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autogen - The Automated Program Generator


autogen [-flags] [-flag [value]] [--option-name[[=| ]value]] [ <def-file> ]

AutoGen creates text files from templates using external definitions.


AutoGen is designed for generating program files that contain repetitive text with varied
substitutions. The goal is to simplify the maintenance of programs that contain large
amounts of repetitious text. This is especially valuable if there are several blocks of
such text that must be kept synchronized.

One common example is the problem of maintaining the code required for processing program
options. Processing options requires a minimum of four different constructs be kept in
proper order in different places in your program. You need at least: The flag character
in the flag string, code to process the flag when it is encountered, a global state
variable or two, and a line in the usage text. You will need more things besides this if
you choose to implement long option names, configuration file processing, environment
variables and so on.

All of this can be done mechanically; with the proper templates and this program.


The following options select definitions, templates and scheme functions to use
-L dir, --templ-dirs=dir
Search for templates in DIR. This option may appear an unlimited number of times.

Add a directory to the list of directories autogen searches when opening a
template, either as the primary template or an included one. The last entry has
the highest priority in the search list. That is to say, they are searched in
reverse order.

-T tpl-file, --override-tpl=tpl-file
Use TPL-FILE for the template. This option may not be preset with environment
variables or in initialization (rc) files.

Definition files specify the standard template that is to be expanded. This option
will override that name and expand a different template.

-l tpl-file, --lib-template=tpl-file
Load AutoGen macros from TPL-FILE. This option may appear an unlimited number of

DEFINE macros are saved from this template file for use in processing the main
macro file. Template text aside from the DEFINE macros is is ignored.

Do not use this. Instead, use the INCLUDE macro in your template.


--definitions=file, Fl -no-definitions
Read definitions from FILE. The no-definitions form will disable the option. This
option is enabled by default. This option may not be preset with environment
variables or in initialization (rc) files.

Use this argument to specify the input definitions file with a command line option.
If you do not specify this option, then there must be a command line argument that
specifies the file, even if only to specify stdin with a hyphen (-). Specify,
--no-definitions when you wish to process a template without any active AutoGen

name or path name of shell to use.

By default, when AutoGen is built, the configuration is probed for a reasonable
Bourne-like shell to use for shell script processing. If a particular template
needs an alternate shell, it must be specified with this option on the command
line, with an environment variable (SHELL) or in the configuration/initialization

-m, --no-fmemopen
Do not use in-mem streams.

If the local C library supports "fopencookie(3GNU)", or "funopen(3BSD)" then
AutoGen prefers to use in-memory stream buffer opens instead of anonymous files.
This may lead to problems if there is a shortage of virtual memory. If, for a
particular application, you run out of memory, then specify this option. This is
unlikely in a modern 64-bit virtual memory environment.

On platforms without these functions, the option is accepted but ignored.
fmemopen(POSIX) is not adequate because its string buffer is not reallocatable.
open_memstream(POSIX) is also not adequate because the stream is only opened for
output. AutoGen needs a reallocatable buffer available for both reading and

characters considered equivalent. The default char-list for this option is:

This option will alter the list of characters considered equivalent. The default
are the three characters, "_-^". (The last is conventional on a Tandem/HP-NonStop,
and I used to do a lot of work on Tandems.)

The following options modify how output is handled
-b name, --base-name=name
Specify NAME as the base name for output. This option may not be preset with
environment variables or in initialization (rc) files.

A template may specify the exact name of the output file. Normally, it does not.
Instead, the name is composed of the base name of the definitions file with
suffixes appended. This option will override the base name derived from the
definitions file name. This is required if there is no definitions file and
advisable if definitions are being read from stdin. If the definitions are being
read from standard in, the base name defaults to stdin. Any leading directory
components in the name will be silently removed. If you wish the output file to
appear in a particular directory, it is recommended that you "cd" into that
directory first, or use directory names in the format specification for the output
suffix lists, see: pseudo macro.

--source-time, - Fl -no-source-time
set mod times to latest source. The no-source-time form will disable the option.

If you stamp your output files with the DNE macro output, then your output files
will always be different, even if the content has not really changed. If you use
this option, then the modification time of the output files will change only if the
input files change. This will help reduce unneeded builds.

--writable, - Fl -not-writable
Allow output files to be writable. The not-writable form will disable the option.

This option will leave output files writable. Normally, output files are read-

The following options are often useful while debugging new templates
They specify limits that prevent the template from taking overly long or producing more
output than expected.

