C (Programming language)


Compiler Attributes

__attribute__ is used to give the compiler extra information about some code.

Compilers support different attributes so use the __has_attibute macro to check if a certain attribute is supported by the compiler being used.

#if ! __has_attribute(nonull)
#  error "nonull attribute is required"

Pragma: The #pragma macro is similar to __attribute__ except it sets attributes for multiple functions, types, or variables.


Yes C has constructors but they are not like constructors in object oriented programming. __attribute__((constructor)) functions run before main. __attribute__((constructor(1))) will run before __attribute__((constructor(2))) however constructors 0 - 100 are reserved and __attribute__((constructor)) with no arguments will always run as the last constructor.

There is also a deconstructor attribute that runs after main.

void setup(int, char**) __attribute__((constructor)); // runs before main
void teardown(void) __attribute__((destructor));      // runs after main or exit()

void setup(int argc, char** argv) {
    printf("this function runs before main()\n");

void teardown(void) {
    printf("this function runs after main() or after exit() is called\n");


TODO: look into __attribute__(cleanup(func_ptr))

Type Modes

The type mode attribute lets you set the size of a number type. Use either __mode__ or mode to tell the compiler how many bits the type has. It is typically used like

typedef int __attribute__((__mode__(QI))) int8;
mode argumentsize in bytesnumber type


The alias attribute allows you to make aliases for functions, and variables

void exec(void) { printf("executing...\n"); }
void run(void) __attribute__((alias("exec"))); // will call exec when run is called.

Struct Packing

Structs have a default packing size of 4 bytes, meaning that each field is put into a 4 byte section even if it is smaller than 4 bytes. With the packed attibute you can change the default packing to make smaller structs.

struct __attribute__((packed)) some_struct // gets rid of struct packing
    int a;
    char b;
}; // `sizeof(struct some_struct)` is 5 bytes large instead of 8 bytes

// packed with 8 byte sections
struct __attribute__((packed, aligned(8))) bigger {
    int  a;
    int  b;
    char c;
}; // `sizeof(struct bigger)` is 16 bytes instead of 12

Useful Macros

The table found [here](http://nadeausoftware.com/articles/2012/10/c_c_tip_how_detect_ compiler_name_and_version_using_compiler_predefined_macros) shows the different compilers and the macros that they have. Some macros are defined in multiple compilers. For example, __GNUC__ is defined in the clang/llvm, gnu gcc/g++, and Intel icc/icpc compilers to show compatibility. So check the table to be sure.