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product:stdc_net:start

Stdc - Helps porting C code to .NET

Rationale

Porting C code to .NET doesn't sound like being fun. And it is mostly for sure not funny… The mind breaking rewriting of printf formatting code to String.Format formats can cost a bunch of time and is error prone. The same difficulties arise with scanf, really tedious to port such code. Signal handling is another topic where one can loose quite some hours. Stdc is a pure .NET library enabling a quick port of existing C code by emulating most of the C syntax in a very similar way, to not say in an identical manner. The code can be then refactored step by step further by removing the C functions. The Stdc libray enables a quick first shot so you have at least a running executable to work with.

Note that the Stdc library is written in pure .NET no call to native functions is made (no “cheating” with P/Invoke, to call the native C runtime methods is performed). This can be important for portability between .NET on Linux (MONO) and Windows for example. A ported program should then run without recompilation under MONO and Microsoft .NET.

Who cares about Stdc?

If you …

  • have to quickly port a large portion of code and defer a clean .NET implementation to later on
  • are not used to the .NET framework and want to mimic the C API in .NET
  • wonder how to port some parts of the code but want a working result right now

Then you should give the Stdc library a try! (Contact me)

Even a tool to convert (in a sloppy mode) C files to C# files to start porting with is already available, thought it is still under heavy development.

Examples


Hello world

CC#
    #include <stdio.h>
 
    void main(void) {
        printf("Hello World!\n");
    }
namespace Example {      // a namespace to contain the code
    using stdc;          // instead of #include ...
 
    public class HelloWorld { // in C# methods must be in a class
        public static void main () {
            C.printf("Hello World!\n");
        }
    }
}
The main difference is that the code must be embedded in a class and a namespace. The functions turn consequently into public static methods (equivalent in .NET to C functions). In further examples we will omit this necessary code parts to keep the focus on the real code changes. Includes are replaced by a using statement and the C functions are part of a static class with called C. Therefore C.printf is used instead of a bare printf statement without C. as prefix. This first example is simplistic but it is there just to get a feeling for the basic principles in porting C to .NET.

Printing powers of 2 - printf()

CC#
    #include <stdio.h>
 
    #define N 16
 
    void main(void) {
        int n;           /* The current exponent */
        int val = 1;     /* The current power of 2  */
 
        printf ("\t  n  \t    2^n\n");
        printf ("\t================\n");
        for (n=0; n<=N; n++) {
            printf ("\t%3d \t %6d\n", n, val); 
            val = 2*val;
        }
    }
    using stdc; // ... code to embed in class/namespace omitted
 
    private const int N = 16;
 
    public static void main () {
        int n;              // The current exponent
        int val = 1;    // The current power of 2
 
        C.printf ("\t  n  \t    2^n\n");
        C.printf ("\t================\n");
        for (n=0; n<=N; n++) {
            C.printf ("\t%3d \t %6d\n", n, val); 
            val = 2 * val;
        }
    }
Note that absolutely no change was needed to be made to the formatting strings.


Generating a file - FILE, fopen(), fclose(), putc()

CC#
    #include <stdio.h>
 
    void main () {
        FILE * pFile;
        char c;
 
        pFile = fopen ("alphabet.txt", "wt");
        for (c = 'A' ; c <= 'Z' ; c++) {
            putc (c , pFile);
        }
        fclose (pFile);
    }
    using stdc; // ... code to embed in class/namespace omitted
 
    public static void main () {
        C.FILE pFile;
        char c;
 
        pFile = C.fopen ("alphabet.txt", "wt");
        for (c = 'A'; c <= 'Z'; c++) {
            C.putc (c, pFile);
        }
        C.fclose (pFile);
    }
The fopen, fclose can be used exactly like in C, only the pointer symbol (*) disappears.


A small guessing game - rand(), scanf()

CC#
    #include <stdio.h>
    #include <stdlib.h>
    #include <time.h>
 
    void main () {
        int iSecret, iGuess;
 
        srand ( time(NULL) );
        iSecret = rand() % 10 + 1;
 
        do {
            printf ("Guess the number (1 to 10): ");
            scanf ("%d",&iGuess);
            if (iSecret<iGuess)
                puts ("The secret number is lower");
            else if (iSecret>iGuess)
                puts ("The secret number is higher");
        } while (iSecret!=iGuess);
 
        puts ("Congratulations!");
    }
    using stdc; // ... code to embed in class/namespace omitted
 
    public static void main () {
        int iSecret;
        int iGuess;
 
        C.srand (C.time (C.NULL));
        iSecret = C.rand () % 10 + 1;
 
        do {
            C.printf ("Guess the number (1 to 10): ");
            C.scanf ("%d", out iGuess);
            if (iSecret < iGuess)
                C.puts ("The secret number is lower");
            else if (iSecret > iGuess)
                C.puts ("The secret number is higher");
        } while (iSecret != iGuess);
 
        C.puts ("Congratulations!");
    }
In the C# port, the scanf implementation is making use of generics to handle different types accordingly.


