Using std Namespace


Question

There seem to be different views on using 'using' with respect to the std namespace.

Some say use ' using namespace std', other say don't but rather prefix std functions that are to be used with ' std::' whilst others say use something like this:

using std::string;
using std::cout;
using std::cin;
using std::endl;
using std::vector;

for all the std functions that are to be used.

What are the pros and cons of each?

1
102
9/2/2018 1:09:35 PM

Most C++ users are quite happy reading std::string, std::vector, etc. In fact, seeing a raw vector makes me wonder if this is the std::vector or a different user-defined vector.

I am always against using using namespace std;. It imports all sorts of names into the global namespace and can cause all sorts of non-obvious ambiguities.

Here are some common identifiers that are in the std namespace: count, sort, find, equal, reverse. Having a local variable called count means that using namespace std won't enable you to use count instead of std::count.

The classic example of an unwanted name conflict is something like the following. Imagine that you are a beginner and don't know about std::count. Imagine that you are either using something else in <algorithm> or it's been pulled in by a seemingly unrelated header.

#include <algorithm>
using namespace std;

int count = 0;

int increment()
{
    return ++count; // error, identifier count is ambiguous
}

The error is typically long and unfriendly because std::count is a template with some long nested types.

This is OK though, because std::count goes into the global namespace and the function count hides it.

#include <algorithm>
using namespace std;

int increment()
{
    static int count = 0;
    return ++count;
}

Perhaps slightly surprisingly, this is OK. Identifiers imported into a declarative scope appear in the common namespace that encloses both where they are defined and where they are imported into. In other words, std::count is visible as count in the global namespace, but only inside increment.

#include <algorithm>

int increment()
{
    using namespace std;
    static int count = 0;
    return ++count;
}

And for similar reasons, count is ambiguous here. using namespace std doesn't cause std::count, hide the outer count as it might be expected. The using namespace rule means that std::count looks (in the increment function) as though it was declared at the global scope, i.e. at the same scope as int count = 0; and hence causing the ambiguity.

#include <algorithm>

int count = 0;

int increment()
{
    using namespace std;
    return ++count; // error ambiguous
}
125
11/30/2016 5:11:29 PM

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