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Autoconf

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9.2 Macro Names

All of the Autoconf macros have all-uppercase names starting with `AC_' to prevent them from accidentally conflicting with other text. All shell variables that they use for internal purposes have mostly-lowercase names starting with `ac_'. To ensure that your macros don't conflict with present or future Autoconf macros, you should prefix your own macro names and any shell variables they use with some other sequence. Possibilities include your initials, or an abbreviation for the name of your organization or software package.

Most of the Autoconf macros' names follow a structured naming convention that indicates the kind of feature check by the name. The macro names consist of several words, separated by underscores, going from most general to most specific. The names of their cache variables use the same convention (see section 7.3.1 Cache Variable Names, for more information on them).

The first word of the name after `AC_' usually tells the category of the feature being tested. Here are the categories used in Autoconf for specific test macros, the kind of macro that you are more likely to write. They are also used for cache variables, in all-lowercase. Use them where applicable; where they're not, invent your own categories.

C
C language builtin features.
DECL
Declarations of C variables in header files.
FUNC
Functions in libraries.
GROUP
UNIX group owners of files.
HEADER
Header files.
LIB
C libraries.
PATH
The full path names to files, including programs.
PROG
The base names of programs.
MEMBER
Members of aggregates.
SYS
Operating system features.
TYPE
C builtin or declared types.
VAR
C variables in libraries.

After the category comes the name of the particular feature being tested. Any further words in the macro name indicate particular aspects of the feature. For example, AC_FUNC_UTIME_NULL checks the behavior of the utime function when called with a NULL pointer.

An internal macro should have a name that starts with an underscore; Autoconf internals should therefore start with `_AC_'. Additionally, a macro that is an internal subroutine of another macro should have a name that starts with an underscore and the name of that other macro, followed by one or more words saying what the internal macro does. For example, AC_PATH_X has internal macros _AC_PATH_X_XMKMF and _AC_PATH_X_DIRECT.


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