/GCC 4

6.60 Unnamed struct/union fields within structs/unions

As permitted by ISO C11 and for compatibility with other compilers, GCC allows you to define a structure or union that contains, as fields, structures and unions without names. For example:

struct {
  int a;
  union {
    int b;
    float c;
  int d;
} foo;

In this example, you are able to access members of the unnamed union with code like ‘foo.b’. Note that only unnamed structs and unions are allowed, you may not have, for example, an unnamed int.

You must never create such structures that cause ambiguous field definitions. For example, in this structure:

struct {
  int a;
  struct {
    int a;
} foo;

it is ambiguous which a is being referred to with ‘foo.a’. The compiler gives errors for such constructs.

Unless -fms-extensions is used, the unnamed field must be a structure or union definition without a tag (for example, ‘struct { int a; };’). If -fms-extensions is used, the field may also be a definition with a tag such as ‘struct foo { int a; };’, a reference to a previously defined structure or union such as ‘struct foo;’, or a reference to a typedef name for a previously defined structure or union type.

The option -fplan9-extensions enables -fms-extensions as well as two other extensions. First, a pointer to a structure is automatically converted to a pointer to an anonymous field for assignments and function calls. For example:

struct s1 { int a; };
struct s2 { struct s1; };
extern void f1 (struct s1 *);
void f2 (struct s2 *p) { f1 (p); }

In the call to f1 inside f2, the pointer p is converted into a pointer to the anonymous field.

Second, when the type of an anonymous field is a typedef for a struct or union, code may refer to the field using the name of the typedef.

typedef struct { int a; } s1;
struct s2 { s1; };
s1 f1 (struct s2 *p) { return p->s1; }

These usages are only permitted when they are not ambiguous.

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Licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3.