1 Introduction

1.1 Abstract

This specification establishes a set of rules to:

  • Establish uniformity of style.

  • Set minimum information content requirements.

  • Allow all programmers to easily understand the code.

  • Facilitate support tasks by establishing uniform conventions.

  • Ease documentation efforts by embedding the design documentation in the code.

  • Reduce customer and new employee learning curves by providing accurate code documentation and uniform style.

These rules apply to all code developed for inclusion in the EDK II code base, and are intended as an enabling philosophy. All changes or additions from this point on shall conform to this specification. Pre-existing code does not need to be updated for the sole purpose of conforming to this specification. As conforming updates are made, the developer may update other content within the modified file to bring it within compliance with this specification. Code originally developed for other environments that has been ported to, or modified for, the EDK II environment, is not obligated to conform. However, any new code added to the ported code must conform.

This specification addresses the chronic problem of providing accurate documentation of the code base by embedding the documentation within the code. While this does not guarantee that the documentation will be kept up to date, it significantly increases the chances. A document generation system, Doxygen, then produce formatted documentation by extracting information from specially formatted comment blocks and the syntactic elements of the code.

This specification presents protocol standards that will ensure that the contractual relationship between APIs and their callers is clear and well maintained.

This specification describes standard practices designed to eliminate or mitigate pitfalls inherent in the C language.

In recognition that a coding standard of this size can be a bit daunting, a concise reference to the standard's key elements is available in "Quick Reference".

1.2 Rationale

Software engineering is much more than writing code that will work one time. Software engineering entails writing code that:

  1. Meets project requirements.

  2. Is testable.

  3. Can be maintained by the author or by others that have varying degrees of experience and familiarity with the code.

  4. Minimizes the learning curve for programmers new to the product. (Our customers)

We use the C programming language because of its simplicity, flexibility, and wide support. On the downside in that each developer's C code could (conceivably) be constructed in totally different and inconsistent ways. This lack of uniformity makes understanding and maintaining the code very difficult.

Uniformity is the key theme of these rules. You may disagree with some of our decisions. Nevertheless, we ask that you commit to conforming to standards of this specification. Also, there are pitfalls inherent in the C language that this style guide may help you to avoid. The goal of this document is making you, and those who follow you, more productive.

Some of the strict rules for protocol and driver construction may seem overly onerous. Don't panic - there is a method to our madness - we intend to construct wizards to aid in the construction of protocol include files and device driver templates. The resulting consistency will help prevent name collision and require much less rote memory (or code surfing) to remember the names of protocol declarations or GUID definitions.

Good software engineers think about maintaining a consistent and uniform coding style. Having a set of rules to follow allows them to spend time solving actual problems and less time thinking about style. Junior software engineers may not see the benefits, but now is a good time for them to start thinking about what it will take to maintain their code. Junior software engineers will also benefit by being able to understand other people's code much more easily because the code will be written in a consistent manner. Consistency and uniformity enable productivity.

In conclusion, it's uniformity, uniformity, uniformity. With that said, this document is not intended to be dogma. However, violating a rule is contingent on valid reasons for the violation, and the approval of the various stakeholders involved. It is not something to venture into lightly and is not recommended.

1.3 Scope

This specification describes stylistic conventions and requirements as they apply to writing C code for inclusion within the EDK II code base. Its bulk is intended to provide rationale and disambiguating detail for each rule and requirement. The rules are also presented in summary form for quick reference. Rationale and detail for each of the rules is then presented in subsequent sections.

The majority of code produced for EDK II must support multiple compilers and be able to be retargeted to multiple processor and system architectures. This requires coding practices to conform to the "lowest common denominator" of the supported tools, processor, and system architectures.

The C dialect we use is ISO/IEC 9899:199409, or C95, with some elements from C99 If you are not familiar with this dialect, refer to Harbison and Steele's C: A Reference Manual. This is the language dialect held in common with all of the compilers supported by EDK II.

