Programming guidelines

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NAVIT is a team-project, thus a lot of coders are working on it's development and code base. To get a unified coding style and make it easier for everybody to work with parts, that someone else wrote, we tried to specify the formatting of our source and how we deal with third party modules as following.

Coding Style

We try to follow those simple rules:

  • indentation is done using 4 spaces
  • the return type of a function is specified on the same line as the function name
  • the open brackets should be at the end of the line (on the same line as the function name or the if/for/while statement)
  • out line length is of 120 characters

To help us keeping a coherent indentation, we use astyle on C, C++ and java files. Usage example:

    astyle --indent=spaces=4 --style=attach -n --max-code-length=120 -xf -xh my_file.c

Note: Because of the bug: on astyle, we cannot rely on astyle to handle properly the line length of 120 characters that we choose. It would be recommended to set that line length in the editor you are using.

Character encoding and line breaks

All non-ascii-strings must be utf-8 encoded. Line breaks consist of a linefeed (no carriage return).

C Standard

C95. That means:

  • No inline declarations of variables

Instead of

    int a=do_something_else();


    int a;
  • No dynamic arrays

Instead of

 void myfunc(int count) {
    struct mystruct x[count]


 void myfunc(int count) {
    struct mystruct *x=g_alloca(count*sizeof(struct mystruct));
  • No empty initializers

Instead of

 struct mystruct m={};


 struct mystruct m={0,};
  • Use /* and */ for comments instead of //

Note: The restriction to C95 exists mainly to help the WinCE port, which uses a compiler without full support for C99. Once all platforms supported by Navit use a compiler capable of C99, this decision may be reconsidered.

Use of libraries

  • Navit uses GLib extensively. In general, code should use GLib's functions in preference to functions from libc. For example, use g_new() / g_free() / g_realloc(), rather than malloc() / free() / realloc(), g_strdup() rather than strdup(), g_strcmp0() rather than strcmp() etc.
  • Unfortunately, not all platforms that Navit runs on have a native GLib version. For these platforms, there is code replacing these libraries under navit/support/. Take care to only use functions from GLib (or other libraries), that is also present under navit/support/. If you need something that is not present there, please discuss it on IRC - it may be possible to add it to the support code.


General guidelines

  • Comments for the entire file and classes/structs/methods/functions is the minimum requirement. Examples see below.
  • Please comment your code in a significant and reasonable way.
  • A quick description of (complicated) algorithms makes it easier for other developers and helps them to save a lot of time.
  • Please add a doxygen description for all function you should add. You are we1come to add it too to older functions. Doxygen result can be found there :

Example :

 * @brief Change the current zoom level, zooming closer to the ground.
 * This sentence starts the "detailed" description (because this is a new
 * paragraph).
 * @param navit The navit instance
 * @param factor The zoom factor, usually 2
 * @param p The invariant point (if set to NULL, default to center)
 * @returns nothing
 void navit_zoom_in(struct navit *this_, int factor, struct point *p)


This is an example how you could (should) comment your files and functions. If you have any suggestions for improvement, please feel free to discuss them with us. These templates should be doxygen-conform - if not, please correct them. A more comprehensive overview of possible documentation can be found here.


/** @file can.cpp
 * @brief CAN-Camera Framework :: CAN container class and high level functions
 * Some documentation regarding this file.
 * @Author Stefan Klumpp <sk@....> 
 * @date 2008
<include "can.h">


 * @brief A short description of this function
 * A lot more of documentation regarding this function.
 * @param raw_data Some string to pass to the function
 * @return Nothing
void CanData::processData(string &raw_data) {

Please add yourself to the list of authors, if you make a significant change.


We welcome contributions!

The easiest way to get started is to fork Navit, work on the feature and submit a pull request.

The following workflow will make it easier for us to review your changes:

  • start working on your improvement with an up to date copy of trunk:
  git checkout trunk; git pull
  • always use a branch for your improvement :
  git checkout -b <name of your branch>
  • improve the thing
  • always document new functions according to the doxygen standard discussed above
  • double check that you are on the correct branch with git status
  • commit your change
  • push your branch
  git push -u origin <name of your branch>

If at some point you want to get write access to our repository, just contact us.