Shafik Yaghmour

Compiler Dev(LLDB) interested in C++, C, compilers and undefined behavior.

Down with typename

07 Jan 2021 » C++

In C++ quiz quiz #117 I asked in C++20 where was typename required in code below:

template<class T> struct S {
  typename/*A*/ T::R f(typename/*B*/ T::P p) { 
    typename/*C*/ T::x *i;
    return {};

and the answer is that it is required in position C.

Previous to C++20 it would have been required in all three places but the proposal Down with typename! changed that. Previously as noted in the proposal:

If X<T>::Y — where T is a template parameter — is to denote a type, it must be preceded by the keyword typename; otherwise, it is assumed to denote a name producing an expression. There are currently two notable exceptions to this rule: base-specifiers and mem-initializer-ids. For example:

 template<class T>
   struct D: T::B { // No typename required here. 

Clearly, no typename is needed for this base-specifier because nothing but a type is possible in that context.

The proposal also notes that there are several places where only a type is possible and seeks to remove the requirement to use typename in all such locations. This change for example allows us to avoid using typename in many locations in the following code (see it live):

template<class T> T::R f(); // OK, return type of a function declaration at global scope
template<class T> struct S {
  using Ptr = PtrTraits<T>::Ptr; // OK, in a defining-type-id
  T::R f(T::P p) { // OK, class scope
    return static_cast<T::R>(p); // OK, type-id of a static_cast
  auto g() -> S<T*>::Ptr;  // OK, trailing-return-type

template<typename T> void f() {
  void (*pf)(T::X); // Variable pf of type void* initialized with T::X

So why can’t we avoid using typename in all cases? For C++20 [temp.res]p6 says:

A qualified-id that refers to a member of an unknown specialization, that is not prefixed by typename, and that is not otherwise assumed to name a type (see above) denotes a non-type.

There may be contexts in which it is ambiguous if we are referring to a type or an expression, for example (see it live):

template <class T> void f(int i) {
  T::x * i;  // This will be assumed to be the expression
             //   T::x multiplied by i
             // Not a declaration of variable i of 
             //   type pointer to T::x?

struct Foo {
 typedef int x;

struct Bar {
  static int const x = 5;

int main() {
  f<Bar>(1);          // OK
  f<Foo>(1);          // error: Foo::x is a type

So in those contexts it will be assumed that it is not a type. Other cases can be seen below (see it live):

#include <iostream>
#include <vector>
int p = 1;
template <typename T>
void foo(const std::vector<T> &v)
    // std::vector<T>::const_iterator is a dependent name
    typename std::vector<T>::const_iterator it = v.begin(); // typename required
    typename std::vector<T>::const_iterator typedef iter_t; // typename required