Effective C++: 55 Specific Ways to Improve Your Programs and Designs

Scott Meyers  
Total pages
May 2005
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Effective C++: 55 Specific Ways to Improve Your Programs and Designs
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Effective C++ 3/e is a complete update of Effective C++ and Effective C++ 2/e .

Like its predecessors, 3/e has 55 guidelines which contain better, more

effective ways to write code, backed by specific examples. The second edition

published in 1997, and was basically a face-lift of the first edition, keeping most

of the same elements, and seven years later is still selling well.

Now, Meyers has dramatically rejuvenated the material, including more than

50% brand-new material. Meyers began this edition by asking himself, 'What

are the 55 most important pieces of advice for practicing C++ programmers in

2005?' He also asked thousands of past users of his books this same question.

This resulted in a completely new book. New material includes use of UML

notation, thread safety, exception safety, design patterns, and templates. Any

older material has been revitalized to reflect new ideas and strides in C++



Revision of the best seller. This is the market leading, second book on programming that every C++ programmer needs.

° Scott Meyers is one of the world's foremost experts on C++ software development. He is an excellent promoter of his books.

° More than 50% new material and complete updates of tried-and-true material to bring it up to 2005 standards.

° There is no better way to bring C++ programmers up to date on cutting edge practices than this book. It's a classic--the #1 book of its kind.

Table of Contents

Preface xv

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1: Accustoming Yourself to C++ 11

Item 1: View C++ as a federation of languages. 11

Item 2: Prefer consts, enums, and inlines to #defines. 13

Item 3: Use const whenever possible. 17

Item 4: Make sure that objects are initialized before they’re used. 26

Chapter 2: Constructors, Destructors, and Assignment Operators 34

Item 5: Know what functions C++ silently writes and calls. 34

Item 6: Explicitly disallow the use of compiler-generated functions you do not want. 37

Item 7: Declare destructors virtual in polymorphic base classes. 40

Item 8: Prevent exceptions from leaving destructors. 44

Item 9: Never call virtual functions during construction or destruction. 48

Item 10: Have assignment operators return a reference to *this. 52

Item 11: Handle assignment to self in operator=. 53

Item 12: Copy all parts of an object. 57

Chapter 3: Resource Management 61

Item 13: Use objects to manage resources. 61

Item 14: Think carefully about copying behavior in resource-managing classes. 66

Item 15: Provide access to raw resources in resource-managing classes. 69

Item 16: Use the same form in corresponding uses of new and delete. 73

Item 17: Store newed objects in smart pointers in standalone statements. 75

Chapter 4: Designs and Declarations 78

Item 18: Make interfaces easy to use correctly and hard to use incorrectly. 78

Item 19: Treat class design as type design. 84

Item 20: Prefer pass-by-reference-to-const to pass-by-value. 86

Item 21: Don’t try to return a reference when you must return an object. 90

Item 22: Declare data members private. 94

Item 23: Prefer non-member non-friend functions to member functions. 98

Item 24: Declare non-member functions when type conversions should apply to all parameters. 102

Item 25: Consider support for a non-throwing swap. 106

Chapter 5: Implementations 113

Item 26: Postpone variable definitions as long as possible. 113

Item 27: Minimize casting. 116

Item 28: Avoid returning “handles” to object internals. 123

Item 29: Strive for exception-safe code. 127

Item 30: Understand the ins and outs of inlining. 134

Item 31: Minimize compilation dependencies between files. 140

Chapter 6: Inheritance and Object-Oriented Design 149

Item 32: Make sure public inheritance models “is-a.” 150

Item 33: Avoid hiding inherited names. 156

Item 34: Differentiate between inheritance of interface and inheritance of implementation. 161

Item 35: Consider alternatives to virtual functions. 169

Item 36: Never redefine an inherited non-virtual function. 178

Item 37: Never redefine a function’s inherited default parameter value. 180

Item 38: Model “has-a” or “is-implemented-in-terms-of” through composition. 184

Item 39: Use private inheritance judiciously. 187

Item 40: Use multiple inheritance judiciously. 192

Chapter 7: Templates and Generic Programming 199

Item 41: Understand implicit interfaces and compile-time polymorphism. 199

Item 42: Understand the two meanings of typename. 203

Item 43: Know how to access names in templatized base classes. 207

Item 44: Factor parameter-independent code out of templates. 212

Item 45: Use member function templates to accept “all compatible types.” 218

Item 46: Define non-member functions inside templates when type conversions are desired. 222

Item 47: Use traits classes for information about types. 226

Item 48: Be aware of template metaprogramming. 233

Chapter 8: Customizing new and delete 239

Item 49: Understand the behavior of the new-handler. 240

Item 50: Understand when it makes sense to replace new and delete. 247

Item 51: Adhere to convention when writing new and delete. 252

Item 52: Write placement delete if you write placement new. 256

Chapter 9: Miscellany 262

Item 53: Pay attention to compiler warnings. 262

Item 54: Familiarize yourself with the standard library, including TR1. 263

Item 55: Familiarize yourself with Boost. 269

Appendix A: Beyond Effective C++ 273

Appendix B: Item Mappings Between Second and Third Editions 277

Index 280

Back Cover

“Every C++ professional needs a copy of Effective C++. It is an absolute must-read for anyone thinking of doing serious C++ development. If you’ve never read Effective C++ and you think you know everything about C++, think again.”
Steve Schirripa, Software Engineer, Google“C++ and the C++ community have grown up in the last fifteen years, and the third edition of Effective C++ reflects this. The clear and precise style of the book is evidence of Scott’s deep insight and distinctive ability to impart knowledge.”
Gerhard Kreuzer, Research and Development Engineer, Siemens AG

The first two editions of Effective C++ were embraced by hundreds of thousands of programmers worldwide. The reason is clear: Scott Meyers’ practical approach to C++ describes the rules of thumb used by the experts — the things they almost always do or almost always avoid doing — to produce clear, correct, efficient code.

The book is organized around 55 specific guidelines, each of which describes a way to write better C++. Each is backed by concrete examples. For this third edition, more than half the content is new, including added chapters on managing resources and using templates. Topics from the second edition have been extensively revised to reflect modern design considerations, including exceptions, design patterns, and multithreading.

Important features of Effective C++ include:

  • Expert guidance on the design of effective classes, functions, templates, and inheritance hierarchies.
  • Applications of new “TR1” standard library functionality, along with comparisons to existing standard library components.
  • Insights into differences between C++ and other languages (e.g., Java, C#, C) that help developers from those languages assimilate “the C++ way” of doing things.


Scott Meyers is one of the world's foremost authorities on C++, providing training and consulting services to clients worldwide. He is the author of the best-selling Effective C++ series of books (Effective C++, More Effective C++, and Effective STL) and of the innovative Effective C++ CD. He is consulting editor for Addison Wesley's Effective Software Development Series and is a founding member of the Advisory Board for The C++ Source (http://www.artima.com/cppsource). He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Brown University. His web site is http://www.aristeia.com.