Coding Conventions

Code Style


For C++ always use tab indentation. In case of line break white spaces have to be used to fill the space. The recommended tab width is 4 characters.

// Tabs are visualized with '>' and spaces with '.'
int myFunction() {
>   int a = 5;
>   if ( a > 5 ) {
>   >   SEISCOMP_DEBUG("A is greater than 5. Its current value is %d",
>   >   ...............a);
>   return a;

C++ code is (or should be) written with the following code style:

 *   Copyright (C) by GFZ Potsdam                                          *
 *                                                                         *
 *   You can redistribute and/or modify this program under the             *
 *   terms of the SeisComP Public License.                                 *
 *                                                                         *
 *   This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,       *
 *   but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of        *
 *   SeisComP Public License for more details.                             *


#include <math.h>

class Complex {
      Complex(double re, double im)
      : _re(re), _im(im) {}

      double modulus() const {
          return sqrt(_re * _re + _im * _im);

      <template typename T>
      void set(T r, T i) {
          _re = r;
          _im = i;

        double _re;
        double _im;

void bar(int i) {
    static int counter = 0;
    counter += i;

namespace Foo {
namespace Bar {

void foo(int a, int b) {
    for ( int i = 0; i < a; ++i ) {
        if (  i < b )
        else {

} // namespace Bar
} // namespace Foo


File layout

  • See above header example

  • Trailing newline: use a newline at the end of each source file.

  • Include guards: Use include guards in your header files instead of #pragma once:


Name layout

Use descriptive names and camel capping. That means the name of the element starts with the case given in the following table. Every concatenated word starts with an uppercase letter (e.g. myDescriptiveElementName).

For straight enumerations where values start with 0 a quantity name should be defined that describes the upper bound for all valid enumeration values. Its name should be prepended by two letters describing the enumeration name and an underscore.

Look at the class example above for guidance.

Type Case of first letter Comment
variable lowercase  
function lowercase  
structure uppercase  
class uppercase  
member variables:
- public lowercase starts without underscore
- protected lowercase starts with underscore
- private lowercase starts with underscore
methods lowercase no
static methods uppercase no
inline methods and templates lowercase sourced out into separate .ipp file with same name as the header file
enumeration uppercase elements are written all uppercase
documentation and comments
use Doxygen

File naming

All source and header files are named with lowercase letters. The suffix of a source file is “.cpp” while for a header file it is “.h”. The name of files that contain a class has to correspond with the class name. For other files, a descriptive name has to be provided (e.g. protocol.h instead of pro.h).

Programming Guidelines

Return values

While designing methods or functions these rules about return values should be kept in mind:

  • Functions returning an int or related types, 0 means success everything else is an error

  • Functions returning a pointer, NULL ( or 0 ) means an error and of course an invalid pointer

  • Functions returning a class object can throw an exception in case of an error. This is not obligatory and should be used with care.

    Example: std::string myMethod();

Exception specifications

According to dynamic exception specificiations are considered or proposed as deprecated feature. Don’t use them in declaring a function prototype.

// Don't use that
int foo() throw(ValueException);

// Just declare it without an exception specification
int foo();