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From: Matt Calabrese (rivorus_at_[hidden])
Date: 2006-07-03 19:15:59

On 7/3/06, Thorsten Ottosen <thorsten.ottosen_at_[hidden]> wrote:
> Well, we usually prefer "as efficient as possible" for libraries.

Again, this really is "as efficient as possible" for the given concept
being modeled, and with specializations it provides just as efficient
storage in containers as ptr_containers, only with the benefit of
being true STL
containers which are optimized and automatically used when working with a
clone_ptr instantiation.

On 7/3/06, Thorsten Ottosen <thorsten.ottosen_at_[hidden]> wrote:
> If value semantics are desired, then why not provide them directly?
> Having polymorphic types with value semantics is fairly rare.

I'd say fairly rare simply because the tools to make it simple and efficient
were never there. Think of a clone_ptr much more like a "smart object"
rather than a "smart pointer," and its uses more similar to a nullable
variant (note that nullability could even be toggled on and off via a
template argument), only whose possible types are restricted to children of
a specified type rather than by a finite number of explicitly specified
types. This concepts makes working with polymorphic types much more
consistent with the rest of the language. If you write a generic piece
of code which takes in an instance of a type and stores a copy of it,
it is
simple to write generically in a way which
may work intuitively for scalar types and most user-defined types -- all you
do is take a reference to a const instance of the type and then use the copy
constructor or assignment operator, nothing strange there.

Now, let's say you have an abstract base class "shape" and you want to have
that generic piece of code store instances of squares, circles, triangles,
or any number of different types derived from shape. Again, this is not a
horribly strange or uncommon concept.
With clone_ptr, all you do is instantiate the type in question with
clone_ptr< shape > and you get the value
semantics you want. That's it -- no extra manually created types, and you
don't have to make a special case in the generic code. In short, as
described earlier, this is because clone_ptrs provide a simple way to have
polymorphic types be used more consistently in generic code when compared to
any other types in the
language. Copying constructing a clone_ptr< shape > intuitively
implies copying a shape, regardless of whether it is a square, circle,
triangle, etc., just like copying an int means copying an integer. You get
value semantics by default so that
you may use such types in the same manner that you would any other
types when working with generic code that is able to work with
non-dynamically allocated objects with value semantics. I know I keep
repeating myself, but I'm not sure exactly what it is that you don't

It is a lot more work to write an efficient/correct standard container
> library, than to write the pointer container library on top of the
> standard library. So I don't agree with "simpler" here.

Simpler for users, not necessarily for the programmer of the library. Anyone
who knows the STL knows how to use a given type in an STL container. Using a
clone_ptr in an STL container can be done with the same code one would write
with any other type, though with an optimized internal implementation
entirely transparent to the user. All a programmer needs to learn is the
interface of a clone_ptr and they get container optimizations without any
extra work. Then, if they really need to optimize further, they can look at
additional operations provided by the specializations.

> Without a clone pointer type of concept, it is much more difficult to make
> > the code both generic and efficient.
> Depends on your definition of efficient.

Alright, then
by what definition of efficient are you refering to? It's just as
efficient as using a ptr_container
concerning speed and memory usage and it is easier to use in generic code
when such semantics are required. Keep in mind that this is not intended as
a replacement for ptr_containers, I just offer it as a suggested replacement
for a subset of usage of them which can potentially make working with
generic code much easier for both library writers and users.

> optimizations remain as implementation details
> > rather than separate containers and any code already written does not
> have
> > to be changed in order to take advantage of the optimizations.
> If you think you doing programmers a favor by muddling the distinction
> between value semantics and polymorphic semantics, I think you're wrong.

I appreciate your criticisms, but I still disagree entirely. I believe you
are missing the intended purpose of such a template and associated

-Matt Calabrese

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