Some of the pitfalls or surprises you might encounter while using C Templates

Some of the pitfalls or surprises you might encounter while using C Templates

Pitfalls of Templates type deduction in C++. In this post, I will pick up some of the pitfalls or surprises you might encounter while using C++ Templates.

C++ is a strictly typed language. We must declare every variable, function parameter, and function return value using a specific type. If there is any incompatibility between the type that is expected and the type that is actually used, it won’t compile. This brings an advantage that the language itself ensures “type safety” to prevent developers from making mistakes of assigning wrong objects, parameters to wrong functions, operators. Also, this checking is done statically at compile time, hence there is no additional performance cost added during runtime. However, this strictly typed aspect also makes C++less flexible. Let’s say you like to provide a function as library, and the function takes two input parameters, calculate the sum and return it. Since you cannot predict the particular type the users of the library need in their context, you cannot implement the function that is compatible with possibly required types. Also even if you know exactly which types your library needs to support, you need to prepare multiple functions that take different types (int, void, string, custom class etc). In most cases, the function has common behaviours that are applied to all types. As a result, there will be a lot of repetitions too. To solve the problem, C++ programming language offers a powerful feature called Templates¹. Using Templates, we can implement a generic function or a class that can be used for many different types. In fact, Templates is very popular for library development and many C++ standard libraries use Templates inside. In this post, I will pick up some of the pitfalls or surprises you might encounter while using C++ Templates.

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