Rant: All the C Compiler Warnings ...

Enable all the warnings!

This is one of the truths you learn when you start working with C. Most of the time adding CPPFLAGS="-W -Wall -Werror" is all you need to find all the nasty bugs. And if that’s not enough, there are tons of tools for static code analysis, like scan-build in Clang, and Coverity Scan, to help you find all the bugs!

However, these pesky warnings (some of which cannot even be disabled!) are sometimes more of a nuisance than help. Sometimes you know that some parameters to a function will remain unused – it’s a callback, and you don’t need all the data given to you. So you start adding all kinds of voodoo, like __attribute__ ((unused)) … seriously?

Imagine this now sprinkled all over the code base.

    static void callback(uev_ctx_t *ctx __attribute__((unused)),
                         uev_t *w __attribute__((unused)),
                         void *arg __attribute__((unused)),
                         int events __attribute__((unused)))
    {
            ...
    }

So you make small macros to help out:

    #define UNUSED(arg) arg __attribute__ ((unused))

We now have this instead:

    static void callback(uev_ctx_t *UNUSED(ctx), uev_t *UNUSED(w),
                         void *UNUSED(arg), int UNUSED(events))
    {
            ...
    }

Admittedly, using the macro is much cleaner, but still. Why not just allow this much more readable version?

    static void callback(uev_ctx_t *ctx, uev_t *w, void *arg, int events)
    {
            ...
    }

The human eye is marvellous at finding little things that stick out, but when there’s nothing but annoying things on the screen we can no longer see the most obvious pointer casting bugs, and we get sloppy.

I’m seriously considering adding some kind of --developer-mode to my own projects which will warn like crazy, as usual, and as soon as I turn it off (default) complete silence will arrive. That’s how sick and tired I am of all the warnings and the resulting almost completely unreadable code.

We spend a lot of time reading code, so it should be enjoyable and easy.