Skip to content


Switch branches/tags

Name already in use

A tag already exists with the provided branch name. Many Git commands accept both tag and branch names, so creating this branch may cause unexpected behavior. Are you sure you want to create this branch?

Latest commit


Git stats


Failed to load latest commit information.
Latest commit message
Commit time

Rocket Crash

For here, am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do

Rocket Crash lives online at

Rocket Crash is a C exception library build on top of setjmp/longjmp. There are a lot of those. Rocket Crash distinguishes itself by being minimal while staying practical, in keeping with the C philosophy.

Rocket Crash supplies a try statement with optional catch and finally clauses, as well as a throw(exception) function. And that's it: Rocket Crash is not an error handling framework but a simple exception construct.

Exceptions are represented by char pointers. In this way, we can derive a unique exception handles by declaring a char arraywhile also supplying a short description of the exception:

char const STACK_OVERFLOW [] = "Stack Overflow";

Here are a some other defining characteristics:

  • easy to understand
  • simple: about 100 lines of code
  • multi-threading support with C11, GCC or Microsoft C
  • avoids namespace pollution through the use of the rocketcrash prefix
  • try statements can be freely nested within all clauses, both lexically and accross the call stack
  • it is possible to customize the conditions under which an exception is caught
  • liberal (BSD) license
  • compatible with C90, C99 and C11


Compile using the supplied makefiles, for GNU make and Microsoft nmake:

make c90
make c99
make c11

You can also build and run the tests:

make testc90
make testc99
make testc11
nmake test

Basic Use

A try statement looks like this:

try {
    // code to try
    // something bad happend, better do something about it!
finally {
    // perform cleanup here
} endtry

There can be 0 or more catch clauses. The finally clause is optional.

You throw an exception by using:

void throw (char *exception);

When an exception is thrown from the body of the try clause, the body of the first catch clause that matches the thrown exception is executed, if any. Then, if a finally clause is present, its body is executed. If the exception wasn't caught, it is re-thrown so that it can be handled by an enclosing try statement, if any.

If an exception is thrown (or re-thrown) and there are no enclosing try statements, the program exits with an error message that mentions the name of the exception.

If an exception is thrown from within a catch clause, the body of the finally clause is executed if present, and this new exception is re-thrown. If an exception is thrown from a finally clause, it is also re-thrown.

If Rocket Crash cannot allocate memory using malloc(), it throws an exception called ROCKETCRASH_OUT_OF_MEMORY from the try statement.

IMPORTANT: you should not use any of return, break, continue, setjmp() or longjmp() inside the try statement (in all clauses). goto that jump within the same clause body are fine, others are not.

IMPORTANT: because Rocket Crash uses setjmp() and longjmp(), variables (1) local to a function containing a try statement (2) that are modified between entering the try statement and the time where an exception can potentially be thrown, must be declared volatile.

Advanced Features

If you want to associate some info with an exception that is being thrown, you can do so by using throw2(exception, info) instead of throw(exception). info is a user-defined pointer. You can retrieve the info associated to an exception inside a catch clause by using the macro exception_info.

Instead of catch(exception), one can use gcatch(exception, guard) or ccatch(expression) to decide whether an exception is caught.

gcatch(exception, guard) catches the exception if it matches and if the guard expression is truthy.

ccatch(expr) catches the exception if the guard expression is truthy. This can be used when the exception doesn't matter, or to implement advanced matching by using implementation variables.

You are encouraged to build upon the implementation, or even modify it to suit your needs!


Rocket Crash defines the following macros: try, catch, gcatch, ccatch, finally, endtry, throw, exception_info, and the following functions: throw2. It also reserves the use of all identifiers starting with rocketcrash_.

But why do I need exceptions?

When following a strict error checking hygiene (as you should), the code can soon be overtaken by error checking code. The problem is that error codes need to be checked at each level in the call stack between the error site and the location where the error can be handled. With an exception mechanism, we can bypass these intermediate checks.


Rocket Crash is licensed under the BSD 3-Clause License.


The Rocket Crash logo was made by combining icons from Antonis Makriyannis and Nolan Paparelli.


Simple C exceptions.







No releases published


No packages published