There might be occasions in which it is more convenient to have the dottedquad IP number converted into a 32-bit host-ordered value. This is more convenient when you are applying mask values to extract host or network bits from the addresses. The function synopsis for inet_network(3) is as follows:
unsigned long inet_network(const char *addr);
This function takes one input string containing a dotted quad address in argument addr. The return value is the 32-bit value of the IP address, but in host-order format. However, if the input value is malformed, the returned result will be 0xFFFFFFFF (all 1 bits). Having the returned value in host-endian order means that you can safely assume constants for mask values and bit positions. If the returned value were in network-endian order, the constants and code would then be different for different CPU platforms.
An example of how inet_network(3) might be used is shown next. The following shows how to extract the network address from a class C address:
unsigned long net_addr;
net_addr = inet_network("192.168.9.1") & 0xFFFFFF00;
The value assigned to net_addr would be the value 0xC0A80900 (or 192.168.9.0 in dottedquad notation). The logical and operation masked out the low-order eight bits to arrive at the network ID without the host ID.