Error Handling Strategies in Embedded C++

11 Min Read

Error Handling Strategies in Embedded C++? Let’s dive into the exciting world of error handling strategies in embedded C++. Grab your coding gear and get ready for a rollercoaster ride! ?


Picture this: you’re working on a cutting-edge embedded system project, where every millisecond counts. Your code needs to be reliable, robust, and capable of handling errors that may arise during its execution. Here’s where error handling strategies come in to save the day! ?

In this blog post, we’ll explore various error handling strategies in embedded C++ to help you write code that can gracefully handle unexpected scenarios. So, let’s buckle up and get started!

I. Exception handling in Embedded C++

A. Try-catch blocks

As a programmer, you know that errors can occur at any point in your code. The try-catch blocks come to the rescue by providing a mechanism to detect and handle these errors. Within the try block, you can place the code that might trigger an exception.

try {
  // Code that might throw an exception
catch (ExceptionType e) {
  // Handle the exception

1. Error detection within try blocks

The code within the try block is monitored, and if an exception is thrown, the program execution jumps to the catch block. It’s like a safety net that catches you when you fall! ?

2. Exception handling using catch blocks

In the catch block, you can define how you want to handle the exception. You can log the error, display a friendly message to the user, or take any other appropriate action based on the exception type.

3. Throwing custom exceptions

Not just limited to built-in exception types, you can also create custom exceptions to handle specific errors in a more tailored manner. This gives you more control over the flow of your program.

B. RAII (Resource Acquisition Is Initialization)

RAII (pronounced “ray”) is a powerful concept in C++ that ensures resource management and exception safety. It’s like having a personal assistant who takes care of all your resource management tasks! ?

1. Overview of RAII concept in C++

RAII enforces the principle that resource acquisition and release should be tied to object initialization and destruction, respectively. You can use destructors to automatically release resources when an object goes out of scope.

2. How RAII can be used for exception safety in embedded C++

By using RAII, you can make your code more resilient to exceptions. Resources are automatically cleaned up in case an exception occurs, eliminating the need for manual cleanup.

3. Example of RAII implementation in an embedded system

Consider a scenario where you need to ensure that a specific peripheral device is properly initialized and cleaned up in an embedded system. With RAII, you can encapsulate the resource management logic in a class and let C++ handle the cleanup automatically.

II. Error Codes and Return Values

Sometimes, exceptions may not be the best fit for your embedded system due to resource constraints or real-time requirements. In such cases, error codes and return values can be your go-to tools! ?

A. Using error codes in embedded C++

Error codes are numeric values that indicate the type and nature of an error. Let’s explore how you can leverage error codes effectively in your embedded C++ projects.

1. Defining error codes and their meanings

Define a set of error codes, each representing a specific type of error that can occur in your system. Document and communicate these error codes to enhance code clarity and reduce debugging time.

2. Handling error codes in functions

When writing functions, make sure to return appropriate error codes to indicate the success or failure of the operation. The calling code can then check the returned error code and take the necessary actions accordingly.

3. Propagating error codes through function calls

In scenarios where functions call other functions, propagate the error codes up the calling stack. This ensures that errors are handled at the appropriate level and enables more granular error reporting and recovery.

B. Returning values to indicate errors

Another common approach in embedded C++ is to use specific return values to indicate different error conditions. Let’s explore how this technique can be used effectively.

1. Using specific return values to indicate errors

Instead of error codes, you can use specific return values, such as nullptr or negative numbers, to indicate different error scenarios. This approach can be particularly useful when the number of possible errors is limited.

2. Enumerated types for error identification

Using enumerated types to represent different error conditions adds clarity to your code. You can define an enum with meaningful names for possible errors and return the appropriate value.

3. Checking return values for error conditions

Whenever you call a function that can potentially return an error value, make sure to check the returned value. This enables you to handle errors promptly and take appropriate action based on the return value.

C. Error handling with error flags

Error flags are boolean values that indicate the occurrence of an error. They provide a simple and intuitive way to handle errors in embedded systems.

1. Setting and checking error flags

Whenever an error occurs, set the corresponding error flag to true. Subsequently, you can check the values of these flags to detect errors and take appropriate action.

2. Using flag-based error handling approaches

Flags can be used in conjunction with conditional statements to handle errors. If an error flag is set, you can execute specific error handling code or display error messages.

3. Resetting error flags and error recovery

Once an error is detected and handled, it’s important to reset the error flags to enable error recovery. This ensures that subsequent operations can proceed smoothly without being affected by previous errors.

Sample Program Code – C++ for Embedded Systems


// Custom exception class for invalid input
class InvalidInputException : public std::exception {
    const char* what() const noexcept {
        return 'Invalid Input';

// Function to handle and validate user input
int getUserInput() {
    std::cout << 'Enter a positive number: '; int input; std::cin >> input;

    if (input <= 0) {
        throw InvalidInputException();

    return input;

// Function to calculate the factorial of a number
int calculateFactorial(int n) {
    int result = 1;
    for (int i = 1; i <= n; i++) {
        result *= i;
    return result;

int main() {
    try {
        int input = getUserInput();
        int factorial = calculateFactorial(input);
        std::cout << 'The factorial of ' << input << ' is ' << factorial << std::endl;
    catch (const InvalidInputException& e) {
        std::cerr << 'Error: ' << e.what() << std::endl;
        // Handle the error here, e.g. prompt the user to enter a valid input
        return 1;
    catch (const std::exception& e) {
        std::cerr << 'Error: ' << e.what() << std::endl;
        // Handle any other generic exception here
        return 1;

    return 0;

Example Output:

Enter a positive number: -5
Error: Invalid Input

Example Detailed Explanation:

This program demonstrates a simple error handling strategy in embedded C++. The program allows the user to enter a positive number, calculates its factorial, and prints the result.

The program makes use of a custom exception class called InvalidInputException, which is derived from std::exception. This exception class is used to handle cases where the user enters invalid input, i.e., a non-positive number.

The function getUserInput() prompts the user to enter a positive number and throws the InvalidInputException if the input is less than or equal to zero.

The function calculateFactorial() calculates the factorial of the given number using a simple for loop.

In the main function, the program calls getUserInput() to get the user’s input, then calls calculateFactorial() to calculate the factorial. If an exception is thrown during the execution of these functions, the program catches the exception and prints an error message.

The program follows best practices in error handling, such as using specific custom exception classes and catching exceptions at appropriate levels. It also provides informative error messages to the user for better understanding and debugging.

This program can be extended further by adding more error handling mechanisms, such as input validation for specific ranges, exception handling for memory allocation failures, or error reporting using error codes or logging mechanisms in an embedded system environment.

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Exit mobile version