Sun Studio 12: C++ User's Guide

4.4 Making Forward Declarations of enum Types and Variables

When you use -features=extensions, the compiler allows the forward declaration of enum types and variables. In addition, the compiler allows the declaration of a variable with an incomplete enum type. The compiler will always assume an incomplete enum type to have the same size and range as type int on the current platform.

The following two lines show an example of invalid code that will compile when you use the -features=extensions option.

enum E; // invalid: forward declaration of enum not allowed
E e;    // invalid: type E is incomplete

Because enum definitions cannot reference one another, and no enum definition can cross-reference another type, the forward declaration of an enumeration type is never necessary. To make the code valid, you can always provide the full definition of the enum before it is used.

Note –

On 64-bit architectures, it is possible for an enum to require a size that is larger than type int. If that is the case, and if the forward declaration and the definition are visible in the same compilation, the compiler will emit an error. If the actual size is not the assumed size and the compiler does not see the discrepancy, the code will compile and link, but might not run properly. Mysterious program behavior can occur, particularly if an 8-byte value is stored in a 4-byte variable.