Re: Any dot-operator proposals out there?

"Patrik Kahari" <>
Tue, 20 Feb 2007 14:54:20 CST

I've occasionally wanted to be able to override the dot-operator [...]
My search for a proposal to add support for this operator has been without success,
however, and I wonder why.

Yes, In "the design and evolution of c++" Bjarne Stroustrup describes
why he did not allow it.
If i remeber correctly the resoning goes something like this;

The biggest need for a dot operator would probably be the
implementation of wrapper objects that would behave just like the
object it wrapped. As in the dot operator would return a reference to
the underlying wrapped object and not to the wrapper itself. But then
there would be no way for a client to access any methods or data of
the wrapped object itself. We can just overload the -> operator
instead and avoid the problem.

An example:


#include <iostream>

template <typename T>
struct Wrapper {
    Wrapper(T t):t_(t), count(0) {}

    T* operator->() {
        return &t_;

    T& operator.() {
        return t_;

    size_t count;
    T t_;

inline void test () {
    std::string s("test");
    Wrapper<std::string> ws(s);
    int length = ws->length();
    int count = ws.count;
/* if we had overloaded the '.' operator instead of the '->' operator,
we would have no way to get access to the 'count' member */


Regards Patrik

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