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Promoting safe use of C/C++

Posted: 26 Nov 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:C/C++ safe use  software C C++  software flexibility 

Thanks to their inherent flexibility and potential for portability across a wide range of hardware, C and C++ have become the languages of choice for the development of real-time embedded applications within the automotive industry.

C and C++ have most of the features a software development team could wish for and, in the right hands, can be used to write well laid out, structured and expressive code. In the wrong hands, this flexibility can lead to perverse and extremely hard to understand code.

The Motor Industry Software Reliability Association (MISRA) has done much to promote best practice guidelines for the C, and now C++, languages. In 1998, MISRA published their C standard to promote the use of "safe C" in the U.K. automotive industry, which was updated and re-released as MISRA-C:2004.

Widely accepted as a "safe-subset" for use in the C language, the MISRA guidelines draw from a variety of sources, but in particular, address the issues highlighted in the ISO standard regarding unspecified, undefined and implementation-defined behaviour.

MISRA-C does not comment on the suitability of C for use in safety-critical systems. In recognition of the widespread use of C, it aims to promote the safest possible use of the language. Similarly, the suitability of C++ is not judged, and was in any case outside the scope of the 2004 guidelines.

However, in response to the increasing popularity of C++, and despite the presence of existing guidelines such as the Air Vehicle (AV) C++ coding standards from Lockheed Martin, MISRA followed its work with C by defining a suitable subset of C++, namely MISRA-C++:2008, launched in June 2008. As C++ becomes a more significant player in the automotive space, no doubt this standard will play a more dominant role.

View the PDF document for more information.

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