Book Image

Modern C++ Programming Cookbook - Second Edition

By : Marius Bancila
Book Image

Modern C++ Programming Cookbook - Second Edition

By: Marius Bancila

Overview of this book

C++ has come a long way to be one of the most widely used general-purpose languages that is fast, efficient, and high-performance at its core. The updated second edition of Modern C++ Programming Cookbook addresses the latest features of C++20, such as modules, concepts, coroutines, and the many additions to the standard library, including ranges and text formatting. The book is organized in the form of practical recipes covering a wide range of problems faced by modern developers. The book also delves into the details of all the core concepts in modern C++ programming, such as functions and classes, iterators and algorithms, streams and the file system, threading and concurrency, smart pointers and move semantics, and many others. It goes into the performance aspects of programming in depth, teaching developers how to write fast and lean code with the help of best practices. Furthermore, the book explores useful patterns and delves into the implementation of many idioms, including pimpl, named parameter, and attorney-client, teaching techniques such as avoiding repetition with the factory pattern. There is also a chapter dedicated to unit testing, where you are introduced to three of the most widely used libraries for C++: Boost.Test, Google Test, and Catch2. By the end of the book, you will be able to effectively leverage the features and techniques of C++11/14/17/20 programming to enhance the performance, scalability, and efficiency of your applications.
Table of Contents (16 chapters)
Other Books You May Enjoy

Creating type aliases and alias templates

In C++, it is possible to create synonyms that can be used instead of a type name. This is achieved by creating a typedef declaration. This is useful in several cases, such as creating shorter or more meaningful names for a type or names for function pointers. However, typedef declarations cannot be used with templates to create template type aliases. An std::vector<T>, for instance, is not a type (std::vector<int> is a type), but a sort of family of all types that can be created when the type placeholder T is replaced with an actual type.

In C++11, a type alias is a name for another already declared type, and an alias template is a name for another already declared template. Both of these types of aliases are introduced with a new using syntax.

How to do it...

  • Create type aliases with the form using identifier = type-id, as in the following examples:
    using byte     = unsigned char;
    using byte_ptr = unsigned char *;
    using array_t  = int[10];
    using fn       = void(byte, double);
    void func(byte b, double d) { /*...*/ }
    byte b{42};
    byte_ptr pb = new byte[10] {0};
    array_t a{0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9};
    fn* f = func;
  • Create alias templates with the form template<template-params-list> identifier = type-id, as in the following examples:
    template <class T>
    class custom_allocator { /* ... */ };
    template <typename T>
    using vec_t = std::vector<T, custom_allocator<T>>;
    vec_t<int>           vi;
    vec_t<std::string>   vs;

For consistency and readability, you should do the following:

  • Not mix typedef and using declarations when creating aliases
  • Prefer the using syntax to create names of function pointer types

How it works...

A typedef declaration introduces a synonym (an alias, in other words) for a type. It does not introduce another type (like a class, struct, union, or enum declaration). Type names introduced with a typedef declaration follow the same hiding rules as identifier names. They can also be redeclared, but only to refer to the same type (therefore, you can have valid multiple typedef declarations that introduce the same type name synonym in a translation unit, as long as it is a synonym for the same type). The following are typical examples of typedef declarations:

typedef unsigned char   byte;
typedef unsigned char * byte_ptr;
typedef int             array_t[10];
typedef void(*fn)(byte, double);
template<typename T>
class foo {
  typedef T value_type;
typedef std::vector<int> vint_t;

A type alias declaration is equivalent to a typedef declaration. It can appear in a block scope, class scope, or namespace scope. According to C++11 paragraph

A typedef-name can also be introduced by an alias declaration. The identifier following the using keyword becomes a typedef-name and the optional attribute-specifier-seq following the identifier appertains to that typedef-name. It has the same semantics as if it were introduced by the typedef specifier. In particular, it does not define a new type and it shall not appear in the type-id.

An alias declaration is, however, more readable and clearer about the actual type that is aliased when it comes to creating aliases for array types and function pointer types. In the examples from the How to do it... section, it is easily understandable that array_t is a name for the type array of 10 integers, while fn is a name for a function type that takes two parameters of the type byte and double and returns void. This is also consistent with the syntax for declaring std::function objects (for example, std::function<void(byte, double)> f).

It is important to take note of the following things:

  • Alias templates cannot be partially or explicitly specialized.
  • Alias templates are never deduced by template argument deduction when deducing a template parameter.
  • The type produced when specializing an alias template is not allowed to directly or indirectly make use of its own type.

The driving purpose of the new syntax is to define alias templates. These are templates that, when specialized, are equivalent to the result of substituting the template arguments of the alias template for the template parameters in the type-id.

See also

  • Simplifying code with class template argument deduction to learn how to use class templates without explicitly specifying template arguments