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From: Martin Bonner (martin.bonner_at_[hidden])
Date: 2005-08-16 05:17:24

----Original Message----
From: Axter [mailto:boost_at_[hidden]]
Sent: 16 August 2005 03:39
To: boost_at_[hidden]
Subject: [boost] Propose adding Clone Smart Pointer (clone_ptr) to the
boost library

> I'm proposing to add the clone_ptr class to the boost library.
> I've developed a clone_ptr class that performs a clone of an abstract
> pointer without the need for a clone method.
> The clone_ptr is well suited for automatic deep copy of abstract
> pointers,
> and for use with STL containers.
> In addition to being able to perform clone operations, it also have
> operators that performs comparison on the object being pointed to,
> instead
> of the pointer address.
> This allows for correct sorting and comparison of clone_ptr's in an
> container.
> See following link for more info:

I was interested in the example you give in the web page:

class foo
        clone_ptr < AbstractClass > m_MyAbstractClassPtr;
        foo(AbstractClass *

        foo(const foo& Src)
                //In the following line of code, the clone pointer will copy
                // correct derived class without the need of a clone method
                m_MyAbstractClassPtr = Src.m_MyAbstractClassPtr;

That looked a very clever trick. I couldn't see how clone_ptr was going to
copy the dynamic type of the argument to the constructor without any
information about that dynamic type.

Having looked at the code, I don't think it does. It would work if the
constructor was declared:
        foo(DerivedClass*p): m_MyAbstractClassPtr(p) {}
or even
        template <class Derived>
        foo(Derived *p):m_MyAbstractClassPtr(p) {}

but even that will fail if the constructor is called via:
        Derived *p = new DerivedDerived;
        foo foo_obj(p);

My basic concern is that while clone_ptr could be useful, it only works if
people stick rigidly to certain rules. Those rules need to be made VERY
clear, otherwise it provides a plentiful supply of rope.

It would also be useful to have some documentation of what methods clone_ptr
provides, and what effects they have.

Martin Bonner
Pi Technology, Milton Hall, Ely Road, Milton, Cambridge, CB4 6WZ,
ENGLAND Tel: +44 (0)1223 441434

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