ASSEMBLER__

This macro is defined with value 1 when preprocessing assembly language.

3.7.2. Common Predefined Macros

The common predefined macros are GNU C extensions. They are available with the same meanings regardless of the machine or operating system on which you are using GNU C. Their names all start with double underscores.

__GNUC__, __GNUC_MINOR__, __GNUC_PATCHLEVEL__

These macros are defined by all GNU compilers that use the C preprocessor: C, C++, and Objective-C. Their values are the major version, minor version, and patch level of the compiler, as integer constants. For example, GCC 3.2.1 will define __GNUC__ to 3, __GNUC_MINOR__ to 2, and __GNUC_PATCHLEVEL__ to 1. They are defined only when the entire compiler is in use; if you invoke the preprocessor directly, they are not defined.

__GNUC_PATCHLEVEL__ is new to GCC 3.0; it is also present in the widely-used development snapshots leading up to 3.0 (which identify themselves as GCC 2.96 or 2.97, depending on which snapshot you have).

If all you need to know is whether or not your program is being compiled by GCC, you can simply test __GNUC__. If you need to write code which depends on a specific version, you must be more careful. Each time the minor version is increased, the patch level is reset to zero; each time the major version is increased (which happens rarely), the minor version and patch level are reset. If you wish to use the predefined macros directly in the conditional, you will need to write it like this:

/* Test for GCC > 3.2.0 */
#if __GNUC__ > 3 || \
    (__GNUC__ == 3 && (__GNUC_MINOR__ > 2 || \
                       (__GNUC_MINOR__ == 2 && \
                        __GNUC_PATCHLEVEL__ > 0))

Another approach is to use the predefined macros to calculate a single number, then compare that against a threshold:

#define GCC_VERSION (__GNUC__ * 10000 \
                     + __GNUC_MINOR__ * 100 \
                     + __GNUC_PATCHLEVEL__)
…
/* Test for GCC > 3.2.0 */
#if GCC_VERSION > 30200

Many people find this form easier to understand.

__GNUG__

The GNU C++ compiler defines this. Testing it is equivalent to testing (__GNUC__ && __cplusplus).

__STRICT_ANSI__

GCC defines this macro if and only if the -ansi switch, or a -std switch specifying strict conformance to some version of ISO C, was specified when GCC was invoked. It is defined to 1. This macro exists primarily to direct GNU libc's header files to restrict their definitions to the minimal set found in the 1989 C standard.

__BASE_FILE__

This macro expands to the name of the main input file, in the form of a C string constant. This is the source file that was specified on the command line of the preprocessor or C compiler.

__INCLUDE_LEVEL__

This macro expands to a decimal integer constant that represents the depth of nesting in include files. The value of this macro is incremented on every #include directive and decremented at the end of every included file. It starts out at 0, it's value within the base file specified on the command line.

__ELF__

This macro is defined if the target uses the ELF object format.

__VERSION__

This macro expands to a string constant which describes the version of the compiler in use. You should not rely on its contents having any particular form, but it can be counted on to contain at least the release number.

__OPTIMIZE__, __OPTIMIZE_SIZE__, __NO_INLINE__

These macros describe the compilation mode. __OPTIMIZE__ is defined in all optimizing compilations. __OPTIMIZE_SIZE__ is defined if the compiler is optimizing for size, not speed. __NO_INLINE__ is defined if no functions will be inlined into their callers (when not optimizing, or when inlining has been specifically disabled by -fno-inline).

These macros cause certain GNU header files to provide optimized definitions, using macros or inline functions, of system library functions. You should not use these macros in any way unless you make sure that programs will execute with the same effect whether or not they are defined. If they are defined, their value is 1.

__CHAR_UNSIGNED__

GCC defines this macro if and only if the data type char is unsigned on the target machine. It exists to cause the standard header file limits.h to work correctly. You should not use this macro yourself; instead, refer to the standard macros defined in limits.h.

__WCHAR_UNSIGNED__

Like __CHAR_UNSIGNED__, this macro is defined if and only if the data type wchar_t is unsigned and the front-end is in C++ mode.

