CTAGS(1P) POSIX Programmer's Manual CTAGS(1P)
This manual page is part of the POSIX Programmer's Manual. The Linux implementation of this interface may differ (consult the correspond-
ing Linux manual page for details of Linux behavior), or the interface may not be implemented on Linux.
ctags -- create a tags file (DEVELOPMENT, FORTRAN)
ctags [-a] [-f tagsfile] pathname...
ctags -x pathname...
The ctags utility shall be provided on systems that support the the Software Development Utilities option, and either or both of the C-Lan-
guage Development Utilities option and FORTRAN Development Utilities option. On other systems, it is optional.
The ctags utility shall write a tagsfile or an index of objects from C-language or FORTRAN source files specified by the pathname operands.
The tagsfile shall list the locators of language-specific objects within the source files. A locator consists of a name, pathname, and
either a search pattern or a line number that can be used in searching for the object definition. The objects that shall be recognized are
specified in the EXTENDED DESCRIPTION section.
The ctags utility shall conform to the Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1-2008, Section 12.2, Utility Syntax Guidelines.
The following options shall be supported:
-a Append to tagsfile.
Write the object locator lists into tagsfile instead of the default file named tags in the current directory.
-x Produce a list of object names, the line number, and filename in which each is defined, as well as the text of that line, and
write this to the standard output. A tagsfile shall not be created when -x is specified.
The following pathname operands are supported:
file.c Files with basenames ending with the .c suffix shall be treated as C-language source code. Such files that are not valid input to
c99 produce unspecified results.
file.h Files with basenames ending with the .h suffix shall be treated as C-language source code. Such files that are not valid input to
c99 produce unspecified results.
file.f Files with basenames ending with the .f suffix shall be treated as FORTRAN-language source code. Such files that are not valid
input to fort77 produce unspecified results.
The handling of other files is implementation-defined.
See the INPUT FILES section.
The input files shall be text files containing source code in the language indicated by the operand filename suffixes.
The following environment variables shall affect the execution of ctags:
LANG Provide a default value for the internationalization variables that are unset or null. (See the Base Definitions volume of
POSIX.1-2008, Section 8.2, Internationalization Variables for the precedence of internationalization variables used to determine
the values of locale categories.)
LC_ALL If set to a non-empty string value, override the values of all the other internationalization variables.
Determine the order in which output is sorted for the -x option. The POSIX locale determines the order in which the tagsfile is
LC_CTYPE Determine the locale for the interpretation of sequences of bytes of text data as characters (for example, single-byte as opposed
to multi-byte characters in arguments and input files). When processing C-language source code, if the locale is not compatible
with the C locale described by the ISO C standard, the results are unspecified.
Determine the locale that should be used to affect the format and contents of diagnostic messages written to standard error.
NLSPATH Determine the location of message catalogs for the processing of LC_MESSAGES.
The list of object name information produced by the -x option shall be written to standard output in the following format:
"%s %d %s %s", <object-name>, <line-number>, <filename>, <text>
where <text> is the text of line <line-number> of file <filename>.
The standard error shall be used only for diagnostic messages.
When the -x option is not specified, the format of the output file shall be:
"%s %s /%s/
", <identifier>, <filename>, <pattern>
where <pattern> is a search pattern that could be used by an editor to find the defining instance of <identifier> in <filename> (where
defining instance is indicated by the declarations listed in the EXTENDED DESCRIPTION).
An optional <circumflex> ('^') can be added as a prefix to <pattern>, and an optional <dollar-sign> can be appended to <pattern> to indi-
cate that the pattern is anchored to the beginning (end) of a line of text. Any <slash> or <backslash> characters in <pattern> shall be
preceded by a <backslash> character. The anchoring <circumflex>, <dollar-sign>, and escaping <backslash> characters shall not be considered
part of the search pattern. All other characters in the search pattern shall be considered literal characters.
An alternative format is:
"%s %s ?%s?
", <identifier>, <filename>, <pattern>
which is identical to the first format except that <slash> characters in <pattern> shall not be preceded by escaping <backslash> charac-
ters, and <question-mark> characters in <pattern> shall be preceded by <backslash> characters.
A second alternative format is:
"%s %s %d
", <identifier>, <filename>, <lineno>
where <lineno> is a decimal line number that could be used by an editor to find <identifier> in <filename>.
Neither alternative format shall be produced by ctags when it is used as described by POSIX.1-2008, but the standard utilities that process
tags files shall be able to process those formats as well as the first format.
In any of these formats, the file shall be sorted by identifier, based on the collation sequence in the POSIX locale.
