Effective Modern C++: 42 Specific Ways to Improve Your Use of C++11 and C++14

Author: Scott Meyers
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Effective Modern C++: 42 Specific Ways to Improve Your Use of C++11 and C++14


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by dlieu   2018-11-10
"Effective Modern C++" is extremely well written (https://www.amazon.com/Effective-Modern-Specific-Ways-Improv...)

It cover very smoothly most of the main C++11/14 features, while explaining the pros and cons and the inner choices that has been made when those said feature were implemented

Highly recommended book by the community

by winter_blue   2018-11-10
I strongly prefer text over video[1], and the best book on modern C++ is "Effective Modern C++" by Scott Meyers: https://www.amazon.com/Effective-Modern-Specific-Ways-Improv...

[1] I wish people invested more time/effort in writing good textbooks instead of videos/MOOCs.

by anonymous   2018-03-19

The name returned by std::type_info::name is implementation defined, it's not guaranteed to return "int".

Returns an implementation defined null-terminated character string containing the name of the type. No guarantees are given; in particular, the returned string can be identical for several types and change between invocations of the same program.

On the other hand, you can get the type information at compile-time (with a non-defined class template). It depends on the compiler too but is much more clear in general. (The idea came from Effective Modern C++ (Scott Meyers) Item #4: Know how to view deduced types.)

template <typename>
struct TD;

int main()
    auto x{123};
    auto y={1,2};

    TD<decltype(x)> td1;
    TD<decltype(y)> td2;   

Then you'll get the type information from the compilation error message, such as Clang:

source_file.cpp:12:21: error: implicit instantiation of undefined template 'TD<int>'
    TD<decltype(x)> td1;
source_file.cpp:13:21: error: implicit instantiation of undefined template 'TD<std::initializer_list<int> >'
    TD<decltype(y)> td2;
by anonymous   2017-08-20

Note that *first is an lvalue expression, then the result type of decltype(*first) would be const int&, i.e. a reference to const int. The reference is not const itself (it can't be const-qualified, there's no such thing like int& const), using std::remove_const on it will yield the same type, i.e. const int&.

See decltype specifier:

3) If the argument is any other expression of type T, and

b) if the value category of expression is lvalue, then decltype yields T&;

You could use std::remove_const with std::remove_reference together:

std::remove_const<std::remove_reference<deref>::type>::type // -> int
                                        ~~~~~               // -> const int &
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~        // -> const int


Note that I use std::thread just to get readable types in the errors:

Note that it doesn't give the correct type for this case. Here's a class template helper for this from the Effective Modern C++ (Scott Meyers):

template<typename T>
class TD;

and use it as

TD<deref> td;

You'll get the error message containing the type of deref, e.g. from clang:

prog.cc:16:11: error: implicit instantiation of undefined template 'TD<const int &>'
TD<deref> td;
by litb   2017-08-20


Introductory, no previous programming experience

  • Programming: Principles and Practice Using C++ (Bjarne Stroustrup) (updated for C++11/C++14) An introduction to programming using C++ by the creator of the language. A good read, that assumes no previous programming experience, but is not only for beginners.

Introductory, with previous programming experience

  • C++ Primer * (Stanley Lippman, Josée Lajoie, and Barbara E. Moo) (updated for C++11) Coming at 1k pages, this is a very thorough introduction into C++ that covers just about everything in the language in a very accessible format and in great detail. The fifth edition (released August 16, 2012) covers C++11. [Review]

  • A Tour of C++ (Bjarne Stroustrup) (EBOOK) The “tour” is a quick (about 180 pages and 14 chapters) tutorial overview of all of standard C++ (language and standard library, and using C++11) at a moderately high level for people who already know C++ or at least are experienced programmers. This book is an extended version of the material that constitutes Chapters 2-5 of The C++ Programming Language, 4th edition.

