QSharedDataPointer

The QSharedDataPointer class represents a pointer to an implicitly shared object. More...

 #include <QSharedDataPointer>

Note: All functions in this class are reentrant.

This class was introduced in Qt 4.0.

Public Types

typedef Type

Public Functions

QSharedDataPointer ()
QSharedDataPointer ( T * sharedData )
QSharedDataPointer ( const QSharedDataPointer<T> & other )
~QSharedDataPointer ()
const T * constData () const
T * data ()
const T * data () const
void detach ()
void swap ( QSharedDataPointer & other )
operator T * ()
operator const T * () const
bool operator! () const
bool operator!= ( const QSharedDataPointer<T> & other ) const
T & operator* ()
const T & operator* () const
T * operator-> ()
const T * operator-> () const
QSharedDataPointer<T> & operator= ( const QSharedDataPointer<T> & other )
QSharedDataPointer & operator= ( T * sharedData )
bool operator== ( const QSharedDataPointer<T> & other ) const

Protected Functions

T * clone ()

Detailed Description

The QSharedDataPointer class represents a pointer to an implicitly shared object.

QSharedDataPointer<T> makes writing your own implicitly shared classes easy. QSharedDataPointer implements thread-safe reference counting, ensuring that adding QSharedDataPointers to your reentrant classes won't make them non-reentrant.

Implicit sharing is used by many Qt classes to combine the speed and memory efficiency of pointers with the ease of use of classes. See the Shared Classes page for more information.

Suppose you want to make an Employee class implicitly shared. The procedure is:

To show this in practice, we review the source code for the implicitly shared Employee class. In the header file we define the two classes Employee and EmployeeData.

 #include <QSharedData>
 #include <QString>

 class EmployeeData : public QSharedData
 {
   public:
     EmployeeData() : id(-1) { }
     EmployeeData(const EmployeeData &other)
         : QSharedData(other), id(other.id), name(other.name) { }
     ~EmployeeData() { }

     int id;
     QString name;
 };

 class Employee
 {
   public:
     Employee() { d = new EmployeeData; }
     Employee(int id, QString name) {
         d = new EmployeeData;
         setId(id);
         setName(name);
     }
     Employee(const Employee &other)
           : d (other.d)
     {
     }
     void setId(int id) { d->id = id; }
     void setName(QString name) { d->name = name; }

     int id() const { return d->id; }
     QString name() const { return d->name; }

   private:
     QSharedDataPointer<EmployeeData> d;
 };

In class Employee, note the single data member, a d pointer of type QSharedDataPointer<EmployeeData>. All accesses of employee data must go through the d pointer's operator->(). For write accesses, operator->() will automatically call detach(), which creates a copy of the shared data object if the shared data object's reference count is greater than 1. This ensures that writes to one Employee object don't affect any other Employee objects that share the same EmployeeData object.

Class EmployeeData inherits QSharedData, which provides the behind the scenes reference counter. EmployeeData has a default constructor, a copy constructor, and a destructor. Normally, trivial implementations of these are all that is needed in the data class for an implicitly shared class.

Implementing the two constructors for class Employee is also straightforward. Both create a new instance of EmployeeData and assign it to the d pointer .

     Employee() { d = new EmployeeData; }

     Employee(int id, QString name) {
         d = new EmployeeData;
         setId(id);
         setName(name);
     }

Note that class Employee also has a trivial copy constructor defined, which is not strictly required in this case.

     Employee(const Employee &other)
           : d (other.d)
     {
     }

The copy constructor is not strictly required here, because class EmployeeData is included in the same file as class Employee (employee.h). However, including the private subclass of QSharedData in the same file as the public class containing the QSharedDataPointer is not typical. Normally, the idea is to hide the private subclass of QSharedData from the user by putting it in a separate file which would not be included in the public file. In this case, we would normally put class EmployeeData in a separate file, which would not be included in employee.h. Instead, we would just predeclare the private subclass EmployeeData in employee.h this way:

 class EmployeeData;

If we had done it that way here, the copy constructor shown would be required. Since the copy constructor is trivial, you might as well just always include it.

Behind the scenes, QSharedDataPointer automatically increments the reference count whenever an Employee object is copied, assigned, or passed as a parameter. It decrements the reference count whenever an Employee object is deleted or goes out of scope. The shared EmployeeData object is deleted automatically if and when the reference count reaches 0.

In a non-const member function of Employee, whenever the d pointer is dereferenced, QSharedDataPointer automatically calls detach() to ensure that the function operates on its own copy of the data.

     void setId(int id) { d->id = id; }

     void setName(QString name) { d->name = name; }

Note that if detach() is called more than once in a member function due to multiple dereferences of the d pointer, detach() will only create a copy of the shared data the first time it is called, if at all, because on the second and subsequent calls of detach(), the reference count will be 1 again.

But note that in the second Employee constructor, which takes an employee ID and a name, both setId() and setName() are called, but they don't cause copy on write, because the reference count for the newly constructed EmployeeData object has just been set to 1.

In Employee's const member functions, dereferencing the d pointer does not cause detach() to be called.

     int id() const { return d->id; }

     QString name() const { return d->name; }

Notice that there is no need to implement a copy constructor or an assignment operator for the Employee class, because the copy constructor and assignment operator provided by the C++ compiler will do the member by member shallow copy required. The only member to copy is the d pointer, which is a QSharedDataPointer, whose operator=() just increments the reference count of the shared EmployeeData object.

