Throw keyword in function's signature


Question

What is the technical reason why it is considered bad practice to use the C++ throw keyword in a function signature?

bool some_func() throw(myExc)
{
  ...
  if (problem_occurred) 
  {
    throw myExc("problem occurred");
  }
  ...
}
1
184
5/25/2017 6:11:33 PM

Accepted Answer

No, it is not considered good practice. On the contrary, it is generally considered a bad idea.

http://www.gotw.ca/publications/mill22.htm goes into a lot more detail about why, but the problem is partly that the compiler is unable to enforce this, so it has to be checked at runtime, which is usually undesirable. And it is not well supported in any case. (MSVC ignores exception specifications, except throw(), which it interprets as a guarantee that no exception will be thrown.

115
6/28/2009 6:11:03 PM

Jalf already linked to it, but the GOTW puts it quite nicely why exception specifications are not as useful as one might hope:

int Gunc() throw();    // will throw nothing (?)
int Hunc() throw(A,B); // can only throw A or B (?)

Are the comments correct? Not quite. Gunc() may indeed throw something, and Hunc() may well throw something other than A or B! The compiler just guarantees to beat them senseless if they do… oh, and to beat your program senseless too, most of the time.

That's just what it comes down to, you probably just will end up with a call to terminate() and your program dying a quick but painful death.

The GOTWs conclusion is:

So here’s what seems to be the best advice we as a community have learned as of today:

  • Moral #1: Never write an exception specification.
  • Moral #2: Except possibly an empty one, but if I were you I’d avoid even that.

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