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Thinking in C++
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Container classes are an essential part of object-oriented programming. They are another way to simplify and hide the details of a program and to speed the process of program development. In addition, they provide a great deal of safety and flexibility by replacing the primitive arrays and relatively crude data structure techniques found in C.

Because the client programmer needs containers, it’s essential that they be easy to use. This is where the template comes in. With templates the syntax for source-code reuse (as opposed to object-code reuse provided by inheritance and composition) becomes trivial enough for the novice user. In fact, reusing code with templates is notably easier than inheritance and composition.

Although you’ve learned about creating container and iterator classes in this book, in practice it’s much more expedient to learn the containers and iterators in the Standard C++ Library, since you can expect them to be available with every compiler. As you will see in Volume 2 of this book (downloadable from, the containers and algorithms in the Standard C++ Library will virtually always fulfill your needs so you don’t have to create new ones yourself.

The issues involved with container-class design have been touched upon in this chapter, but you may have gathered that they can go much further. A complicated container-class library may cover all sorts of additional issues, including multithreading, persistence and garbage collection.

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