Jake Jake - 2 days ago 4
C Question

How does feof() actually know when the end of file is reached?

I'm a beginner in C++ and trying to better understand

feof()
. I've read that
feof()
flag is set to true only after trying to read past the end of a file so many times beginners will read once more than they were expecting if they do something like
while(!feof(file))
. What I'm trying to understand though, is how does it actually interpret that an attempt has been made to read past the end of the file? Is the entire file already read in and the number of characters already known or is there some other mechanism at work?

I realize this may be a duplicate question somewhere, but I've been unable to find it, probably because I don't know the best way to word what I'm asking. If there is an answer already out there a link would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Answer

Whatever else the C++ library does, eventually it has to read from the file. Somewhere in the operating system, there is a piece of code that eventually handles that read. It obtains from the filesystem the length of the file, stored the same way the filesystem stores everything else. Knowing the length of the file, the position of the read, and the number of bytes to be read, it can make the determination that the low-level read hits the end of the file.

When that determination is made, it is passed up the stack. Eventually, it gets to the standard library which records internally that the end of file has been reached. When a read request into the library tries to go past that recorded end, the EOF flag is set and feof will start returning true.

Comments