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6.32 Declaring Attributes of Functions

In GNU C and C++, you can use function attributes to specify certain function properties that may help the compiler optimize calls or check code more carefully for correctness. For example, you can use attributes to specify that a function never returns (noreturn), returns a value depending only on the values of its arguments (const), or has printf-style arguments (format).

You can also use attributes to control memory placement, code generation options or call/return conventions within the function being annotated. Many of these attributes are target-specific. For example, many targets support attributes for defining interrupt handler functions, which typically must follow special register usage and return conventions. Such attributes are described in the subsection for each target. However, a considerable number of attributes are supported by most, if not all targets. Those are described in the Common Function Attributes section.

Function attributes are introduced by the __attribute__ keyword in the declaration of a function, followed by an attribute specification enclosed in double parentheses. You can specify multiple attributes in a declaration by separating them by commas within the double parentheses or by immediately following one attribute specification with another. See Attribute Syntax, for the exact rules on attribute syntax and placement. Compatible attribute specifications on distinct declarations of the same function are merged. An attribute specification that is not compatible with attributes already applied to a declaration of the same function is ignored with a warning.

Some function attributes take one or more arguments that refer to the function’s parameters by their positions within the function parameter list. Such attribute arguments are referred to as positional arguments. Unless specified otherwise, positional arguments that specify properties of parameters with pointer types can also specify the same properties of the implicit C++ this argument in non-static member functions, and of parameters of reference to a pointer type. For ordinary functions, position one refers to the first parameter on the list. In C++ non-static member functions, position one refers to the implicit this pointer. The same restrictions and effects apply to function attributes used with ordinary functions or C++ member functions.

GCC also supports attributes on variable declarations (see Variable Attributes), labels (see Label Attributes), enumerators (see Enumerator Attributes), statements (see Statement Attributes), and types (see Type Attributes).

There is some overlap between the purposes of attributes and pragmas (see Pragmas Accepted by GCC). It has been found convenient to use __attribute__ to achieve a natural attachment of attributes to their corresponding declarations, whereas #pragma is of use for compatibility with other compilers or constructs that do not naturally form part of the grammar.

In addition to the attributes documented here, GCC plugins may provide their own attributes.


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