[TUHS] Ifdef hell

David david at kdbarto.org
Thu Jan 5 00:51:35 AEST 2017

From: "Doug McIlroy" <doug at cs.dartmouth.edu>
Subject:Re: [TUHS] Mac OS X is Unix

> keeping the code I work on portable between Linux and the Mac requires
> more than a bit of ‘ifdef’ hell.

| Curmudgeonly comment: I bristle at the coupling of "ifdef” and "portable".
| Ifdefs that adjust code for different systems are prima facie
| evidence of NON-portability. I'll buy "configurable" as a descriptor
| for such ifdef'ed code, but not "portable".

| <snip>

| "Ifdef hell" is a fitting image for what has to be one of
| Unix's least felicitous contributions to computing. Down
| with ifdef!
| Doug

Doug makes a very good point about ifdef hell. Though I’d claim that it isn’t even “configurable” at some level.

Several years ago I was working at Megatek, a graphics h/w vendor. We were porting the X11 suite to various new boards at the rate of about 1 a week it seemed. Needless to say the code became such a mishmash of ifdef’s that you couldn’t figure out what some functions did any longer. You just hoped and prayed that your patch worked properly on the various hardware you were targeting and didn’t break it for anyone else. You ran the unit tests, if they passed you pushed your change and ran an hid under a rock for a while until you were sure it was safe to come out again.


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