7.4. Summary

To be honest, although many of the facilities provided by the preprocessor undoubtedly provide extra power and flexibility, it really is rather overcomplicated.

There are only a very few aspects that are really important.

The ability to define macros and function macros is very important, being widely used in almost every C program except the most trivial.

The conditional compilation has two important uses; one is the ability to compile with or without debugging statements included in a program, the other is to be able to select machine or application dependent statements.

Obviously, file inclusion is fundamentally important.

Having said the above, most of the rest of the features described in this chapter can be forgotten with very little loss of functionality. Perhaps each programming team should have just one preprocessor specialist who has the job of designing project-dependent macros using the arcane features such as stringizing and token pasting. Most users of C would benefit much more by putting that learning effort into other parts of the language, or, when they fully understand C, techniques of software quality control. The world would be a better place.