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Full getopt Port for Unicode and Multibyte Microsoft Visual C, C++, or MFC Projects

, 5 Jul 2011 LGPL3
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Supports getopt, getopt_long, and getopt_long_only and POSIXLY_CORRECT environment flag
This is an old version of the currently published article.


This code was written after searching the Internet to no avail for a fully functional Microsoft C and C++ implementation of getopt, getopt_long, and getopt_long_only which would work in both Unicode and Multibyte builds.

It is a modification of the Free Software Foundation, Inc. getopt library for parsing command line arguments and the purpose is to provide a Microsoft Visual C friendly derivative. This code provides functionality for both Unicode and Multibyte builds and supports getopt, getopt_long, and getopt_long_only and the POSIXLY_CORRECT environment flag. The library uses standard Microsoft C typedefs for char and wchar_t via the _UNICODE preprocessor directive.

The original GNU code used several header and implementation files containing numerous preprocessor directives specific to Linux environments which have been removed. After removing unneeded dependencies, it was condensed into a single header and implementation file which could be added to any Visual C, C++, or MFC project. For the sake of brevity, this article doesn't discuss how to use the getopt functions. Anyone new to using the getopt functions should refer to the GNU tutorial for using getopt. Since getopt is licensed under LGPL, it is free to use in proprietary software.

Sample Code Provided

To help with understanding how to use the code, many versions have been provided for download. The following downloads are provided:

  • Visual Studio .NET 2008 ANSI Project
  • Visual Studio .NET 2005 ANSI Project
  • Visual Studio .NET 2005 MFC Project
  • Visual Studio 6 ANSI Project
  • Visual Studio 6 MFC Project

Using the Code

The code is used identical to GNU getopt.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include "getopt.h"

int _tmain(int argc, TCHAR** argv)
    static int verbose_flag;
    int c;

    while (1)
        static struct option long_options[] =
            {_T("verbose"), ARG_NONE, &verbose_flag, 1},
            {_T("brief"),   ARG_NONE, &verbose_flag, 0},
            {_T("add"),     ARG_NONE, 0, _T('a')},
            {_T("append"),  ARG_NONE, 0, _T('b')},
            {_T("delete"),  ARG_REQ,  0, _T('d')},
            {_T("create"),  ARG_REQ,  0, _T('c')},
            {_T("file"),    ARG_REQ, 0 , _T('f')},
            { ARG_NULL , ARG_NULL , ARG_NULL , ARG_NULL }

        int option_index = 0;
        c = getopt_long(argc, argv, _T("abc:d:f:"), long_options, &option_index);

        // Check for end of operation or error
        if (c == -1)

        // Handle options
        switch (c)
        case 0:
            /* If this option set a flag, do nothing else now. */
            if (long_options[option_index].flag != 0)
            _tprintf (_T("option %s"), long_options[option_index].name);
            if (optarg)
                _tprintf (_T(" with arg %s"), optarg);
            _tprintf (_T("\n"));

        case _T('a'):
            _tprintf(_T("option -a\n"));

        case _T('b'):
            _tprintf(_T("option -b\n"));

        case _T('c'):
            _tprintf (_T("option -c with value `%s'\n"), optarg);

        case _T('d'):
            _tprintf (_T("option -d with value `%s'\n"), optarg);

        case _T('f'):
            _tprintf (_T("option -f with value `%s'\n"), optarg);

        case '?':
            /* getopt_long already printed an error message. */


    if (verbose_flag)
        _tprintf (_T("verbose flag is set\n"));

    if (optind < argc)
        _tprintf (_T("non-option ARGV-elements: "));
        while (optind < argc) _tprintf (_T("%s "), argv[optind++]);
        _tprintf (_T("\n"));
    return 0;

Using this Code with C++ Precompiled Headers

When using this code in a C++ project with precompiled headers, it is necessary to rename getopt.c to getopt.cpp in order to circumvent the following compiler error:

“C1853 - Precompiled header file is from a previous version of the compiler, 
or the precompiled header is C++ and you are using it from C (or vice versa).”

Additionally precompiled header file must be added as the first include of the getopt.c or getopt.cpp file. For example, if you are using "stdafx.h" as the precompiled header, the following would be expected:

// File comments removed
#include "stdafx.h"
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include "getopt.h"


  • 02/03/2011 - Initial release
  • 02/20/2011 - Fixed L4 compiler warnings
  • 07/05/2011 - Added no_argument, required_argument, optional_argument def


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPLv3)


About the Author

Ludvik Jerabek
Software Developer
United States United States
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

Discussions posted for the Published version of this article. Posting a message here will take you to the publicly available article in order to continue your conversation in public.
Question!!getenv() Pinprofessionaljfwfmt22-Nov-14 3:52 
AnswerRe: !!getenv() Pinprofessionaljfwfmt22-Nov-14 4:21 
QuestionType mismatch? PinmemberTheZoc23-Oct-14 15:10 
GeneralMy vote of 4 Pinmemberlomo7410-Jul-12 0:19 
GeneralRe: My vote of 4 PinmemberLudvik Jerabek23-Jul-12 0:31 
GeneralRe: My vote of 4 PinmemberLudvik Jerabek2-Aug-12 9:33 
GeneralRe: My vote of 4 Pinmemberlomo742-Aug-12 22:31 
Question_GETOPT_THROW in getopt.c Pinmemberazder55617-Nov-11 22:09 
AnswerRe: _GETOPT_THROW in getopt.c PinmemberLudvik Jerabek18-Nov-11 18:13 
Questionhow to USE it Pinmemberericoporto24-Sep-11 12:39 
AnswerRe: how to USE it PinmemberLudvik Jerabek24-Sep-11 13:14 
QuestionJust an advisory about the licence Pinmembersgllama9-Aug-11 6:59 
AnswerRe: Just an advisory about the licence PinmemberLudvik Jerabek9-Aug-11 13:31 
GeneralRe: Just an advisory about the licence PinprofessionalMember 112436138-Jan-15 12:26 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberMicroImaging8-Aug-11 10:02 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 Pinmemberseachanged26-Dec-11 13:01 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pinmemberkouhinn26-Jul-11 21:42 
GeneralRe: My vote of 1 PinmemberLudvik Jerabek3-Aug-11 16:25 
GeneralThanks & suggestion PinmemberLu.P11-Mar-11 12:27 
GeneralRe: Thanks & suggestion PinmemberLudvik Jerabek12-Mar-11 15:53 
GeneralRe: Thanks & suggestion PinmemberLu.P13-Mar-11 7:16 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberMember 16579821-Feb-11 21:48 
GeneralVery nice! PinmentorHans Dietrich19-Feb-11 9:09 
GeneralRe: Very nice! PinmemberLudvik Jerabek19-Feb-11 14:23 
GeneralRe: Very nice! PinmemberLudvik Jerabek20-Feb-11 12:52 

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