More Effective C++: 35 New Ways to Improve Your Programs and Designs / Edition 1

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More than 150,000 copies in print!

Praise for Scott Meyers’ first book, Effective C++:

“I heartily recommend Effective C++ to anyone who aspires to mastery of C++ at the intermediate level or above.”
– The C/C++ User’s Journal

From the author of the indispensable Effective C++, here are 35 new ways to improve your programs and designs. Drawing on years of experience, Meyers explains how to write software that is more effective: more efficient, more robust, more consistent, more portable, and more reusable. In short, how to write C++ software that’s just plain better.

More Effective C++ includes:

  • Proven methods for improving program efficiency, including incisive examinations of the time/space costs of C++ language features
  • Comprehensive descriptions of advanced techniques used by C++ experts, including placement new, virtual constructors, smart pointers, reference counting, proxy classes, and double-dispatching
  • Examples of the profound impact of exception handling on the structure and behavior of C++ classes and functions
  • Practical treatments of new language features, including bool, mutable, explicit, namespaces, member templates, the Standard Template Library, and more. If your compilers don’t yet support these features, Meyers shows you how to get the job done without them.

More Effective C++ is filled with pragmatic, down-to-earth advice you’ll use every day. Like Effective C++ before it, More Effective C++ is essential reading for anyone working with C++.

Scott Meyers has done it again, expanding on his indispensable classic Effective C++ with 35 new ways to improve programs and designs to make them more consistent, more efficient, more portable, in short, just plain better.Join Meyers for his in-the-know discussions of advanced C++ techniques likesmart pointers and double-dispatching, or examine your own programefficiency with the help of Meyers' critical analysis of the costs of usingC++.If your C++ compiler doesn't support new features like bool and theStandard Template Library, Meyers can get you over your design hump bydemonstrating how to get the job done regardless.This pragmatic advicesource is as essential to a C++ library as Meyers' previous book, and isjust as useful for any experienced programmer not content to produce merelyadequate programs.

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Editorial Reviews

For programmers at the intermediate level and above. This sequel to the author's Effective C++ provides methods for improving program efficiency. Coverage includes examinations of the time/space costs of C++ language features; descriptions of advanced techniques (placement new, virtual constructors, smart pointers, reference county proxy classes, and double-dispatching); examples of the impact of exception handling; and treatment of new language features (e.g. bool, mutable, explicit, namespaces, member templates). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780201633719
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 12/29/1995
  • Series: Addison-Wesley Professional Computing Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 475,467
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Meyers is one of the world's foremost authorities on C++, providing training and consulting services to clients worldwide. He is the author of the best-selling Effective C++ series of books (Effective C++, More Effective C++, and Effective STL) and of the innovative Effective C++ CD. He is consulting editor for Addison Wesley's Effective Software Development Series and serves on the Advisory Board for The C++ Source ( He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Brown University. His web site is

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Read an Excerpt

Item 33: Make non-leaf classes abstract

Suppose you're working on a project whose software deals with animals. Within this software, most animals can be treated pretty much the same, but two kinds of animals -- lizards and chickens -- require special handling. That being the case, the obvious way to relate the classes for animals, lizards, and chickens is like this: The Animal class embodies the features shared by all the creatures you deal with, and the Lizard and Chicken classes specialize Animal in ways appropriate for lizards and chickens, respectively.

Here's a sketch of the definitions for these classes:

class Animal {
Animal& operator=(const Animal& rhs);

class Lizard: public Animal {
Lizard& operator=(const Lizard& rhs);

class Chicken: public Animal {
Chicken& operator=(const Chicken& rhs);


Only the assignment operators are shown here, but that's more than enough to keep us busy for a while. Consider this code:

Lizard liz1;
Lizard liz2;

Animal *pAnimal1 = &liz1;
Animal *pAnimal2 = &liz2;


*pAnimal1 = *pAnimal2;

There are two problems here. First, the assignment operator invoked on the last line is that of the Animal class, even though the objects involved are of type Lizard. As a result, only the Animal part of liz1 will be modified. This is a partial assignment. After the assignment, liz1's Animal members have the values they got from liz2, but liz1's Lizard members remain unchanged.

The second problem is that real programmers write code like this. It's not uncommon to make assignments to objects through pointers, especially for experienced C programmers who have moved to C++. That being the case, we'd like to make the assignment behave in a more reasonable fashion. As Item 32 points out, our classes should be easy to use correctly and difficult to use incorrectly, and the classes in the hierarchy above are easy to use incorrectly.

