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String Tokenizer Iterator Class

, 26 Jun 2002 Public Domain
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A string tokenizer iterator class that works with std::string
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As a part of a larger project I had to write some basic string utility functions and classes. One of the things needed was a flexible way of splitting strings into separate tokens.

As is often the case when it comes to programming, there are different ways to handle a problem like this. After reviewing my options I decided that an iterator based solution would be flexible enough for my needs.

Non-iterator based solutions to this particular problem often have the disadvantage of tying the user to a certain container type. With an iterator based tokenizer the programmer is free to chose any type of container (or no container at all). Many STL containers such as std::list and std::vector offer constructors that can populate the container from a set of iterators. This feature makes it very easy to use the tokenizer.

Example usage

std::vector<std::string> s(string_token_iterator("one two three"),
// output:
// one
// two
// three

// same output as above

The code has been tested with Visual C++.NET and GCC 3.

The Code

#include <string>
#include <iterator>

struct string_token_iterator 
  : public std::iterator<std::input_iterator_tag, std::string>
  string_token_iterator() : str(0), start(0), end(0) {}
  string_token_iterator(const std::string & str_, const char * separator_ = " ") :
  string_token_iterator(const string_token_iterator & rhs) :

  string_token_iterator & operator++()
    return *this;

  string_token_iterator operator++(int)
    string_token_iterator temp(*this);
    return temp;

  std::string operator*() const
    return std::string(*str, start, end - start);

  bool operator==(const string_token_iterator & rhs) const
    return (rhs.str == str && rhs.start == start && rhs.end == end);

  bool operator!=(const string_token_iterator & rhs) const
    return !(rhs == *this);


  void find_next(void)
    start = str->find_first_not_of(separator, end);
    if(start == std::string::npos)
      start = end = 0;
      str = 0;

    end = str->find_first_of(separator, start);

  const char * separator;
  const std::string * str;
  std::string::size_type start;
  std::string::size_type end;


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under A Public Domain dedication


About the Author

Daniel Andersson
Web Developer
Sweden Sweden
No Biography provided

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Comments and Discussions

QuestionWhat license? Pin
Michael Broida5-Oct-12 4:57
memberMichael Broida5-Oct-12 4:57 
AnswerRe: What license? Pin
Daniel Andersson5-Oct-12 5:02
memberDaniel Andersson5-Oct-12 5:02 
GeneralRe: What license? Pin
Michael Broida5-Oct-12 6:11
memberMichael Broida5-Oct-12 6:11 
GeneralMy vote of 3 Pin
cccfff77730-Jun-10 4:49
membercccfff77730-Jun-10 4:49 
GeneralSubtle Bug Pin
mollevp31-Jul-06 4:59
membermollevp31-Jul-06 4:59 
AnswerRe: Subtle Bug Pin
Daniel Andersson13-Aug-06 22:37
memberDaniel Andersson13-Aug-06 22:37 
QuestionA little trouble with the basics? Pin
mtwombley4-Jul-04 17:49
membermtwombley4-Jul-04 17:49 
AnswerRe: A little trouble with the basics? Pin
Daniel Andersson4-Jul-04 21:53
memberDaniel Andersson4-Jul-04 21:53 
GeneralRe: A little trouble with the basics? Pin
mtwombley5-Jul-04 9:39
membermtwombley5-Jul-04 9:39 
GeneralRe: A little trouble with the basics? Pin
Daniel Andersson5-Jul-04 21:32
memberDaniel Andersson5-Jul-04 21:32 
Yeah, like I said in my comment this is a problem whenever the user passes a const char* to the tokenizer constructor. Both string_token_iterator("abc") and string_token_iterator(argv[1])
end up as that and temporary objects are created.

In retrospect I think it's safe to say that the iterator constructor should take a const std::string * as argument instead of a reference. It would make it a lot safer for people to use. The downside would be that std::vector s(string_token_iterator(argv[1],";"), string_token_iterator()); would no longer work.

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