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

The multiple-declaration problem

The second header-file issue is this: when you put a struct declaration in a header file, it is possible for the file to be included more than once in a complicated program. Iostreams are a good example. Any time a struct does I/O it may include one of the iostream headers. If the cpp file you are working on uses more than one kind of struct (typically including a header file for each one), you run the risk of including the <iostream> header more than once and re-declaring iostreams.

The compiler considers the redeclaration of a structure (this includes both structs and classes) to be an error, since it would otherwise allow you to use the same name for different types. To prevent this error when multiple header files are included, you need to build some intelligence into your header files using the preprocessor (Standard C++ header files like <iostream> already have this “intelligence”).

Both C and C++ allow you to redeclare a function, as long as the two declarations match, but neither will allow the redeclaration of a structure. In C++ this rule is especially important because if the compiler allowed you to redeclare a structure and the two declarations differed, which one would it use?

The problem of redeclaration comes up quite a bit in C++ because each data type (structure with functions) generally has its own header file, and you have to include one header in another if you want to create another data type that uses the first one. In any cpp file in your project, it’s likely that you’ll include several files that include the same header file. During a single compilation, the compiler can see the same header file several times. Unless you do something about it, the compiler will see the redeclaration of your structure and report a compile-time error. To solve the problem, you need to know a bit more about the preprocessor.

Thinking in C++
Prev Contents / Index Next

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