Limit on increment loops. This option takes an integer number as its argument.
The value of lim is constrained to being:
exactly -1, or
in the range 1 through 0x1000000
The default lim for this option is:

This option prevents runaway loops. For example, if you accidentally specify, "FOR
x (for-from 1) (for-to -1) (for-by 1)", it will take a long time to finish. If you
do have more than 256 entries in tables, you will need to specify a new limit with
this option.

-t seconds, --timeout=seconds
Limit server shell operations to SECONDS. This option takes an integer number as
its argument. The value of seconds is constrained to being:
in the range 0 through 3600

AutoGen works with a shell server process. Most normal commands will complete in
less than 10 seconds. If, however, your commands need more time than this, use
this option.

The valid range is 0 to 3600 seconds (1 hour). Zero will disable the server time

tracing level of detail. This option takes a keyword as its argument. The
argument sets an enumeration value that can be tested by comparing them against the
option value macro. The available keywords are:
nothing debug-message server-shell
templates block-macros expressions
or their numeric equivalent.

The default level for this option is:

This option will cause AutoGen to display a trace of its template processing.
There are six levels, each level including messages from the previous levels:

nothing Does no tracing at all (default)

debug-message Print messages from the "DEBUG" AutoGen macro (see: DEBUG).

server-shell Traces all input and output to the server shell. This includes a
shell "independent" initialization script about 30 lines long. Its output is
discarded and not inserted into any template.

templates Traces the invocation of DEFINEd macros and INCLUDEs

block-macros Traces all block macros. The above, plus IF, FOR, CASE and WHILE.

expressions Displays the results of expression evaluations.

everything Displays the invocation of every AutoGen macro, even TEXT macros (i.e.
the text outside of macro quotes). Additionally, if you rebuild the ``expr.ini''
file with debugging enabled, then all calls to AutoGen defined scheme functions
will also get logged:
cd ${top_builddir}/agen5
DEBUG_ENABLED=true bash bootstrap.dir expr.ini

Be aware that you cannot rebuild this source in this way without first having
installed the autogen executable in your search path. Because of this, "expr.ini"
is in the distributed source list, and not in the dependencies.

tracing output file or filter.

The output specified may be a file name, a file that is appended to, or, if the
option argument begins with the pipe operator (|), a command that will receive the
tracing output as standard in. For example, --traceout='| less' will run the trace
output through the less program. Appending to a file is specified by preceding the
file name with two greater-than characters (>>).

Show the definition tree. This option may not be preset with environment variables
or in initialization (rc) files.

This will print out the complete definition tree before processing the template.

Show the definitions used. This option may not be preset with environment
variables or in initialization (rc) files.

This will print out the names of definition values searched for during the
processing of the template, whether actually found or not. There may be other
referenced definitions in a template in portions of the template not evaluated.
Some of the names listed may be computed names and others AutoGen macro arguments.
This is not a means for producing a definitive, all-encompassing list of all and
only the values used from a definition file. This is intended as an aid to
template documentation only.

-C, --core
Leave a core dump on a failure exit.

Many systems default to a zero sized core limit. If the system has the
sys/resource.h header and if this option is supplied, then in the failure exit
path, autogen will attempt to set the soft core limit to whatever the hard core
limit is. If that does not work, then an administrator must raise the hard core
size limit. in the definitions files and template files" They specify which
outputs and parts of outputs to produce.

-s suffix, --skip-suffix=suffix
Skip the file with this SUFFIX. This option may appear an unlimited number of
times. This option may not be preset with environment variables or in
initialization (rc) files. This option must not appear in combination with any of
the following options: select-suffix.

Occasionally, it may not be desirable to produce all of the output files specified
in the template. (For example, only the .h header file, but not the .c program
text.) To do this specify --skip-suffix=c on the command line.

-o suffix, --select-suffix=suffix
specify this output suffix. This option may appear an unlimited number of times.
This option may not be preset with environment variables or in initialization (rc)

If you wish to override the suffix specifications in the template, you can use one
or more copies of this option. See the suffix specification in the @ref{pseudo
macro} section of the info doc.

-D value, --define=value
name to add to definition list. This option may appear an unlimited number of

The AutoGen define names are used for the following purposes:

Sections of the AutoGen definitions may be enabled or disabled by using C-style
#ifdef and #ifndef directives.

When defining a value for a name, you may specify the index for a particular value.
That index may be a literal value, a define option or a value #define-d in the
definitions themselves.

