Simple C++ static analysis for include directives
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A tool for analysing the cost, in terms of compile time, of include directives and source files in C/C++ projects.

Include-wrangler will also output your programs include structure in graphvis format for visualisation or further analysis.

Include-wrangler should be useful for identifying headers or include statements which could be cleaned up - hopefully resulting in faster build times!


The only requirement to build include-wrangler is the Haskell compiler GHC. Include-wrangler will compile and run under Windows or Linux and probably anywhere else which runs GHC reasonably well (e.g. OSX).

You can compile with a simple ghc -O2 include-wrangler.hs or run sh on *NIX.


To use include-wrangler you simply need to run it in a directory which contains two files:

  • include_dirs - this should contain a list of directories containing your project header files separated by newlines. (e.g. the stuff you pass to gcc with the -I option.)
  • source_files - this should contain a list of your projects source files (e.g. .c/.cpp files) separated by newlines.


Run sh to process the small example project with incude-wrangler. Alternatively run the following commands:

# build include wrangler
# change into example project directory
cd example
# run include wranger
# generate png image of include graph - need graphvis to be installed!
dot -Tpng -o include_graph.png
# go back to original directory
cd ..

This should leave the files header_costs, include_costs and translation_unit_costs full of useful information and give you the following pretty picture of the example projects structure:

Example graph

You can see example/example_out for the full include-wrangler output on the example project if you can't be bothered or are unable to build/run the code yourself.

Interpreting results

A full explanation of include-wranglers analysis and output can be found here. The following explanation will hopefully satisfy most users.

Include costs

The include_costs output file contains the cost of each include directive contained in header files of your project sorted from highest to lowest. The cost of an include directive is the number of files that we can avoid opening during compilation if that include directive is omitted.

The output line Cost: 6, from: ("e.h","f.h") means that "#include "f.h" in e.h cost 6.

Removing expensive includes - typically by using forward declarations could improve compile tme drastically.

Header file costs

The header_costs output file contains the cost of each header file in your project. The cost of a header is the number of files we could avoid opening during compilation if that header file was removed from the project.

The output line Cost: 14, from: "e.h" means that header e.h cost 14.

Expensive headers are potetential candidates for precompiled headers or general targets for refactoring.

Translation unit costs

The translation_unit_costs output file contains the cost of each implementation source file (e.g. .c or .cpp or .cxx). The cost of a translation unit is the number header files opened in order to compile it.

The output line Cost: 6, from: "src/d.cpp" means that compiling d.cpp involved reading 6 header files.

Expensive translation units are cadidates for refactoring.


This code is under the BSD license.