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Subject: [boost] [Boost.Move] A few notes
From: Dan Ivy (danivy.mail_at_[hidden])
Date: 2012-01-11 12:29:51


I was recently trying out Boost.Move and a few issues worth sharing

1. It would be helpful to have configuration macros to force emulation
mode, even on C++11 compilers, as well as to disable move semantics
altogether (that is, the conversion operators to boost::rv& should be
disabled, and move/forward should return lvalue-references. BOOST_RV_REF
and friends should remain intact, so that overloads remain unique.)
In many cases, the higher level semantics of a program are expected to be
identical under all three configurations, so having a quick way to switch
between them is useful during testing/debugging.

2. Boost.Move is a little bit too opaque, as it stands. What's really
missing are Boost.Move-aware type traits. Things like add_rvalue_reference
are often necessary to calcuate return types of move-aware generic
functions, and so on. Whether this belongs in Boost.TypeTraits or
Boost.Move is a separate question. Likewise, there should be type traits to
calculate the return types of boost::move and, in
particular, boost::forward. On C++11, the return type of forward<T>
conincides with add_rvalue_reference<T>, but not so in emulation mode,
hence the necessity for this trait.

3. For some reason, the emulated boost::move is written so it doesn't
accept temporaries. This doesn't play too nicely with forwarding:
Unavoidably on C++03, there has to be made a choice whether forwarding
functions use non-const or const-qualified references (bad wording, but you
get the point), where the former accepts modifiable lvalues and rejects
temporaries, and the latter does the opposite (well, sort of). Boost.Move
chooses the latter. This means that while BOOST_FWD_REF parameters accept
temporaries, these temporaries are bound as lvalues, which pretty much
defeats the purpose of the library (note that these temporaries aren't
eligible for copy-elision, since they're bound to a reference.) While
there's not much you can do about it on the callee-side, callers could use
boost::move on the temporaries to force them into rvalue-refs. Only
that they can't. This creates a somewhat confusing situation where
forwarding functions are able to take temporaries, but they won't move
them, while the only things that can actually be moved are lvalues...
Ultimately, this is what I suggest:
First of all, have boost::move accept temporaries. Secondly, seriously
consider changing the definition of BOOST_FWD_REF(T) from const T& to T&,
as this would acheive two desirable, IMO, goals::
a. Forwarding functions would accept modifiable lvalues (and keep them
b. Forwarding functions would REJECT temporaries, UNLESS they're passed
through boost::move, which assures that they're treated as rvalues.

A few notes on the implementation:

4. There are many one-liner functions floating around that aren't declared
inline. This is a big-deal for less-capable compilers, such as Sun and
older versions of GCC. In fact, they simply won't inline boost::move calls
without it.

5. boost::rv<T> unconditionally inherits from T, with the assumption
that it would never get instanciated for non-class types, since it is only
ever used as a reference. This is a false assumption in general. In the
context of overload-resolution, the compiler is allowed, though not
required, to instanciate the types of function parameters, even if the best
overload can be determined without doing this. Consider this move-aware,
but not very useful vector class:

#include <boost/move/move.hpp>

template <typename T>
struct vector {
    void push_back(const T&) {}
    void push_back(BOOST_RV_REF(T)) {}

int main() {
    vector<int> v;

The last line of main could potentially instanciate rv<int>, breaking the
program. And it does. Sun falls right into this trap. It doesn't take much
to make it break on GCC either, for the same reason.
Fortunately, the fix is trivial: specialize boost::rv correctly for
non-class types.

All comments refer to the 1.48 release. I don't know what's going on on


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