Programming Style

C Programming Tutorial 

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The shape of programs to come.

C is actually a free format language. This means that there are no rules about how it must be typed, when to start new lines, where to place brackets or whatever. This has both advantages and dangers. The advantage is that the user is free to choose a style which best suits him or her and there is freedom in the way in which a program can be structured. The disadvantage is that, unless a strict style is adopted, very sloppy programs can be the result. The reasons for choosing a well structured style are that:

  • Long programs are manageable only if programs are properly organized.
  • Programs are only understandable if care is taken in choosing the names of variables and functions.
  • It is much easier to find parts of a program if a strict ordering convention is maintained. Such a scheme becomes increasingly difficult to achieve with the size and complexity of the problem.

No simple set of rules can ever provide the ultimate solution to writing good programs. In the end, experience and good judgement are the factors which decide whether a program is written well or poorly written. The main goal of any style is to achieve clarity. Previously restrictions of memory size, power and of particular compilers often forced restrictions upon style, making programs clustered and difficult. All computers today are equipped with more than enough memory for their purposes, and have very good optimizers which can produce faster code than most programmers could write themselves without help, so there are few good reasons not to make programs as clear as possible.