Re: Is there any standard/guarantees for exception safety in STL operations?

"Bo Persson" <>
Wed, 21 Jul 2010 18:47:46 CST
Thomas Richter wrote:

Francis Glassborow wrote:

For example suppose that you try to insert a block of ten elements
into a container and that an exception is thrown during this
process. You will still have a stable container in a destructable
state. However the Standard does not guarantee that it is in the
same state that it was prior to your attempt to insert elements.

Certainly, that is understood. But assume that the copy
constructors of my classes cannot throw (otherwise, of course, I
agree that all bets are off, and my code is to blame, and not the
STL). However, even then the STL does not ensure that the container
is in a state where either all new elements are present, or it
remained in the original state. I can certainly arrange that
(insert, swap), but without knowing the implementation of insert,
not in a way that is as efficient as it could. Clearly, such an
implementation would be slower (needless to say), but still
required to write code that provides a "useful" guarantee in case
of exceptions.

If you look at the various container types, you will see that the
requirements are slightly different for each type. The STL has already
taken into account what can and cannot be done.

In the vector example you just HAVE to copy all elements if the
current buffer is to small. There is no way to construct new elements
separately, and append them later. However, there is a way to do that
for std::deque...

Or to make it more concrete: Assume that I can ensure you that my
copy constructor doesn't throw, *how* should I deal with exceptions
I get from insert()? Basically, I cannot handle them since I do not
know what the state of the object is after insertion (except that
it is to some degree valid, syntactically at least, but not
semantically). Thus, what should I do then - really as a practical

You DO get an assurance that if anything else throws, like a
std::bad_alloc, a std::vector will be unchanged.

If your copy constructor or assignment throws, the container will
fail, but how the heck would you "fix up" the elements that couldn't
be assigned? How are you going to assign them valid values, when
assignment throws?

Most of the operations are optimized for the non-throwing case. A lot
of them can be written in an exception-neutral way, so that any
exceptions thrown will not have to be catch'ed by the library. If you
look into the library, there are very few try-catch statements outside
the stream library. If the library is to report "exception thrown when
inserting object 42", the exception would first have to be caught, at
extra cost.

Realistically, I can only terminate, or scan the object fully to
find what is inserted and what is not. Or I must build a copy/swap
around it. Neither solution is attractive, though knowing the STL
implementation, finding such "stale elements" might be simpler or
even trivial.

No, it all depends on what your application is doing. Assume that the
container is used as a cache for some computed values. If the
insertion fails, you could just delete the container and start over.
Or back out a database or web server request, and try the next one.

Bo Persson

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