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Home » Articles » C++0x Suffix Return Types

C++0x Suffix Return Types








Article Posted On Date : Thursday, June 16, 2011


C++0x Suffix Return Types
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Going to post this article about C++0x suffix return types on my blog later, and I thought I'd put it here too. I'm guessing most of the readers of the article section already know it - if so then hopefully you can help me iron out any mistakes :)


Time for another little C++0x feature. Like auto, it is supported by Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 and MinGW. If you have a different compiler, then you can't go wrong by trying it anyway. Just remember that if you get compiler errors, it could mean the feature isn't supported by your compiler.

Let's get straight to it with an example. Consider the following example of how we would normally code a function:

bool Init()
{
    // etc
    return true;
}


And here is the way using trailing return types:


auto Init() -> bool
{
    // etc
    return true;
}



Why would we want to do this? It's more work after all. Well yes, it is more work in this case, but now consider a real world example. In my game engine's log, I have a function which takes a string, applies some formatting to it and returns it. The string type is a typedef'd std::string called String in the Icanos::System namespace.

This is how I had written the function before I took advantage of this C++0x feature.

    

Icanos::System::String Icanos::System::FormattedLog::ApplyIndent(const String& message, const String& source)
{
  // etc
}



I have to qualify the String return type in full. But if I could put the return type after, the String type would already be in scope as we've qualified the function's scope, thus simplifying notation.



auto Icanos::System::FormattedLog::ApplyIndent(const String& message, const String& source) -> String
{
  // etc
}



After the function name, everything in Icanos::System is already in scope, so we don't need to qualify the namespaces on String again.

Well I hope you've enjoyed my introduction to suffix return types - which you may also see referred to as trailing return types. If you'd like to read more about them, check out Dr. Stroustrup's FAQ:
http://www2.research.att.com/~bs/C++0xFAQ.html#suffix-return

(Coincidentally, it was originally suggested (as noted in Stroustrup's FAQ) that suffix return types be signified using [] rather than auto. However, due to controversy, auto is suggested as an alternative. Both MinGW and Microsoft Visual C++ generate a compiler error if [] is used.) 






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