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Tip of the Day
Language: C++
Expertise: Beginner
Jun 7, 1999

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Overloading the Subscript Operator the Right Way

It is customary to overload the subscript operator, [], in classes that hold a sequence of elements. Vector and String are examples of such classes. When you overload operator [], remember to define two versions thereof: a non-const version and a const one. For example:

 
class MyString
{
private:
  char * buff;
  int size;
public:
	//...
  char& operator [] (int index) { return buff[index]; } //non-const
  const char& operator [] (int index) const { return buff[index]; } //const
};

The const version of the subscript operator is called when its object itself is const:

 
void f(const MyString& str)
{
  char c = str[0]; //calls const char& operator [] (int index) const 
}
Danny Kalev
 
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