More Notes on the Cross-Platform Availability of Header Files

You may recall a month and a half ago I posted Notes on the Cross-Platform Availability of Header Files and then promptly had to take most of it down because it was insufficiently researched. Well, the research is ongoing, but I’ve got a shiny new set of results, some high-level conclusions, and several ways Viewers Like You can help!

First, the high-level conclusions:

  • Except perhaps in deeply-embedded environments, all of C89’s library is universally available.
  • Code not intended to run on Windows can also assume most of C99 and much of POSIX. The less-ubiquitous headers from these categories are also the less-useful headers.
  • Code that is intended to run on Windows should only use C89 headers and <stdint.h>. If MSVC 2008 support is required, not even <stdint.h> can be used. (Windows compilers do provide a small handful of POSIX headers, but they do not contain the expected set of declarations!)
  • Many different Unix variants ship a similar set of nonstandard headers. We don’t yet know whether the contents of these headers are reliable cross-platform.
  • There is a large set of obsolete headers that are still widespread but should not be used in new code. This is underdocumented.

The full results may be seen here: https://hacks.owlfolio.org/header-survey/
The raw data is here: https://github.com/zackw/header-survey/

If you want to help, we need more inventories (especially for OSes further from the beaten path), and I’m also very interested in improvements to the giant generated HTML table. Y’all on Planet Mozilla can probably tell I’m not a Web designer. If you are an old beard, there are also places where I’m not entirely sure of my methodology – see the README in the source repo.