• ABI Compliance Checker (abi-compliance-checker) Check backward compatibility of a C/C++ library API


  • ABI Compliance Checker (ACC) is a tool for checking backward binary and source-level compatibility of a shared C/C++ library. The tool checks header files and shared libraries (*.so) of old and new versions and analyzes changes in API and ABI (ABI=API+compiler ABI) that may break binary and/or source-level compatibility: changes in calling stack, v-table changes, removed symbols, renamed fields, etc. Binary incompatibility may result in crashing or incorrect behavior of applications built with an old version of a library if they run on a new one. Source incompatibility may result in recompilation errors with a new library version.

  • The tool is intended for developers of software libraries and maintainers of operating systems who are interested in ensuring backward compatibility, i.e. allow old applications to run or to be recompiled with newer library versions.

  • Also the tool can be used by ISVs for checking applications portability to new library versions. Found issues can be taken into account when adapting the application to a new library version.

  • This tool is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU LGPL or GNU GPL.


  • abi-compliance-checker [options]


  • abi-compliance-checker -lib NAME -old OLD.xml -new NEW.xml

  • OLD.xml and NEW.xml are XML-descriptors:

  • <version>

  • 1.0

  • </version>

  • <headers>

  • /path1/to/header(s)/ /path2/to/header(s)/

  • ...

  • </headers>

  • <libs>

  • /path1/to/library(ies)/ /path2/to/library(ies)/

  • ...

  • </libs>



  • Print this help. -i|-info

  • Print complete info. -v|-version

  • Print version information. -dumpversion

  • Print the tool version (1.99.9) and don't do anything else.


-l|-lib|-library NAME

  • Library name (without version). -d1|-old|-o PATH

  • Descriptor of 1st (old) library version. It may be one of the following:

  • 1. XML-descriptor (VERSION.xml file):

  • <version>

  • 1.0

  • </version>

  • <headers>

  • /path1/to/header(s)/ /path2/to/header(s)/

  • ...

  • </headers>

  • <libs>

  • /path1/to/library(ies)/ /path2/to/library(ies)/

  • ...

  • </libs>

... (XML-descriptor template

can be generated by -d option)

  • 2. ABI dump generated by -dump option 3. Directory with headers and/or shared libraries 4. Single header file 5. Single shared library 6. Comma separated list of headers and/or libraries

  • If you are using an 2-6 descriptor types then you should specify version numbers with -v1 and -v2 options too.

  • For more information, please see:

  • -d2|-new|-n PATH

  • Descriptor of 2nd (new) library version. -dump|-dump-abi PATH

  • Create library ABI dump for the input XML descriptor. You can transfer it anywhere and pass instead of the descriptor. Also it can be used for debugging the tool.

  • Supported ABI dump versions: 2.0<=V<=3.2 -old-dumps

  • Enable support for old-version ABI dumps (1.18<=V<2.0).



  • Create XML-descriptor template ./VERSION.xml -app|-application PATH

  • This option allows one to specify the application that should be checked for portability to the new library version. -static-libs

  • Check static libraries instead of the shared ones. The <libs> section of the XML-descriptor should point to static libraries location. -cross-gcc|-gcc-path PATH

  • Path to the cross GCC compiler to use instead of the usual (host) GCC. -cross-prefix|-gcc-prefix PREFIX

  • GCC toolchain prefix. -sysroot DIR

  • Specify the alternative root directory. The tool will search for include paths in the DIR/usr/include and DIR/usr/lib directories. -v1|-version1 NUM

  • Specify 1st library version outside the descriptor. This option is needed if you have preferred an alternative descriptor type (see -d1 option).

  • In general case you should specify it in the XML-descriptor:

  • <version>


  • </version> -v2|-version2 NUM

  • Specify 2nd library version outside the descriptor. -s|-strict

  • Treat all compatibility warnings as problems. Add a number of "Low" severity problems to the return value of the tool. -headers-only

  • Check header files without shared libraries. It is easy to run, but may provide a low quality compatibility report with false positives and without detecting of added/removed symbols.

  • Alternatively you can write "none" word to the <libs> section in the XML-descriptor:

  • <libs>

  • none

  • </libs> -objects-only

  • Check shared libraries without header files. It is easy to run, but may provide a low quality compatibility report with false positives and without analysis of changes in parameters and data types.

