Is this portable? [static pointer casts, char* arithmetic]

SG <>
Tue, 14 Apr 2009 07:35:00 -0700 (PDT)

I was toying around with some "copy-on-write" wrapper class design
(cow<>) and felt the need to use some ugly pointer casts. I was
wondering whether it is even 100% portable and if not what other
alternatives there are that don't affect the public interface of the
cow<> class template.

I basically use Boost.Function-like "type erasure" with reference
counting. I keep two pointers in the class cow<T> as data members.
One pointer to an abstract wrapper class (for cloning and ref-
counting) and another pointer T* that points directly to the wrapped
object that lives inside the wrapper. To support conversions from
cow<T> to cow<U> in case T* is convertible to U* I made the abstract
wrapper class to be a non-template. The problem arises when I need to
create a copy and adjust the 2nd pointer accordingly.

Here're some code fragments (for brevity) so you know what I'm talking


  class abstract_wrapper
     abstract_wrapper() : ref_counter(1) {}

     virtual ~abstract_wrapper() {}
     virtual abstract_wrapper* clone() const = 0;

     void refct_inc() {++ref_counter;}
     bool refct_dec() {return (--ref_counter)==0;}

     bool unique() const {return ref_counter<=1;}

     long ref_counter;

  // .....

  template<typename T>
  class cow

     template<typename> friend class cow;

     abstract_wrapper* paw;
     T* ptr; // points to a member of *paw

     void make_copy();


     // .....

     T const& operator*() const {return *ptr;}
     T const* operator->() const {return ptr;}

     T& wref()
        if (!paw->unique()) make_copy();
        return *ptr;

     // .....

  template<typename T>
  void cow<T>::make_copy()
     assert( !paw->unique() );

     typedef ..... char_t;
     typedef ..... void_t;

     // is T const? | char_t | void_t
     // ------------+------------+-----------
     // yes | const char | const void
     // no | char | void

     abstract_wrapper* paw2 = paw->clone();

     char_t* bas1 = static_cast<char_t*>(static_cast<void_t*>(paw));
     char_t* bas2 = static_cast<char_t*>(static_cast<void_t*>(paw2));
     char_t* sub1 = static_cast<char_t*>(static_cast<void_t*>(ptr));
     char_t* sub2 = bas2 + (sub1-bas1);

     ptr = static_cast<T*>(static_cast<void_t*>(sub2));
     paw = paw2;


Obviously the private function "make_copy" looks a bit ugly with all
the casts. But as far as I can tell this should be portable. The
dynamic types of *paw and *paw2 are the same. The assumption is that
the object layout is consistent over all possible objects of that
dynamic type and that I can safely compute the address of the new
member object the way I did.

Am I correct?


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