Include What You Use IWYUsuggest change
Google’s Include What You Use project, or IWYU, ensures source files include all headers used in the code.
Suppose a source file
source.c includes a header
arbitrary.h which in turn coincidentally includes
freeloader.h, but the source file also explicitly and independently uses the facilities from
freeloader.h. All is well to start with. Then one day
arbitrary.h is changed so its clients no longer need the facilities of
source.c stops compiling — because it didn’t meet the IWYU criteria. Because the code in
source.c explicitly used the facilities of
freeloader.h, it should have included what it uses — there should have been an explicit
#include "freeloader.h" in the source too. (Idempotency would have ensured there wasn’t a problem.)
The IWYU philosophy maximizes the probability that code continues to compile even with reasonable changes made to interfaces. Clearly, if your code calls a function that is subsequently removed from the published interface, no amount of preparation can prevent changes becoming necessary. This is why changes to APIs are avoided when possible, and why there are deprecation cycles over multiple releases, etc.
This is a particular problem in C++ because standard headers are allowed to include each other. Source file
file.cpp could include one header
header1.h that on one platform includes another header
file.cpp might turn out to use the facilities of
header2.h as well. This wouldn’t be a problem initially - the code would compile because
header2.h. On another platform, or an upgrade of the current platform,
header1.h could be revised so it no longer includes
header2.h, and then
file.cpp would stop compiling as a result.
IWYU would spot the problem and recommend that
header2.h be included directly in
file.cpp. This would ensure it continues to compile. Analogous considerations apply to C code too.