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Tip of the Day
Language: C++
Expertise: Beginner
Sep 11, 2000

Template Function Error

Question:
Consider the code:

template  class TestClass {
public:
 T testFunc(T*);
};

template 
TestClass::testFunc(T* p1){
 return sadfs; //actually, here I could
               //write anything I want
}

The problem is that VC++6 compiler doesn't track any errors in the body of the testFunc (even if it's within the declaration of the TestClass).

Answer:
When the compiler compiles template's code, it performs only rudimentary syntax checking; it doesn't perform a full-blown semantic analysis as it does with ordinary functions and classes. Therefore, only flagrant syntax errors such as omitting a semicolon after a statement are detected.

Note that this behavior is compliant with the Standard's requirements that a template need not be compilable as long as you don't create an instance thereof. However, it seems like your compiler is still too lenient in this regard because it allows you to omit the return type from the definition of testFunc(). Obviously, this error should be detected and reported. To test your template thoroughly, you should instantiate various specializations, e.g.,

int n; // int specialization
TestClass < int > ti;
tc.testFunc(&n);

std::string s; // string specialization
TestClass < std::string > ts;
tc.testFunc(&s);

And observe the compilation errors that your compiler issues when it instantiates these templates as well as their member functions.

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