Higher-level C

This is my series of posts on C. The aim is to document techniques for writing medium- to high-level programs.  Modern C programming has moved away from the focus in absolute efficiency, and there are many large programs solving problems where abstraction is necessary.  Efficiency is still important; but it’s often satisfactory to run 20% slower if it means the code is easier to maintain!

As I write posts I’ll add them to this brief table of contents. You can also see a list of the posts in the category.

Note that I do not get a lot of feedback before posting. I would be interested in any criticism, and am happy to expand a post if a reader suggests it; or to correct a post where an error is pointed out to me. :-)


  • The initial post on Higher-level C in which I lament the scarcity of C programming books.

Objects in C

Code organisation

Possibly forthcoming

Memory Management: malloc/free; Problem of computing optimal destruction of object; Pools; GC, E.g. Beohm; Pre-allocated and stack-based memory

Data structures: Strings; Collections; Generic data structures; Type safety; polymorphism.

Classes: Common base object; Interfaces; Multiple-inheritance (possible?); Multiple-interface implementation (possible?)

Functional programming: Laziness; Closures; Callbacks

Introspection and reflection: E.g. Printing an object

Exception handling: setjmp/longjmp; Exception as return value; Macro misuse

Code organisation: Dependency Injection

5 Responses to Higher-level C

  1. Pingback: Higher-level C | EJRH

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  4. Grit says:

    I really like this.
    It’s nice to know I’m not completely nuts, when I try and explain my reasoning for using pointers and pseudo-OOP in c.
    Someday I hope to be able to make statements about topics such as these without having to use an “I think” or “It’s my opinion” prefix.

    Do you, or does anybody have any recommendations for using these techniques in an embedded environment; where malloc might not always be available or even desired?

    • ejrh says:

      Hi Grit, it seems most of the advice on memory management is about using malloc/free at least, or something even more heavyweight! I can’t give you any real recommendations myself. Perhaps there is open source embedded code you can look at for examples? I’m guessing a lot of what runs on arduino and similar is written without malloc. Depending on what you’re trying to program, it might just be easy to allocate a fixed pool of object slots, and manage them yourself in the code (a lot of the complexity of memory management is supporting the allocation of different sized objects in the same space; if all your objects fit into only a few sizes then you can avoid that).

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