  • Alternatively you can write "none" word to the <headers> section in the XML-descriptor:

  • <headers>

  • none

  • </headers> -check-impl|-check-implementation

  • Compare canonified disassembled binary code of shared libraries to detect changes in the implementation. Add 'Problems with Implementation' section to the report. -show-retval

  • Show the symbol's return type in the report. -symbols-list PATH

  • This option allows one to specify a file with a list of symbols (mangled names in C++) that should be checked, other symbols will not be checked. -skip-symbols PATH

  • The list of symbols that should NOT be checked. -headers-list PATH

  • The file with a list of headers, that should be checked/dumped. -skip-headers PATH

  • The file with the list of header files, that should not be checked. -header NAME

  • Check/Dump ABI of this header only. -use-dumps

  • Make dumps for two versions of a library and compare dumps. This should increase the performance of the tool and decrease the system memory usage. -nostdinc

  • Do not search in GCC standard system directories for header files. -dump-system NAME -sysroot DIR

  • Find all the shared libraries and header files in DIR directory, create XML descriptors and make ABI dumps for each library. The result set of ABI dumps can be compared (--cmp-systems) with the other one created for other version of operating system in order to check them for compatibility. Do not forget to specify -cross-gcc option if your target system requires some specific version of GCC compiler (different from the host GCC). The system ABI dump will be generated to:

  • sys_dumps/NAME/ARCH -dump-system DESCRIPTOR.xml

  • The same as the previous option but takes an XML descriptor of the target system as input, where you should describe it:

  • /* Primary sections */

  • <name>

  • /* Name of the system */

  • </name>

  • <headers>

  • /* The list of paths to header files and/or

  • directories with header files, one per line */

  • </headers>

  • <libs>

  • /* The list of paths to shared libraries and/or

  • directories with shared libraries, one per line */

  • </libs>

  • /* Optional sections */

  • <search_headers>

  • /* List of directories to be searched

  • for header files to automatically generate include paths, one per line */

  • </search_headers>

  • <search_libs>

  • /* List of directories to be searched

  • for shared libraries to resolve dependencies, one per line */

  • </search_libs>

  • <tools>

  • /* List of directories with tools used

  • for analysis (GCC toolchain), one per line */

  • </tools>

  • <cross_prefix>

  • /* GCC toolchain prefix.


arm-linux-gnueabi arm-none-symbianelf */

  • </cross_prefix>

  • <gcc_options>

  • /* Additional GCC options, one per line */

  • </gcc_options> -sysinfo DIR

  • This option may be used with -dump-system to dump ABI of operating systems and configure the dumping process. Default:

  • modules/Targets/{unix, symbian, windows} -cmp-systems -d1 sys_dumps/NAME1/ARCH -d2 sys_dumps/NAME2/ARCH

  • Compare two system ABI dumps. Create compatibility reports for each library and the common HTML report including the summary of test results for all checked libraries. Report will be generated to:

  • sys_compat_reports/NAME1_to_NAME2/ARCH -libs-list PATH

  • The file with a list of libraries, that should be dumped by the -dump-system option or should be checked by the -cmp-systems option. -ext|-extended

  • If your library A is supposed to be used by other library B and you want to control the ABI of B, then you should enable this option. The tool will check for changes in all data types, even if they are not used by any function in the library A. Such data types are not part of the A library ABI, but may be a part of the ABI of the B library.

  • The short scheme is:

  • app C (broken) -> lib B (broken ABI) -> lib A (stable ABI) -q|-quiet

  • Print all messages to the file instead of stdout and stderr. Default path (can be changed by -log-path option):

  • logs/run.log -stdout

  • Print analysis results (compatibility reports and ABI dumps) to stdout instead of creating a file. This would allow piping data to other programs. -report-format FMT

  • Change format of compatibility report. Formats:

  • htm - HTML format (default) xml - XML format -dump-format FMT

  • Change format of ABI dump. Formats:

  • perl - Data::Dumper format (default) xml - XML format -xml

  • Alias for: --report-format=\,xml\/ or --dump-format=\,xml\/ -lang LANG

  • Set library language (C or C++). You can use this option if the tool cannot auto-detect a language. This option may be useful for checking C-library headers (--lang=\,C\/) in --headers-only or --extended modes. -binary|-bin|-abi

  • Show "Binary" compatibility problems only. Generate report to:

  • compat_reports/LIB_NAME/V1_to_V2/abi_compat_report.html -source|-src|-api

  • Show "Source" compatibility problems only. Generate report to:

  • compat_reports/LIB_NAME/V1_to_V2/src_compat_report.html -limit-affected LIMIT

  • The maximum number of affected symbols listed under the description of the changed type in the report.



