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Calling FITSIO from C programs (Obsolete Section)

[Note added March 1996: This section is now obsolete. C programmers should use the CFITSIO library, written entirely in ANSI-C rather than the CFORTRAN macros described below.]

C programmers may call the Fortran FITSIO subroutines by using a set of macro definitions included in the cfitsio.h header file that is distributed as part of the FITSIO package. This header file defines a C macro corresponding to every Fortran subroutine in the FITSIO user interface. These macros provide a machine-independent interface between C and Fortran by using the CFORTRAN package (actually a C header file) developed by Burkhard Burow (, U. of Toronto).

The CFITSIO macros have the same calling sequence as the FITSIO Fortran subroutines defined in this FITSIO User's Guide. The only difference is that the macro routines all have uppercase names and they begin with the letters 'FC' rather then 'ft' as in all the fortran subroutine names. As an example, one would call ftclos(unit, status) in fortran but would call FCCLOS(unit,&status) when calling the CFITSIO macros in a C program. Programmers should refer to the wsimple.c and rsimple.c sample programs that are distributed with FITSIO for examples of how to call the FITSIO routines.

To use CFITSIO, one must include the cfitsio.h header file at the beginning of the C program. Note that cfitsio.h requires 2 other C header files, cfortran.h and pctype.h, (which are also distributed with FITSIO) but these do not need to be explicitly included in the C application program.

C programmers should be aware that there are subtle differences between C and Fortran in the use of character strings and especially vectors of character strings. Please read the comments at the beginning of the cfitsio.h file for a summary of the restrictions when calling the FITSIO routines that have character string arguments.

C programs that call CFITSIO must be linked to include the Fortran language libraries that are needed by FITSIO (since it is written in Fortran). The exact link procedure is necessarily machine dependent, and unfortunately is not always obvious because of various pecularities in either the C or Fortran compilers. The following guidelines may be helpful in sorting out the correct link procedure on Unix platforms.

There are basically 2 options for linking a C program that calls Fortran routines. The first and simplest option, when it works, is to use the `f77' command to link the C program; this will automatically link in the required Fortran language libraries without having to specify their names or directory path. For example, if one has a C program called foo.c which calls cfitsio, it may be compiled and linked with the following commands:

% cc -c foo.c
% f77 -o foo foo.o -L$FITSDIR -lfitsio
where $FITSDIR is an environment variable which points to the directory where the fitsio library has been installed (use `-L.' if the fitsio library is located in the current work directory). Unfortunately, using f77 to perform the linking does not always work, especially if the C and Fortran compilers are supplied by different vendors (e.g., when combining gcc with a commercial Fortran compiler). The error message that is reported in this case usually says something about an undefined or unresolved symbol `main'.

If this error occurs, then a more orthodox linking procedure must be used which requires that the names and path to the Fortran language libraries be explicitly specified. The compile and link commands, (using `gcc' instead of `cc' in this example) would look something like:

% gcc -c foo.c
% gcc -o foo foo.o -L$FITSDIR -lfitsio $F77LFLAGS
where $F77LFLAGS is a platform-specific environment variable which specifies the Fortran 77 libraries that need to be linked with the program. It may require some detective work to determine where the Fortran libraries are located on any given machine. One method for finding them is to compile any simple Fortran program (such as the standard `Hello, world!' program) using the -v option, as in

% f77 -v -o test test.f
This will produce a verbose compile and link listing, with a line that looks something like:

/bin/ld -dc -dp -e start -u _MAIN_ -X -o test /usr/lang/SC1.0/crt0.o
 /usr/lang/SC1.0/cg87/_crt1.o -L/usr/lang/SC1.0/cg87 -L/usr/lang/SC1.0
 test.o -lF77 -lm -lc
From this listing it should be possible to decipher the names of the Fortran libraries and their location. In this case the libraries are located in /usr/lang/SC1.0 and they are called libF77.a and libm.a. Thus to link the example cfitsio program on this machine, one would specify:

% gcc -c foo.c
% gcc -o foo foo.o -L$FITSDIR -lfitsio -L/usr/lang/SC1.0 -lF77 -lm
Another method of locating the Fortran libraries is to execute `which f77' then search that directory, and any subdirectories, for the libraries.

For reference, here is the value for F77LFLAGS what was found to work on various platforms:

SunPro f77 2.0.1 on Solaris 2.4:

    F77LFLAGS= -L$F77HOME -lM77 -lF77 -lm

SunPro f77 3.0.1 on Solaris 2.3:

    F77LFLAGS= -L$F77HOME -lM77 -lF77 -lsunmath -lm

SunPro f77 1.0 on SunOS4.1.4:

    F77LFLAGS= -L$F77HOME -lF77 -lm

SunPro f77 3.0.1 on SunOS4.1.3:

    F77LFLAGS= -L$F77HOME -lF77 -lM77 -lsunmath -lm -lansi

Convex supercomputers:

    F77LFLAGS= -L$F77HOME -lI77 -lF77 -lU77 -lm -lmathC1 -llfs -lvfn

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