Maintaining the style of your code is manageable if it’s just you, but how do you handle commits from an entire team? If you haven’t used a code beautifier, such as Uncrustify, they’re extremely useful tools that keep your codebase consistently formatted.

Several benefits are immediately apparent:

  • configurable to match your coding standards

  • easily enforce and apply to your project(s)

  • prevent useless whitespace commits, fix alignment and indentation, place brackets inline or on a newline, etc

  • allow code reviews to focus on features and architecture


Uncrustify is available on several Linux flavors and can be run in Cygwin on Windows. I’m currently using an Ubuntu development environment at home.

sudo apt-get install uncrustify


It’s easiest to start with a pre-existing config file and edit to fit your coding standards. You can find several examples online, Uncrustify provides a default config file here


Running uncrustify is pretty straight forward. Check the –help for a full list of options.

# -c            point to where your config file is stored
# --no-backup   replace files without backups, prevents unnecessary files in your repo
uncrustify -c ~/uncrustify.cfg --no-backup *.cpp
uncrustify -c ~/uncrustify.cfg --no-backup *.h

However, that’s not ideal. I want to use a single command to run uncrustify recursively over all source files in my project. Creating a custom alias will allow me to do this using a meaningful command (‘uncrustify-all’, ‘formatcode’, ‘wtf-did-you-do-to-my-repo’, etc).

This can be done by adding the following line to your .bashrc

alias uncrustify-all='find . \( -name "*.cpp" -o -name "*.c" -o -name "*.h" \) -exec uncrustify -c ~/uncrustify.cfg --no-backup {} +'

Now it’s a simple matter to navigate to my project’s directory, format, commit, and push.