Manual browser: error(1)

ERROR(1) General Commands Manual ERROR(1)


erroranalyze and disperse compiler error messages


error [-nqSsTv] [-I ignorefile] [-p filelevel] [-t suffixlist] [name]


error analyzes and optionally disperses the diagnostic error messages produced by a number of compilers and language processors to the source file and line where the errors occurred. It can replace the painful, traditional methods of scribbling abbreviations of errors on paper, and permits error messages and source code to be viewed simultaneously without machinations of multiple windows in a screen editor.

Options are:

Do not touch any files; all error messages are sent to the standard output.
-p filelevel
Interpret filenumber as a level of path component names to skip, similar to patch(1).
The user is queried whether s/he wants to touch the file. A ``y'' or ``n'' to the question is necessary to continue. Absence of the -q option implies that all referenced files (except those referring to discarded error messages) are to be touched.
Show the errors in unsorted order (as they come from the error file).
Print out statistics regarding the error categorization. Not too useful.
Terse output.
Take the following argument as a suffix list. Files whose suffixes do not appear in the suffix list are not touched. The suffix list is dot separated, and ``*'' wildcards work. Thus the suffix list:*.h

allows error to touch files ending with ``.c'', ``.y'', ``.foo*'' and ``.h''.

After all files have been touched, overlay the visual editor vi(1) with it set up to edit all files touched, and positioned in the first touched file at the first error. If vi(1) can't be found, try ex(1) or ed(1) from standard places.

error looks at the error messages, either from the specified file name or from the standard input, and attempts to determine which language processor produced each error message, determines the source file and line number to which the error message refers, determines if the error message is to be ignored or not, and inserts the (possibly slightly modified) error message into the source file as a comment on the line preceding to which the line the error message refers. Error messages which can't be categorized by language processor or content are not inserted into any file, but are sent to the standard output. error touches source files only after all input has been read.

error is intended to be run with its standard input connected via a pipe to the error message source. Some language processors put error messages on their standard error file; others put their messages on the standard output. Hence, both error sources should be piped together into error.

For example, when using the sh(1) syntax

make -s lint 2>&1 | error -q -v

or the csh(1) syntax

make -s lint |& error -q -v

error will analyze all the error messages produced by whatever programs make(1) runs when making lint.

error knows about the error messages produced by: make(1), cc(1), cpp(1), ccom, as(1), ld(1), lint(1), pi, pc, f77(1), and DEC Western Research Modula-2. error knows a standard format for error messages produced by the language processors, so is sensitive to changes in these formats. For all languages except Pascal, error messages are restricted to be on one line. Some error messages refer to more than one line in more than one files; error will duplicate the error message and insert it at all of the places referenced.

error will do one of six things with error messages.

Some language processors produce short errors describing which file it is processing. error uses these to determine the file name for languages that don't include the file name in each error message. These synchronization messages are consumed entirely by error.
Error messages from lint(1) that refer to one of the two lint(1) libraries, /usr/libdata/lint/llib-lc and /usr/libdata/lint/llib-port are discarded, to prevent accidentally touching these libraries. Again, these error messages are consumed entirely by error.
Error messages from lint(1) can be nullified if they refer to a specific function, which is known to generate diagnostics which are not interesting. Nullified error messages are not inserted into the source file, but are written to the standard output. The names of functions to ignore are taken from either the file named .errorrc in the user's home directory, or from the file named by the -I option. If the file does not exist, no error messages are nullified. If the file does exist, there must be one function name per line.
not file specific
Error messages that can't be intuited are grouped together, and written to the standard output before any files are touched. They will not be inserted into any source file.
file specific
Error message that refer to a specific file, but to no specific line, are written to the standard output when that file is touched.
true errors
Error messages that can be intuited are candidates for insertion into the file to which they refer.

Only true error messages are candidates for inserting into the file they refer to. Other error messages are consumed entirely by error or are written to the standard output. error inserts the error messages into the source file on the line preceding the line the language processor found in error. Each error message is turned into a one line comment for the language, and is internally flagged with the string ``###'' at the beginning of the error, and ``%%%'' at the end of the error. This makes pattern searching for errors easier with an editor, and allows the messages to be easily removed. In addition, each error message contains the source line number for the line the message refers to. A reasonably formatted source program can be recompiled with the error messages still in it, without having the error messages themselves cause future errors. For poorly formatted source programs in free format languages, such as C or Pascal, it is possible to insert a comment into another comment, which can wreak havoc with a future compilation. To avoid this, programs with comments and source on the same line should be formatted so that language statements appear before comments.

error catches interrupt and terminate signals, and if in the insertion phase, will orderly terminate what it is doing.


function names to ignore for lint(1) error messages
user's teletype


The error command appeared in 4.0BSD.


Robert Henry


Opens the teletype directly to do user querying.

Source files with links make a new copy of the file with only one link to it.

Changing a language processor's format of error messages may cause error to not understand the error message.

error, since it is purely mechanical, will not filter out subsequent errors caused by `floodgating' initiated by one syntactically trivial error. Humans are still much better at discarding these related errors.

Pascal error messages belong after the lines affected (error puts them before). The alignment of the `\' marking the point of error is also disturbed by error.

error was designed for work on CRT's at reasonably high speed. It is less pleasant on slow speed terminals, and has never been used on hardcopy terminals.

January 22, 2012 NetBSD 7.0