Directives is an actively used design pattern created in 1968. In computer programming, a directive or pragma (from "pragmatic") is a language construct that specifies how a compiler (or other translator) should process its input. Directives are not part of the grammar of a programming language, and may vary from compiler to compiler.

51Years Old

Languages with Directives include ada, algol-68, c, common-lisp, cpp, csharp, erlang, f-sharp, fml-lang, haskell, javascript, perl, python, ruby, rust, scriptease, turbo-pascal, visual-basic

Example from algol-68:

'pr' quote 'pr'

Example from c:

#include <stdio.h>
#define height 10

Example from cpp:

// #pragma once is a non-standard but widely supported preprocessor directive designed to cause the current source file to be included only once in a single compilation.
#pragma once
struct foo
   int member;

Example from csharp:

#define MAX_CLIENTS 200
int array[MAX_CLIENTS];


Example from erlang:

-define(TIMEOUT, 200).
call(Request) ->
   server:call(refserver, Request, ?TIMEOUT).

Example from f-sharp:

let function1 x y =
   printfn "x: %d y: %d" x y
   x + 2 * y
let function1 x y =
   printfn "x: %d y: %d" x y
   x - 2*y
// Line directives as source maps can be used when compiling to F#:
#line 25 "C:\\Projects\\MyProject\\MyProject\\Script1"

Example from fml-lang:

# Directives are special lines that have syntax and semantics of their own. Directives all start with a name of the form .foo; new directives may be added by future versions of the language.
.import math.constants
area = x * math.constants.Pi, ^ 2
.from math.constants import Pi, E
area = x sq, * Pi
polar = a * [E ^ [b * 0+j1]]

Example from haskell:

{-# INLINE foo #-}

Example from javascript:

"use strict";
"use asm";

Example from perl:

# In Perl, the keyword "use", which imports modules, can also be used to specify directives, such as use strict; or use utf8;
use utf8;

Example from python:

from __future__ import feature
# coding=<encoding name>

Example from ruby:

coding: UTF-8

Example from rust:

// A conditionally-compiled module
#[cfg(target_os = "linux")]
mod bar {
    /* ... */
// General metadata applied to the enclosing module or crate.
#![crate_type = "lib"]
// A function marked as a unit test
fn test_foo() {
    /* ... */
// A lint attribute used to suppress a warning/error
type int8_t = i8;

// Inner attribute applies to the entire function.
fn some_unused_variables() {

  let x = ();
  let y = ();
  let z = ();

Example from turbo-pascal:

// In Turbo Pascal, directives are called significant comments, because in the language grammar they follow the same syntax as comments.
// In Turbo Pascal, a significant comment is a comment whose first character is a dollar sign and whose second character is a letter;
// for example, the equivalent of C's #include "file" directive is the significant comment:
{$I "file"}

Example from visual-basic:

Option Explicit On|Off
Option Compare Binary

Last updated August 9th, 2020

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