Here is the interface of my generic dynamic array;

/* dynamic array interface */

#ifndef DA_HEADER
#define DA_HEADER

#include <stdlib.h> /* size_t */

/* creates a new dynamic array, with each element of "size" bytes */
void *danew(size_t unitsize);

/* returns pointer to element after the last element */
void *daend(void *arr);

/* appends new element after last element 
   return pointer to array head
void *daappend(void *arr, const void *elem);

    removes the last element and returns a pointer to it or null if empty
void *dapop(void *arr);

  frees the array
void dafree(void *arr);

#endif /* DA_HEADER */

and this is the implementation of my generic dynamic array:

/* dynamic array implementation */

#include <string.h> /* memcpy */
#include <stdlib.h> /* free */
#include "xalloc.h" /* xmalloc, xrealloc */

struct dynamic_array {
        size_t cap;
        size_t len;
        size_t unitsize;
        char data[1];

#define DATAOFFSET ((unsigned long)(((struct dynamic_array*)0)->data))
#define DA_STRUCT(DATAPTR) (struct dynamic_array *)((char *)DATAPTR-DATAOFFSET)

void *danew(size_t unitsize)
        /* -1 because we already have one byte in struct */
        struct dynamic_array *da = xmalloc(sizeof(struct dynamic_array) +
                                          unitsize - 1);

        da->cap = 1;
        da->len = 0;
        da->unitsize = unitsize;

        return &(da->data);

static __inline struct dynamic_array *__dagrow(struct dynamic_array *da,
                                                            size_t size)
        while(size > da->cap)
                da->cap = 2*da->cap;

        /* -1 because we already have one byte in sizeof(struct) */
        return xrealloc(da, sizeof(struct dynamic_array) + da->unitsize*da->cap
                                                         - 1);

void *daappend(void *arr, const void *elem)
        struct dynamic_array *da = DA_STRUCT(arr);
        da = __dagrow(da, da->len + 1);
        memcpy(&da->data[da->unitsize * da->len++], elem, da->unitsize);
        return &da->data;

void *dapop(void *arr)
        struct dynamic_array *da = DA_STRUCT(arr);
                return NULL;

        return &da->data[da->unitsize * --da->len];

void *daend(void *arr)
        struct dynamic_array *da = DA_STRUCT(arr);
        return &da->data[da->unitsize * da->len];

void dafree(void *arr)
        struct dynamic_array *da = DA_STRUCT(arr);

And this is the example usage:

#include <stdio.h>

#include "dynamic_array.h"

struct foo {
        int number;
        char *text;

int main()
        struct foo *myfoos = danew(sizeof(struct foo));
        struct foo *tmp_ptr;
        struct foo tmp;
        int i;
        int numbers[] = {1,2,3,4,5};
        char *texts[] = {"ali", "veli","osman","zekiye","mahmut"};

        for (i=0; i < 5; i++) {
                tmp.number = numbers[i];
                tmp.text   = texts[i];
                myfoos = daappend(myfoos, &tmp);

        /* Random access */
        printf("3rd element is number: %d, text: %s", myfoos[2].number,

        printf("Accessing sequentially\n");
        /* Sequential access */
        for (tmp_ptr = myfoos; tmp_ptr != daend(myfoos); tmp_ptr++) {
                printf("current element: number: %d, text: %s\n", tmp_ptr->number,

        printf("Accessing LIFO\n");
        /* LIFO access */
        while((tmp_ptr = dapop(myfoos)))
                printf("current element number: %d, text: %s\n", tmp_ptr->number,

        return 0;
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I've removed the generics tag. C doesn't support generics in the way other languages do and the tag isn't appropriate here. \$\endgroup\$
    – nhgrif
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 12:00

2 Answers 2

  1. naming da* + all lower case makes it hard to parse the difference between the prefix and the name of the function, instead either pick da_snake_case or daCamelCase.

  2. returning void* is not ideal instead create a opaque (incomplete) struct and just let the use pass pointers to that struct around:

    struct DynamicArray;
    DynamicArray* danew(size_t unitsize);
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am returning void* so that it can be casted into correct pointer type. I don't return the address of struct, but instead address of data so that pointer can be used like a regular array. \$\endgroup\$
    – yasar
    Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see, the returned value doubles as the data pointer and the handle for your functions \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 15:01
  • An array is expected to provide random access. This structure looks more like LIFO stack.

  • xrealloc is highly non-portable (requires publib) and provides a dubious benefit at the cost of unconditional program termination on error. I highly recommend to stick to the standard, and let the client decide how to react.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I guess the example was lacking, my implementation does provide random access. Edited the example in question. Moreover, I have my own version of xrealloc, didn't include it in question because I thought it was not relevant. \$\endgroup\$
    – yasar
    Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 14:59

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