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Subject: Re: [boost] [string_ref] string literal constructor
From: Gavin Lambert (gavinl_at_[hidden])
Date: 2013-11-07 21:47:33

On 8/11/2013 12:40, Quoth Rob Stewart:
> On Nov 7, 2013, at 5:00 PM, Gavin Lambert <gavinl_at_[hidden]> wrote:
>>> const char s[] = {'0', '1', '2'}; /* User knows that this is not zero
>>> terminated*/
>>> string_ref test(s); // Size of array is determinated at this point. Why not have {ptr, 3}?
>> The first example in particular actually seems potentially
>> dangerous to me, because the ability to handle the non-terminated
>> string is "hidden", making it more likely that the author would
>> forget and pass sto something else that's expecting a terminated string.
> If code assumes a string_ref refers to a null-terminated string, that code is wrong.

I was referring to "s", the original char array, not to "test", the
string_ref. ie. if string_ref handled it gracefully and "hidden", the
user might forget that other things they can legally (according to the
compiler) pass "s" to might not.

But that's reaching a bit. My main objection relates to the surprise
decay from array to pointer if the code is refactored, and that this
would change the behaviour in a potentially surprising way if that
constructor existed, without a sufficiently obvious change to the code.

> Why not add named constructors to clarify the caller's intent?

That would be better.

Still, where an lvalue is available, I don't see any particular benefit
to this -- almost anything you could do with this suggested new
constructor you could do with string_ref(s, boost::size(s)). (Or
_countof, or ARRAY_LENGTH, or sizeof, depending on your char type and
platform of choice.)

The only case I can see that it might provide some benefit (other than
being slightly shorter) would be when passing a string literal directly
-- but string literals are always null-terminated, and the compiler
should be able to optimise away the strlen, so I don't think it gains
much in the end.

I suppose it's possible to imagine other cases where you might have an
rvalue array, but most that I can think of seem overly contrived to me,
especially as the utility of string_ref on an rvalue is limited since
it's a non-owning object.

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