PreProcessor Commands

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The PreProcessor and the Config Parser allow to use macros in configs. The purpose of macros is to re-use the same definition in scripts and configs multiple times. It also gives a centralized place to correct errors in this definition. Know that edge cases may arise - see the collection of test-cases linked at the end of this page.

Arma 3
In Arma 3, preprocessor commands are case-sensitive!


See Config Parser below:



A comment is a line within code that is not actually processed by the game engine. They are used to make code more readable or to add notes for future reference. The preprocessor removes all comments from the file before it is processed. Therefore, comments are never actually "seen" by the game engine.

Sometimes a problematic string can fail to purge these comment outs during preprocessing!
private _a = '"'; // this is just a comment, but failed to remove upon the preprocess so will return an error. Caused by that string
// this is a single-line comment
	this is a
myValue = something; // only this part of the line is commented out

myArray = { "apple"/*, "banana"*/, "pear" }; // a portion in the middle of this line is commented out


Using the #define instruction, it is possible to define a keyword and assign a definition to it. The keyword may contain any letter, digit or underscore in arbitrary order, as long as it does not start with a digit (RegEx: [a-zA-Z_][0-9a-zA-Z_]*). As an example:

#define true 1

The above means that whenever true is used in a config, the parser will replace this with the value 1.

The define-statement does swallow all spaces in between the macro-keyword and any non-space-character in the body (Note that tabs are not spaces! They don't get removed)

#define MACRO                     test
MACRO // preprocesses to test (without any spaces)

#define MACRO	test // There's a tab between MACRO and test
MACRO // preprocesses to "	test" (without quotes - they are only used to show that the tab character didn't get removed)

The space between the macro-keyword and the body is also fully optional (though very useful to tell the preprocessor where the macro name ends and where the body begins):

#define MACRO#test
MACRO // preprocesses to "test"


Arguments can be added to more complex macros, by including them between brackets after the keyword. For the name of the arguments the same rule as for the macro-keyword (see above) apply.

#define CAR(NAME) displayName = NAME;

If CAR("Mini") is used, it will be replaced with displayName = "Mini";. Multiple arguments can also be used:

#define BLASTOFF(UNIT,RATE) UNIT setVelocity [0,0,RATE];

Macro arguments may be composed of any characters, as long as they do not contain a comma (because commas are used as argument-delimiters). If quotes are being used, they have to be balanced. The same applies to single-quotes; this is because String detection is working in macro arguments - therefore commas can even get passed in as a macro argument as long as they are part of a String (This only works with Strings wrapped in double-quotes though). Note however that although the macro gets resolved properly, the comma gets removed from the String (probably a bug).

#define MACRO(arg) arg
MACRO("Some, content") // preprocesses to "Some content" (note the missing comma)

Quote escaping is also not supported in this context (neither with double- nor with single-quotes)

#define MACRO(arg) arg
MACRO("Some ""content""") // preprocesses to "Some ""content"""

Passing arrays with more than one element [el1,el2,...] as arguments into macros as well as any argument containing comas "some, sentence", will need a small workaround:

#define HINTARG(ARG) hint ("Passed argument: " + str ARG)

Incorrect usage:

HINTARG([1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0]); // ERROR, won't even compile

Correct usage:

#define array1 [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0] 

The argument replacement is performed before the expansion of the macro body. That means one doesn't have to worry about name-conflicts between argument-names of the current macro and already defined macros:

#define ONE foo
#define TWO(ONE) ONE
TWO(bar) // will preprocess to bar

Replacing parts of words

By default, only whole words can be replaced by arguments. If only a part of the word should be replaced, use the ## instruction. This is necessary when either the start or the end of the argument connects to another character that is not a ; (semi-colon) or   (space).

class NAME##_Button_Slider: RscText \
{ \
	model = \OFP2\Structures\Various\##FOLDER##\##FOLDER; \

It is also possible to use the single # to convert an argument to a string.

statement = (this animate [#SEL, 0]); \


For longer definitions, one can stretch the macro across multiple lines. To create a multi-line definition, each line except the last one should end with a \ character:

	__EXEC(idcNav = idcNav + 4) \
	// ...
The backslash must be the last character in a line when defining a multi-line macro. Any character (including spaces) after the backslash will cause issues.


Undefine (delete) a macro previously set by the use of #define.

