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2.5 Controlling What Gets Processed

Definition processing directives can only be processed if the ’#’ character is the first character on a line. Also, if you want a ’#’ as the first character of a line in one of your string assignments, you should either escape it by preceding it with a backslash ‘\’, or by embedding it in the string as in "\n#".

All of the normal C preprocessing directives are recognized, though several are ignored. There is also an additional #shell - #endshell pair. Another minor difference is that AutoGen directives must have the hash character (#) in column 1. Unrecognized directives produce an error.

The final tweak is that #! is treated as a comment line. Using this feature, you can use: ‘#! /usr/local/bin/autogen’ as the first line of a definitions file, set the mode to executable and "run" the definitions file as if it were a direct invocation of AutoGen. This was done for its hack value.

The AutoGen recognized directives are:


This directive is processed, but only if the expression begins with either a back quote (`) or an open parenthesis ((). Text within the back quotes are handed off to the shell for processing and parenthesized text is handed off to Guile. Multiple line expressions must be joined with backslashes.

If the shell-script or scheme-expr do not yield true valued results, autogen will be aborted. If <anything else> or nothing at all is provided, then this directive is ignored.

The result is false (and fails) if the result is empty, the number zero, or a string that starts with the letters ’n’ or ’f’ ("no" or "false").


Will add the name to the define list as if it were a DEFINE program argument. Its value will be the first non-whitespace token following the name. Quotes are not processed.

After the definitions file has been processed, any remaining entries in the define list will be added to the environment.


Marks a transition in the #if directive. Error when out of context. #if blocks are always ignored.


This must follow an #if, #ifdef or #ifndef. If it follows the #if, then it will be ignored. Otherwise, it will change the processing state to the reverse of what it was.


This must follow an #if, #ifdef or #ifndef. In all cases, this will resume normal processing of text.


Marks the end of the #macdef directive. Error when out of context.


Marks the end of the #shell directive. Error when out of context.


This directive will cause AutoGen to stop processing and exit with a status of EXIT_FAILURE.


Ignored directive.


#if expressions are not analyzed. Everything from here to the matching #endif is skipped.


The definitions that follow, up to the matching #endif will be processed only if there is a corresponding -Dname command line option or if a #define of that name has been previously encountered.


The definitions that follow, up to the matching #endif will be processed only if the named value has not been defined.


This directive will insert definitions from another file into the current collection. If the file name is adorned with double quotes or angle brackets (as in a C program), then the include is ignored.


Ignored directive.


Alters the current line number and/or file name. You may wish to use this directive if you extract definition source from other files. getdefs uses this mechanism so AutoGen will report the correct file and approximate line number of any errors found in extracted definitions.


This is a new AT&T research preprocessing directive. Basically, it is a multi-line #define that may include other preprocessing directives. Text between this line and a #endmac directive are ignored.


This directive will pass the option name and associated text to the AutoOpts optionLoadLine routine (see section optionLoadLine). The option text may span multiple lines by continuing them with a backslash. The backslash/newline pair will be replaced with two space characters. This directive may be used to set a search path for locating template files For example, this:

#option templ-dirs $ENVVAR/dirname

will direct autogen to use the ENVVAR environment variable to find a directory named dirname that (may) contain templates. Since these directories are searched in most recently supplied first order, search directories supplied in this way will be searched before any supplied on the command line.


Ignored directive.


Invokes $SHELL or ‘/bin/sh’ on a script that should generate AutoGen definitions. It does this using the same server process that handles the back-quoted ` text. The block of text handed to the shell is terminated with the #endshell directive.

CAUTION let not your $SHELL be csh.


Will remove any entries from the define list that match the undef name pattern.

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