## Question

I’ve always wondered this - why can’t you declare variables after a case label in a switch statement? In C++ you can declare variables pretty much anywhere (and declaring them close to first use is obviously a good thing) but the following still won’t work:

The above gives me the following error (MSC):

initialization of ‘newVal’ is skipped by ‘case’ label

This seems to be a limitation in other languages too. Why is this such a problem?

This question is tagged as [C] and [C++] at the same time. The original code is indeed invalid in both C and C++, but for completely different unrelated reasons. I believe this important detail was missed (or obfuscated) by the existing answers.

• In C++ this code is invalid because the case ANOTHER_VAL: label jumps into the scope of variable newVal bypassing its initialization. Jumps that bypass initialization of local objects are illegal in C++. This side of the issue is correctly addressed by most answers.

• However, in C language bypassing variable initialization is not an error. Jumping into the scope of a variable over it initialization is legal in C. It simply means that the variable is left uninitialized. The original code does not compile in C for a completely different reason. Label case VAL: in the original code is attached to the declaration of variable newVal. In C language declarations are not statements. They cannot be labeled. And this is what causes the error when this code is interpreted as C code.

Adding an extra {} block fixes both C++ and C problems, even though these problems happen to be very different. On the C++ side it restricts the scope of newVal, making sure that case ANOTHER_VAL: no longer jumps into that scope, which eliminates the C++ issue. On the C side that extra {} introduces a compound statement, thus making the case VAL: label to apply to a statement, which eliminates the C issue.

• In C case the problem can be easily solved without the {}. Just add an empty statement after the case VAL: label and the code will become valid

Note that even though it is now valid from C point of view, it remains invalid from C++ point of view.

• Symmetrically, in C++ case the the problem can be easily solved without the {}. Just remove the initializer from variable declaration and the code will become valid

Note that even though it is now valid from C++ point of view, it remains invalid from C point of view.