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From: Robert Ramey (ramey_at_[hidden])
Date: 2002-06-28 22:19:31

I did reply to your message when it was posted. I don't know what happened.
(Acually I have difficulty replying to messages when the come in a batch).
Anyway, below you will find your original post along with my original response.
Sorry for the mix up.

Robert Ramey

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> Robert Ramey wrote:
> > Fellow programmers:
> >
> > I have just uploaded the third release of my proposed serialization
> > library.
> Hi, Robert!
> It's good to know that you continue working on serialization library.
> I've tried it yesterday in several ways, and found only one significant
> non-interface problem, but it might require some discussion. Below are my
> observations.
> 1. Class registration and numbers.
> Archives store class numbers, and mapping from class names to numbers is
> local to archive. Moreover, class names are never written to archive. This
> cause problems with polymorphic classes.
> Suppose I write a vector of polymorphic pointers. Each concrete class is
> assigned a number, but it is required to assure that the numbers will be the
> same when reading. The only way to archive this in current system is
> out_ar << static_cast<Derived1* >(0) << ... << static_cast<Derived15* >(0)
> .....
> Derived1* d1;
> Derived15* d15;
> in_ar >> d1 >> ... >> d15
> Here, saving/loading of a dummy pointer creates a consistent numbering.
> This approach is not optimal
> - it is not clear who should store/load dummy pointers, (if we don't want
> to do it manually each time we work with archive.
> - it might not be possible to do this storing/loading in one place: it is
> possible that no piece of code knows the full list of derived classes.
> - it is quite impossible that dummy pointers are written in the same
> order, especially in different application.
> (Please see the attached program for illustration of what happens if ordering
> is not consistent)
> So, I conclude that this approach is very problematic. I view several layers
> where serialization might works.
> 1) For one application
> 2) Between several applications on one platform
> 3) Between several applications on different platforms.
> Current approach has problems with 1). I suggest that when writing class for
> the first time, it's typeid(...).name() is also written. I believe that MFC
> and (now forgotten) OWL (from Borland) used this approach. This will make
> 1) and 2) work. As for 3), I'm not sure we can do anything without portable
> type_info.
I believe that you are wrong here. I originally thought that I had to save the
typeid in the archive. I came to the conclusion that it was not necessary.
Not specifying it overcame a significant obstacle to archive portability.
The current system works for all known scenarios except circular pointer
references. This includes all the cases cited above.

The system is based on the fact that all components are saved and loaded
in exactly the same sequence. This will always be true unless an error
has been commited.

> Also, as I understand, if a class never seen by the serialization code is
> written, then type_info_extended::find will return 0 and assert will fail.
> Prior versions had a way to register a class. I'd like to have that way again
> in the library.

writing a NULL pointer of the derived class to the archive is equivalent to
"registering" the class in the previous system.
> 2. archive_exception should really be derived from std::exception
I considered this and saw no benefit to doing so. How would this be an improvement?
> 3. I'd prefer if documentation describe the format of text archives. The
> description is already in code, so I guess it would be easy to add it to docs.

What benefit would this give us. It turns out that the text archives are
pretty much indecypherable to humans exept for embeded strings. THis is
due in large part to the filterin out of redundancy.

> I hope that these issues can be resolved soon. I have some interface
> criticism ready ;-)
> - Volodya
Currently I have five pending issues to address before requesting a formal

a) the shared_ptr example in the reference is wrong. It will be replaced with
a similar example based on auto_ptr.

b) functions will be added to basic_iarchive and basic_oarchive to reinitialize
the archive and request deletion of all objects created by the archive. This
is needed to better handle clean up when an exception is encountered
durring archive loading.

c) Documentation will be altered to better qualify the term "portable" as it
applies to archives.

d) I want to build on more compilers. I currently use MSVC 7.0 and have
build the library with gcc 2.95. I have demo copies of Intel, and borland
and want to build with gcc 3.1 as well.

e) the next source version will have tabs expanded to spaces.

Robert Ramey

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