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7.3 Controlling debugging output

The ‘-d’ option to m4 (or ‘--debug’, see section Invoking m4) controls the amount of details presented in three categories of output. Trace output is requested by traceon (see section Tracing macro calls), and each line is prefixed by ‘m4trace:’ in relation to a macro invocation. Debug output tracks useful events not associated with a macro invocation, and each line is prefixed by ‘m4debug:’. Finally, dumpdef (see section Displaying macro definitions) output is affected, with no prefix added to the output lines.

The flags following the option can be one or more of the following:

a

In trace output, show the actual arguments that were collected before invoking the macro. This applies to all macro calls if the ‘t’ flag is used, otherwise only the macros covered by calls of traceon. Arguments are subject to length truncation specified by the command line option ‘--arglength’ (or ‘-l’).

c

In trace output, show several trace lines for each macro call. A line is shown when the macro is seen, but before the arguments are collected; a second line when the arguments have been collected and a third line after the call has completed.

e

In trace output, show the expansion of each macro call, if it is not void. This applies to all macro calls if the ‘t’ flag is used, otherwise only the macros covered by calls of traceon. The expansion is subject to length truncation specified by the command line option ‘--arglength’ (or ‘-l’).

f

In debug and trace output, include the name of the current input file in the output line.

i

In debug output, print a message each time the current input file is changed.

l

In debug and trace output, include the current input line number in the output line.

p

In debug output, print a message when a named file is found through the path search mechanism (see section Searching for include files), giving the actual file name used.

q

In trace and dumpdef output, quote actual arguments and macro expansions in the display with the current quotes. This is useful in connection with the ‘a’ and ‘e’ flags above.

t

In trace output, trace all macro calls made in this invocation of m4, regardless of the settings of traceon.

x

In trace output, add a unique ‘macro call id’ to each line of the trace output. This is useful in connection with the ‘c’ flag above.

V

A shorthand for all of the above flags.

If no flags are specified with the ‘-d’ option, the default is ‘aeq’. The examples throughout this manual assume the default flags.

There is a builtin macro debugmode, which allows on-the-fly control of the debugging output format:

Builtin: debugmode ([flags]

The argument flags should be a subset of the letters listed above. As special cases, if the argument starts with a ‘+’, the flags are added to the current debug flags, and if it starts with a ‘-’, they are removed. If no argument is present, all debugging flags are cleared (as if no ‘-d’ was given), and with an empty argument the flags are reset to the default of ‘aeq’.

The expansion of debugmode is void.

$ m4
define(`foo', `FOO')
⇒
traceon(`foo')
⇒
debugmode()
⇒
foo
error-->m4trace: -1- foo -> `FOO'
⇒FOO
debugmode
⇒
foo
error-->m4trace: -1- foo
⇒FOO
debugmode(`+l')
⇒
foo
error-->m4trace:8: -1- foo
⇒FOO

The following example demonstrates the behavior of length truncation, when specified on the command line. Note that each argument and the final result are individually truncated. Also, the special tokens for builtin functions are not truncated.

$ m4 -d -l 6
define(`echo', `$@')debugmode(`+t')
⇒
echo(`1', `long string')
error-->m4trace: -1- echo(`1', `long s...') -> ``1',`l...'
⇒1,long string
indir(`echo', defn(`changequote'))
error-->m4trace: -2- defn(`change...')
error-->m4trace: -1- indir(`echo', <changequote>) -> ``''
⇒

This example shows the effects of the debug flags that are not related to macro tracing.

$ m4 -dip -I examples
error-->m4debug: input read from stdin
include(`foo')dnl
error-->m4debug: path search for `foo' found `examples/foo'
error-->m4debug: input read from examples/foo
⇒bar
error-->m4debug: input reverted to stdin, line 1
^D
error-->m4debug: input exhausted

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