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Subject: Re: [boost] Official warnings policy?
From: Patrick Horgan (phorgan1_at_[hidden])
Date: 2009-11-06 22:00:41

   Herb Sutter and Andrei Alexandrescu (who is following this discussion on
   boost) were kind enough to give me permission to quote their item 1 from C++
   Coding Standards (note that I screen scraped this from [1] who
   also had their permission to post) You might consider buying a copy, it's a
   wonderful book;) :

                  1. Compile cleanly at high warning levels.


   Take warnings to heart: Use your compiler's highest warning level. Require
   clean (warning-free) builds. Understand all warnings. Eliminate warnings by
   changing your code, not by reducing the warning level.


   Your compiler is your friend. If it issues a warning for a certain
   construct, often there's a potential problem in your code.

   Successful builds should be silent (warning-free). If they aren't, you'll
   quickly get into the habit of skimming the output, and you will miss real
   problems. (See Item 2.)

   To get rid of a warning: a) understand it; and then b) rephrase your code to
   eliminate the warning and make it clearer to both humans and compilers that
   the code does what you intended.

   Do this even when the program seemed to run correctly in the first place. Do
   this even when you are positive that the warning is benign. Even benign
   warnings can obscure later warnings pointing to real dangers.


   Example 1: A third-party header file. A library header file that you cannot
   change could contain a construct that causes (probably benign) warnings.
   Then wrap the file with your own version that #includes the original header
   and selectively turns off the noisy warnings for that scope only, and then
   #include your wrapper throughout the rest of your project. Example (note
   that the warning control syntax will vary from compiler to compiler):
// File: myproj/my_lambda.h -- wraps Boost's lambda.hpp
// Always include this file; don't use lambda.hpp directly.
// NOTE: Our build now automatically checks "grep lambda.hpp <srcfile>".
// Boost.Lambda produces noisy compiler warnings that we know are innocuous.
// When they fix it we'll remove the pragmas below, but this header will still
#pragma warning(push) // disable for this header only
  #pragma warning(disable:4512)
  #pragma warning(disable:4180)
  #include <boost/lambda/lambda.hpp>
#pragma warning(pop) // restore original warning level

   Example 2: "Unused function parameter." Check to make sure you really didn't
   mean to use the function parameter (e.g., it might be a placeholder for
   future expansion, or a required part of a standardized signature that your
   code has no use for). If it's not needed, simply delete the name of a
   function parameter:
// ... inside a user-defined allocator that has no use for the hint ...
// warning: "unused parameter 'localityHint'"
pointer allocate( size_type numObjects, const void *localityHint = 0 ) {
  return static_cast<pointer>( mallocShared( numObjects * sizeof(T) ) );
// new version: eliminates warning
pointer allocate( size_type numObjects, const void * /* localityHint */ = 0 ) {
  return static_cast<pointer>( mallocShared( numObjects * sizeof(T) ) );

   Example 3: "Variable defined but never used." Check to make sure you really
   didn't mean to reference the variable. (An RAII stack-based object often
   causes this warning spuriously; see Item 13.) If it's not needed, often you
   can silence the compiler by inserting an evaluation of the variable itself
   as an expression (this evaluation won't impact run-time speed):
// warning: "variable 'lock' is defined but never used"
void Fun() {
  Lock lock;
  // ...
// new version: probably eliminates warning
void Fun() {
  Lock lock;
  // ...

   Example 4: "Variable may be used without being initialized." Initialize the
   variable (see Item 19).

   Example 5: "Missing return." Sometimes the compiler asks for a return
   statement even though your control flow can never reach the end of the
   function (e.g., infinite loop, throw statements, other returns). This can be
   a good thing, because sometimes you only think that control can't run off
   the end. For example, switch statements that do not have a default are not
   resilient to change and should have a default case that does assert( false )
   (see also Items 68 and 90):
// warning: missing "return"
int Fun( Color c ) {
  switch( c ) {
  case Red: return 2;
  case Green: return 0;
  case Blue:
  case Black: return 1;
// new version: eliminates warning
int Fun( Color c ) {
  switch( c ) {
  case Red: return 2;
  case Green: return 0;
  case Blue:
  case Black: return 1;
  default: assert( !"should never get here!" ); // !"string" evaluates
to false
        return -1;

   Example 6: "Signed/unsigned mismatch." It is usually not necessary to
   compare or assign integers with different signedness. Change the types of
   the variables being compared so that the types agree. In the worst case,
   insert an explicit cast. (The compiler inserts that cast for you anyway, and
   warns you about doing it, so you're better off putting it out in the open.)


   Sometimes, a compiler may emit a tedious or even spurious warning (i.e., one
   that is mere noise) but offer no way to turn it off, and it might be
   infeasible or unproductive busywork to rephrase the code to silence the
   warning. In these rare cases, as a team decision, avoid tediously working
   around a warning that is merely tedious: Disable that specific warning only,
   disable it as locally as possible, and write a clear comment documenting why
   it was necessary.


   [2][Meyers97] §48 • [3][Stroustrup94] §2.6.2



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