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Subject: Re: [boost] Official warnings policy?
From: Stewart, Robert (Robert.Stewart_at_[hidden])
Date: 2009-11-06 08:35:24

Emil Dotchevski wrote:
> On Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 10:26 AM, Stewart, Robert
> <Robert.Stewart_at_[hidden]> wrote:
> >
> > There is clearly a problem with the warnings generated by
> > Boost code.
> > Addressing that problem makes Boost more usable and might even
> > make it usable where it now is not. That's hardly silly.
> At least to me, it isn't at all clear that there is a problem with
> warnings generated by Boost.

My builds are complicated by this issue. I strive for warning free builds for the many reasons enumerated in this discussion. The warnings are a problem for me and those that use my code.

> Sure, some companies opt not to use Boost, but this doesn't
> necessarily indicate a problem in Boost. I've worked at several
> companies where STL was banned yet they spent countless hours
> implementing STL features and then countless hours implementing
> optimizations in these features that were readily implemented in STL.
> However, I don't blame their poor judgment on STL.

There are other companies that have found that zero-warning builds are wise and can't tolerate the noise introduced by using Boost. That's their decision, of course, but since Boost *can* do better, shouldn't it? Shouldn't Boost set a good example?

> What about companies that *do* use Boost? If we are to prioritize our
> efforts to provide the best service to them, should we be fixing
> warnings or improving our testing procedures? Should we be fixing
> warnings in general or working on tickets?

That's a false dichotomy. We use Boost and we would be well served by eliminating the warnings that causes. Improved testing means that we don't have to discover and report bugs because tests would have found them earlier, so that's certainly helpful. Addressing bug tickets is necessary to be responsive to your customers. All of these things are valuable. You must prioritize them, of course.

Note, however, that when working on a particular part of a library to address a new test failure or fix a reported bug, you can eliminate some warnings, too. Eventually, you'll address all known warnings or will have no bugs to fix and no test failures to address and can eliminate the remaining warnings instead.

I must acknowledge that dealing with warnings takes time; I don't mean to trivialize that. Nevertheless, a *goal* of zero warnings on the primary compilers, with standardized warnings flags, is worthwhile for numerous reasons.

Rob Stewart robert.stewart_at_[hidden]
Software Engineer, Core Software using std::disclaimer;
Susquehanna International Group, LLP

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