The name of a file may be prefixed with $NAME/. The $NAME part of the name string
will be replaced with the define-d value for NAME.

When AutoGen is finished loading the definitions, the defined values are exported
to the environment with, putenv(3). These values can then be used in shell scripts
with ${NAME@} references and in templates with (getenv "NAME").

While processing a template, you may specify an index to retrieve a specific value.
That index may also be a define-d value.

It is entirely equivalent to place this name in the exported environment.
Internally, that is what AutoGen actually does with this option.

-U name-pat, --undefine=name-pat
definition list removal pattern. This option may appear an unlimited number of
times. This option may not be preset with environment variables or in
initialization (rc) files.

Similar to 'C', AutoGen uses #ifdef/#ifndef preprocessing directives. This option
will cause the matching names to be removed from the list of defined values.

This option is used to automate dependency tracking
-M type, --make-dep [type]
emit make dependency file. This option may appear an unlimited number of times.
This option may not be preset with environment variables or in initialization (rc)

This option behaves fairly closely to the way the -M series of options work with
the gcc compiler, except that instead of just emitting the predecessor
dependencies, this also emits the successor dependencies (output target files). By
default, the output dependency information will be placed in <base-name>.d, but may
also be specified with -MF<file>. The time stamp on this file will be manipulated
so that it will be one second older than the oldest primary output file.

The target in this dependency file will normally be the dependency file name, but
may also be overridden with -MT<targ-name>. AutoGen will not alter the contents of
that file, but it may create it and it will adjust the modification time to match
the start time.

NB: these second letters are part of the option argument, so -MF <file> must have
the space character quoted or omitted, and -M "F <file>" is acceptable because the
F is part of the option argument.

-M may be followed by any of the letters M, F, P, T, Q, D, or G. However, only F,
Q, T and P are meaningful. All but F have somewhat different meanings. -MT<name>
is interpreted as meaning <name> is a sentinel file that will depend on all inputs
(templates and definition files) and all the output files will depend on this
sentinel file. It is suitable for use as a real make target. Q is treated
identically to T, except dollar characters ('$') are doubled. P causes a special
clean (clobber) phoney rule to be inserted into the make file fragment. An empty
rule is always created for building the list of targets.

This is the recommended usage:
-MFwhatever-you-like.dep -MTyour-sentinel-file -MP
and then in your Makefile, make the autogen rule:
-include whatever-you-like.dep
clean_targets += clean-your-sentinel-file
autogen -MT$@@ -MF$*.d .....
local-clean :
rm -f $(clean_targets)

The modification time on the dependency file is adjusted to be one second before
the earliest time stamp of any other output file. Consequently, it is suitable for
use as the sentinel file testifying to the fact the program was successfully run.
(-include is the GNU make way of specifying "include it if it exists". Your make
must support that feature or your bootstrap process must create the file.)

All of this may also be specified using the DEPENDENCIES_OUTPUT or AUTOGEN_MAKE_DEP
environment variables. If defined, dependency information will be output. If
defined with white space free text that is something other than true, false, yes,
no, 0 or 1, then the string is taken to be an output file name. If it contains a
string of white space characters, the first token is as above and the second token
is taken to be the target (sentinel) file as -MT in the paragraphs above.
DEPENDENCIES_OUTPUT will be ignored if there are multiple sequences of white space
characters or if its contents are, specifically, false, no or 0.

help, version and option handling
-?, --help
Display usage information and exit.

-!, --more-help
Pass the extended usage information through a pager.

-> [cfgfile], --save-opts [=cfgfile]
Save the option state to cfgfile. The default is the last configuration file
listed in the OPTION PRESETS section, below. The command will exit after updating
the config file.

-< cfgfile, --load-opts=cfgfile, --no-load-opts
Load options from cfgfile. The no-load-opts form will disable the loading of
earlier config/rc/ini files. --no-load-opts is handled early, out of order.

-v [{v|c|n --version [{v|c|n}]}]
Output version of program and exit. The default mode is `v', a simple version.
The `c' mode will print copyright information and `n' will print the full copyright


Any option that is not marked as not presettable may be preset by loading values from
configuration ("RC" or ".INI") file(s) and values from environment variables named:
AUTOGEN_<option-name> or AUTOGEN
The environmental presets take precedence (are processed later than) the configuration
files. The homerc files are "$HOME", and ".". If any of these are directories, then the
file .autogenrc is searched for within those directories.


See OPTION PRESETS for configuration environment variables.

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