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Thinking in C++
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Stack with iterators

We can repeat the process with the dynamically-sized Stack class that has been used as an example throughout the book. Here’s the Stack class with a nested iterator folded into the mix:

//: C16:TStack2.h
// Templatized Stack with nested iterator
#ifndef TSTACK2_H
#define TSTACK2_H

template<class T> class Stack {
  struct Link {
    T* data;
    Link* next;
    Link(T* dat, Link* nxt)
      : data(dat), next(nxt) {}
  }* head;
  Stack() : head(0) {}
  void push(T* dat) {
    head = new Link(dat, head);
  T* peek() const { 
    return head ? head->data : 0;
  T* pop();
  // Nested iterator class:
  class iterator; // Declaration required
  friend class iterator; // Make it a friend
  class iterator { // Now define it
    Stack::Link* p;
    iterator(const Stack<T>& tl) : p(tl.head) {}
    // Copy-constructor:
    iterator(const iterator& tl) : p(tl.p) {}
    // The end sentinel iterator:
    iterator() : p(0) {}
    // operator++ returns boolean indicating end:
    bool operator++() {
        p = p->next;
      else p = 0; // Indicates end of list
      return bool(p);
    bool operator++(int) { return operator++(); }
    T* current() const {
      if(!p) return 0;
      return p->data;
    // Pointer dereference operator:
    T* operator->() const { 
      require(p != 0, 
        "PStack::iterator::operator->returns 0");
      return current(); 
    T* operator*() const { return current(); }
    // bool conversion for conditional test:
    operator bool() const { return bool(p); }
    // Comparison to test for end:
    bool operator==(const iterator&) const {
      return p == 0;
    bool operator!=(const iterator&) const {
      return p != 0;
  iterator begin() const { 
    return iterator(*this); 
  iterator end() const { return iterator(); }

template<class T> Stack<T>::~Stack() {
    delete pop();

template<class T> T* Stack<T>::pop() {
  if(head == 0) return 0;
  T* result = head->data;
  Link* oldHead = head;
  head = head->next;
  delete oldHead;
  return result;
#endif // TSTACK2_H ///:~

You’ll also notice the class has been changed to support ownership, which works now because the class knows the exact type (or at least the base type, which will work assuming virtual destructors are used). The default is for the container to destroy its objects but you are responsible for any pointers that you pop( ).

The iterator is simple, and physically very small – the size of a single pointer. When you create an iterator, it’s initialized to the head of the linked list, and you can only increment it forward through the list. If you want to start over at the beginning, you create a new iterator, and if you want to remember a spot in the list, you create a new iterator from the existing iterator pointing at that spot (using the iterator’s copy-constructor).

To call functions for the object referred to by the iterator, you can use the current( ) function, the operator*, or the pointer dereference operator-> (a common sight in iterators). The latter has an implementation that looks identical to current( ) because it returns a pointer to the current object, but is different because the pointer dereference operator performs the extra levels of dereferencing (see Chapter 12).

The iterator class follows the form you saw in the prior example. class iterator is nested inside the container class, it contains constructors to create both an iterator pointing at an element in the container and an “end sentinel” iterator, and the container class has the begin( ) and end( ) methods to produce these iterators. (When you learn the more about the Standard C++ Library, you’ll see that the names iterator, begin( ), and end( ) that are used here were clearly lifted standard container classes. At the end of this chapter, you’ll see that this enables these container classes to be used as if they were Standard C++ Library container classes.)

The entire implementation is contained in the header file, so there’s no separate cpp file. Here’s a small test that exercises the iterator:

//: C16:TStack2Test.cpp
#include "TStack2.h"
#include "../require.h"
#include <iostream>
#include <fstream>
#include <string>
using namespace std;

int main() {
  ifstream file("TStack2Test.cpp");
  assure(file, "TStack2Test.cpp");
  Stack<string> textlines;
  // Read file and store lines in the Stack:
  string line;
  while(getline(file, line))
    textlines.push(new string(line));
  int i = 0;
  // Use iterator to print lines from the list:
  Stack<string>::iterator it = textlines.begin();
  Stack<string>::iterator* it2 = 0;
  while(it != textlines.end()) {
    cout << it->c_str() << endl;
    if(++i == 10) // Remember 10th line
      it2 = new Stack<string>::iterator(it);
  cout << (*it2)->c_str() << endl;
  delete it2;
} ///:~

A Stack is instantiated to hold string objects and filled with lines from a file. Then an iterator is created and used to move through the sequence. The tenth line is remembered by copy-constructing a second iterator from the first; later this line is printed and the iterator – created dynamically – is destroyed. Here, dynamic object creation is used to control the lifetime of the object.

Thinking in C++
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   Reproduced courtesy of Bruce Eckel, MindView, Inc. Design by Interspire