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C reference book covers C99 enhancements

Dec 19, 2005 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

O'Reilly is shipping a new reference guide to the C programming language. C in a Nutshell describes the C language and libraries, including C99 enhancements, and covers the process of compiling and testing programs with GNU software tools. It targets novice and advanced programmers.

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C was originally created about 30 years ago, for use in writing the Unix operating system. C is highly portable, since hardware portability was a key design goal of Unix, and it runs efficiently, “close to the metal,” according to authors Peter Prinz and Tony Crawford. “Because C was expressly designed for system programming, it is hardly surprising that one of its major uses today is in programming embedded systems,” they stated.

C has evolved through the decades, most recently in 1999, when ANSI and ISO ratified the so-called “C99” draft. However, most C language references have been slow to incorporate C99 enhancements, according to the authors. “Although compilers now have nearly full support for the 1999 standard, textbooks and references have remained behind the times,” according to Crawford.

The new book first describes the C language itself, before going on to describe the standard C library (glibc), and the process of using GNU tools to compile and test programs. Covered topics include:

  • Numeric constants
  • Implicit and explicit type conversions
  • Expressions and operators
  • Functions
  • Fixed-length and variable-length arrays
  • Pointers
  • Dynamic memory management
  • Input and output

O'Reilly calls the book an “ideal companion” to Kernighan and Ritchie's seminal “The C Programming Language.” Dave Katabjian, director of software development at NetCarrier, agrees: “For those weaned on K&R or ANSI C, this guide brings you up-to-date on the many enhancements added in the 1999 standard.”


The 618-page book is available now, direct from O'Reilly, priced at $39.95. A sample chapter on “Structures, Unions, and Bitfields” is also available, here (PDF download).

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