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Ugly Null Arguments

The -fugly-comma option enables use of a single trailing comma to mean "pass an extra trailing null argument" in a list of actual arguments to an external procedure, and use of an empty list of arguments to such a procedure to mean "pass a single null argument".

(Null arguments often are used in some procedure-calling schemes to indicate omitted arguments.)

For example, CALL FOO(,) means "pass two null arguments", rather than "pass one null argument". Also, CALL BAR() means "pass one null argument".

This construct is considered "ugly" because it does not provide an elegant way to pass a single null argument that is syntactically distinct from passing no arguments. That is, this construct changes the meaning of code that makes no use of the construct.

So, with -fugly-comma in force, CALL FOO() and I = JFUNC() pass a single null argument, instead of passing no arguments as required by the Fortran 77 and 90 standards.

Note: Many systems gracefully allow the case where a procedure call passes one extra argument that the called procedure does not expect.

So, in practice, there might be no difference in the behavior of a program that does CALL FOO() or I = JFUNC() and is compiled with -fugly-comma in force as compared to its behavior when compiled with the default, -fno-ugly-comma, in force, assuming FOO and JFUNC do not expect any arguments to be passed.