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Do not invoke getc() or putc() or their wide-character analogues getwc() and putwc() with a stream argument that has side effects. The stream argument passed to these macros may be evaluated more than once if these functions are implemented as unsafe macros. (See PRE31-C. Avoid side effects in arguments to unsafe macros for more information.)

This rule does not apply to the character argument in putc() or the wide-character argument in putwc(), which is guaranteed to be evaluated exactly once.

Noncompliant Code Example (getc())

This noncompliant code example calls the getc() function with an expression as the stream argument. If getc() is implemented as a macro, the file may be opened multiple times. (See FIO24-C. Do not open a file that is already open.)

#include <stdio.h>
 
void func(const char *file_name) {
  FILE *fptr;

  int c = getc(fptr = fopen(file_name, "r"));
  if (feof(stdin) || ferror(stdin)) {
    /* Handle error */
  }

  if (fclose(fptr) == EOF) {
    /* Handle error */
  }
}

This noncompliant code example also violates ERR33-C. Detect and handle standard library errors because the value returned by fopen() is not checked for errors.

Compliant Solution (getc())

In this compliant solution, fopen() is called before getc() and its return value is checked for errors:

#include <stdio.h>
 
void func(const char *file_name) {
  int c;
  FILE *fptr;

  fptr = fopen(file_name, "r");
  if (fptr == NULL) {
    /* Handle error */
  }

  c = getc(fptr);
  if (c == EOF) {
    /* Handle error */
  }

  if (fclose(fptr) == EOF) {
    /* Handle error */
  }
}

Noncompliant Code Example (putc())

In this noncompliant example, putc() is called with an expression as the stream argument. If putc() is implemented as a macro, this expression might be evaluated multiple times.

#include <stdio.h>
 
void func(const char *file_name) {
  FILE *fptr = NULL;
  int c = 'a';
 
  while (c <= 'z') {
    if (putc(c++, fptr ? fptr :
         (fptr = fopen(file_name, "w"))) == EOF) {
      /* Handle error */
    }
  }

  if (fclose(fptr) == EOF) {
    /* Handle error */
  }
}

This noncompliant code example might appear safe even if the putc() macro evaluates its stream argument multiple times, as the ternary conditional expression ostensibly prevents multiple calls to fopen(). However, the assignment to fptr and the evaluation of fptr as the controlling expression of the ternary conditional expression can take place between the same sequence points, resulting in undefined behavior (a violation of EXP30-C. Do not depend on the order of evaluation for side effects). This code also violates ERR33-C. Detect and handle standard library errors because it fails to check the return value from fopen().

Compliant Solution (putc())

In this compliant solution, the stream argument to putc() no longer has side effects:

#include <stdio.h>
 
void func(const char *file_name) {
  int c = 'a'; 
  FILE *fptr = fopen(file_name, "w");
 
  if (fptr == NULL) {
    /* Handle error */
  }

  while (c <= 'z') {
    if (putc(c++, fptr) == EOF) {
      /* Handle error */
    }
  }

  if (fclose(fptr) == EOF) {
    /* Handle error */
  }
}

The expression c++ is perfectly safe because putc() guarantees to evaluate its character argument exactly once.

NOTE: The output of this compliant solution differs depending on the character set. For example, when run on a machine using an ASCII-derived code set such as ISO-8859 or Unicode, this solution will print out the 26 lowercase letters of the English alphabet. However, if run with an EBCDIC-based code set, such as Codepage 037 or Codepage 285, punctuation marks or symbols may be output between the letters.

Risk Assessment

Using an expression that has side effects as the stream argument to getc(), putc(), or getwc() can result in unexpected behavior and abnormal program termination.

Rule

Severity

Likelihood

Remediation Cost

Priority

Level

FIO41-C

Low

Unlikely

Medium

P2

L3

Automated Detection

Tool

Version

Checker

Description

Astrée
19.04
stream-argument-with-side-effectsFully checked
LDRA tool suite
9.7.1

35 D, 1 Q, 9 S,
30 S, 134 S

Fully implemented

Parasoft C/C++test
10.4.2

CERT_C-FIO41-a
CERT_C-FIO41-b
CERT_C-FIO41-c
CERT_C-FIO41-d
CERT_C-FIO41-e

The value of an expression shall be the same under any order of evaluation that the standard permits

Don't write code that depends on the order of evaluation of function arguments
Don't write code that depends on the order of evaluation of function designator and function arguments
Don't write code that depends on the order of evaluation of expression that involves a function call
A full expression containing an increment (++) or decrement (--) operator should have no other potential side effects

Polyspace Bug Finder

R2019a

CERT C: Rule FIO41-CChecks for stream arguments with possibly unintended side effects (rule fully covered)
PRQA QA-C

9.5

5036
PRQA QA-C++

4.3

3225, 3229 
RuleChecker

19.04

stream-argument-with-side-effectsFully checked

Related Vulnerabilities

Search for vulnerabilities resulting from the violation of this rule on the CERT website.

Related Guidelines

Key here (explains table format and definitions)

Taxonomy

Taxonomy item

Relationship

CERT C Secure Coding StandardFIO24-C. Do not open a file that is already openPrior to 2018-01-12: CERT: Unspecified Relationship
CERT C Secure Coding StandardEXP30-C. Do not depend on the order of evaluation for side effectsPrior to 2018-01-12: CERT: Unspecified Relationship