Text Files: Reading

To read a file, open it with r mode. In general, it is not a good idea to use fscanf for reading: Unless the file is perfectly formatted, fscanf will not handle it correctly. Instead, use fgets to read in each line and then parse out the pieces you need.

The following code demonstrates the process of reading a file and dumping its contents to the screen:


int main()
FILE *f;
char s[1000];

if (!f)
return 1;
while (fgets(s,1000,f)!=NULL)
return 0;

The fgets statement returns a NULL value at the end-of-file marker. It reads a line (up to 1,000 characters in this case) and then prints it to stdout. Notice that the printf statement does not include \n in the format string, because fgets adds \n to the end of each line it reads. Thus, you can tell if a line is not complete in the event that it overflows the maximum line length specified in the second parameter to fgets.

C Errors to Avoid
  • Do not accidentally type close instead of fclose. The close function exists, so the compiler accepts it. It will even appear to work if the program only opens or closes a few files. However, if the program opens and closes a file in a loop, it will eventually run out of available file handles and/or memory space and crash, because close is not closing the files correctly.