direct initialization

< cpp‎ | language

Initializes an object from explicit set of constructor arguments.


[edit] Syntax

T object ( arg );

T object ( arg1, arg2, ... );

T object { arg };

T object { arg1, arg2, ... };

(2) (since C++11)
T ( other )

T ( arg1, arg2, ... );

static_cast< T >( other ) (4)
new T(args, ...) (5)
Class::Class() : member(args, ...) {... (6)
[arg](){... (7) (since C++11)

[edit] Explanation

Direct initialization is performed in the following situations:

1) initialization with a nonempty parenthesized list of expressions
2) during list-initialization sequence, if no initializer-list constructors are provided and a matching constructor is accessible, and all necessary implicit conversions are non-narrowing.
3) initialization of a prvalue temporary by functional cast or with a parenthesized expression list
4) initialization of a prvalue temporary by a static_cast expression
5) initialization of an object with dynamic storage duration by a new-expression with a non-empty initializer
6) initialization of a base or a non-static member by constructor initializer list
7) initialization of closure object members from the variables caught by copy in a lambda-expression

The effects of direct initialization are:

  • If T is a class type,
  • if the initializer is a prvalue expression whose cv-unqualified type is the same class as T, the initializer expression itself, rather that a temporary materialized from it, is used to initialize the destination object: see copy elision
(since C++17)
  • the constructors of T are examined and the best match is selected by overload resolution. The constructor is then called to initialize the object.
  • Otherwise, if T is a non-class type, standard conversions are used, if necessary, to convert the value of other to the cv-unqualified version of T.

[edit] Notes

Direct-initialization is more permissive than copy-initialization: copy-initialization only considers non-explicit constructors and non-explicit user-defined conversion functions, while direct-initialization considers all constructors and all user-defined conversion functions.

In case of ambiguity between a variable declaration using the direct-initialization syntax (1) (with round parentheses) and a function declaration, the compiler always chooses function declaration. This disambiguation rule is sometimes counter-intuitive and has been called the most vexing parse.

#include <iterator>
#include <string>
#include <fstream>
int main()
    std::ifstream file("data.txt");
    // the following is a function declaration:
    std::string str(std::istreambuf_iterator<char>(file),
    // it declares a function called str, whose return type is std::string,
    // first parameter has type std::istreambuf_iterator<char> and the name "file"
    // second parameter has no name and has type std::istreambuf_iterator<char>(),
    // which is rewritten to function pointer type std::istreambuf_iterator<char>(*)()
    // pre-c++11 fix: extra parentheses around one of the arguments
    std::string str( (std::istreambuf_iterator<char>(file) ),
    // post-C++11 fix: list-initialization for any of the arguments
    std::string str(std::istreambuf_iterator<char>{file}, {});

Similarly, in the case of an ambiguity between a expression statement with a function-style cast expression (3) as its leftmost subexpression and a declaration statement, the ambiguity is resolved by treating it as a declaration. This disambiguation is purely syntactic: it doesn't consider the meaning of names occurring in the statement other than whether they are type names.

struct M { };
struct L { L(M&); };
M n;
void f() {
    M(m); // declaration, equivalent to M m;
    L(n); // ill-formed declaration
    L(l)(m); // still a declaration

[edit] Example

#include <string>
#include <iostream>
#include <memory>
struct Foo {
    int mem;
    explicit Foo(int n) : mem(n) {}
int main()
    std::string s1("test"); // constructor from const char*
    std::string s2(10, 'a');
    std::unique_ptr<int> p(new int(1)); // OK: explicit constructors allowed
//  std::unique_ptr<int> p = new int(1); // error: constructor is explicit
    Foo f(2); // f is direct-initialized:
              // constructor parameter n is copy-initialized from the rvalue 2
              // f.mem is direct-initialized from the parameter n
//  Foo f2 = 2; // error: constructor is explicit
    std::cout << s1 << ' ' << s2 << ' ' << *p << ' ' << f.mem  << '\n';


test aaaaaaaaaa 1 2

[edit] See also