Functions should be named according to one of the following schemes:

  • verb_noun
  • verb_noun_with_noun
  • noun_attribute
  • set_noun_attribute
  • noun_from_noun -- convert from one type to another (avoid noun_to_noun)

Prefixes are mandatory for exported functions, macros, enums, globals and types.

  • fz for common code
  • pdf, xps, etc., for interpreter specific code

Prefixes are optional (but encouraged) for private functions and types.

Avoid using 'get' as this is a meaningless and redundant filler word.

These words are reserved for reference counting schemes:

  • new, create, find, load, open, keep -- return objects that you are responsible for freeing.
  • drop -- relinquish ownership of the object passed in.

When searching for an object or value, the name used depends on whether returning the value is passing ownership:

  • lookup -- return a value or borrowed pointer
  • find -- return an object that the caller is responsible for freeing


Various different integer types are used throughout MuPDF.

In general:

  • int is assumed to be 32bit at least.
  • short is assumed to be exactly 16 bits.
  • char is assumed to be exactly 8 bits.
  • array sizes, string lengths, and allocations are measured using size_t. size_t is 32bit in 32bit builds, and 64bit on all 64bit builds.
  • buffers of data use unsigned chars (or uint8_t).
  • Offsets within files/streams are represented using int64_t.

In addition, we use floats (and avoid doubles when possible), assumed to be IEEE compliant.

Reference counting

Reference counting uses special words in functions to make it easy to remember and follow the rules.

Words that take ownership: new, find, load, open, keep.

Words that release ownership: drop.

If an object is returned by a function with one of the special words that take ownership, you are responsible for freeing it by calling "drop" or "free", or "close" before you return. You may pass ownership of an owned object by return it only if you name the function using one of the special words.

Any objects returned by functions that do not have any of these special words, are borrowed and have a limited life time. Do not hold on to them past the duration of the current function, or stow them away inside structs. If you need to keep the object for longer than that, you have to either "keep" it or make your own copy.