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C Language Preprocessors Interview Questions and Answers For Freshers Part-2

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preprocessor5. What is the benefit of using #define to declare a constant?

Using the #define method of declaring a constant enables you to declare a constant in one place and use it throughout your program. This helps make your programs more maintainable, because you need to maintain only the #define statement and not several instances of individual constants throughout your program. For instance, if your program used the value of pi (approximately 3.14159) several times, you might want to declare a constant for pi as follows:

#define PI 3.14159

This way, if you wanted to expand the precision of pi for more accuracy, you could change it in one place rather than several places. Usually, it is best to put #define statements in an include file so that several modules can use the same constant value.

Using the #define method of declaring a constant is probably the most familiar way of declaring constants to traditional C programmers. Besides being the most common method of declaring constants, it also takes up the least memory. Constants defined in this manner are simply placed directly into your source code, with no variable space allocated in memory. Unfortunately, this is one reason why most debuggers cannot inspect constants created using the #define method.

6. What is the benefit of using enum to declare a constant?

Using the enum keyword to define a constant can have several benefits. First, constants declared with enum are automatically generated by the compiler, thereby relieving the programmer of manually assigning unique values to each constant. Also, constants declared with enum tend to be more readable to the programmer, because there is usually an enumerated type identifier associated with the constant’s definition.

Additionally, enumerated constants can usually be inspected during a debugging session. This can be an enormous benefit, especially when the alternative is having to manually look up the constant’s value in a header file. Unfortunately, using the enum method of declaring constants takes up slightly more memory space than using the #define method of declaring constants, because a memory location must be set up to store the constant.

Here is an example of an enumerated constant used for tracking errors in your program:

enum Error_Code

{

OUT_OF_MEMORY,

INSUFFICIENT_DISK_SPACE,

LOGIC_ERROR,

FILE_NOT_FOUND

};

7. What is the benefit of using an enum rather than a #define constant?

The use of an enumeration constant (enum) has many advantages over using the traditional symbolic constant style of #define. These advantages include a lower maintenance requirement, improved program readability, and better debugging capability. The first advantage is that enumerated constants are generated automati- cally by the compiler. Conversely, symbolic constants must be manually assigned values by the programmer. For instance, if you had an enumerated constant type for error codes that could occur in your program, your enumdefinition could look something like this:

enum Error_Code

{

OUT_OF_MEMORY,

INSUFFICIENT_DISK_SPACE,

LOGIC_ERROR,

FILE_NOT_FOUND

};

In the preceding example, OUT_OF_MEMORY is automatically assigned the value of 0 (zero) by the compiler because it appears first in the definition. The compiler then continues to automatically assign numbers to the enumerated constants, making INSUFFICIENT_DISK_SPACE equal to 1, LOGIC_ERROR equal to 2, and so on.

#define OUT_OF_MEMORY 0

#define INSUFFICIENT_DISK_SPACE 1

#define LOGIC_ERROR 2

#define FILE_NOT_FOUND 3

Each of the two methods arrives at the same result: four constants assigned numeric values to represent error codes. Consider the maintenance required, however, if you were to add two constants to represent the error codes DRIVE_NOT_READY and CORRUPT_FILE. Using the enumeration constant method, you simply would put these two constants anywhere in the enum definition. The compiler would generate two unique values for these constants. Using the symbolic constant method, you would have to manually assign two new numbers to these constants. Additionally, you would want to ensure that the numbers you assign to these constants are unique. Because you don’t have to worry about the actual values, defining your constants using the enumerated method is easier than using the symbolic constant method. The enumerated method also helps prevent accidentally reusing the same number for different constants.

void copy_file(char* source_file_name, char* dest_file_name)

{

Error_Code err;

if (drive_ready() != TRUE)

err = DRIVE_NOT_READY;

}

Looking at this example, you can derive from the definition of the variable err that err should be assigned only numbers of the enumerated type Error_Code. Hence, if another programmer were to modify or add functionality to this program, the programmer would know from the definition of Error_Code what constants are valid for assigning to err.

Conversely, if the same example were to be applied using the symbolic constant method, the code would look like this:

void copy_file(char* source_file, char* dest_file)

{

int err;

if (drive_ready() != TRUE)

err = DRIVE_NOT_READY;

}

Looking at the preceding example, a programmer modifying or adding functionality to the copy_file() function would not immediately know what values are valid for assigning to the err variable. The programmer would need to search for the #define DRIVE_NOT_READY statement and hope that all relevant constants are defined in the same header file. This could make maintenance more difficult than it needs to be and make your programs harder to understand.

A third advantage to using enumeration constants is that some symbolic debuggers can print the value of an enumeration constant. Conversely, most symbolic debuggers cannot print the value of a symbolic constant. This can be an enormous help in debugging your program, because if your program is stopped at a line that uses an enum, you can simply inspect that constant and instantly know its value. On the other hand, because most debuggers cannot print #define values, you would most likely have to search for that value by manually looking it up in a header file.

8. How are portions of a program disabled in demo versions?

If you are distributing a demo version of your program, the preprocessor can be used to enable or disable portions of your program. The following portion of code shows how this task is accomplished, using the preprocessor directives #if and #endif:

int save_document(char* doc_name)

{

#if DEMO_VERSION

printf(“Sorry! You can’t save documents using the DEMO version of

this program!\n”);

return(0);

#endif

}

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