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cppclean attempts to find problems in C++ source that slow development in large code bases, for example various forms of unused code. Unused code can be unused functions, methods, data members, types, etc to unnecessary #include directives. Unnecessary #includes can cause considerable extra compiles increasing the edit-compile-run cycle.

This is a fork of the original cppclean project. The original project home page, which no longer contains code, is at


cppclean finds the following:

  • Classes with virtual methods, no virtual destructor, and no bases
  • Global/static data that are potential problems when using threads
  • Functions that are declared but not defined
  • Unnecessary forward class declarations
  • Unnecessary function declarations
  • Undeclared function definitions
  • Unnecessary #includes in header files
    • No direct reference to anything in the header
    • Header is unnecessary if classes were forward declared instead
  • Inconsistent case in #includes (foo.h versus Foo.h)
  • (planned) Unnecessary #includes in source files
  • (planned) Source files that reference headers not directly #included, ie, files that rely on a transitive #include from another header
  • (planned) Unused members (private, protected, & public) methods and data
  • (planned) using namespace std in header files
  • (planned) Methods that are declared but not defined

AST is Abstract Syntax Tree, a representation of parsed source code (


$ pip install --upgrade cppclean


$ cppclean <path>

Multiple include paths can be specified:

$ cppclean --include-path=directory1 --include-path=directory2 <path>

Current status

The parser works pretty well for header files, parsing about 99% of Google's header files. Anything which inspects structure of C++ source files should work reasonably well. Function bodies are not transformed to an AST, but left as tokens.


  • Parsing all valid C++ source
  • Handling invalid C++ source gracefully
  • Compiling to machine code (or anything beyond an AST)



Finds problems in C++ source that slow development of large code bases




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