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Thinking in C++ Vol 2 - Practical Programming
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As you ve seen, zero-argument manipulators are easy to create. But what if you want to create a manipulator that takes arguments? If you inspect the <iomanip> header, you ll see a type called smanip, which is what the manipulators with arguments return. You might be tempted to somehow use that type to define your own manipulators, but don t do it. The smanip type is implementation-dependent and thus not portable. Fortunately, you can define such manipulators in a straightforward way without any special machinery, based on a technique introduced by Jerry Schwarz, called an effector.[48] An effector is a simple class whose constructor formats a string representing the desired operation, along with an overloaded operator<< to insert that string into a stream. Here s an example with two effectors. The first outputs a truncated character string, and the second prints a number in binary.

//: C04:Effector.cpp
// Jerry Schwarz's "effectors."
#include <cassert>
#include <limits> // For max()
#include <sstream>
#include <string>
using namespace std;
// Put out a prefix of a string:
class Fixw {
string str;
Fixw(const string& s, int width) : str(s, 0, width) {}
friend ostream& operator<<(ostream& os, const Fixw& fw) {
return os << fw.str;
// Print a number in binary:
typedef unsigned long ulong;
class Bin {
ulong n;
Bin(ulong nn) { n = nn; }
friend ostream& operator<<(ostream& os, const Bin& b) {
const ulong ULMAX = numeric_limits<ulong>::max();
ulong bit = ~(ULMAX >> 1); // Top bit set
while(bit) {
os << (b.n & bit ? '1' : '0');
bit >>= 1;
return os;
int main() {
string words = "Things that make us happy, make us wise";
for(int i = words.size(); --i >= 0;) {
ostringstream s;
s << Fixw(words, i);
assert(s.str() == words.substr(0, i));
ostringstream xs, ys;
xs << Bin(0xCAFEBABEUL);
assert(xs.str() ==
ys << Bin(0x76543210UL);
assert(ys.str() ==
} ///:~

The constructor for Fixw creates a shortened copy of its char* argument, and the destructor releases the memory created for this copy. The overloaded operator<< takes the contents of its second argument, the Fixw object, inserts it into the first argument, the ostream, and then returns the ostream so that it can be used in a chained expression. When you use Fixw in an expression like this:

cout << Fixw(string, i) << endl;

a temporary object is created by the call to the Fixw constructor, and that temporary object is passed to operator<<. The effect is that of a manipulator with arguments. The temporary Fixw object persists until the end of the statement.

The Bin effector relies on the fact that shifting an unsigned number to the right shifts zeros into the high bits. We use numeric_limits<unsigned long>::max( ) (the largest unsigned long value, from the standard header <limits>) to produce a value with the high bit set, and this value is moved across the number in question (by shifting it to the right), masking each bit in turn. We ve juxtaposed string literals in the code for readability; the separate strings are concatenated into a single string by the compiler.

Historically, the problem with this technique was that once you created a class called Fixw for char* or Bin for unsigned long, no one else could create a different Fixw or Bin class for their type. However, with namespaces, this problem is eliminated. Effectors and manipulators aren t equivalent, although they can often be used to solve the same problem. If you find that an effector isn t enough, you will need to conquer the complexity of manipulators.

Thinking in C++ Vol 2 - Practical Programming
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   Reproduced courtesy of Bruce Eckel, MindView, Inc. Design by Interspire