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From: Paul Hollingsworth (boost_at_[hidden])
Date: 2001-07-16 16:44:40

Hi All,
IMO, the current state of affairs for erasing elements from a
container is somewhat unsatisfactory for average programmers.

For some of the containers (std::set, std::map), erase is a "void"
method - in which case the correct action is to keep a copy of the
increment iterator beforehand, like this:


But for other containers (e.g. std::vector), the correct action is to
take the return value of erase:

it = c.erase(it);

It is a mistake, for example, to use the post-increment form with a

Also, there is no equivalent erase option for reverse iterators -
something that I needed while working on some code to clean up
entries from an in-memory cache (implemented as a std::map).

Anyway, it seems that a uniform interface for erasing elements from
containers would be nice. Ideally, it would work so that you could
_always_ write:

it = boost::erase(c, it);

in any sort of loop and have everything work properly, irrespective
of which type of container or what type of iterator it is.

I started writing an erase method for reverse iterators - it looks
like this right now:

// This operation is only valid for containers whose
// erase method does not return a value (e.g. std::set, std::map - NOT
// std::vector).
// Returns: iterator pointing to next valid element, or c.rend()
template<typename C>
C::reverse_iterator erase(C& c, const C::reverse_iterator& rpos)
         C::iterator pos = rpos.base(); --pos; // pos = rpos.base() -
        return C::reverse_iterator(pos);

The above solution immediately suffers from the flaw that there is
nothing to stop you using it with a std::vector, for example, which
would be the wrong course. However, I imagine that some template
tricks could be used to make sure that it used the correct form to
erase the element based on the return signature of erase (or by
partial specialisation based on common container types perhaps?).

Anyway, it would have solved me a considerable amount of time if I
had been able to pluck this from boost instead.

I thought I'd post this to see if anyone had any ideas about how to
achieve this... or felt like adding to it ;-)

Paul Hollingsworth

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