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QEMU Coding Style
Please use the script in the scripts directory to check
patches before submitting.
1. Whitespace
Of course, the most important aspect in any coding style is whitespace.
Crusty old coders who have trouble spotting the glasses on their noses
can tell the difference between a tab and eight spaces from a distance
of approximately fifteen parsecs. Many a flamewar have been fought and
lost on this issue.
QEMU indents are four spaces. Tabs are never used, except in Makefiles
where they have been irreversibly coded into the syntax.
Spaces of course are superior to tabs because:
- You have just one way to specify whitespace, not two. Ambiguity breeds
- The confusion surrounding 'use tabs to indent, spaces to justify' is gone.
- Tab indents push your code to the right, making your screen seriously
- Tabs will be rendered incorrectly on editors who are misconfigured not
to use tab stops of eight positions.
- Tabs are rendered badly in patches, causing off-by-one errors in almost
every line.
- It is the QEMU coding style.
Do not leave whitespace dangling off the ends of lines.
2. Line width
Lines should be 80 characters; try not to make them longer.
Sometimes it is hard to do, especially when dealing with QEMU subsystems
that use long function or symbol names. Even in that case, do not make
lines much longer than 80 characters.
- Some people like to tile their 24" screens with a 6x4 matrix of 80x24
xterms and use vi in all of them. The best way to punish them is to
let them keep doing it.
- Code and especially patches is much more readable if limited to a sane
line length. Eighty is traditional.
- The four-space indentation makes the most common excuse ("But look
at all that white space on the left!") moot.
- It is the QEMU coding style.
3. Naming
Variables are lower_case_with_underscores; easy to type and read. Structured
type names are in CamelCase; harder to type but standing out. Enum type
names and function type names should also be in CamelCase. Scalar type
names are lower_case_with_underscores_ending_with_a_t, like the POSIX
uint64_t and family. Note that this last convention contradicts POSIX
and is therefore likely to be changed.
When wrapping standard library functions, use the prefix qemu_ to alert
readers that they are seeing a wrapped version; otherwise avoid this prefix.
4. Block structure
Every indented statement is braced; even if the block contains just one
statement. The opening brace is on the line that contains the control
flow statement that introduces the new block; the closing brace is on the
same line as the else keyword, or on a line by itself if there is no else
keyword. Example:
if (a == 5) {
printf("a was 5.\n");
} else if (a == 6) {
printf("a was 6.\n");
} else {
printf("a was something else entirely.\n");
Note that 'else if' is considered a single statement; otherwise a long if/
else if/else if/.../else sequence would need an indent for every else
An exception is the opening brace for a function; for reasons of tradition
and clarity it comes on a line by itself:
void a_function(void)
Rationale: a consistent (except for functions...) bracing style reduces
ambiguity and avoids needless churn when lines are added or removed.
Furthermore, it is the QEMU coding style.
5. Declarations
Mixed declarations (interleaving statements and declarations within
blocks) are generally not allowed; declarations should be at the beginning
of blocks.
Every now and then, an exception is made for declarations inside a
#ifdef or #ifndef block: if the code looks nicer, such declarations can
be placed at the top of the block even if there are statements above.
On the other hand, however, it's often best to move that #ifdef/#ifndef
block to a separate function altogether.
6. Conditional statements
When comparing a variable for (in)equality with a constant, list the
constant on the right, as in:
if (a == 1) {
/* Reads like: "If a equals 1" */
Rationale: Yoda conditions (as in 'if (1 == a)') are awkward to read.
Besides, good compilers already warn users when '==' is mis-typed as '=',
even when the constant is on the right.