Thou shalt not ignore warnings

Here is a quote from a wise comment in the discussion of the “Linux system programming” book review:

Build your code with -Wall -Werror (or your compiler’s equivalent). Once you clean up all the crud, that pops up, crank it up with -W -Wno-unused-parameter -Wstrict-prototypes -Wmissing-prototypes -Wpointer-arith. Once there — add -Wreturn-type -Wcast-qual -Wswitch -Wshadow -Wcast-align and tighten up by removing the no in -Wno-unused-parameter. The -Wwrite-strings is essential, if you wish your code to be compiled with a C++ compiler some day (hint: the correct type for static strings is ” const char *”).
For truly clean code, add -Wchar-subscripts -Winline -Wnested-externs -Wredundant-decls.
The people, who wrote and maintain the compiler, are, most likely, several levels above you in understanding programming in general and C-programming in particular. Ignoring the advice their code generates is foolish on your part…
As a minimum, solved warnings will make your code more readable by reducing/eliminating the “Why is he doing this?” questions. More often than not, they point out bugs you would otherwise spend hours chasing with a debugger later.
And they make your code more portable. But if you don’t understand, why a warning is generated — ask around. Don’t just “shut it up”. For example, initializing a variable at declaration is usually a no-no. If the compiler thinks, the variable may be used before being initialized, scrutinize your program’s flow. If you can’t figure out, it may some times be better to disable this one warning temporarily with -Wno-uninitialized to move on, instead of shutting it up for ever by a bogus “= 0” or some such…

Leave a Comment