The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 6
IEEE Std 1003.1, 2004 Edition
Copyright © 2001-2004 The IEEE and The Open Group, All Rights reserved.
A newer edition of this document exists here


fmtmsg - display a message in the specified format on standard error and/or a system console


[XSI] [Option Start] #include <fmtmsg.h>

int fmtmsg(long
classification, const char *label, int severity,
       const char *
text, const char *action, const char *tag); [Option End]


The fmtmsg() function shall display messages in a specified format instead of the traditional printf() function.

Based on a message's classification component, fmtmsg() shall write a formatted message either to standard error, to the console, or to both.

A formatted message consists of up to five components as defined below. The component classification is not part of a message displayed to the user, but defines the source of the message and directs the display of the formatted message.

Contains the sum of identifying values constructed from the constants defined below. Any one identifier from a subclass may be used in combination with a single identifier from a different subclass. Two or more identifiers from the same subclass should not be used together, with the exception of identifiers from the display subclass. (Both display subclass identifiers may be used so that messages can be displayed to both standard error and the system console.)
Major Classifications
Identifies the source of the condition. Identifiers are: MM_HARD (hardware), MM_SOFT (software), and MM_FIRM (firmware).
Message Source Subclassifications
Identifies the type of software in which the problem is detected. Identifiers are: MM_APPL (application), MM_UTIL (utility), and MM_OPSYS (operating system).
Display Subclassifications
Indicates where the message is to be displayed. Identifiers are: MM_PRINT to display the message on the standard error stream, MM_CONSOLE to display the message on the system console. One or both identifiers may be used.
Status Subclassifications
Indicates whether the application can recover from the condition. Identifiers are: MM_RECOVER (recoverable) and MM_NRECOV (non-recoverable).

An additional identifier, MM_NULLMC, indicates that no classification component is supplied for the message.

Identifies the source of the message. The format is two fields separated by a colon. The first field is up to 10 bytes, the second is up to 14 bytes.
Indicates the seriousness of the condition. Identifiers for the levels of severity are:
Indicates that the application has encountered a severe fault and is halting. Produces the string "HALT".
Indicates that the application has detected a fault. Produces the string "ERROR".
Indicates a condition that is out of the ordinary, that might be a problem, and should be watched. Produces the string "WARNING".
Provides information about a condition that is not in error. Produces the string "INFO".
Indicates that no severity level is supplied for the message.
Describes the error condition that produced the message. The character string is not limited to a specific size. If the character string is empty, then the text produced is unspecified.
Describes the first step to be taken in the error-recovery process. The fmtmsg() function precedes the action string with the prefix: "TO FIX:". The action string is not limited to a specific size.
An identifier that references on-line documentation for the message. Suggested usage is that tag includes the label and a unique identifying number. A sample tag is "XSI:cat:146".

The MSGVERB environment variable (for message verbosity) shall determine for fmtmsg() which message components it is to select when writing messages to standard error. The value of MSGVERB shall be a colon-separated list of optional keywords. Valid keywords are: label, severity, text, action, and tag. If MSGVERB contains a keyword for a component and the component's value is not the component's null value, fmtmsg() shall include that component in the message when writing the message to standard error. If MSGVERB does not include a keyword for a message component, that component shall not be included in the display of the message. The keywords may appear in any order. If MSGVERB is not defined, if its value is the null string, if its value is not of the correct format, or if it contains keywords other than the valid ones listed above, fmtmsg() shall select all components.

MSGVERB shall determine which components are selected for display to standard error. All message components shall be included in console messages.


The fmtmsg() function shall return one of the following values:

The function succeeded.
The function failed completely.
The function was unable to generate a message on standard error, but otherwise succeeded.
The function was unable to generate a console message, but otherwise succeeded.



The following sections are informative.


  1. The following example of fmtmsg():

    fmtmsg(MM_PRINT, "XSI:cat", MM_ERROR, "illegal option",
    "refer to cat in user's reference manual", "XSI:cat:001")

    produces a complete message in the specified message format:

    XSI:cat: ERROR: illegal option
    TO FIX: refer to cat in user's reference manual XSI:cat:001
  2. When the environment variable MSGVERB is set as follows:


    and Example 1 is used, fmtmsg() produces:

    ERROR: illegal option
    TO FIX: refer to cat in user's reference manual


One or more message components may be systematically omitted from messages generated by an application by using the null value of the argument for that component.






printf(), the Base Definitions volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, <fmtmsg.h>


First released in Issue 4, Version 2.

Issue 5

Moved from X/OPEN UNIX extension to BASE.

End of informative text.

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