#undef NAME


Description: Checks condition and processes content if condition returns 1. Skips content if it returns 0

#if __GAME_VER_MAJ__ != 2
// Do something...

Comparison Operators

The following operations are supported:

  • <
  • >
  • <=
  • >=
  • ==
  • !=


#if __GAME_VER_MAJ__ != 2
// Do something...


A simple if-then construction to check whether a certain set of definitions has already been made:

#ifdef NAME
	// config that will be used if NAME is defined

IFDEFs cannot be nested. The preprocessor will generate errors for all inner definitions if the outer definition doesn't exist.


Same as #ifdef, but checks for absence of definition instead.

#ifndef NAME
	// config that will be used if NAME is -not- defined


Provides alternative code to #if, #ifdef, #ifndef checks.

#ifndef NAME
	// config that will be used if NAME is -not- defined
	// config that will be used if NAME -is- defined


This ends a conditional block as shown in the descriptions of #ifdef and #ifndef above.


Copies the code from a target file and pastes it where #include directive is.

#include "file.hpp"
#include <file.txt> // Brackets are equivalent to quotation marks and may be used in their place.

Source directory is:

  • For any file without starting the include path with \ - the file's current directory
  • When starting with \ - the internal filesystem root (see Addon Development) or the Game's working directory (only with -filePatching enabled)

A path beginning can be defined as follow:

  • drive (only with -filePatching enabled):
    #include "D:\file.txt"
     #include "\myMod\myAddon\file.txt"
  • PBO (keep in mind that in this case, if the PBO's file name will be changed, all '#include' referencing it will need to be updated):
    #include"\myMod\myAddon\file.txt" // Arma 3\@myMod\addons\myAddon.pbo\file.txt;

To move to parent directory use '..' (two dots) (Supported since Arma 3 logo black.png1.50):

#include "..\file.sqf"

Preprocessor does not support the use of macros for pre-defined file names.

#define path "codestrip.txt"
#include path // this will cause an error


'#' (single hash) operator wraps the text with quotation marks.

#define STRINGIFY(s) #s
#define FOO 123
test1 = STRINGIFY(123); //test1 = "123";
test2 = STRINGIFY(FOO); //test2 = "123";

This operator does only work on keywords following the rules for macro-names (see #define-section). If one wants to stringify anything else (like e.g. a number), one has to use a stringify-macro that takes an argument and stringifies that (as in the example above).

#define MACRO Test #123
MACRO // preprocesses to Test 123 - note that there are not any quotes inserted


'##' (double hash) operator concatenates what's before the ## with what's after it.

#define GLUE(g1,g2) g1##g2
#define FOO 123
#define BAR 456
test1 = GLUE(123,456); //test1 = 123456;
test2 = GLUE(FOO,BAR); //test2 = 123456;


This keyword gets replaced with the line number in the file where it is found. For example, if __LINE__ is found on the 10th line of a file, the word __LINE__ will be replaced with the number 10.


This keyword gets replaced with the CURRENT file being processed. e.g



This keyword gets replaced with the name of the current file being processed. e.g



This keyword gets replaced with the name of the current file being processed, without extension. e.g



Description: Checks if given file exists. Returns 1 if it does, 0 if it does not exist.

  • The file path must start with the backslash \ otherwise it would fail silently (returns 0 so does nothing unless you put something in #else)!
  • If you wanted to make an addon that can change its config dynamically depending on mods that loaded along, do not binarize the config.cpp!
To validate that the file exists in your game, you can use fileExists command to check.
fileExists "\a3\data_f\config.bin"; // returns true fileExists "\z\ace\addons\main\script_component.hpp"; // returns true if ACE is loaded, false otherwise
#if __has_include("\z\ace\addons\main\script_component.hpp")
// file exists! Do something with it
// file does not exist


Description: Is replaced for current date in format array.

__DATE_ARR__ // 2020,10,28,15,17,42


Description: Is replaced for current date in format string.

__DATE_STR__  // "2020/10/28, 15:17:42"


Description: Is replaced for current date in format string. The date is presented in ISO8601 standard.

__DATE_STR_ISO8601__ // "2020-10-28T14:17:42Z"


Description: Is replaced for current time.

__TIME__ // 15:17:42


Description: Is replaced for UTC time.

__TIME_UTC__ // 14:17:42


Description: Is replaced for UTC day.

__DAY__ // 20


Description: Is replaced for UTC month.

