So since I'm just new with learning C (this is the second day now), I'd be very happy if someone could review my code:

what I tried to do is:

  • create a structure containing a string- and a length-property
  • I want to create a function, that checks for the length of the string and sets the length property to the result
  • check, whether the result is correct with comparing to strlen of the original string
  • print the length of the string

This all works so far. Do you have any hints, what I could do better (or is ugly), what is wrong or where are any risks in my code?

this is my "helloworld.h" header file:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

struct SomeStringStruct
    char* actual_string;
    int length;
void calculate_length(struct SomeStringStruct*);

int get_string_length(char*);

and this is my "helloworld.c" source file:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include "helloworld.h"

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
    char string[] = "This is a test";
    char* ptrString = string;

    printf("strlen ptrString: %lu\n", strlen(ptrString));
    printf("get_string_length ptrString: %lu\n", get_string_length(ptrString));

    return 0;

void calculate_length(struct SomeStringStruct* ptrAnyStringStruct)
    ptrAnyStringStruct->length = 0;

    while(ptrAnyStringStruct->actual_string[ptrAnyStringStruct->length] != '\0') 

int get_string_length(char* string)
    struct SomeStringStruct myString;
    myString.actual_string = string;


    return myString.length;

1 Answer 1


Don't use Hungarian notation

The compiler doesn't need it and doesn't check it, and for a human it is all too easy to accidentily add the wrong prefix and get confused later. So no ptr in front of pointer variables.

Array variables can be used as pointers.

In the following code:

char string[] = "This is a test";
char* ptrString = string;

You don't need the second variable at all. Just use string directly.

Include the right header files

The function strlen() is officially defined in <string.h>, so make sure to #include that at the top of your program. Sometimes your program works, maybe even without compiler warnings, but you cannot assume that it will keep working in the future or that you can port it to other systems if you don't.

Don't include headers you don't use

You include headers at the top of helloworld.h that you are not using in that file. You should remove them.

Protect your header files from multiple inclusion

When you have a larger project, it can happen that your own header files need to #include some of your other header files. It can then become unavoidable that a header files inadvertantly gets included twice. To prevent any errors from happening, use the following trick to allow a header file to be included multiple times:

#ifndef __HELLOWORLD_H__
#define __HELLOWORLD_H__
...the real contents of helloworld.h here...

Use better names

Variables and structs should have names that are clear and to the point. Naming something SomeStringStruct is not to the point, it sounds vague and handwavy. Choose something better. The same goes for ptrAnyStringStruct.

Use size_t for lengths and sizes

The proper type to store the length of a buffer or a string is size_t. If you read the manual page of strlen(), you will also notice that it returns a value of type size_t.

Use the correct format specifier for size_t

Use %zu instead of %lu when you are printing a variable of type size_t. If %zu is not supported by your compiler, then cast the variable to the right type when printing it; for example with %lu, cast it to long unsigned int:

printf("string length: %lu\n", (long unsigned int)strlen(string));

Be aware though that on some systems (notably 64-bits Windows), long int can be smaller than size_t, and if you would ever have a string longer than can be represented in a long int, the output will be incorrect.

  • \$\begingroup\$ wow, nice, there are a few things I didn't know (and I few things I forgot). Well, yes reinventing the wheel was wanted here, just for learning. %zu didn't work - it printed strlen ptrString: zu in my console \$\endgroup\$ Feb 8, 2017 at 8:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, I read, that (since I'm using VS2013) %zu is not supported, it's C89.. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 8, 2017 at 9:00

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