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QuestionMember Get/Set methods? Pin
Rob Caldecott25-Jan-06 12:55
Rob Caldecott25-Jan-06 12:55 
Many people recommend using member Get/Set functions in order to access class data, with the data members themselves being private/protected. I am pretty much sold on the idea, and though it means it takes longer to knock together even a basic class, the benefits are worth the effort IMHO.

However, I also make use of STL containers in my classes, but I have yet to find a satisfying way in which I should allow access to a private container. I have seen many classes that simply return a reference to the container, e.g.:

class CFoo
{
private:
  std::list<std::wstring> m_strings;
public:
  inline std::list<std::wstring>& GetStrings(void) { return m_strings; }
};


I'm sure you'll agree that this is pretty useless - you may as well make the container public and be done with it (OK, you can change the name of the container without having to change code that uses it, but this is still fairly insignificant).

So, how do others here offer access to such containers (doesn't have to be an STL container - could be an MFC/ATL CList/CArray/etc.)?

Take an example - I have a class that enumerates installed printers and stores the name of each printer in a std::vector. Now, if I wanted to fill a listbox with these printer names, I *could* offer a class method to do this for me, and thus hide the internal container implementation from the caller. However, in reality, I might also want the list of printers in a listbox, or a list control, or as text in an edit, etc. etc. so allowing calling code access to the vector is essential. How would you go about this while adhering to the Get/Set methodology?

One thought - for STL containers - would be to return const iterators, e.g.:

class CFoo
{
private:
  std::list<std::wstring> m_strings;
public:
  inline std::list<std::wstring>::const_iterator begin() const { return m_strings.begin(); }
  inline std::list<std::wstring>::const_iterator end() const { return m_strings.end(); }
};
...
CFoo foo;
for (std::list<std::wstring>::const_iterator it = foo.begin(); it != foo.end(); ++it)
{
// Do something with the iterator
}


Thoughts?


The Rob Blog
Google Talk: robert.caldecott
AnswerRe: Member Get/Set methods? Pin
Maximilien25-Jan-06 17:45
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AnswerRe: Member Get/Set methods? Pin
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