Listing Directory Files

By Danny Kalev, ITworld |  How-to

This week, I will show how to programmatically access a directory's

The POSIX standard defines abstract functions and data types for
accessing a directory's files in a portable manner, regardless of the
actual file system used. These functions and data types are declared in
the header file .

The two main data structures are DIR and dirent. You use a pointer to
DIR to iterate through a directory's files. The second data structure,
dirent, represents a directory file. Most of the fields in the
structure dirent are not portable; they depend on the actual file
system you're using. However, the field d_name, which stores the
current directory file's name, is portable and that's the only thing we
care about.

Before you can iterate the a directory's files, you have to open it
explicitly using the opendir() function:

DIR *pdir=opendir (const char *path);

Similarly, you use the closedir() function to close a directory once
you're done:

int closedir(DIR * pdir);

Remember, you can open directories only for reading. Therefore, opendir
() takes a single parameter, namely the directory's pathname, which
must be an existing directory's name (you can't create a new directory
using opendir(); instead use mkdir()). Once you've opened a directory
successfully, you access the entries therein sequentially until you've
reached the directory's end. The function readdir() returns a dirent
pointer associated with the next directory file. Here is the prototype
of this function:

dirent* pfile readdir(DIR * pdir);

readdir() returns a NULL pointer when the directory contains no more
entries, or when an error has occurred. If you must distinguish between
these two conditions, then you should reset errno before calling readdir
() and check its value afterwards.

The following program opens the current directory, retrieves its files
in a loop, and writes their names to the standard output. You can
easily turn it into a generic directory-listing program by passing the
directory pathname as a command line argument.

int main()
DIR *pdir;
struct dirent *pfile;
if (!(pdir=opendir ("."); /*open current directory*/
return -1;
errno=0; /*reset before calling readdir*/
if (errno==0)
return 0;

To re-read the current directory from the beginning, use the rewinddir
() function. After calling rewinddir(), readdir() will return the first
file in the directory:

int rewinddir(DIR *pdir);

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