__REGISTER_PREFIX__

This macro expands to a single token (not a string constant) which is the prefix applied to CPU register names in assembly language for this target. You can use it to write assembly that is usable in multiple environments. For example, in the m68k-aout environment it expands to nothing, but in the m68k-coff environment it expands to a single %.

__USER_LABEL_PREFIX__

This macro expands to a single token which is the prefix applied to user labels (symbols visible to C code) in assembly. For example, in the m68k-aout environment it expands to an _, but in the m68k-coff environment it expands to nothing.

This macro will have the correct definition even if -f(no-)underscores is in use, but it will not be correct if target-specific options that adjust this prefix are used (e.g. the OSF/rose -mno-underscores option).

__SIZE_TYPE__, __PTRDIFF_TYPE__, __WCHAR_TYPE__, __WINT_TYPE__

These macros are defined to the correct underlying types for the size_t, ptrdiff_t, wchar_t, and wint_t typedefs, respectively. They exist to make the standard header files stddef.h and wchar.h work correctly. You should not use these macros directly; instead, include the appropriate headers and use the typedefs.

__CHAR_BIT__

Defined to the number of bits used in the representation of the char data type. It exists to make the standard header given numerical limits work correctly. You should not use this macro directly; instead, include the appropriate headers.

__SCHAR_MAX__, __WCHAR_MAX__, __SHRT_MAX__, __INT_MAX__, __LONG_MAX__, __LONG_LONG_MAX__

Defined to the maximum value of the signed char, wchar_t, signed short, signed int, signed long, and signed long long types respectively. They exist to make the standard header given numerical limits work correctly. You should not use these macros directly; instead, include the appropriate headers.

__USING_SJLJ_EXCEPTIONS__

This macro is defined, with value 1, if the compiler uses the old mechanism based on setjmp and longjmp for exception handling.

__NEXT_RUNTIME__

This macro is defined, with value 1, if (and only if) the NeXT runtime (as in -fnext-runtime) is in use for Objective-C. If the GNU runtime is used, this macro is not defined, so that you can use this macro to determine which runtime (NeXT or GNU) is being used.

__LP64__, _LP64

These macros are defined, with value 1, if (and only if) the compilation is for a target where long int and pointer both use 64-bits and int uses 32-bit.

3.7.3. System-specific Predefined Macros

The C preprocessor normally predefines several macros that indicate what type of system and machine is in use. They are obviously different on each target supported by GCC. This manual, being for all systems and machines, cannot tell you what their names are, but you can use cpp -dM to see them all. Chapter 12 Invocation. All system-specific predefined macros expand to the constant 1, so you can test them with either #ifdef or #if.

The C standard requires that all system-specific macros be part of the reserved namespace. All names which begin with two underscores, or an underscore and a capital letter, are reserved for the compiler and library to use as they wish. However, historically system-specific macros have had names with no special prefix; for instance, it is common to find unix defined on Unix systems. For all such macros, GCC provides a parallel macro with two underscores added at the beginning and the end. If unix is defined, __unix__ will be defined too. There will never be more than two underscores; the parallel of _mips is __mips__.

When the -ansi option, or any -std option that requests strict conformance, is given to the compiler, all the system-specific predefined macros outside the reserved namespace are suppressed. The parallel macros, inside the reserved namespace, remain defined.

We are slowly phasing out all predefined macros which are outside the reserved namespace. You should never use them in new programs, and we encourage you to correct older code to use the parallel macros whenever you find it. We don't recommend you use the system-specific macros that are in the reserved namespace, either. It is better in the long run to check specifically for features you need, using a tool such as autoconf.

3.7.4. C++ Named Operators

In C++, there are eleven keywords which are simply alternate spellings of operators normally written with punctuation. These keywords are treated as such even in the preprocessor. They function as operators in #if, and they cannot be defined as macros or poisoned. In C, you can request that those keywords take their C++ meaning by including iso646.h. That header defines each one as a normal object-like macro expanding to the appropriate punctuator.

These are the named operators and their corresponding punctuators:

Named Operator Punctuator
and &&
and_eq &=
bitand &
bitor |
compl ~
not !
not_eq !=
or ||
or_eq |=
xor ^
xor_eq ^=

 
 
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