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auto is a huge benefit for iterators and such. Do you really want to be typing out std::vector<Something*>::iterator... when auto can save you time and typing? You would twist your fingers and brain up remembering the correct syntax for more complex structures, such as maps.
Don't use it for your data definitions, but use the hell out of it everywhere else! You will save a huge amount of time. And it will be easy to tell the intent by the way it is used: auto it = someVector.begin();
It is getting stupid, but then again much of modern C++ is some sort of attempt to try to make it into exactly what it really isn't. It's like we've been infected with people whose idea of software is a javsascript web site.
When you are righting serious code that you will have to support and upgrade over decades, being as explicit as you can is always a good thing. You'll write it once, but you'll have to read and modify it many, many times. Auto makes it way too to make silent mistakes during modifications, because it just takes on whatever you assign it. If the type you wrongly assign is syntactically similar enough, and that's not hard to happen given how much people do with operators and other templates and such, it will just silently change the code.
If you explicitly indicate the type, you have to screw up two different ways as once, which just makes it that much less likely to happen silently.
I'm tellin ya, every time I read stuff on r/cpp, I start to suspect more and more that Russia is putting stupid pills in our water. I mean there are people now arguing for stuff that was so utterly bad in the 1980s that pretty much an entire industry switched to OOP to get rid of it. And they are arguing for this stuff like it's some sort of modern, magic hipster technology to fix all of the evils of OOP.
The use of auto is not laziness, nor is it abusive. It is correct and idiomatic modern C++. Bjarne Stroustrup and most members of the ISO C++ standardization committee actively advocate for its use, to the point where AAA - Almost Always Auto - has become a common mantra. The simple fact is that, most of the time, the compiler is smarter than you, and understands your code on a level that you never could. Allowing the compiler to determine the type automatically, as often as possible, allows for optimizations that may not be possible if you coerce an explicit type.
People who reject evolutionary features of C++ are the same sort of people who would reject fuel injection on cars, because they learned how to drive a car with a carburetor, so everyone else should be fine with it.
Technology advances. Try to keep up, or be left behind.
The simple fact is that, most of the time, the compiler is smarter than you, and understands your code on a level that you never could. Allowing the compiler to determine the type automatically, as often as possible, allows for optimizations that may not be possible if you coerce an explicit type.
So, by that logic if I was using an IDE with good intellisense and hovered over a variable declared initially with auto, which showed me what the omniscient compiler will decide the type should be, and then explicitly declared the variable to be that exact type it would somehow break the multi-dimensional optimization the compiler would perform.
Are you seriously saying that or did I misread your comment??
You're performing a good bit of mental gymnastics to arrive at that interpretation of what I said. Clearly, if you know the exact type that would be deduced, there would be no penalty for explicitly using it.
But you always DO know the type, well 99.9999% of the time. So clearly there's no penalty. So how exactly does the compiler know more than us, particularly enough to risk the potential silent bugs that auto could introduce?
I gave one below and I'm sure that they know about them and they cannot address this, because it's fundamental to why auto is dangerous.
auto whatever = GetSomething()
If you accidentally change the right side to anything that provides a ++ operator (anything that is syntactically valid for the loop), the compiler will never know that's wrong, because you are not providing the compiler with information about your intent. The compiler is only being given SYNTACTICAL guidance when you use auto, not SEMANTIC guidance, which is what it needs to help you in this situation.
If you provide the actual type, then you are telling the compiler what your intent is, i.e. semantic information, and so you have to make two parallel errors in most cases for this to silently cause a bug. Otherwise, you won't know until you somehow realize that something isn't getting incremented as it should be which could have most likely been caught at compile time with explicit typing.
That sounds like your API has issues. Functions are interface contracts and if you don't know that function's return type changed, then the interface has been broken. That's outside the scope of language keywords, in my opinion.
I never said anything even close to that. I am saying if the maintainer of the GetSomething() function changes the return type without informing the consumer, that's a major problem that has nothing to do with language features.
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?"