Basic Concepts

Before we begin our in-depth description of CScout's operation it is important to define the basic concepts we will encounter: identifiers, functions, and files. Although you may think you know what these elements stand for, in the CScout universe they have meanings sligthly different from what you may be used to.


A CScout identifier is the longest character sequence that can be correctly modified (e.g. renamed) in isolation. Identifiers that will have to be renamed in unison to obtain a correct program are grouped together and are treated as a single entity. Although you may think that, according to our definition, CScout identifiers are the same as C identifiers, this is the case only in the absence of the C preprocessor.

First of all, the preprocessor token concatenation feature can result in C identifiers that are composed of multiple CScout identifiers. Consider the following example, which uses a macro to define a number of different functions. (Yes, I am familiar with the C++ templates, this is just an example.)

#define typefun(name, type, op) \
type type ## _ ## name(type a, type b) { return a op b; }

typefun(add, int, +)
typefun(sub, int, -)
typefun(mul, int, *)
typefun(div, int, /)
typefun(add, double, +)
typefun(sub, double, -)
typefun(mul, double, *)
typefun(div, double, /)

	printf("%d\n", int_add(5, 4));
	printf("%g\n", double_mul(3.14, 2.0));
In the CScout environment the int_add C identifier is actually composed of three separate parts:
  1. int
  2. _
  3. add
Renaming the int identifier into integer would change it in five different places: the argument to the four typefun macro invocations, and the part of int_add.

In addition, preprocessor macro definitions can confuse the notion of the C scope, bringing together scopes that would be considered separate in the context of the C language-proper. Consider the following (slightly contrived) example:

struct foo {
	int foo;

struct bar {
	int foo;

#define getpart(tag, name) (((struct tag *)p)->name)
#define getfoo(var) (
#define get(name) (name(0) + ((struct name *)p)->name)
#define conditional(x) do {if (!x(0)) goto x; return x(0);} while(0)

foo(void *p)
	struct foo f;
	struct bar b;

	if (p && getpart(foo, foo))
		return getpart(bar, foo);
	else if (getfoo(f))
		return get(foo);
	else if (getfoo(b))
		return 0;
The identifier foo is occuring in a number of different scopes: Yet, the preprocessor macros and their use bring all the scopes together. If we decide to change one instance of the foo identifier, CScout will change all the instances marked below, in order to obtain a program that has the same meaning as the original one.

Identifier foo: test.c

(Use the tab key to move to each marked element.)

struct foo {
        int foo;

struct bar {
        int foo;

#define getpart(tag, name) (((struct tag *)p)->name)
#define getfoo(var) (
#define get(name) (name(0) + ((struct name *)p)->name)
#define conditional(x) do {if (!x(0)) goto x; return x(0);} while(0)

foo(void *p)
        struct foo f;
        struct bar b;

        if (p && getpart(foofoo))
                return getpart(bar, foo);
        else if (getfoo(f))
                return get(foo);
        else if (getfoo(b))
                return 0;


CScout, with its integrated C preprocessor, considers as functions both the normal C functions and the function-like macros. It can therefore identify: The following example illustrates all the above cases.
#define macro() middlemacro()
#define middlemacro() innemacro()
#define innemacro() function1()
function1() {}
function2() {}
main() {
The corresponding call graph is as follows:

Calls from the main function

Note that in CScout functions are separate entities from identifiers. The name of a function can consist of multiple identifiers; an identifier can exist in more than one function names.

For instance, the page for the _ (underscore) identifier in the typefun macro example we saw earlier will appear as follows.

Identifier: _

Main page - Web: Home Manual

CScout 2.0 - 2004/07/31 12:37:12

Note how each function name is composed of three separate parts, and that this instance of the _ identifier occurs in 8 different function names.


Given the complexities we discussed above, you may be pleased to know that in CScout files are more or less equivalent to the notion of file you are familiar with. The important thing to keep in mind is that CScout will consider all references to the same underlying file as equivalent, no matter how the file was named. Thus, different paths to the same file, or references to the same file via different symbolic links will end-up appearing as the same file in CScout.

One important feature of CScout concerning files has to do with the handling of files that are exact copies of each other. These may occur in the building of a large system for the sake of convenience; for example, one header file may be copied to various parts of the source code tree. CScout will locate identical files and group them together when reporting a file's details. Identifiers occuring in the same position of two identical files are considered equivalent; if you change the name of one of them the name of the other will also change. Moreover, when CScout reports unused identifiers it takes into account uses of an identifier from all instances of the identical files, not just one of them.

Writable and Read-Only Entities

CScout uses file access permissions (or the equivalent readonly and ro_prefix definitions provided in workspace definition files) to determine which elements of the compiled source code are under your control and which elements are part of the development system. Often the CScout user-interface allows you to specify whether you are interested in writable (i.e. your project's), read-only (i.e. the system's) or all elements. Therefore, all of the files that belong to your project must be writable. Any other files used by your project but not belonging to it (e.g. header files of third-party libraries or auto-generated code) must either be read-only or must be flagged for treatment as read-only using the readonly and ro_prefix workspace definition commands.

Since CScout is not just a browser, but a refactoring browser, you are expected to ensure that every file in your project is writable. This is how CScout figures out which files are part of your project and which are system files (for instance the standard library header files). System files should not be writable; if any system files happen to be writable, use the readonly and ro_prefix workspace definition commands to tell CScout to treat them as if they are not writable.