File Inclusion in C

By: Jagan Viewed: 153242 times    

File inclusion makes it easy to handle collections of #defines and declarations (among other things). Any source line of the form
   #include "filename"
   #include <filename>
is replaced by the contents of the file filename. If the filename is quoted, searching for the file typically begins where the source program was found; if it is not found there, or if the name is enclosed in < and >, searching follows an implementation-defined rule to find the file. An included file may itself contain #include lines.

There are often several #include lines at the beginning of a source file, to include common #define statements and extern declarations, or to access the function prototype declarations for library functions from headers like <stdio.h>. (Strictly speaking, these need not be files; the details of how headers are accessed are implementation-dependent.)

#include is the preferred way to tie the declarations together for a large program. It guarantees that all the source files will be supplied with the same definitions and variable declarations, and thus eliminates a particularly nasty kind of bug. Naturally, when an included file is changed, all files that depend on it must be recompiled.

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