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where For instance, ANSI C defines six signals that can be caught with signal; the POSlX standard defines 19; most Unix systems support 32 or more If you want to use a non-ANSI signal, there is clearly a tradeoff between functionality and portability and you must decide which matters more There are many other standards that are not part of a programming language definition; examples include operating system and network interfaces, graphics interfaces, and the like Some are meant to carry across more than one system, like POSIX; others are specific to one system, like the various Microsoft Windows APls Similar advice holds here as well Your programs will be more portable if you choose widely used and well-established standards, and if you stick to the most central and commonly used aspects
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There are two major approaches to portability, which we will call union and intersection The union approach is to use the best features of each particular system, and make the compilation and installation process conditional on properties of the local environment The resulting code handles the union of all scenarios, taking advantage of the strengths of each system The drawbacks include the size and complexity of the installation process and the complexity of code riddled with compile-time conditionals
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Use only features available everywhere The approach we recommend is intersection:
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use only those features that exist in all target systems; don't use a feature if it isn't available everywhere One danger is that the requirement of universal availability of features may limit the range of target systems or the capabilities of the program; another is that performance may suffer in some environments To compare these approaches, let's look at a couple of examples that use union code and rethink them using intersection As you will see, union code is by design unportable despite its stated goal, while intersection code is not only portable but usually simpler This small example attempts to cope with an environment that for some reason doesn't have the standard header file s t d l i b h:
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# i f defined (STDC-HEADERS) 1 I defined ( L I B C ) #include<stdlibh> #else extern void *malloc(unsigned i n t ) ; extern void *realloc(void *, unsigned i n t ) ; #endif
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This style of defense is acceptable if used occasionally, but not if it appears often It also begs the question of how many other functions from s t d l i b will eventually find their way into this or similar conditional code If one is using ma1 1oc and real 1oc,
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surely f r e e will be needed as well, for instance What if unsigned i n t is not the same as s i ze-t, the proper type of the argument to ma1 1oc and real 1oc Moreover, how do we know that STDC-HEADERS or -LIBC are defined, and defined correctly How can we be sure that there is no other name that should trigger the substitution in some environment Any conditional code like this is incomplete-unportablebecause eventually a system that doesn't match the condition will come along, and we must edit the #ifdefs If we could solve the problem without conditional compilation, we would eliminate the ongoing maintenance headache Still, the problem this example is solving is real so how can we solve it once and for all Our preference would be to assume that the standard headers exist; it's someone else's problem if they don't Failing that, it would be simpler to ship with the software a header file that defines ma1 loc, real loc, and free, exactly as ANSI C defines them This file can always be included, instead of applying band-aids throughout the code Then we will always know that the necessary interface is available
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Avoid conditional compilation Conditional compilation with #ifdef and similar preprocessor directives is hard to manage, because information tends to get sprinkled throughout the source
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# i f def NATIVE char rastring = "convert #el se #i fdef MAC char *astring = "convert #el se #ifdef DOS char *astring = "convert #el se char aastring = "convert #endif /* DOS r / #endif /* MAC a/ #endif /* NATIVE */ ASCII t o native character s e t " ; t o Mac t e x t f i l e format"; t o DOS t e x t f i l e format"; t o Unix t e x t f i l e format";
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This excerpt would have been better with #el i f after each definition rather than having #endi fs pile up at the end But the real problem is that, despite its intention, this code is highly non-portable because it behaves differently on each system and needs to be updated with a new #ifdef for every new environment A single string with more general wording would be simpler completely portable, and just as informative: char rastring
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"convert t o local t e x t format";
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This needs no conditional code since it is the same on all systems Mixing compile-time control flow (determined by #i fdef statements) with runtime control flow is much worse, since it is very difficult to read
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