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Subject: [boost] Using Boost without confusing Intellisense
From: Matthew Chambers (matt.chambers42_at_[hidden])
Date: 2011-02-09 11:29:11


I use many Boost libraries, develop with MSVC (currently 2008), and build both my project and its
Boost dependencies with Boost.Build. The one thing that's always frustrated me using boost is its
tendency to confuse MSVC's Intellisense. I don't know if this holds true for other IDEs with an
Intellisense-like capability, but heavy use of boost::shared_ptr and BOOST_FOREACH in particular
seem to confuse Intellisense in a large project. MSVC never knows what to show when dereferencing a
shared_ptr and it never defines the instance variable in BOOST_FOREACH.

I came up with two fairly simple workarounds for this but I'm interested to hear if there's a better
solution. If not, I'm wondering if the workarounds could go in boost itself.

For shared_ptr, I use a conditional macro like:
#define TYPEDEF_SHARED_PTR(type) typedef type* type##Ptr
#define TYPEDEF_SHARED_PTR(type) typedef boost::shared_ptr<type> type##Ptr

For BOOST_FOREACH, I do basically the same thing:
#define BOOST_FOREACH(a, b) a;
#include <boost/foreach.hpp>

Then I just add INTELLISENSE to the VC project's preprocessor macros (not my build system) and
Intellisense gets the job done a lot more often. I didn't look into whether MSVC defines an
automatic preprocessor variable when Intellisense is parsing (which would be useful for helping it
navigate complex code), but of course that would be even better. The obvious flaw for
TYPEDEF_SHARED_PTR in my implementation is that it assumes a particular variable name scheme, but an
"official" version could make both type names explicit.

The are some other confusing libs like Boost.Preprocessor but I don't think they are as commonly
used. The nice thing about these workarounds is they can be applied separately to each library.

I'm wondering if other boost devs or users would be interested in having these workarounds in the
official boost distro. For the smart_ptrs, it could go at the end of the headers. For BOOST_FOREACH,
the whole foreach.hpp could be surrounded by #ifndef INTELLISENSE (so that all the stuff inside it
doesn't need to be parsed for Intellisense) and the #else would define BOOST_FOREACH and

If not, maybe it's time I switched IDEs. Are there any that provide Intellisense-like capability
with smart_ptrs and BOOST_FOREACH? :)


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