Follow Techotopia on Twitter

On-line Guides
All Guides
eBook Store
iOS / Android
Linux for Beginners
Office Productivity
Linux Installation
Linux Security
Linux Utilities
Linux Virtualization
Linux Kernel
System/Network Admin
Scripting Languages
Development Tools
Web Development
GUI Toolkits/Desktop
Mail Systems
Eclipse Documentation

How To Guides
General System Admin
Linux Security
Linux Filesystems
Web Servers
Graphics & Desktop
PC Hardware
Problem Solutions
Privacy Policy




Thinking in C++
Prev Contents / Index Next

C++ explicit casts

Casts should be used carefully, because what you are actually doing is saying to the compiler “Forget type checking – treat it as this other type instead.” That is, you’re introducing a hole in the C++ type system and preventing the compiler from telling you that you’re doing something wrong with a type. What’s worse, the compiler believes you implicitly and doesn’t perform any other checking to catch errors. Once you start casting, you open yourself up for all kinds of problems. In fact, any program that uses a lot of casts should be viewed with suspicion, no matter how much you are told it simply “must” be done that way. In general, casts should be few and isolated to the solution of very specific problems.

Once you understand this and are presented with a buggy program, your first inclination may be to look for casts as culprits. But how do you locate C-style casts? They are simply type names inside of parentheses, and if you start hunting for such things you’ll discover that it’s often hard to distinguish them from the rest of your code.

Standard C++ includes an explicit cast syntax that can be used to completely replace the old C-style casts (of course, C-style casts cannot be outlawed without breaking code, but compiler writers could easily flag old-style casts for you). The explicit cast syntax is such that you can easily find them, as you can see by their names:


For “well-behaved” and “reasonably well-behaved” casts, including things you might now do without a cast (such as an automatic type conversion).


To cast away const and/or volatile.


To cast to a completely different meaning. The key is that you’ll need to cast back to the original type to use it safely. The type you cast to is typically used only for bit twiddling or some other mysterious purpose. This is the most dangerous of all the casts.


For type-safe downcasting (this cast will be described in Chapter 15).

The first three explicit casts will be described more completely in the following sections, while the last one can be demonstrated only after you’ve learned more, in Chapter 15.

Thinking in C++
Prev Contents / Index Next

   Reproduced courtesy of Bruce Eckel, MindView, Inc. Design by Interspire