  • Accelerated C++ (Andrew Koenig and Barbara Moo) This basically covers the same ground as the C++ Primer, but does so on a fourth of its space. This is largely because it does not attempt to be an introduction to programming, but an introduction to C++ for people who've previously programmed in some other language. It has a steeper learning curve, but, for those who can cope with this, it is a very compact introduction into the language. (Historically, it broke new ground by being the first beginner's book to use a modern approach at teaching the language.) [Review]

  • Thinking in C++ (Bruce Eckel) Two volumes; is a tutorial style free set of intro level books. Downloads: vol 1, vol 2. Unfortunately they’re marred by a number of trivial errors (e.g. maintaining that temporaries are automatically const), with no official errata list. A partial 3rd party errata list is available at (http://www.computersciencelab.com/Eckel.htm), but it’s apparently not maintained.

* Not to be confused with C++ Primer Plus (Stephen Prata), with a significantly less favorable review.

Best practices

  • Effective C++ (Scott Meyers) This was written with the aim of being the best second book C++ programmers should read, and it succeeded. Earlier editions were aimed at programmers coming from C, the third edition changes this and targets programmers coming from languages like Java. It presents ~50 easy-to-remember rules of thumb along with their rationale in a very accessible (and enjoyable) style. For C++11 and C++14 the examples and a few issues are outdated and Effective Modern C++ should be preferred. [Review]

  • Effective Modern C++ (Scott Meyers) This is basically the new version of Effective C++, aimed at C++ programmers making the transition from C++03 to C++11 and C++14.

  • Effective STL (Scott Meyers) This aims to do the same to the part of the standard library coming from the STL what Effective C++ did to the language as a whole: It presents rules of thumb along with their rationale. [Review]


  • More Effective C++ (Scott Meyers) Even more rules of thumb than Effective C++. Not as important as the ones in the first book, but still good to know.

  • Exceptional C++ (Herb Sutter) Presented as a set of puzzles, this has one of the best and thorough discussions of the proper resource management and exception safety in C++ through Resource Acquisition is Initialization (RAII) in addition to in-depth coverage of a variety of other topics including the pimpl idiom, name lookup, good class design, and the C++ memory model. [Review]

  • More Exceptional C++ (Herb Sutter) Covers additional exception safety topics not covered in Exceptional C++, in addition to discussion of effective object oriented programming in C++ and correct use of the STL. [Review]

  • Exceptional C++ Style (Herb Sutter) Discusses generic programming, optimization, and resource management; this book also has an excellent exposition of how to write modular code in C++ by using nonmember functions and the single responsibility principle. [Review]

  • C++ Coding Standards (Herb Sutter and Andrei Alexandrescu) “Coding standards” here doesn't mean “how many spaces should I indent my code?” This book contains 101 best practices, idioms, and common pitfalls that can help you to write correct, understandable, and efficient C++ code. [Review]

  • C++ Templates: The Complete Guide (David Vandevoorde and Nicolai M. Josuttis) This is the book about templates as they existed before C++11. It covers everything from the very basics to some of the most advanced template metaprogramming and explains every detail of how templates work (both conceptually and at how they are implemented) and discusses many common pitfalls. Has excellent summaries of the One Definition Rule (ODR) and overload resolution in the appendices. A second edition is scheduled for 2017. [Review]


  • Modern C++ Design (Andrei Alexandrescu) A groundbreaking book on advanced generic programming techniques. Introduces policy-based design, type lists, and fundamental generic programming idioms then explains how many useful design patterns (including small object allocators, functors, factories, visitors, and multimethods) can be implemented efficiently, modularly, and cleanly using generic programming. [Review]

  • C++ Template Metaprogramming (David Abrahams and Aleksey Gurtovoy)

  • C++ Concurrency In Action (Anthony Williams) A book covering C++11 concurrency support including the thread library, the atomics library, the C++ memory model, locks and mutexes, as well as issues of designing and debugging multithreaded applications.

  • Advanced C++ Metaprogramming (Davide Di Gennaro) A pre-C++11 manual of TMP techniques, focused more on practice than theory. There are a ton of snippets in this book, some of which are made obsolete by typetraits, but the techniques, are nonetheless useful to know. If you can put up with the quirky formatting/editing, it is easier to read than Alexandrescu, and arguably, more rewarding. For more experienced developers, there is a good chance that you may pick up something about a dark corner of C++ (a quirk) that usually only comes about through extensive experience.

