assert (CRT)

Evaluates an expression and, when the result is false, prints a diagnostic message and aborts the program.

void assert( 
   int expression 


  • expression
    Expression (including pointers) that evaluates to nonzero or 0.


The assert macro is typically used to identify logic errors during program development by implementing the expression argument to evaluate to false only when the program is operating incorrectly. After debugging is complete, assertion checking can be turned off without modifying the source file by defining the identifier NDEBUG. NDEBUG can be defined with a /D command-line option or with a #define directive. If NDEBUG is defined with #define, the directive must appear before ASSERT.H is included.

assert prints a diagnostic message when expression evaluates to false (0) and calls abort to terminate program execution. No action is taken if expression is true (nonzero). The diagnostic message includes the failed expression, the name of the source file and line number where the assertion failed.

In Visual C++ 2005, the diagnostic message is printed in wide characters. Thus, it will work as expected even if there are Unicode characters in the expression.

The destination of the diagnostic message depends on the type of application that called the routine. Console applications always receive the message through stderr. In a Windows-based application, assert calls the Windows MessageBox function to create a message box to display the message along with an OK button. When the user clicks OK, the program aborts immediately.

When the application is linked with a debug version of the run-time libraries, assert creates a message box with three buttons: Abort, Retry, and Ignore. If the user clicks Abort, the program aborts immediately. If the user clicks Retry, the debugger is called and the user can debug the program if just-in-time (JIT) debugging is enabled. If the user clicks Ignore, assert continues with its normal execution: creating the message box with the OK button. Note that clicking Ignore when an error condition exists can result in undefined behavior.

For more information about CRT debugging, see CRT Debugging Techniques.

The assert routine is available in both the release and debug versions of the C run-time libraries. Two other assertion macros, _ASSERT and _ASSERTE, are also available, but they only evaluate the expressions passed to them when the _DEBUG flag has been defined.



Required header




In this program, the analyze_string function uses the assert function to test several conditions related to string and length. If any of the conditions fails, the program prints a message indicating what caused the failure.

// crt_assert.c
// compile with: /c
#include <stdio.h>
#include <assert.h>
#include <string.h>

void analyze_string( char *string );   // Prototype

int main( void )
   char  test1[] = "abc", *test2 = NULL, test3[] = "";

   printf ( "Analyzing string '%s'\n", test1 ); fflush( stdout );
   analyze_string( test1 );
   printf ( "Analyzing string '%s'\n", test2 ); fflush( stdout );
   analyze_string( test2 );
   printf ( "Analyzing string '%s'\n", test3 ); fflush( stdout );
   analyze_string( test3 );

// Tests a string to see if it is NULL, 
// empty, or longer than 0 characters.
void analyze_string( char * string )
   assert( string != NULL );        // Cannot be NULL
   assert( *string != '\0' );       // Cannot be empty
   assert( strlen( string ) > 2 );  // Length must exceed 2

Analyzing string 'abc' Analyzing string '(null)' Assertion failed: string != NULL, file crt_assert.c, line 24 This application has requested the Runtime to terminate it in an unusual way. Please contact the application's support team for more information.

.NET Framework Equivalent


See Also


Error Handling (CRT)

Process and Environment Control