Static Variables in C

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The variables sp and val in stack.c, and buf and bufp in getch.c, are for the private use of the functions in their respective source files, and are not meant to be accessed by anything else. The static declaration, applied to an external variable or function, limits the scope of that object to the rest of the source file being compiled. External static thus provides a way to hide names like buf and bufp in the getch-ungetch combination, which must be external so they can be shared, yet which should not be visible to users of getch and ungetch.

Static storage is specified by prefixing the normal declaration with the word static. If the two routines and the two variables are compiled in one file, as in

   static char buf[BUFSIZE];  /* buffer for ungetch */
   static int bufp = 0;       /* next free position in buf */

   int getch(void) { ... }

   void ungetch(int c) { ... }
then no other routine will be able to access buf and bufp, and those names will not conflict with the same names in other files of the same program. In the same way, the variables that push and pop use for stack manipulation can be hidden, by declaring sp and val to be static.

The external static declaration is most often used for variables, but it can be applied to functions as well. Normally, function names are global, visible to any part of the entire program. If a function is declared static, however, its name is invisible outside of the file in which it is declared.

The static declaration can also be applied to internal variables. Internal static variables are local to a particular function just as automatic variables are, but unlike automatics, they remain in existence rather than coming and going each time the function is activated. This means that internal static variables provide private, permanent storage within a single function.

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