Reference Style - All Levels

  • The C++ Programming Language (Bjarne Stroustrup) (updated for C++11) The classic introduction to C++ by its creator. Written to parallel the classic K&R, this indeed reads very much alike it and covers just about everything from the core language to the standard library, to programming paradigms to the language's philosophy. [Review]

  • C++ Standard Library Tutorial and Reference (Nicolai Josuttis) (updated for C++11) The introduction and reference for the C++ Standard Library. The second edition (released on April 9, 2012) covers C++11. [Review]

  • The C++ IO Streams and Locales (Angelika Langer and Klaus Kreft) There's very little to say about this book except that, if you want to know anything about streams and locales, then this is the one place to find definitive answers. [Review]

C++11/14 References:

  • The C++ Standard (INCITS/ISO/IEC 14882-2011) This, of course, is the final arbiter of all that is or isn't C++. Be aware, however, that it is intended purely as a reference for experienced users willing to devote considerable time and effort to its understanding. As usual, the first release was quite expensive ($300+ US), but it has now been released in electronic form for $60US.

  • The C++14 standard is available, but seemingly not in an economical form – directly from the ISO it costs 198 Swiss Francs (about $200 US). For most people, the final draft before standardization is more than adequate (and free). Many will prefer an even newer draft, documenting new features that are likely to be included in C++17.

  • Overview of the New C++ (C++11/14) (PDF only) (Scott Meyers) (updated for C++1y/C++14) These are the presentation materials (slides and some lecture notes) of a three-day training course offered by Scott Meyers, who's a highly respected author on C++. Even though the list of items is short, the quality is high.

  • The C++ Core Guidelines (C++11/14/17/…) (edited by Bjarne Stroustrup and Herb Sutter) is an evolving online document consisting of a set of guidelines for using modern C++ well. The guidelines are focused on relatively higher-level issues, such as interfaces, resource management, memory management and concurrency affecting application architecture and library design. The project was announced at CppCon'15 by Bjarne Stroustrup and others and welcomes contributions from the community. Most guidelines are supplemented with a rationale and examples as well as discussions of possible tool support. Many rules are designed specifically to be automatically checkable by static analysis tools.

  • The C++ Super-FAQ (Marshall Cline, Bjarne Stroustrup and others) is an effort by the Standard C++ Foundation to unify the C++ FAQs previously maintained individually by Marshall Cline and Bjarne Stroustrup and also incorporating new contributions. The items mostly address issues at an intermediate level and are often written with a humorous tone. Not all items might be fully up to date with the latest edition of the C++ standard yet.

  • cppreference.com (C++03/11/14/17/…) (initiated by Nate Kohl) is a wiki that summarizes the basic core-language features and has extensive documentation of the C++ standard library. The documentation is very precise but is easier to read than the official standard document and provides better navigation due to its wiki nature. The project documents all versions of the C++ standard and the site allows filtering the display for a specific version. The project was presented by Nate Kohl at CppCon'14.

Classics / Older

Note: Some information contained within these books may not be up-to-date or no longer considered best practice.

  • The Design and Evolution of C++ (Bjarne Stroustrup) If you want to know why the language is the way it is, this book is where you find answers. This covers everything before the standardization of C++.

  • Ruminations on C++ - (Andrew Koenig and Barbara Moo) [Review]

  • Advanced C++ Programming Styles and Idioms (James Coplien) A predecessor of the pattern movement, it describes many C++-specific “idioms”. It's certainly a very good book and might still be worth a read if you can spare the time, but quite old and not up-to-date with current C++.

  • Large Scale C++ Software Design (John Lakos) Lakos explains techniques to manage very big C++ software projects. Certainly a good read, if it only was up to date. It was written long before C++98, and misses on many features (e.g. namespaces) important for large scale projects. If you need to work in a big C++ software project, you might want to read it, although you need to take more than a grain of salt with it. The first volume of a new edition is expected in 2015.

  • Inside the C++ Object Model (Stanley Lippman) If you want to know how virtual member functions are commonly implemented and how base objects are commonly laid out in memory in a multi-inheritance scenario, and how all this affects performance, this is where you will find thorough discussions of such topics.

