Dinesh Dinesh - 1 year ago 116
C Question

How to dynamically allocate memory space for a string and get that string from user?

I want to read input from user using C program. I don't want to use array like,

char names[50];

because if the user gives string of length 10, then the remaining spaces are wasted.

If I use character pointer like,

char *names;

then I need to allocate memory for that in such a way of,

names = (char *)malloc(20 * sizeof(char));

In this case also, there is a possibility of memory wastage.

So, what I need is to dynamically allocate memory for a string which is of exactly same as the length of the string.

Lets assume,

If the user input is
, then the memory allocated should be of
(i.e. Length of the string = 13 and 1 additional space for '\0').

How could I achieve this?

Answer Source

Read one character at a time (using getc(stdin)) and grow the string (realloc) as you go.

Here's a function I wrote some time ago. Note it's intended only for text input.

char *getln()
    char *line = NULL, *tmp = NULL;
    size_t size = 0, index = 0;
    int ch = EOF;

    while (ch) {
        ch = getc(stdin);

        /* Check if we need to stop. */
        if (ch == EOF || ch == '\n')
            ch = 0;

        /* Check if we need to expand. */
        if (size <= index) {
            size += CHUNK;
            tmp = realloc(line, size);
            if (!tmp) {
                line = NULL;
            line = tmp;

        /* Actually store the thing. */
        line[index++] = ch;

    return line;
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