I know this post’s headline is a bit boring: More Rules for Expressions. Honestly, this post is about code hygiene because I will mainly write about pointers.
Let’s have a look at my plan for today.
- ES.42: Keep use of pointers simple and straightforward
- ES.45: Avoid “magic constants”; use symbolic constants
- ES.47: Use
I will start with a significant rule.
Let me cite the words of the guidelines: “Complicated pointer manipulation is a major source of errors.”. Why should we care? Of course, our legacy code is full of functionality, such as this example:
The main issue with this code is that the caller must provide the correct length of the C-array. If not, we have undefined behavior.
Think about the last lines (1) and (2) for a few seconds. We start with an array and remove its type information by passing it to the function f. This process is called an array-to-pointer decay and is the reason for many errors. Maybe we had a bad day, and we count the number of elements wrong, or the size of the C-array changed. Anyway, the result is always the same: undefined behavior. The same argumentation will also hold for a C-string.
What should we do? We should use the right data type. The Guidelines suggest using gsl::spantype from the Guidelines Support Library (GSL). Have a look here:
Fine! gsl::span checks at run-time its boundaries. Additionally, the Guidelines Support Library has a free function at for accessing the elements of an gsl::span.
I know your issue. Most of you don’t use the Guidelines Support Library. No problem. It’s quite easy to rewrite the functions f and f3 using the container std::array and the method std::array::at. Here we are:
The std::array::at Operator will check at runtime its bounds. If pos >= size(), you will get an std::out_of_range exception. Looking carefully at the spanVersusArray.cpp program, you will notice two issues. First, the expression (1) is more verbose than the gsl::span version and second, the size of the std::array is part of the signature of the function f. This is bad. I can only use f with the type std::array<int, 100>. In this case, the checks of the array size inside the function are superfluous.
To your rescue, C++ has templates; therefore, it’s easy to overcome the type restrictions but stay type-safe.
Now, the function f works for std::array’s of different sizes and types (lines (1) and (2)) but also for a std::vector(3) or a std::string (4). This container has in common that its data is stored in a contiguous memory block. This will not hold std::deque; therefore, the call a.data() in expression (5) fails. A std::deque is a kind of doubly-linked list of small memory blocks.
The expression T::value_type (5) helps me get each container’s underlying value type. T is a so-called dependent type because T is a type parameter of the function template f. This is the reason I have to give the compiler a hint that T::value_type is a type: typename T::value_type.
This is obvious: A symbolic constant says more than a magic constant.
The guidelines start with a magic constant, continue with a symbolic constant, and finish with a range-based for loop.
In the case of the ranged-based for loop, it is not possible to make an off-by-one error.
Let me directly jump to the rule ES.47. I want to put the rules for conversion, including ES.46, in a separate post.
There are many reasons to use a nullptr instead of the number 0 or the macro NULL. In particular, 0 or NULL will not work in generic. I have already written a post about these three kinds of null pointers. Here are the details: The Null Pointer Constant nullptr.
How many explicit casts do we have in modern C++? Maybe your number is four, but this is the wrong number. In C++11, we have six explicit casts. When I Include the GSL, we have eight explicit casts. I will write about the eight casts in the next post.
Thanks a lot to my Patreon Supporters: Matt Braun, Roman Postanciuc, Tobias Zindl, G Prvulovic, Reinhold Dröge, Abernitzke, Frank Grimm, Sakib, Broeserl, António Pina, Sergey Agafyin, Андрей Бурмистров, Jake, GS, Lawton Shoemake, Jozo Leko, John Breland, Venkat Nandam, Jose Francisco, Douglas Tinkham, Kuchlong Kuchlong, Robert Blanch, Truels Wissneth, Kris Kafka, Mario Luoni, Friedrich Huber, lennonli, Pramod Tikare Muralidhara, Peter Ware, Daniel Hufschläger, Alessandro Pezzato, Bob Perry, Satish Vangipuram, Andi Ireland, Richard Ohnemus, Michael Dunsky, Leo Goodstadt, John Wiederhirn, Yacob Cohen-Arazi, Florian Tischler, Robin Furness, Michael Young, Holger Detering, Bernd Mühlhaus, Matthieu Bolt, Stephen Kelley, Kyle Dean, Tusar Palauri, Dmitry Farberov, Juan Dent, George Liao, Daniel Ceperley, Jon T Hess, Stephen Totten, Wolfgang Fütterer, Matthias Grün, Phillip Diekmann, Ben Atakora, Ann Shatoff, Rob North, Bhavith C Achar, and Marco Parri Empoli.
Thanks, in particular, to Jon Hess, Lakshman, Christian Wittenhorst, Sherhy Pyton, Dendi Suhubdy, Sudhakar Belagurusamy, Richard Sargeant, Rusty Fleming, John Nebel, Mipko, Alicja Kaminska, Slavko Radman, and David Poole.
|My special thanks to Embarcadero|
|My special thanks to PVS-Studio|
|My special thanks to Tipi.build|
|My special thanks to Take Up Code|
I’m happy to give online seminars or face-to-face seminars worldwide. Please call me if you have any questions.
- Embedded Programmierung mit modernem C++ 12.12.2023 – 14.12.2023 (Präsenzschulung, Termingarantie)
Standard Seminars (English/German)
Here is a compilation of my standard seminars. These seminars are only meant to give you a first orientation.
- C++ – The Core Language
- C++ – The Standard Library
- C++ – Compact
- C++11 and C++14
- Concurrency with Modern C++
- Design Pattern and Architectural Pattern with C++
- Embedded Programming with Modern C++
- Generic Programming (Templates) with C++
- Clean Code with Modern C++
- Phone: +49 7472 917441
- Mobil:: +49 176 5506 5086
- Mail: schulung@ModernesCpp.de
- German Seminar Page: www.ModernesCpp.de
- Mentoring Page: www.ModernesCpp.org
Modernes C++ Mentoring,