  • The Annotated C++ Reference Manual (Bjarne Stroustrup, Margaret A. Ellis) This book is quite outdated in the fact that it explores the 1989 C++ 2.0 version - Templates, exceptions, namespaces and new casts were not yet introduced. Saying that however, this book goes through the entire C++ standard of the time explaining the rationale, the possible implementations and features of the language. This is not a book to learn programming principles and patterns on C++, but to understand every aspect of the C++ language.

by anonymous   2017-08-20

See Item 17 from Scott Meyer's great book "Effective Modern C++". It describes many conditions under which default copy constructors, copy operations, and move operations are generated (or NOT generated).

In other words, the compiler might not "do it anyway". But if the default special member function makes sense, the user could use the "default" keyword to explicitly tell the compiler to generate a default function that otherwise not be generated.

From the Things to Remember at the end of Item 17:

  • Move operations are generated only for classes lacking explicitly declared move operations, copy operations, or a destructor.

  • The copy constructor is generated only for classes lacking an explicitly declared copy constructor, and it’s deleted if a move operation is declared. The copy assignment operator is generated only for classes lacking an explicitly declared copy assignment operator, and it’s deleted if a move operation is declared. Generation of the copy operations in classes with an explicitly declared destructor is deprecated.

by anonymous   2017-08-20

Herb Sutter talks about something similar in a cppcon talk

This can be done but probably shouldn't. You can get the effect out using universal references and templates, but you want to constrain the type to MyBigType and things that are implicitly convertible to MyBigType. With some tmp tricks, you can do this:

class MyClass {
    template <typename T>
    typename std::enable_if<std::is_convertible<T, MyBigType>::value, void>::type
    f(T&& a, int id);

The only template parameter will match against the actual type of the parameter, the enable_if return type disallows incompatible types. I'll take it apart piece by piece

std::is_convertible<T, MyBigType>::value

This compile time expression will evaluate to true if T can be converted implicitly to a MyBigType. For example, if MyBigType were a std::string and T were a char* the expression would be true, but if T were an int it would be false.

typename std::enable_if<..., void>::type // where the ... is the above

this expression will result in void in the case that the is_convertible expression is true. When it's false, the expression will be malformed, so the template will be thrown out.

Inside the body of the function you'll need to use perfect forwarding, if you are planning on copy assigning or move assigning, the body would be something like

    this->a_ = std::forward<T>(a);

Here's a coliru live example with a using MyBigType = std::string. As Herb says, this function can't be virtual and must be implemented in the header. The error messages you get from calling with a wrong type will be pretty rough compared to the non-templated overloads.

Thanks to Barry's comment for this suggestion, to reduce repetition, it's probably a good idea to create a template alias for the SFINAE mechanism. If you declare in your class

template <typename T>
using EnableIfIsMyBigType = typename std::enable_if<std::is_convertible<T, MyBigType>::value, void>::type;

then you could reduce the declarations to

template <typename T>
f(T&& a, int id);

However, this assumes all of your overloads have a void return type. If the return type differs you could use a two-argument alias instead

template <typename T, typename R>
using EnableIfIsMyBigType = typename std::enable_if<std::is_convertible<T, MyBigType>::value,R>::type;

Then declare with the return type specified

template <typename T>
EnableIfIsMyBigType<T, void> // void is the return type
f(T&& a, int id);

The slightly slower option is to take the argument by value. If you do

class MyClass {
    void f(MyBigType a, int id) {
        this->a_ = std::move(a); // move assignment

In the case where f is passed an lvalue, it will copy construct a from its argument, then move assign it into this->a_. In the case that f is passed an rvalue, it will move construct a from the argument and then move assign. A live example of this behavior is here. Note that I use -fno-elide-constructors, without that flag, the rvalue cases elides the move construction and only the move assignment takes place.

If the object is expensive to move (std::array for example) this approach will be noticeably slower than the super-optimized first version. Also, consider watching this part of Herb's talk that Chris Drew links to in the comments to understand when it could be slower than using references. If you have a copy of Effective Modern C++ by Scott Meyers, he discusses the ups and downs in item 41.