Boost C++ Libraries of the most highly regarded and expertly designed C++ library projects in the world. Herb Sutter and Andrei Alexandrescu, C++ Coding Standards


// Boost.TypeErasure library
// Copyright 2011 Steven Watanabe
// Distributed under the Boost Software License Version 1.0. (See
// accompanying file LICENSE_1_0.txt or copy at
// $Id$

#include <boost/type_erasure/any.hpp>
#include <boost/type_erasure/any_cast.hpp>
#include <boost/type_erasure/builtin.hpp>
#include <boost/type_erasure/operators.hpp>
#include <boost/type_erasure/member.hpp>
#include <boost/type_erasure/free.hpp>
#include <boost/mpl/vector.hpp>
#include <iostream>
#include <vector>

namespace mpl = boost::mpl;
using namespace boost::type_erasure;

void basic1() {
        The main class in the library is __any.  An __any can
        store objects that meet whatever requirements we specify.
        These requirements are passed to __any as an MPL sequence.

        [note The MPL sequence combines multiple concepts.
        In the rare case when we only want a single concept, it doesn't
        need to be wrapped in an MPL sequence.]
    any<mpl::vector<copy_constructible<>, typeid_<>, relaxed> > x(10);
    int i = any_cast<int>(x); // i == 10
        __copy_constructible is a builtin concept that allows us to
        copy and destroy the object.  __typeid_ provides run-time
        type information so that we can use __any_cast.  __relaxed
        enables various useful defaults.  Without __relaxed,
        __any supports /exactly/ what you specify and nothing else.
        In particular, it allows default construction and assignment of __any.

void basic2() {
        Now, this example doesn't do very much.  `x` is approximately
        equivalent to a [@boost:/libs/any/index.html boost::any].
        We can make it more interesting by adding some operators,
        such as `operator++` and `operator<<`.
    > x(10);
    std::cout << x << std::endl; // prints 11

    The library provides concepts for most C++ operators, but this
    obviously won't cover all use cases;  we often need to
    define our own requirements.  Let's take the `push_back`
    member, defined by several STL containers.


void append_many(any<has_push_back<void(int)>, _self&> container) {
    for(int i = 0; i < 10; ++i)

    We use the macro __BOOST_TYPE_ERASURE_MEMBER 
    to define a concept called `has_push_back`.
    When we use `has_push_back`, we have to
    tell it the signature of the function, `void(int)`.
    This means that the type we store in the any
    has to have a member that looks like:

    void push_back(int);

    Thus, we could call `append_many` with `std::vector<int>`,
    `std::list<int>`, or `std::vector<long>` (because `int` is
    convertible to `long`), but not `std::list<std::string>`
    or `std::set<int>`.

    Also, note that `append_many` has to operate directly
    on its argument.  It cannot make a copy.  To handle this
    we use `_self&` as the second argument of __any.  `_self`
    is a __placeholder.  By using `_self&`, we indicate that
    the __any stores a reference to an external object instead of
    allocating its own object.

    Member functions can be const.
bool is_empty(any<has_empty<bool() const>, const _self&> x) {
    return x.empty();

    For free functions, we can use the macro __BOOST_TYPE_ERASURE_FREE.

std::vector<std::string> read_lines(any<has_getline<bool(_self&, std::string&)>, _self&> stream)
    std::vector<std::string> result;
    std::string tmp;
    while(getline(stream, tmp))
    return result;

    The use of `has_getline` is very similar to `has_push_back` above.
    The difference is that the placeholder `_self` is passed in
    the function signature instead of as a separate argument.

    The __placeholder doesn't have to be the first argument.
    We could just as easily make it the second argument.

void read_line(any<has_getline<bool(std::istream&, _self&)>, _self&> str)
    getline(std::cin, str);


//` (For the source of the examples in this section see
//` [@boost:/libs/type_erasure/example/basic.cpp basic.cpp])
//` [basic1]
//` [basic2]
//` [basic3]