by Dinesh Thakur Category: Type And Variables

First, though there can be many declarations (and in many translation units) of a single ``global'' (strictly speaking, ``external'') variable or function, there must be exactly one definition. (The definition is the declaration that actually allocates space, and provides an initialization value, if any.)

The best arrangement is to place each definition in some relevant .c file, with an external file containing the definition should also #include the same header file, so that the compiler can  check that the definition matches the declarations. This rule promotes a high degree of portability: it is consistent with the requirements of the ANSI C Standard, and is also consistent with most pre-ANSI compilers and linkers. (Unix compilers and linkers typically use a ``common model'' which allows multiple definitions, as long as at most one is initialized; this behavior is mentioned as a ``common extension'' by the ANSI Standard, no pun intended.

A few very odd systems may require an explicit initializer to distinguish a definition from an external declaration.) It is possible to use preprocessor tricks to arrange that a line like DEFINE(int, i);need only be entered once in one header file, and turned into a definition or a declaration depending on the setting of some macro, but it's not clear if this is worth the trouble.

It's especially important to put global declarations in header files if you want the compiler to catch inconsistent declarations for you. In particular, never place a prototype for an external function in a .c file: it wouldn't generally be checked for consistency with the definition, and an incompatible prototype is worse than useless.

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