Implicit vs Explicit Sharing

Implicit sharing might not be right for the Employee class. Consider a simple example that creates two instances of the implicitly shared Employee class.

 #include "employee.h"

 int main()
 {
     Employee e1(1001, "Albrecht Durer");
     Employee e2 = e1;
     e1.setName("Hans Holbein");
 }

After the second employee e2 is created and e1 is assigned to it, both e1 and e2 refer to Albrecht Durer, employee 1001. Both Employee objects point to the same instance of EmployeeData, which has reference count 2. Then e1.setName("Hans Holbein") is called to change the employee name, but because the reference count is greater than 1, a copy on write is performed before the name is changed. Now e1 and e2 point to different EmployeeData objects. They have different names, but both have ID 1001, which is probably not what you want. You can, of course, just continue with e1.setId(1002), if you really mean to create a second, unique employee, but if you only want to change the employee's name everywhere, consider using explicit sharing in the Employee class instead of implicit sharing.

If you declare the d pointer in the Employee class to be QExplicitlySharedDataPointer<EmployeeData>, then explicit sharing is used and copy on write operations are not performed automatically (i.e. detach() is not called in non-const functions). In that case, after e1.setName("Hans Holbein"), the employee's name has been changed, but both e1 and e2 still refer to the same instance of EmployeeData, so there is only one employee with ID 1001.

In the member function documentation, d pointer always refers to the internal pointer to the shared data object.

See also QSharedData, QExplicitlySharedDataPointer, QScopedPointer, and QSharedPointer.

Member Function Documentation

QSharedDataPointer::QSharedDataPointer ()

Constructs a QSharedDataPointer initialized with a null d pointer.

QSharedDataPointer::QSharedDataPointer ( T * sharedData )

Constructs a QSharedDataPointer with d pointer set to sharedData and increments sharedData's reference count.

QSharedDataPointer::QSharedDataPointer ( const QSharedDataPointer<T> & other )

Sets the d pointer of this to the d pointer in other and increments the reference count of the shared data object.

QSharedDataPointer::~QSharedDataPointer ()

Decrements the reference count of the shared data object. If the reference count becomes 0, the shared data object is deleted. This is then destroyed.

T * QSharedDataPointer::clone () [protected]

Creates and returns a deep copy of the current data. This function is called by detach() when the reference count is greater than 1 in order to create the new copy. This function uses the operator new and calls the copy constructor of the type T.

This function is provided so that you may support "virtual copy constructors" for your own types. In order to so, you should declare a template-specialization of this function for your own type, like the example below:

 template<>
 EmployeeData *QSharedDataPointer<EmployeeData>::clone()
 {
     return d->clone();
 }

In the example above, the template specialization for the clone() function calls the EmployeeData::clone() virtual function. A class derived from EmployeeData could override that function and return the proper polymorphic type.

This function was introduced in Qt 4.5.

const T * QSharedDataPointer::constData () const

Returns a const pointer to the shared data object. This function does not call detach().

See also data().

T * QSharedDataPointer::data ()

Returns a pointer to the shared data object. This function calls detach().

See also constData().

const T * QSharedDataPointer::data () const

Returns a pointer to the shared data object. This function does not call detach().

void QSharedDataPointer::detach ()

If the shared data object's reference count is greater than 1, this function creates a deep copy of the shared data object and sets the d pointer of this to the copy.

This function is called automatically by non-const member functions of QSharedDataPointer if copy on write is required. You don't need to call it yourself.

void QSharedDataPointer::swap ( QSharedDataPointer & other )

Swap this instance's shared data pointer with the shared data pointer in other.

QSharedDataPointer::operator T * ()

Returns a pointer to the shared data object. This function calls detach().

See also data() and constData().

QSharedDataPointer::operator const T * () const

Returns a pointer to the shared data object. This function does not call detach().

bool QSharedDataPointer::operator! () const

Returns true if the d pointer of this is null.

bool QSharedDataPointer::operator!= ( const QSharedDataPointer<T> & other ) const

Returns true if other and this do not have the same d pointer. This function does not call detach().

T & QSharedDataPointer::operator* ()

Provides access to the shared data object's members. This function calls detach().

const T & QSharedDataPointer::operator* () const

Provides const access to the shared data object's members. This function does not call detach().

T * QSharedDataPointer::operator-> ()

Provides access to the shared data object's members. This function calls detach().

const T * QSharedDataPointer::operator-> () const

Provides const access to the shared data object's members. This function does not call detach().

QSharedDataPointer<T> & QSharedDataPointer::operator= ( const QSharedDataPointer<T> & other )

Sets the d pointer of this to the d pointer of other and increments the reference count of the shared data object. The reference count of the old shared data object of this is decremented. If the reference count of the old shared data object becomes 0, the old shared data object is deleted.

QSharedDataPointer & QSharedDataPointer::operator= ( T * sharedData )

Sets the d pointer og this to sharedData and increments sharedData's reference count. The reference count of the old shared data object of this is decremented. If the reference count of the old shared data object becomes 0, the old shared data object is deleted.

bool QSharedDataPointer::operator== ( const QSharedDataPointer<T> & other ) const

Returns true if other and this have the same d pointer. This function does not call detach().

comments powered by Disqus