cppinternals.info: Guard Macros

Go forward to Files
Go backward to Line Numbering
Go up to Top
Go to the top op cppinternals

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 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.