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Subject: Re: [boost] Heads up - string_ref landing
From: Yanchenko Maxim (maximyanchenko_at_[hidden])
Date: 2012-11-27 01:56:39

27.11.12, 13:51, "Jeffrey Lee Hellrung, Jr." <jeffrey.hellrung_at_[hidden]>":
> On Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 7:03 PM, Yanchenko Maxim
> <maximyanchenko_at_[hidden]>wrote:
> > Hi Daniel, I'm fully with you here. The construction of string_ref should
> > be explicit (except maybe literals if we can detect them in compile time)
> > as we're giving away pointers to something that is externally managed.
> > Look at std::string::c_str/data, any smart_ptr::get etc - everything is
> > explicit for a reason. Implicit conversions to pointers are very dangerous
> > here.
> > No containers give away their internals implicitly, and this is Good Thing.
> >
> > Consider a vector of pointers, for example. You don't want to implicitly
> > put a pointer managed by a smart pointer there, you want it to be explicit
> > so it's visible and you don't forget putting reset/release near a
> > push_back. Same applies to a vector of string_ref - you want to be sure
> > that the string referred by it lives as long a needed, and there is no
> > other way except explicit construction.
> >
> I was under the impression that string_ref's proposed purpose was to
> provide a generic concrete (i.e., non-template) interface for string
> algorithms (both as parameters and results), and for this purpose, the
> above arguments seem irrelevant. The lifetime concerns are no worse than
> for a std::string const &.

Should we ban vector<string_ref> then?
Otherwise it's error-prone:

vector<string_ref> v;
std::string s;

Containers of string_ref are very useful while working with external textual data, e.g. parsing - to store various chunks of parsed text like identifiers. But if you want to add some predefined identifiers from other sources like std::string - you want the compiler to warn you if you're going to do something dangerous. Explicit construction is very useful and saves from leaks and ownership errors.
This is from my team's real experience with our string_ref-like class.


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