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C Style: Standards and Guidelines (contents)

CHAPTER 1 : Standards


CHAPTER 1 : Standards

1.1 Standards
1.2 Guidelines
1.3 What are standards for?
1.4 What are coding standards for?
1.5 Who are coding standards for?
1.6 Coding standards vs. programming standards
1.7 Using this book

1.8 Summary

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1.2 Guidelines

The definition of a guideline is simply that it is a 'directing principle', an indication of the general direction that one should take.

A guideline in practice is characterized by the fact that it is recommended, but not enforced. It is left up to the user to decide whether the its use is valid, possibly depending upon specific circumstances.

What are often called coding (or programming) standards are, in effect, guidelines, because they are not enforced. Programs are written, possibly with great care over the standards used, but no-one (other than the programmer) actually looks at the code specifically to determine whether coding standards are being followed.

Note that this book will continue to use the common practice of simplifying the terminology, and replacing 'coding standards and/or guidelines' with the simpler 'coding standards'. In writing any set of standards, however, it is necessary to differentiate that which is required (i.e. a standard) from that which is only a recommendation (i.e. a guidelines). To complicate matters, it may also be useful to explain the degree of recommendation (e.g. "strongly recommended").


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