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From: Ed Brey (brey_at_[hidden])
Date: 2002-07-17 10:31:04

"Peter Dimov" <pdimov_at_[hidden]> wrote in message news:009a01c22d95$6eff7e50$1d00a8c0_at_pdimov2...
> Yes. intrusive_ptr<> can be safely constructed from a raw pointer that is
> already being managed by another intrusive_ptr<>. This makes the implicit
> conversion less dangerous. It's still possible to pass a pointer to a
> stack-allocated object, of course; this is not intrusive_ptr's problem,
> though. The object is expected to behave appropriately when it's use count
> drops to zero. An 'auto' or 'static' intrusive-counted object should ignore
> addref/release's.

The danger isn't limited to auto or static objects. It applies to any object that isn't currently being handled by a supported smart pointer. For example, consider something like this:

void helper(intrusive_ptr<T> x);

void fn(T& x) {

The scenario is that there is some helper function that takes x by intrusive pointer. The poor sap who is writing fn forgets this and thinks that helper is taking x by raw pointer. With shared_ptr, the computer catches his bug (probably a serious logic error, otherwise helper would be taking T by reference). With intrusive_ptr, this program compiles fine.

This danger applies equally well to shared_ptr and intrusive_ptr, so I ponder the question of why they don't follow the same strategy. The biggest difference I see is that intrusive_ptr requires the counted_base (or equivalent). So the argument for intrusive_ptr being looser is that the user is less likely to mismanage an object that he went through the trouble of deriving from counted_base. However, I'm not so sure this is sound. For example, counted_base could be applied to a class whose objects are sometimes shared on the heap and sometimes not shared, residing on the stack. This scenario is identical to one of the traditional use cases of shared_ptr and is a reason why explicit construction from a raw pointer is used. This would indicate that explicit construction is good for intrusive_ptr, too.

One point that might help clarify things is a statement on the intent of intrusive_ptr. I see it largely as a leaner alternative to shared_ptr, useful when you always have a counted_base (or equivalent). Is there any more to it?

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