If the operand identifies C-language source, the ctags utility shall attempt to produce an output line for each of the following objects:
* Function definitions
* Type definitions
* Macros with arguments
It may also produce output for any of the following objects:
* Function prototypes
* Global variable definitions
* Enumeration types
* Macros without arguments
* #define statements
* #line statements
Any #if and #ifdef statements shall produce no output. The tag main is treated specially in C programs. The tag formed shall be created by
prefixing M to the name of the file, with the trailing .c, and leading pathname components (if any) removed.
On systems that do not support the C-Language Development Utilities option, ctags produces unspecified results for C-language source code
files. It should write to standard error a message identifying this condition and cause a non-zero exit status to be produced.
If the operand identifies FORTRAN source, the ctags utility shall produce an output line for each function definition. It may also produce
output for any of the following objects:
* Subroutine definitions
* COMMON statements
* PARAMETER statements
* DATA and BLOCK DATA statements
* Statement numbers
On systems that do not support the FORTRAN Development Utilities option, ctags produces unspecified results for FORTRAN source code files.
It should write to standard error a message identifying this condition and cause a non-zero exit status to be produced.
It is implementation-defined what other objects (including duplicate identifiers) produce output.
The following exit values shall be returned:
0 Successful completion.
>0 An error occurred.
CONSEQUENCES OF ERRORS
The following sections are informative.
The output with -x is meant to be a simple index that can be written out as an off-line readable function index. If the input files to
ctags (such as .c files) were not created using the same locale as that in effect when ctags -x is run, results might not be as expected.
The description of C-language processing says ``attempts to'' because the C language can be greatly confused, especially through the use of
#defines, and this utility would be of no use if the real C preprocessor were run to identify them. The output from ctags may be fooled and
incorrect for various constructs.
The option list was significantly reduced from that provided by historical implementations. The -F option was omitted as redundant, since
it is the default. The -B option was omitted as being of very limited usefulness. The -t option was omitted since the recognition of type-
defs is now required for C source files. The -u option was omitted because the update function was judged to be not only inefficient, but
also rarely needed.
An early proposal included a -w option to suppress warning diagnostics. Since the types of such diagnostics could not be described, the
option was omitted as being not useful.
The text for LC_CTYPE about compatibility with the C locale acknowledges that the ISO C standard imposes requirements on the locale used to
process C source. This could easily be a superset of that known as ``the C locale'' by way of implementation extensions, or one of a few
alternative locales for systems supporting different codesets. No statement is made for FORTRAN because the ANSI X3.9-1978 standard (FOR-
TRAN 77) does not (yet) define a similar locale concept. However, a general rule in this volume of POSIX.1-2008 is that any time that
locales do not match (preparing a file for one locale and processing it in another), the results are suspect.
The collation sequence of the tags file is not affected by LC_COLLATE because it is typically not used by human readers, but only by pro-
grams such as vi to locate the tag within the source files. Using the POSIX locale eliminates some of the problems of coordinating locales
between the ctags file creator and the vi file reader.
Historically, the tags file has been used only by ex and vi. However, the format of the tags file has been published to encourage other
programs to use the tags in new ways. The format allows either patterns or line numbers to find the identifiers because the historical vi
recognizes either. The ctags utility does not produce the format using line numbers because it is not useful following any source file
changes that add or delete lines. The documented search patterns match historical practice. It should be noted that literal leading <cir-
cumflex> or trailing <dollar-sign> characters in the search pattern will only behave correctly if anchored to the beginning of the line or
end of the line by an additional <circumflex> or <dollar-sign> character.
Historical implementations also understand the objects used by the languages Pascal and sometimes LISP, and they understand the C source
output by lex and yacc. The ctags utility is not required to accommodate these languages, although implementors are encouraged to do so.
The following historical option was not specified, as vgrind is not included in this volume of POSIX.1-2008:
-v If the -v flag is given, an index of the form expected by vgrind is produced on the standard output. This listing contains the
function name, filename, and page number (assuming 64-line pages). Since the output is sorted into lexicographic order, it may be
desired to run the output through sort -f. Sample use:
ctags -v files | sort -f > index vgrind -x index
The special treatment of the tag main makes the use of ctags practical in directories with more than one program.
c99, fort77, vi
The Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1-2008, Chapter 8, Environment Variables, Section 12.2, Utility Syntax Guidelines
Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic form from IEEE Std 1003.1, 2013 Edition, Standard for Information Technol-
ogy -- Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX), The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 7, Copyright (C) 2013 by the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc and The Open Group. (This is POSIX.1-2008 with the 2013 Technical Corrigendum 1 applied.) In the
event of any discrepancy between this version and the original IEEE and The Open Group Standard, the original IEEE and The Open Group Stan-
dard is the referee document. The original Standard can be obtained online at http://www.unix.org/online.html .
Any typographical or formatting errors that appear in this page are most likely to have been introduced during the conversion of the source
files to man page format. To report such errors, see https://www.kernel.org/doc/man-pages/reporting_bugs.html .
/The Open Group 2013 CTAGS(1P)