RFC 95: Use standard C/C++ integer types (proposed, NOT adopted)


Even Rouault


even.rouault @ spatialys.com




Proposed, but not adopted


GDAL 4.0


This RFC replaces the use of the custom integer types defined in cpl_port.h (G[U]Int[8/16/32/64/Big]) by their standard [u]int[8/16/32/64]_t C99/C++11 counterparts, as well as other derived integer data types. Due to the API and ABI break, this will be implemented in GDAL 4.0.


  • The existing Gxxxxx typedefs have been defined at a time that predates C99 and C++11 which introduced those fixed with integer types. If GDAL would be created today, we would use C99 data types.

  • Using those aliases, particularly GIntBig/GUIntBig which are not self-explanatory on their actual width (64 bit), adds cognitive load to developers.

  • Due to their poor namespacing, those short typenames may occasionally clash with other libraries. At a time, Poppler used a GBool data type as well, which was clashing with GDAL's one.

  • Other projects (e.g. libtiff), have recently switched from the use of similar custom types to C99 ones.


The following data types replacement are done in the whole code base:

  • GBool --> bool (GBool was aliased to int)

  • GInt8 --> int8_t

  • GInt16 --> int16_t

  • GUInt16 --> uint16_t

  • GInt32 --> int32_t

  • GUInt32 --> uint32_t

  • GInt64 --> int64_t

  • GUInt64 --> uint64_t

  • GIntBig --> int64_t

  • GUIntBig --> uint64_t

Other changes have been done for other integer data types:

  • vsi_l_offset--> uint64_t

  • GSpacing --> int64_t (affects mostly C++ raster drivers)

  • GPtrDiff_t --> ptrdiff_t (affects the multidimensional C and C++ API)

The following macro replacement are done in the whole code base:

  • CPL_FRMT_GIB --> "%" PRId64

  • CPL_FRMT_GUIB --> "%" PRIu64

  • GINT64_MAX --> std::numeric_limits<int64_t>::max()

  • GINT64_MIN --> std::numeric_limits<int64_t>::min()

  • GUINT64_MAX --> std::numeric_limits<uint64_t>::max()

  • GINTBIG_MAX --> std::numeric_limits<int64_t>::max()

  • GINTBIG_MIN --> std::numeric_limits<int64_t>::min()

  • GUINTBIG_MAX --> std::numeric_limits<uint64_t>::max()

The old types are no longer used in the GDAL code base since their definition is protected by #ifdef GDAL_USE_OLD_INT_TYPES, which external code might define to help for the migration (particularly if supporting GDAL < 4.0 and GDAL >= 4.0 is needed)

Impacts in the code base

Significant part of the code base (735 files changed). Most changes have been done in a automated way, with manual changes specifically for the CPL_FRMT_GIB/CPL_FRMT_GUIB replacement which was harder to automate.

SWIG bindings

While .i files are impacted to cope with the C type changes, the language specific API of SWIG bindings is not impacted.

Backward compatibility

C and C++ API and ABI are impacted.

Main impacts are:


The changes of this RFC are somewhat risky, particularly the replacement of the formatting macros CPL_FRMT_GIB/CPL_FRMT_GUIB with the PRId64/PRIu64 ones, which requires to add a % formatting character. While compilers caught most of the mismatches, there were remaining ones undetected at compilation time. Manual corrections have been done to make the regression test suite pass. Additional "grep"-based searches in the code base have been done to find faulty patterns, but we cannot exclude that some might have been missed.


MIGRATION_GUIDE.TXT will be updated to point to this RFC.


No changes in Python tests. Updates in the C++ test suite.`

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