One approach to the problem is to make the assignment operators virtual. If Animal::operator= were virtual, the assignment would invoke the Lizard assignment operator, which is certainly the correct one to call. However, look what happens if we declare the assignment operators virtual:

class Animal {
virtual Animal& operator=(const Animal& rhs);
class Lizard: public Animal {
virtual Lizard& operator=(const Animal& rhs);
class Chicken: public Animal {
virtual Chicken& operator=(const Animal& rhs);

Due to relatively recent changes to the language, we can customize the return value of the assignment operators so that each returns a reference to the correct class, but the rules of C++ force us to declare identical parameter types for a virtual function in every class in which it is declared. That means the assignment operator for the Lizard and Chicken classes must be prepared to accept any kind of Animal object on the right-hand side of an assignment. That, in turn, means we have to confront the fact that code like the following is legal:

Lizard liz;
Chicken chick;

Animal *pAnimal1 = &liz;
Animal *pAnimal2 = &chick;


*pAnimal1 = *pAnimal2;     // assign a chicken to
This is a mixed-type assignment: a Lizard is on the left and a Chicken is on the right. Mixed-type assignments aren't usually a problem in C++, because the language's strong typing generally renders them illegal. By making Animal's assignment operator virtual, however, we opened the door to such mixed-type operations.

This puts us in a difficult position. We'd like to allow same-type assignments through pointers, but we'd like to forbid mixed-type assignments through those same pointers. In other words, we want to allow this,

Animal *pAnimal1 = &liz1;
Animal *pAnimal2 = &liz2;


*pAnimal1 = *pAnimal2;   // assign a lizard to a lizard

but we want to prohibit this:

Animal *pAnimal1 = &liz;
Animal *pAnimal2 = &chick;


*pAnimal1 = *pAnimal2; // assign a chicken to a lizard

Distinctions such as these can be made only at runtime, because sometimes assigning *pAnimal2 to *pAnimal1 is valid, sometimes it's not. We thus enter the murky world of type-based runtime errors. In particular, we need to signal an error inside operator= if we're faced with a mixed-type assignment, but if the types are the same, we want to perform the assignment in the usual fashion. We can use a dynamic_cast (see Item 2) to implement this behavior. Here's how to do it for Lizard's assignment operator:

Lizard& Lizard::operator=(const Animal& rhs)
// make sure rhs is really a lizard
const Lizard& rhs_liz = dynamic_cast(rhs);

proceed with a normal assignment of rhs_liz to *this;


This function assigns rhs to *this only if rhs is really a Lizard. If it's not, the function propagates the bad_cast exception that dynamic_cast throws when the cast fails. (Actually, the type of the exception is std::bad_cast, because the components of the standard library, including the exceptions thrown by the standard components, are in the namespace std. For an overview of the standard library, see Item 35.)

Even without worrying about exceptions, this function seems needlessly complicated and expensive -- the dynamic_cast must consult a type_info structure; see Item 24 -- in the common case where one Lizard object is assigned to another...

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

Basics 9

Item 1: Distinguish between pointers and references. 9
Item 2: Prefer C++-style casts. 12
Item 3: Never treat arrays polymorphically. 16
Item 4: Avoid gratuitous default constructors. 19

Operators 24

Item 5: Be wary of user-defined conversion functions. 24
Item 6: Distinguish between prefix and postfix forms of increment and decrement operators. 31
Item 7: Never overload &&, , or ,. 35
Item 8: Understand the different meanings of new and delete. 38

Exceptions 44

Item 9: Use destructors to prevent resource leaks. 45
Item 10: Prevent resource leaks in constructors. 50
Item 11: Prevent exceptions from leaving destructors. 58
Item 12: Understand how throwing an exception differs from passing a parameter or calling a virtual function. 61
Item 13: Catch exceptions by reference. 68
Item 14: Use exception specifications judiciously. 72
Item 15: Understand the costs of exception handling. 78

Efficiency 81

Item 16: Remember the 80-20 rule. 82
Item 17: Consider using lazy evaluation. 85
Item 18: Amortize the cost of expected computations. 93
Item 19: Understand the origin of temporary objects. 98
Item 20: Facilitate the return value optimization. 101
Item 21: Overload to avoid implicit type conversions. 105
Item 22: Consider using op= instead of stand-alone op. 107
Item 23: Consider alternative libraries. 110
Item 24: Understand the costs of virtual functions, multiple inheritance, virtual base classes, and RTTI. 113

Techniques 123

Item 25: Virtualizing constructors and non-member functions. 123
Item 26: Limiting the number of objects of a class. 130
Item 27: Requiring or prohibiting heap-based objects. 145
Item 28: Smart pointers. 159
Item 29: Reference counting. 183
Item 30: Proxy classes. 213
Item 31: Making functions virtual with respect to more than one object. 228

Miscellany 252

Item 32: Program in the future tense. 252
Item 33: Make non-leaf classes abstract. 258
Item 34: Understand how to combine C++ and C in the same program. 270
Item 35: Familiarize yourself with the language standard. 277

Recommended Reading 285

An auto_ptr Implementation 291

General Index 295

Index of Example Classes, Functions, and Templates 313

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