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Subject: Re: [boost] dramatically improved template error messages (was: C++11 decltype/SFINAE puzzler)
From: Andrew Sutton (asutton.list_at_[hidden])
Date: 2012-08-14 17:19:32

>> IMO, this is now approaching something of real value. My personal
>> experience using this with Proto-11 is that it dramatically improves
>> error messages. I can also easily imagine how this can be used to
>> implement a very nice concept-checking library for C++11 that
>> approximates auto-concepts. Andrew, any thoughts on this? You've done
>> far more work in this space than I have.
> I want to say yes, but I'm not sure. What's really needed is a
> combination of this and static_assert. I want compilation to stop
> *and* I want brief errors. Hmm... Let me get back to you on this.

I tinkered for a little bit, and couldn't get what I wanted. The
problem, from the perspective of general concept checking, is that I
want compilation to fail when a substitution failure would happen. For

template <typename I, typename T>
  I find(I first, I last, const T& value) {
    static_assert (Input_iterator<I>(), "");
    while (first != last && *first != value) ++first;

If a substitution of I triggers the assertion, then (ideally), we
would stop instantiating the body and emit an appropriate message.
What actually happens is that a diagnostic is reported, then
instantiation continues, generating whatever errors I can expect from
the expressions in the algorithm (e.g., no operator*). So we get
redundancy. If the errors occur in nested instantiations of those
expressions, we get template spew.

The sfinae_error technique is somewhat different. My characterization
is that it is useful for shallow logging of substitution errors, but
it won't help here. You could probably force a "logged failure" in
place of the static assert, but you'd still get all of the other
errors from body of the template.

You could make this technique work if you were willing to write all of
your algorithms as function objects, and guard all of your calls, but
that seems a little intrusive.

It's a good trick, but I don't think it scales.

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