Use cpplint to Check Your C++ Code Against Google’s Style Guide

By Wednesday, November 12, 2014 0 , , Permalink 1

cpplint is an automated checker for C++ code. It checks the style of an input C++ source file against Google’s C++ style guide.

If you’re writing C++ code, and trying to follow the said style guide, I strongly recommend using this tool!

Endless rants can be written on programming style and style-guides. This is not one of them 🙂 .

At the end of the day, my personal opinion is that it doesn’t really matter what conventions you choose to follow. What does matter is that if you collaborate with a team on a common codebase, it’s extremely important to obtain and sustain consistency. To that goal, as long as one consistent style guide is followed by all collaborators – the specifics of the style guide are not too important.

When choosing a style guide to follow, having an automated tool available for collaborators to check themselves has great value. Without it, code reviews end up revolving around style issues instead of the logic being reviewed (you are practicing code reviews, right?). This is the main reason that I default to Google’s C++ style guide.

One of the things I like most about Google’s cpplint tool is that it prefers false negatives over false positives. This means that, while it misses some “style issues”, it usually doesn’t mistakenly produce warnings for compliant code. From my experience, developers are quick to ditch tools that generate lots of cruft. It’s much better that the developer fixes some reported issues instead of ignoring all.

The cpplint tool is available on this official Subversion repository, as well as from my GitHub fork of it. I forked it to make some changes. They might be specific to how I work, but maybe others may benefit from them. Checkout the cpplint tag for more on my changes and other cpplint-related stuff. See also the google-styleguide project.

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