Re: Virtual constructor?

James Kanze <>
11 Jun 2006 17:32:24 -0400
Wu Yongwei wrote:

kanze wrote:

     template< typename Derived, typename Base >
     class Clonable : public Base
         Derived* clone() const
             return new Derived(
                 *dynamic_cast< Derived const* >( this ) ) ;

         virtual Base* doClone() const
             return clone() ;
     } ;

     template< typename Base >
     class AbstractClonable
         AbstractClonable* clone() const
             Base* result = doClone() ;
             assert( typeid( result ) == typeid( *this ) ) ;
             return result ;

         virtual Base* doClone() const = 0 ;
     } ;

I actually find your code quite useful. However, I do find an
issue, when the class hierarchy is as follows:

class A : public public AbstractClonable<A> {};
class B : public Clonable<B, A> {};
class C : public Clonable<C, A> {}'

B* p = new C();

Then p->clone() will really return a B object instead of C.

Good point.

I guess in this case, you need to put the actual implementation
in the virtual function, and have the non-virtual call the
virtual in the derived classes. (The basic idiom is from Barton
and Nackman -- the goal was different, and the context as well.)

The solutions I find so far are:

1) Declare only leaf-node objects can be instantiated and let B inherit
from A instead of Clonable<B, A>;
2) Change Clonable::clone() to this effect:

    Derived* clone() const
        if (typeid(Derived) == typeid(*this))
            return new Derived(*static_cast<const Derived*>(this));
            return static_cast<Derived*>(doClone());

Any comments?

What's wrong with just:

     Derived* clone() const
         Derived* result = doClone() ;
         assert( typeid( *result ) == typeid( *this ) ) ;
         return result ;

     // ...
     Derived* doClone() const
         return new Derived( *dynamic_cast< Derived const* >( this ) ) ;

Any better solutions? Anyone knows about the overhead of

Fairly high, I believe. But then, so is the overhead of dynamic
allocation and in many cases, of the copy constructor.

James Kanze
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