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From: Andrey Melnikov (melnikov_at_[hidden])
Date: 2005-07-11 12:33:58

David Abrahams wrote:
> Felipe Magno de Almeida <felipe.m.almeida_at_[hidden]> writes:
> <snip> a giant message>
>>>I can return a fresh NonCopyable and NonDefaultConstructible object from
>>>a function without often expensive heap operations.
>>Isnt that the boost::ref goal? Or am I missing something?
> <snip> some more of the message

David, you are the man. Now I can answer this message! Well, I'm going
to give rise to a new giant... Readers, please bother to crop it when

 From Introduction section at I
see that boost::ref I see that is isn't the boost::ref goal.

Boost.Ref can save some CPU cycles only if I deal with hostile pieces of
code such as std::foreach() which refuse to work with references. If I
write all code myself, I don't need boost::ref. In complex cases
type_traits can help me and compiler to handle references correctly.

Consider the following rather typical scenarios when you return a
std::string. These examples are a bit artificial, but in some
circumstances default construction, dynamic memory and copying can be
computationally too expensive or not available at all.

The following versions are not ideal:

std::string foo()
        return "bar";
std::string bar = foo();
void foo( std::string & bar)
     bar = "bar" ;
std::string bar;
std::string * foo()
     return new std::string("bar");
std::auto_ptr<std::string> bar = foo();

Each of them includes some extra operations which aren't necessary.
Version 1 is terrible, version 2 uses an extra default construction,
version 3 uses an extra memory allocation.

Here is a better version:

void foo( std::string * bar )
    new (bar) std::string("bar");
char bar_placeholder[sizeof(std::string];
std::string *bar = reinterpret_cast<std::string*>(bar_placeholder);

It uses just one constructor call, no extra default constructors and no
dynamic memory allocation. So far after reading the documentation, it
seems to me that boost::optional provides a nice encapsuation for this
bulk of code.

void foo(boost::optional<std::string> & bar)
        bar = boost::in_place("bar");
boost::optional<std::string> bar;

But unlike raw code, this approach also creates a copy of "bar" char*
stored in a temporary factory object.

Does boost::optional have a way to avoid these temporaries too? Does it
have something like

bar.in_place("bar); or in_place(bar, "bar"); ?


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