CTAGS(1) BSD General Commands Manual CTAGS(1)
ctags -- create a tags file
ctags [-BFadtuwvx] [-f tagsfile] name ...
ctags makes a tags file for ex(1) from the specified C, Pascal, Fortran, YACC, lex, and lisp sources. A tags file gives the locations of
specified objects in a group of files. Each line of the tags file contains the object name, the file in which it is defined, and a search
pattern for the object definition, separated by white-space. Using the tags file, ex(1) can quickly locate these object definitions.
Depending upon the options provided to ctags, objects will consist of subroutines, typedefs, defines, structs, enums and unions.
-B use backward searching patterns (?...?).
-F use forward searching patterns (/.../) (the default).
-a append to tags file.
-d create tags for #defines that don't take arguments; #defines that take arguments are tagged automatically.
-f Places the tag descriptions in a file called tagsfile. The default behaviour is to place them in a file called tags.
-t create tags for typedefs, structs, unions, and enums.
-u update the specified files in the tags file, that is, all references to them are deleted, and the new values are appended to the
file. (Beware: this option is implemented in a way which is rather slow; it is usually faster to simply rebuild the tags file.)
-v An index of the form expected by vgrind(1) is produced on the standard output. This listing contains the object name, file name, and
page number (assuming 64 line pages). Since the output will be sorted into lexicographic order, it may be desired to run the output
through sort(1). Sample use:
ctags -v files | sort -f > index
vgrind -x index
-w suppress warning diagnostics.
-x ctags produces a list of object names, the line number and file name on which each is defined, as well as the text of that line and
prints this on the standard output. This is a simple index which can be printed out as an off-line readable function index.
Files whose names end in '.c' or '.h' are assumed to be C source files and are searched for C style routine and macro definitions. Files
whose names end in '.y' are assumed to be YACC source files. Files whose names end in '.l' are assumed to be lisp files if their first non-
blank character is ';', '(', or '[', otherwise, they are treated as lex files. Other files are first examined to see if they contain any
Pascal or Fortran routine definitions, and, if not, are searched for C style definitions.
The tag main is treated specially in C programs. The tag formed is created by prepending M to the name of the file, with the trailing '.c'
and any leading pathname components removed. This makes use of ctags practical in directories with more than one program.
Yacc and lex files each have a special tag. Yyparse is the start of the second section of the yacc file, and yylex is the start of the sec-
ond section of the lex file.
tags default output tags file
ctags exits with a value of 1 if an error occurred, 0 otherwise. Duplicate objects are not considered errors.
The ctags command appeared in 3.0BSD.
Recognition of functions, subroutines and procedures for FORTRAN and Pascal is done in a very simpleminded way. No attempt is made to deal
with block structure; if you have two Pascal procedures in different blocks with the same name you lose. ctags doesn't understand about Pas-
The method of deciding whether to look for C, Pascal or FORTRAN functions is a hack.
ctags relies on the input being well formed, and any syntactical errors will completely confuse it. It also finds some legal syntax confus-
ing; for example, since it doesn't understand #ifdef's (incidentally, that's a feature, not a bug), any code with unbalanced braces inside
#ifdef's will cause it to become somewhat disoriented. In a similar fashion, multiple line changes within a definition will cause it to
enter the last line of the object, rather than the first, as the searching pattern. The last line of multiple line typedef's will similarly
June 6, 1993 BSD