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Enabling compiler warning flags

From: David A. Wheeler
Subject: Enabling compiler warning flags
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 00:28:14 -0500 (EST)

Jim Meyering said:
> Did you realize that several GNU projects now enable virtually
> every gcc warning that is available (even including those that
> are new in the upcoming gcc-4.8, for folks that use bleeding edge gcc)
> via gnulib's manywarnings.m4 configure-time tests?
> Of course, there is a list of warnings that we do disable,
> due to their typical lack of utility and the invasiveness
> of changes required do suppress them.

Is there any way that the autoconf (or automake) folks could make compiler 
warnings much, much easier to enable?  Preferably enabled by default when you 
start packaging something? For example, could gnulib warnings and manywarnings 
be distributed and enabled as *part* of autoconf? If not, could autoconf at 
least strongly advertize the existence of these, and include specific 
instructions to people on how to quickly install it? The autoconf section on 
"gnulib" never even *MENTIONS* the "warnings" and "manywarnings" stuff!  And 
while automake has warnings, they are for the automake configuration file... 
not for compilation.

Compiler warning flags cost nearly nothing to turn on when you're *starting* a 
project, but they're harder to enable later (a thousand warnings about the same 
thing later is harder than fixing it the first time). And while some warnings 
are nonsense, their use can make the resulting software much, much better. If 
we got people to turn on warning flags all over the place, during development, 
a lot of bugs would simply disappear.

--- David A. Wheeler

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