Tools for mitigating issues with C

Tools have been created to help C programmers avoid some of the problems inherent in the language.

Automated source code checking and auditing are beneficial in any language, and for C many such tools exist, such as Lint. A common practice is to use Lint to detect questionable code when a program is first written. Once a program passes Lint, it is then compiled using the C compiler.

There are also compilers, libraries and operating system level mechanisms for performing array bounds checking, buffer overflow detection, and automatic garbage collection, that are not a standard part of C.

Cproto is a program that will read a C source file and output prototypes of all the functions within the source file. This program can be used in conjunction with the "make" command to create new files containing prototypes each time the source file has been changed. These prototype files can be included by the original source file (e.g., as "filename.p"), which reduces the problems of keeping function definitions and source files in agreement.

It should be recognized that these tools are not a panacea. Because of C's flexibility, some types of errors involving misuse of variadic functions, out-of-bounds array indexing, and incorrect memory management cannot be detected on some architectures without incurring a significant performance penalty.