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How many `malloc` calls is too many? If any?
It's not actually a problem right now, I just don't want it to become a problem. The 1-malloc-per-object is more down to the way the api is designed than a specific though process. I have written code (a parser too) that worked like your parser.
Are unit tests really that useful?
@MasonWheeler That's a very nice horse you're beating, I think it may have died though... SQLite has that many tests because its a goddamn database. I want to make sure that works. As another example, the Silverstripe framework has close to a 1:1 ratio of tests:code, so it's not like SQLite is representative.
How long should someone take classes in a language they don't plan to work professionally in?
Pretty much my answer. Assumming that you're not at a technical school, the skills in programming are more important than the languages. At any rate, you never know what langauges you might use out in the wild.