I read that the order of bit fields within a struct is platform specific. What about if I use different compiler-specific packing options, will this guarantee data is stored in the proper order as they are written? For example:
unsigned int version : 3;
unsigned int type : 1;
unsigned int id : 5;
unsigned int data : 6;
} __attribute__ ((__packed__));
No, it will not be fully-portable. Packing options for structs are extensions, and are themselves not fully portable. In addition to that, C99 §184.108.40.206, paragraph 10 says: "The order of allocation of bit-fields within a unit (high-order to low-order or low-order to high-order) is implementation-defined."
Even a single compiler might lay the bit field out differently depending on the endianness of the target platform, for example.