__MONTH__ // 11


Description: Is replaced for UTC year.

__YEAR__ // 2023


Description: Counts 1 up everytime it is defined.

__COUNTER__ // 0
__COUNTER__ // 1
__COUNTER__ // 2
__COUNTER__ // 3
__COUNTER__ // 0
__COUNTER__ // 1
__COUNTER__ // 2


Description: Is replaced to the current timestamp in UNIX timestamp.

__TIMESTAMP_UTC__ // 1622639059


Description: Resets counter. See example above.


Description: Gets replaced by a random N bit integer. N can be 8, 16, 32 or 64, e.g:

__RAND_INT8__ // e.g -102


Description: Gets replaced by a random unsigned N bit integer. N can be 8, 16, 32 or 64, e.g:

__RAND_UINT8__ // 108


Description: Gets replaced by the game version.

__GAME_VER__ // 02.00.146790


Description: Gets replaced by the major game version.

__GAME_VER_MAJ__ // 02


Description: Gets replaced by the minor game version.

__GAME_VER_MIN__ // 00


Description: Gets replaced by the build number.

__GAME_BUILD__ // 146790


Description: Gets replaced by 1 on diag, undefined otherwise.

__GAME_BUILD__ // 1



__ARMA__ // 1



__ARMA3__ // 1


Description: This macro is only set when the -debug parameter was provided. It can be used to switch mods or scripts to debug mode dynamically.

__A3_DEBUG__ // 1 (if -debug was enabled)


Description: This macro is only set in experimental game builds (Development branch or Profiling branch)

__A3_EXPERIMENTAL__ // 1 (if on dev or profiling branch)

can be combined with game build to check for bugfixes added to profiling branch (in case a stable branch hotfix is released with a higher buildnumber but that doesn't include the fix)

#if __GAME_VER_MIN__ >= 16 //#TODO remove this workaround when 2.16 is released
#define BUG_FIXED

#if __GAME_BUILD__ > 151035 // Builds newer than this
#if __A3_EXPERIMENTAL__ // But on experimental only
#define BUG_FIXED

#ifdef BUG_FIXED
use the thing
don't use the thing and have some workaround


Description: This macro is only set when Profiling commands are available (Development branch diag binary or in Profiling branch profiling binary)

#if __A3_PROFILING__
diag_captureFrame 1;

Config Parser

  • __EXEC and __EVAL cannot be used in preprocessor Macros, e.g #if!


This Config Parser macro allows to assign values to internal variables or just execute arbitrary code. The code inside __EXEC macros runs in parsingNamespace and variables defined in it will also be created in parsingNamespace. The variables can then be used to create more complex macros:

__EXEC(cat = 5 + 1;)
__EXEC(lev = cat - 2;)

_cat = parsingNamespace getVariable "cat"; // 6 _lev = parsingNamespace getVariable "lev"; // 4

__EXEC does not like round brackets () inside expressions. If grouping is needed, perhaps values could be calculated inside the brackets separately and assigned to local variables:
__EXEC(a = (1+2);) // ERROR
__EXEC(_expr = 1+2;)
__EXEC(a = _expr;) // OK


With this Config Parser macro expressions can be evaluated, including previously assigned internal variables. Unlike __EXEC, __EVAL supports multiple parentheses:

w = __EVAL(safeZoneW - (5 * ((1 / (getResolution select 2)) * 1.25 * 4)));
  • __EVAL macros must be assigned to a config property and the expression must be terminated with ;.
  • __EVAL can only return Number or String. Any other type is represented as String, even Boolean type (which would result in either "true" or "false").
if code is needed in the expression, use compile String instead. Like so:
result = __EVAL(call compile "123");
that is because __EVAL is incapable of dealing with curly brackets {}


Error 2

Preprocessor failed error 2.
How to fix
Add quotation marks in the title, or the file path. (e.g. #include "soGood.sqf").

Error 6

Preprocessor failed on file X - error 6.
Known reasons
"The problem is using #ifdef #ifdef #endif #endif, a.k.a nested #ifdef. This doesn't work in Arma. It's only possible to use #ifdef and #endif once and not nested."
#endif without preceding #ifdef or #ifndef

Error 7

Preprocessor failed on file X - error 7.
Known reasons
The preprocessor encountered an unknown directive. Read, as a typo most has likely found a way into the file (something like #inlcude or #defien). Double-check all preprocessor directives in that file.

External links