  • Run internal tests. Create two binary incompatible versions of a sample library and run the tool to check them for compatibility. This option allows one to check if the tool works correctly in the current environment. -test-dump

  • Test ability to create, read and compare ABI dumps. -debug

  • Debugging mode. Print debug info on the screen. Save intermediate analysis stages in the debug directory:


  • Also consider using --dump option for debugging the tool. -cpp-compatible

  • If your header files are written in C language and can be compiled by the G++ compiler (i.e. don't use C++ keywords), then you can tell the tool about this and speedup the analysis. -cpp-incompatible

  • Set this option if input C header files use C++ keywords. -p|-params PATH

  • Path to file with the function parameter names. It can be used for improving report view if the library header files have no parameter names. File format:

  • func1;param1;param2;param3 ... func2;param1;param2;param3 ...

  • ... -relpath PATH

  • Replace {RELPATH} macros to PATH in the XML-descriptor used for dumping the library ABI (see -dump option). -relpath1 PATH

  • Replace {RELPATH} macros to PATH in the 1st XML-descriptor (-d1). -relpath2 PATH

  • Replace {RELPATH} macros to PATH in the 2nd XML-descriptor (-d2). -dump-path PATH

  • Specify a *.abi.tar.gz or *.abi file path where to generate an ABI dump. Default:

  • abi_dumps/LIB_NAME/LIB_NAME_VERSION.abi.tar.gz -sort

  • Enable sorting of data in ABI dumps. -report-path PATH

  • Path to compatibility report. Default:

  • compat_reports/LIB_NAME/V1_to_V2/compat_report.html -bin-report-path PATH

  • Path to "Binary" compatibility report. Default:

  • compat_reports/LIB_NAME/V1_to_V2/abi_compat_report.html -src-report-path PATH

  • Path to "Source" compatibility report. Default:

  • compat_reports/LIB_NAME/V1_to_V2/src_compat_report.html -log-path PATH

  • Log path for all messages. Default:

  • logs/LIB_NAME/VERSION/log.txt -log1-path PATH

  • Log path for 1st version of a library. Default:

  • logs/LIB_NAME/V1/log.txt -log2-path PATH

  • Log path for 2nd version of a library. Default:

  • logs/LIB_NAME/V2/log.txt -logging-mode MODE

  • Change logging mode. Modes:

  • w - overwrite old logs (default) a - append old logs n - do not write any logs -list-affected

  • Generate file with the list of incompatible symbols beside the HTML compatibility report. Use 'c++filt @file' command from GNU binutils to unmangle C++ symbols in the generated file. Default names:

  • abi_affected.txt src_affected.txt -component NAME

  • The component name in the title and summary of the HTML report. Default:

  • library -l-full|-lib-full NAME

  • Change library name in the report title to NAME. By default will be displayed a name specified by -l option. -b|-browse PROGRAM

  • Open report(s) in the browser (firefox, opera, etc.). -open

  • Open report(s) in the default browser. -extra-info DIR

  • Dump extra info to DIR. -extra-dump

  • Create extended ABI dump containing all symbols from the translation unit. -force

  • Try to use this option if the tool doesn't work. -tolerance LEVEL

  • Apply a set of heuristics to successfully compile input header files. You can enable several tolerance levels by joining them into one string (e.g. 13, 124, etc.). Levels:

  • 1 - skip non-Linux headers (e.g. win32_*.h, etc.) 2 - skip internal headers (e.g. *_p.h, impl/*.h, etc.) 3 - skip headers that iclude non-Linux headers 4 - skip headers included by others -tolerant

  • Enable highest tolerance level [1234]. -check

  • Check completeness of the ABI dump. -quick

  • Quick analysis. Disable check of some template instances. -skip-internal PATTERN

  • Do not check internal interfaces matched by the pattern.


  • Compatibility report will be generated to:

  • compat_reports/LIB_NAME/V1_to_V2/compat_report.html

  • Log will be generated to:

  • logs/LIB_NAME/V1/log.txt logs/LIB_NAME/V2/log.txt


  • 0 - Compatible. The tool has run without any errors. non-zero - Incompatible or the tool has run with errors.





This manual page was written by Mathieu Malaterre <[email protected]> for the Debian GNU/Linux system (but may be used by others).

Written by Andrey Ponomarenko.


Copyright © 2014 ROSA Laboratory License: LGPL or GPL <> This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it.