# <stdio.h>: Standard IO facilities

 #include <stdio.h>


Introduction to the Standard IO facilities

This file declares the standard IO facilities that are implemented in avr-libc. Due to the nature of the underlying hardware, only a limited subset of standard IO is implemented. There is no actual file implementation available, so only device IO can be performed. Since there's no operating system, the application needs to provide enough details about their devices in order to make them usable by the standard IO facilities.

Due to space constraints, some functionality has not been implemented at all (like some of the printf conversions that have been left out). Nevertheless, potential users of this implementation should be warned: the printf and scanf families of functions, although usually associated with presumably simple things like the famous "Hello, world!" program, are actually fairly complex which causes their inclusion to eat up a fair amount of code space. Also, they are not fast due to the nature of interpreting the format string at run-time. Whenever possible, resorting to the (sometimes non-standard) predetermined conversion facilities that are offered by avr-libc will usually cost much less in terms of speed and code size.

Tunable options for code size vs. feature set

In order to allow programmers a code size vs. functionality tradeoff, the function vfprintf() which is the heart of the printf family can be selected in different flavours using linker options. See the documentation of vfprintf() for a detailed description. The same applies to vfscanf() and the scanf family of functions.

Outline of the chosen API

The standard streams stdin, stdout, and stderr are provided, but contrary to the C standard, since avr-libc has no knowledge about applicable devices, these streams are not already pre-initialized at application startup. Also, since there is no notion of "file" whatsoever to avr-libc, there is no function fopen() that could be used to associate a stream to some device. (See note 1.) Instead, the function fdevopen() is provided to associate a stream to a device, where the device needs to provide a function to send a character, to receive a character, or both. There is no differentiation between "text" and "binary" streams inside avr-libc. Character \n is sent literally down to the device's put() function. If the device requires a carriage return (\r) character to be sent before the linefeed, its put() routine must implement this (see note 2).

As an alternative method to fdevopen(), the macro fdev_setup_stream() might be used to setup a user-supplied FILE structure.

It should be noted that the automatic conversion of a newline character into a carriage return - newline sequence breaks binary transfers. If binary transfers are desired, no automatic conversion should be performed, but instead any string that aims to issue a CR-LF sequence must use "\r\n" explicitly.

For convenience, the first call to fdevopen() that opens a stream for reading will cause the resulting stream to be aliased to stdin. Likewise, the first call to fdevopen() that opens a stream for writing will cause the resulting stream to be aliased to both, stdout, and stderr. Thus, if the open was done with both, read and write intent, all three standard streams will be identical. Note that these aliases are indistinguishable from each other, thus calling fclose() on such a stream will also effectively close all of its aliases (note 3).

It is possible to tie additional user data to a stream, using fdev_set_udata(). The backend put and get functions can then extract this user data using fdev_get_udata(), and act appropriately. For example, a single put function could be used to talk to two different UARTs that way, or the put and get functions could keep internal state between calls there.

Format strings in flash ROM

All the printf and scanf family functions come in two flavours: the standard name, where the format string is expected to be in SRAM, as well as a version with the suffix "_P" where the format string is expected to reside in the flash ROM. The macro PSTR (explained in <avr/pgmspace.h>: Program Space Utilities) becomes very handy for declaring these format strings.

Running stdio without malloc()

By default, fdevopen() requires malloc(). As this is often not desired in the limited environment of a microcontroller, an alternative option is provided to run completely without malloc().

The macro fdev_setup_stream() is provided to prepare a user-supplied FILE buffer for operation with stdio.

Example

    #include <stdio.h>

static int uart_putchar(char c, FILE *stream);

static FILE mystdout = FDEV_SETUP_STREAM(uart_putchar, NULL,
_FDEV_SETUP_WRITE);

static int
uart_putchar(char c, FILE *stream)
{

if (c == '\n')
uart_putchar('\r', stream);
loop_until_bit_is_set(UCSRA, UDRE);
UDR = c;
return 0;
}

int
main(void)
{
init_uart();
stdout = &mystdout;
printf("Hello, world!\n");

return 0;
}


This example uses the initializer form FDEV_SETUP_STREAM() rather than the function-like fdev_setup_stream(), so all data initialization happens during C start-up.

If streams initialized that way are no longer needed, they can be destroyed by first calling the macro fdev_close(), and then destroying the object itself. No call to fclose() should be issued for these streams. While calling fclose() itself is harmless, it will cause an undefined reference to free() and thus cause the linker to link the malloc module into the application.

Notes

Note 1:

It might have been possible to implement a device abstraction that is compatible with fopen() but since this would have required to parse a string, and to take all the information needed either out of this string, or out of an additional table that would need to be provided by the application, this approach was not taken.

Note 2:

This basically follows the Unix approach: if a device such as a terminal needs special handling, it is in the domain of the terminal device driver to provide this functionality. Thus, a simple function suitable as put() for fdevopen() that talks to a UART interface might look like this:

    int
uart_putchar(char c, FILE *stream)
{

if (c == '\n')
uart_putchar('\r');
loop_until_bit_is_set(UCSRA, UDRE);
UDR = c;
return 0;
}

Note 3:

This implementation has been chosen because the cost of maintaining an alias is considerably smaller than the cost of maintaining full copies of each stream. Yet, providing an implementation that offers the complete set of standard streams was deemed to be useful. Not only that writing printf() instead of fprintf(mystream, ...) saves typing work, but since avr-gcc needs to resort to pass all arguments of variadic functions on the stack (as opposed to passing them in registers for functions that take a fixed number of parameters), the ability to pass one parameter less by implying stdin or stdout will also save some execution time.