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Home » Tip Bank » C++
Language: C++
Expertise: Intermediate
Sep 10, 2001

C++ Smart Pointers


C++ smart pointers are the idea of using a selector to access a class. This gives the class writer an option to control access to class members and function. For example, if you wanted to count references to the object and autodelete it when the count goes to zero. Here's a simple example:
 
class CA {
public:
        void func() { // ... }
};

This will be a smart pointer to the CA class:
 
class CPtrA {
public:
        CPtrA() : m_pA(new CA) { }
        ~CPtrA()  { delete m_pA; }
        CA* operator->() { return m_pA; }
protected:
        CA* m_pA;
};

Using the smart pointer:
 
        CPtrA pA;
        pA->func();

Overloading operator= will give you an option to count references. You'll know about each pA = pOtherA by the user, and will be able to take the appropriate action.

C++ COM and CORBA rely heavily on smart pointers. The Standard Template Library also has an auto_ptr template, for your convenience.
Igal Ioffe
 
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