Quick Sort an array of ints, step by step refactoring - qsort()

CC#
    #include <stdio.h>
    #include <stdlib.h>
 
    int values[] = { 40, 10, 100, 90, 20, 25 };
 
    int compare (const void * a, const void * b) {
        return ( *(int*)a - *(int*)b );
    }
 
    void main () {
        int n;
        qsort (values, 6, sizeof(int), compare);
        for (n=0; n<6; n++)
            printf ("%d ",values[n]);
    }
    using stdc; // ... code to embed in class/namespace omitted
 
    public static int[] values = new int[] { 40, 10, 100, 90, 20, 25 };
 
    public static int compare (int a, int b) {
        return a - b;
    }
 
    public static void main () {
        int n;
        C.qsort (values, 6, sizeof (int), compare);
        for (n = 0; n < 6; n++)
            C.printf ("%d ", values[n]);
    }
Second step, refactoring, getting rid of the C-like syntax and use .NET strengths. We transformed the “for” loop into a “foreach” loop, making the use of the magic number '6' superfluous.
    using stdc; // ... code to embed in class/namespace omitted
 
    public static int[] values = new int[] { 40, 10, 100, 90, 20, 25 };
 
    public static int compare (int a, int b) {
        return a - b;
    }
 
    public static void main () {
        C.qsort (values, compare);
        foreach (int v in values)
            C.printf ("%d ", v);
    }
Third step: get rid of all C functions and replace them with their .NET equivalents
    using stdc; // ... code to embed in class/namespace omitted
 
    public static int[] values = new int[] { 40, 10, 100, 90, 20, 25 };
 
    public static int compare (int a, int b) {
        return a - b;
    }
 
    public static void main () {
        Array.Sort (values, compare);
        foreach (int v in values)
            Console.Write ("{0} ", v);
    }
Did you notice? From the first step on, the C# compare method didn't need any casts unlike the C version. Thanks to the use of generics, the code readability is greaty improved. This also shows the basic steps in refactoring the C code. Stdc just helps you to keep a testable running version between successive steps of refactoring.


Remarks

In order to provide the advanced emulation functionality (like signals and atexit support, argc, argv emulation), the library needs to control the code to be run. There is a trampoline from the .NET Main method to the ported main C function.

This should be used like this:

namespace examples {
    using stdc;
    class Program {
        static void Main (string[] args)
        {
            // use one of these
            C.RunVMain (args, CProgram.main); // if the main is returning nothing (void)
            C.RunIMain (args, CProgram.main); // if the main is returning an int
        }
    }
}

The signature of the main function is one of:

- int main(int argc, string[] argv)
- int main()
- void main(int argc, string[] argv)
- void main()

The .NET arguments do not contain the program name unlike in C where argv[0] contains the name of the executable. To enable to reuse code from C that expects this behaviour, you must use the C.RunI/VMain() function. The RunMain() function also provides an environment where the signal() and raise() C functions can be used.

Further examples


Using atexit - atexit()

CC#
    #include <stdio.h>
    #include <stdlib.h>
 
    void atexit_handler1 (void) {
        puts ("handler 1");
    }
 
    void atexit_handler2 (void) {
        puts ("handler 1");
    }
 
    void main () {
        atexit (atexit_handler1);
        atexit (atexit_handler2);
        puts ("atexit handlers should be " +
            "called in reverse order 2 and then 1!");
    }
namespace example {
    using stdc;
 
    public class Program {
 
        public static void atexit_handler1() {
            C.puts("handler 1");
        }
        public static void atexit_handler2() {
            C.puts("handler 2");
        }
 
        public static void main () {
            C.atexit(atexit_handler1);
            C.atexit(atexit_handler2);
            C.puts("atexit handlers should be " +
                "called in reverse order 2 and then 1!");
        }
 
        static void Main (string[] args) {
            C.RunVMain (args, main); // trampoline
        }
    }
}
The full code is provided for this example, to demonstrate how to let the RunMain() method call the ported main() function. RunMain() calls main() after initializing an environment where the signals can work properly. The behaviour expected from C regarding the order in which the handlers are called is implemented correctly: the handlers are called in reverse order or registration.

Contact

If you would like to get a beta version of the library let me know: jaap.dehaan@color-of-code.de.

The library is provided under this Freeware License Agreement.

product/stdc_net/start.txt · Last modified: 2015/07/26 13:42 by jaap.dehaan