Messages can be printed to standard error and/or to the console. To
select the destination the programmer can use the following two values,
bitwise OR combined if wanted, for the classification parameter of
Display the message in standard error.
Display the message on the system console.
The erroneous piece of the system can be signalled by exactly one of the
following values which also is bitwise ORed with the
classification parameter to fmtmsg:
The source of the condition is some hardware.
The source of the condition is some software.
The source of the condition is some firmware.
A third component of the classification parameter to fmtmsg
can describe the part of the system which detects the problem. This is
done by using exactly one of the following values:
The erroneous condition is detected by the application.
The erroneous condition is detected by a utility.
The erroneous condition is detected by the operating system.
A last component of classification can signal the results of this
message. Exactly one of the following values can be used:
It is a recoverable error.
It is a non-recoverable error.
— Function: int fmtmsg (long int classification, const char *label, int severity, const char *text, const char *action, const char *tag)
Display a message described by its parameters on the device(s) specified
in the classification parameter. The label parameter
identifies the source of the message. The string should consist of two
colon separated parts where the first part has not more than 10 and the
second part not more than 14 characters. The text parameter
describes the condition of the error, the action parameter possible
steps to recover from the error and the tag parameter is a
reference to the online documentation where more information can be
found. It should contain the label value and a unique
Each of the parameters can be a special value which means this value
is to be omitted. The symbolic names for these values are:
Ignore label parameter.
Ignore severity parameter.
Ignore classification parameter. This implies that nothing is
Ignore text parameter.
Ignore action parameter.
Ignore tag parameter.
There is another way certain fields can be omitted from the output to
standard error. This is described below in the description of
environment variables influencing the behavior.
The severity parameter can have one of the values in the following
Nothing is printed, this value is the same as MM_NULLSEV.
This value is printed as HALT.
This value is printed as ERROR.
This value is printed as WARNING.
This value is printed as INFO.
The numeric value of these five macros are between 0 and
4. Using the environment variable SEV_LEVEL or using the
addseverity function one can add more severity levels with their
corresponding string to print. This is described below
(see Adding Severity Classes).
If no parameter is ignored the output looks like this:
label: severity-string: text
TO FIX: actiontag
The colons, new line characters and the TO FIX string are
inserted if necessary, i.e., if the corresponding parameter is not
This function is specified in the X/Open Portability Guide. It is also
available on all systems derived from System V.
The function returns the value MM_OK if no error occurred. If
only the printing to standard error failed, it returns MM_NOMSG.
If printing to the console fails, it returns MM_NOCON. If
nothing is printed MM_NOTOK is returned. Among situations where
all outputs fail this last value is also returned if a parameter value
There are two environment variables which influence the behavior of
fmtmsg. The first is MSGVERB. It is used to control the
output actually happening on standard error (not the console
output). Each of the five fields can explicitly be enabled. To do
this the user has to put the MSGVERB variable with a format like
the following in the environment before calling the fmtmsg function
the first time:
Valid keywords are label, severity, text,
action, and tag. If the environment variable is not given
or is the empty string, a not supported keyword is given or the value is
somehow else invalid, no part of the message is masked out.
The second environment variable which influences the behavior of
fmtmsg is SEV_LEVEL. This variable and the change in the
behavior of fmtmsg is not specified in the X/Open Portability
Guide. It is available in System V systems, though. It can be used to
introduce new severity levels. By default, only the five severity levels
described above are available. Any other numeric value would make
fmtmsg print nothing.
If the user puts SEV_LEVEL with a format like
in the environment of the process before the first call to
fmtmsg, where description has a value of the form
The severity-keyword part is not used by fmtmsg but it has
to be present. The level part is a string representation of a
number. The numeric value must be a number greater than 4. This value
must be used in the severity parameter of fmtmsg to select
this class. It is not possible to overwrite any of the predefined
classes. The printstring is the string printed when a message of
this class is processed by fmtmsg (see above, fmtsmg does
not print the numeric value but instead the string representation).
Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License