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As of version 1.3, the format of the
indent command is:
indent [options] [input-files] indent [options] [single-input-file] [-o output-file]
This format is different from earlier versions and other versions of
In the first form, one or more input files are specified.
makes a backup copy of each file, and the original file is replaced with
its indented version. See section Backup Files, for an explanation of how
backups are made.
In the second form, only one input file is specified. In this case, or when the standard input is used, you may specify an output file after the ‘-o’ option.
indent to write to standard output, use the ‘-st’
option. This is only allowed when there is only one input file, or when
the standard input is used.
If no input files are named, the standard input is read for input. Also, if a filename named ‘-’ is specified, then the standard input is read.
As an example, each of the following commands will input the program ‘slithy_toves.c’ and write its indented text to ‘slithy_toves.out’:
indent slithy_toves.c -o slithy_toves.out indent -st slithy_toves.c > slithy_toves.out cat slithy_toves.c | indent -o slithy_toves.out
Most other options to
indent control how programs are formatted.
As of version 1.2,
indent also recognizes a long name for each
option name. Long options are prefixed by either ‘--’ or
In most of this document,
the traditional, short names are used for the sake of brevity.
See section Option Summary, for a list of options, including both long and
Here is another example:
indent -br test/metabolism.c -l85
This will indent the program ‘test/metabolism.c’ using the ‘-br’ and ‘-l85’ options, write the output back to ‘test/metabolism.c’, and write the original contents of ‘test/metabolism.c’ to a backup file in the directory ‘test’.
Equivalent invocations using long option names for this example would be:
indent --braces-on-if-line --line-length185 test/metabolism.c indent +braces-on-if-line +line-length185 test/metabolism.c
If you find that you often use
indent with the same options, you
may put those options into a file named ‘.indent.pro’.
indent will look for a profile file in three places. First it will check
the environment variable
INDENT_PROFILE. If that exists its value
is expected to name the file that is to be used. If the environment variable does
not exist, indent looks for ‘.indent.pro’ in the current directory
and use that if found. Finally
indent will search
your home directory for ‘.indent.pro’ and use that file if it is
found. This behaviour is different from that of other versions of
indent, which load both files if they both exist.
The format of ‘.indent.pro’ is simply a list of options, just as they would appear on the command line, separated by white space (tabs, spaces, and newlines). Options in ‘.indent.pro’ may be surrounded by C or C++ comments, in which case they are ignored.
Command line switches are handled after processing
‘.indent.pro’. Options specified later override arguments
specified earlier, with one exception: Explicitly specified options
always override background options (see section Common styles). You can
indent from reading an ‘.indent.pro’ file by
specifying the ‘-npro’ option.
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