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From: Jeff Garland (jeff_at_[hidden])
Date: 2005-06-12 10:25:30

On Sun, 12 Jun 2005 01:29:29 -0500, Aaron W. LaFramboise wrote

Let me throw a couple wrenches into the dicussion and then I'll go back to

> As a simple example, >> cannot distinguish between different forms of
> whitespace.

Actually, I think the whitespace can be defined in facets, but if not then you
would need a new stream type for the built-in types. For custom types, well
they can do whatever they want.

> << and >> are great for things related to human-readable formatting,
> where a human's eyes are the primary discriminator, but I am unconvinced
> they are useful for reading and writing text to be manipulated by
> machines. I do not think << and >> are even workable, in the general
> case, for a protocol who's whitespace and formatting rules do not
> exactly match those of C and C++.
> When implementing the >> operator for a custom class, how do you handle
> the case where you need to read two primative types, but the second read
> fails, leaving the operator holding on to data that it has no way of
> 'putting back'? As near as I can tell, this ends up leaving the stream
> in a consistant but indeterminant state; something that might be OK for
> files, but is entirely not OK for a medium that is not rewindable, such
> as sockets.

Implementing parsers using operartor>> is tough because you only have input
iterator - that makes backtracking tough. That said, I don't think this issue
is even remotely related to the your statement that << and >> are only good
for 'human' output. Plenty of computer only i/o goes thru these operators.
> An improved streambuf could help cope with this, but this is
> tangental to the unsuitability of iostreams.

Yes, but actually I don't think it is tangential overall. I believe a socket
library that doesn't work with standard i/o is unacceptable for boost. Anyone
that wants to get a socket library into the standard will have to clearly
demonstrate why the current standard i/o model doesn't work. I've seen
nothing so far that convinces me that standard streambufs can't be used in the
core of a socket library for managing the opaque or 'char' level data. If you
accept this, well then the iostream level is almost an incidental benefit...

> > Every "socket library" or socket application without such library
> > support has reinvented a buffer layer; and none of them have considered
> > the usefulness of a formatting layer, leaving "sends" and "receives" as
> > high up as main().
> I am not saying, "<iostream> is never useful for sockets." I am only
> saying that it is not a good primative for general work, done in real
> programs with real protocols, and hence is somewhat tangental to the
> path of seeking a general purpose sockets library.

Yes, I've see it work quite well in real programs. It works something like this:
1) Protocol header had message type/size at top of packet
2) Socket core ensured a full read of message into a std::streambuf
3) Application layer received streambuf with message type callback
4) Application would create 'message object' based on type
5) Used i/o streaming/serialization to read message object from streambuf

Simple and clean. Socket core doesn't really care about message content -- as
it should be. Application layer does that -- has the option of using
iostreams or parsing from the buffer directly. BTW, some of the message
formats are binary using a different serialization format adapter against the

> With the Boost Iostreams library, it is extremely easy to form a
> streambuf from any particular data source. With this, I completely
> disagree with your former statement, and I'd say: An implementation
> of a socket streambuf for iostreams is the only thing that a socket library
> *doesn't* need to provide.

If it's easy than just provide it now.

> By the way, take this in no way as criticism of your library, which I
> have not formed an opinion on yet. I am only stating my belief that
> iostream implementations are tangental to the primary work of
> creating a Boost socket stream library.

Ah, obviously I totally disagree. Think about where it fits in now -- before
you get called out in the review.


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