Note: There are some significant differences between ANSI C (C89) and the dialect recognized by compilers supported by EDK II (C95). These differences primarily revolve around use of the external storage class and the elimination of implicit types and storage classes.

The use of compiler-specific language extensions is very strongly discouraged.

Topics covered in this coding standard include:

  • File structure and formats

  • C language rules and guidelines

  • Naming Conventions

  • Documentation

  • Commenting rules

  • Doxygen

These guidelines represent an attempt make you aware of your actions, because those actions affect the future readers and maintainers of the code you produce.

Pre-existing code ported to the EDK II environment does not have to conform to this specification. New code which is added to, or which accompanies, the ported code must conform.

This specification considers the core firmware, applications, and individual UEFI drivers as distinct and separate units. This is because UEFI drivers, like applications, are not linked to the main body of code and do not expose their internal namespaces to other components of the firmware system.

1.4 References

  • MISRA-C: 2004 Guidelines for the use of the C language in critical systems, Tyler Doering http://www.misra-c.com, Guidelines for the Use of the C Language in Critical Systems, ISBN 978-1-906400-10-1 (paperback), ISBN 978-1-906400-11-8 (PDF), March 2013.

  • Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, and Jill Butler. ISBN 159253-007-9.

  • C: A Reference Manual by Samuel P. Harbison III and Guy L. Steele Jr. ISBN 0-13-089592x.

  • Enough Rope to Shoot Yourself in the Foot by Allen I. Holub. ISBN 0-07-029689-8.

  • Code Complete by Steven C. McConnell. ISBN 1-55615-484-4.

  • The C Programming Language by Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie. ISBN 0-13110362-8.

  • ISO/IEC 9899: 1990, Programming Languages - C. This specifies ANSI C.

  • ISO/IEC 9899: 199409, Programming Languages - C. This specifies C95.

  • ISO/IEC 9899: 1999; Cor-3, Programming Languages - C. This specifies C99.

  • Writing Solid Code by Steve Maguire. ISBN 1-55615-551-4.

  • EFI Application Toolkit Project Engineering Conventions. 10/4/1999.

  • ISO/IEC 6592: 2000, Information Technology - Guidelines for the Documentation of Computer-based Application Systems.

  • ISO/IEC 18019: 2004, Software and System Engineering - Guidelines for the Design and Preparation of User Documentation for Application Software.

  • Indian Hill C Style and Coding Standard by L.W. Cannon, R.A. Elliott, L.W. Kirchhoff, J.H. Miller, J.M. Milner, R.W. Mitze, E.P. Schan, N.O. Whittington, Bell Labs; Henry Spencer, Zoology Computer Systems, University of Toronto; David Keppel, EECS, UC Berkeley CS&E, University of Washington; Mark Brader, SoftQuad Incorporated, Toronto. 6/25/1990.

  • Doxygen manual, http://www.doxygen.org/manual.html, Version 1.4.6-NO

  • Doxygen Primer by Daryl McDaniel, IBM 2002; Updated for Intel Corporation 1/2006

  • UEFI Specification, http://www.uefi.org‚Äč

  • Beyond Bios:Developing with the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, Second Edition, Zimmer, Michael Rothman, Suresh Marisetty Copyright @2010 Intel Corporation ISBN 13 978-1-934053-29-4

1.5 Glossary


American National Standards Institute


The generic name for the C Programming Language. Originally finalized as an ANSI standard in 1989 ('C89') and updated in 1999 ('C99'). Subsequently adopted by the ISO (ISO/IEC 9899:1990), which has replaced the ANSI standard, even in the US.


Concurrent Versioning System


Extensible Firmware Interface


International Standards Organization


The Subversion revision management system.

Tab Stop

EDK II uses space characters instead of Horizontal Tab characters. If the left-most column is column 1, then every odd numbered column is a Tab Stop. Code elements are aligned at Tab Stops.