9.7. Non-local jumps

Provision is made for you to perform what is, in effect, a goto from one function to another. It isn't possible to do this by means of a goto and a label, since labels have only function scope. However, the macro setjmp and function longjmp provide an alternative, known as a non-local goto, or a non-local jump.

The file <setjmp.h> declares something called a jmp_buf, which is used by the cooperating macro and function to store the information necessary to make the jump. The declarations are as follows:

#include <setjmp.h>

int setjmp(jmp_buf env);
void longjmp(jmp_buf env, int val);

The setjmp macro is used to initialise the jmp_buf and returns zero on its initial call. The bizarre thing is that it returns again, later, with a non-zero value, when the corresponding longjmp call is made! The non-zero value is whatever value was supplied to the call of longjmp. This is best explained by way of an example:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <setjmp.h>

void func(void);
jmp_buf place;

        int retval;

         * First call returns 0,
         * a later longjmp will return non-zero.
        if(setjmp(place) != 0){
                printf("Returned using longjmp\n");

         * This call will never return - it
         * 'jumps' back above.
        printf("What! func returned!\n");

       * Return to main.
       * Looks like a second return from setjmp,
       * returning 4!
      longjmp(place, 4);
      printf("What! longjmp returned!\n");
Example 9.3

The val argument to longjmp is the value seen in the second and subsequent ‘returns’ from setjmp. It should normally be something other than 0; if you attempt to return 0 via longjmp, it will be changed to 1. It is therefore possible to tell whether the setjmp was called directly, or whether it was reached by calling longjmp.

If there has been no call to setjmp before calling longjmp, the effect of longjmp is undefined, almost certainly causing the program to crash. The longjmp function is never expected to return, in the normal sense, to the instructions immediately following the call. All accessible objects on ‘return’ from setjmp have the values that they had when longjmp was called, except for objects of automatic storage class that do not have volatile type; if they have been changed between the setjmp and longjmp calls, their values are indeterminate.

The longjmp function executes correctly in the contexts of interrupts, signals and any of their associated functions. If longjmp is invoked from a function called as a result of a signal arriving while handling another signal, the behaviour is undefined.

It's a serious error to longjmp to a function which is no longer active (i.e. it has already returned or another longjump call has transferred to a setjmp occurring earlier in a set of nested calls).

The Standard insists that, apart from appearing as the only expression in an expression statement, setjmp may only be used as the entire controlling expression in an if, switch, do, while, or for statement. A slight extension to that rule is that as long as it is the whole controlling expression (as above) the setjmp call may be the subject of the ! operator, or may be directly compared with an integral constant expression using one of the relational or equality operators. No more complex expressions may be employed. Examples are:

setjmp(place);                    /* expression statement */
if(setjmp(place)) ...             /* whole controlling expression */
if(!setjmp(place)) ...            /* whole controlling expression */
if(setjmp(place) < 4) ...         /* whole controlling expression */
if(setjmp(place)<;4 && 1!=2) ...  /* forbidden */