The Lounge is rated PG. If you're about to post something you wouldn't want your
kid sister to read then don't post it. No flame wars, no abusive conduct, no programming
questions and please don't post ads.
So you are saying that mistakes shouldn't happen? Of course GetSomething()'s return could be changed by accident, and that would get caught also. But the more likely scenario is that someone accidentally changes the call, either by editing the wrong thing, or by search and replace, so that something besides GetSomething() is being called.
Either of those things would become silent failures that could be taken care of by using an explicit type. Are they going to happen every day? No, they won't. But it's those type of silent errors that are the killers. Those are the ones that suddenly six months later the code stops working in the field and no one understands why.
but if memory serves, there was a call into SharePoint API that if there was a single result found it returned a string. If multiple results, returned an array of string. Found out the hard way to check the type of return before using the result(s).
Ah don't lean on me man, cause you can't afford the ticket
The community is very much divided over AAA, so it's hardly a no brainer and being against it hardly makes one a Luddite. Of course the people who design the language and compilers aren't the people who are maintaining my code, so it's pretty easy for them to make such an assertion.
And the compiler doesn't understand my code anywhere NEAR as well I do. If it did, then it would know that if I changed the right side of a statement that had a auto type to something wrong, that it was actually wrong, even if the new type was syntactically compatible with the code to follow (which might be really simple and only use some operators that many, many types would support.)
But if course it wouldn't know that error if it sat down on it, because it has absolutely no idea what the INTENT of that code is or what the DESIGN of my code is. And so that would create a silent failure that isn't caught because I was too lazy to make my intent clear to the compiler, using what tools are available, and explicit types are a key indication of intent.
I agree it can be easily abused. It is especially true if you are maintaining someone else's code. Yes, it's great for templated iterators and such, but it can also throw more work onto someone else down the road, which I consider rude or lazy.
Say I need to add some functionality. I see
auto foo = SomeFunctionReturningObjOrRef(bar);
Great. That's really easy for the original dev, and really easy for the compiler. Wonderful. Now I need to add some code. What the heck is a "foo"? What members does it have? What methods are available? Is it a base class, or a derived class that has the functions I need? The dev who wrote the code knew, but didn't bother to declare it. The compiler knows, and I suppose I can just try
And see if I get a compilation error. And hope that it really is the right type and not a base class or derived class of the one I expect...
But practically speaking I have to do the work the original dev didn't do and look up
and see what it does, and what it returns so I can be sure I'm getting the right type or that it supports the methods I need, and I don't actually want to be using "bar" or something else or upcast or downcast etc.
Really the above isn't the issue. The issue is this:
auto whatever = GetSomething()
In a large code base, there are probably a hundred or more things that would be syntactically compatible with that, so that accidentally changing GetSomething(), either manually or via search and replace, such that it returned one of those types, would create a completely silent error.
Is it going to happen every day? No, obviously not. But that's not the point. The point is that, this:
FailureCounter& failCnt = GetFailCounter();
is just far less likely to be subject to such a silent error because you have to make two parallel errors for that to happen. You are expressing your intent to the compiler by using an explicit type, which is the only way the compiler can know if your intent is not being followed.
And how much extra work did that take to get the extra safety? Almost nothing.
I always use the highest warning level available and set warnings to be failures and I have done this for many years. Since the auto keyboard has been available I have never seen a compiler allow anything through that could cause a failure.
"They have a consciousness, they have a life, they have a soul! Damn you! Let the rabbits wear glasses! Save our brothers! Can I get an amen?"