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Templates declarations in header files?

Posted on 1998-05-04
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-10
Is it legal to have only a template declaration in a header file if the template is defined somewhere in a regular file?  That is,

For example, can I just include the header file "SomeClass.h" into the "SomeProgram.cpp" as long as the file "SomeClass.cpp" is compiled and linked into the program (but not included into "SomeProgram.cpp").  

template <class T> class SomeClass
   int x;
   SomeClass(int i);  // Declared, not defined.
// Define constructor.
template <class T> SomeClass::SomeClass(int i);
  x = i;
#include "someclass.h"
  SomeClass SC(5);

A EE client was trying to do this in a program and I didn't think it was allowed,  I just want to make sure.  It caused linker errors, which seems to make sense as things compiled, but the necessary functions weren't there.
Question by:nietod

Expert Comment

ID: 1172021
Actually template class public functions must be declared inline.

Expert Comment

ID: 1172022
Yes, this is allowed according to the new C++ standard. It is called "separate template compilation". However, only a few compiler support it, and the ones I use are not among them :-(

See http://www.ses.com/~clarke/cpptips/templ_sep_comp_spec for a short explanation.
LVL 22

Author Comment

ID: 1172023
Sorry Galkin, but it looks like you are out of date.

Yonat, If you answer the question I'll give you the points.
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Expert Comment

ID: 1172024
I am not sure but I think that you have to use the extern keyword on the function bodies when they are not inline.
Danny Pav
LVL 22

Author Comment

ID: 1172025
Yes, that is correct.  Check the web site that yonat posted for details.

Accepted Solution

yonat earned 80 total points
ID: 1172026
LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 1172027
Gosh .. this C++ language thingy sure does get changed more than a baby on laxatives !!

It certainly keeps us poor experts on our toes .. and keeps those not-so-poor people that write compilers in jobs for a long time.


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