Why isn't #pragma once automatically assumed?

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Category:Languages

What's the point of telling the compiler specifically to include the file only once? Wouldn't it make sense by default? Is there even any reason to include a single file multiple times? Why not just assume it? Is it to do with specific hardware?

 


There are multiple related questions here:

  • Why is #pragma once not automatically enforced?
    Because there are situations in which you want to include files more than once.

  • Why would you want to include a file multiple times?
    Several reasons have been given in other answers (Boost.Preprocessor, X-Macros, including data files). I would like to add a particular example of "avoid code duplication": OpenFOAM encourages a style where #includeing bits and pieces within functions is a common concept. See for example this discussion.

  • Ok, but why is it not the default with an opt-out?
    Because it is not actually specified by the standard. #pragmas are by definition implementation-specific extensions.

  • Why has #pragma once not become a standardized feature yet (as it is widely supported)?
    Because pinning down what is "the same file" in a platform-agnostic way is actually surprisingly hard. See this answer for more information.

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