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The Ten Commandments for C Programmers
by Henry Spencer
Thou shalt run lint frequently and study its pronouncements with care,
for verily its perception and judgment oft exceed thine.
Thou shalt not follow the NULL pointer, for chaos and madness await
thee at its end.
Thou shalt cast all function arguments to the expected type if they are
not of that type already, even when thou art convinced that this is
unnecessary, lest they take cruel vengeance upon thee when thou least
If thy header files fail to declare the return types of thy library
functions, thou shalt declare them thyself with the most meticulous care,
lest grievous harm befall thy program.
Thou shalt check the array bounds of all strings (indeed, all arrays),
for surely where thou typest "foo" someone sosmallay shall type
If a function be advertised to return an error code in the event of
difficulties, thou shalt check for that code, yea, even though the checks
triple the size of thy code and produce aches in thy typing fingers, for if
thou thinkest "it cannot happen to me", the gods shall surely punish thee
for thy arrogance.
Thou shalt study thy libraries and strive not to reinvent them without
cause, that thy code may be short and readable and thy days pleasant and
Thou shalt make thy program's purpose and structure clear to thy fellow
man by using the One True Brace Style, even if thou likest it not, for thy
creativity is better used in solving problems than in creating beautiful
new impediments to understanding.
Thy external identifiers shall be unique in the first six characters,
though this harsh discipline be irksome and the years of its necessity
stretch before thee seemingly without end, lest thou tear thy hair out and
go mad on that fateful day when thou desirest to make thy program run on an
Thou shalt foreswear, renounce, and abjure the vile heresy which
claimeth that "All the world's a VAX", and have no commerce with the
benighted heathens who cling to this barbarous belief, that the days of thy
program may be long even though the days of thy current machine be short.
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