Creating my own Iterators


I'm trying to learn C++ so forgive me if this question demonstrates a lack of basic knowledge, you see, the fact is, I have a lack of basic knowledge.

I want some help working out how to create an iterator for a class I have created.

I have a class 'Shape' which has a container of Points. I have a class 'Piece' which references a Shape and defines a position for the Shape. Piece does not have a Shape it just references a Shape.

I want it to seem like Piece is a container of Points which are the same as those of the Shape it references but with the offset of the Piece's position added.

I want to be able to iterate through the Piece's Points just as if Piece was a container itself. I've done a little reading around and haven't found anything which has helped me. I would be very grateful for any pointers.

11/28/2012 5:39:40 PM

Accepted Answer

You should use Boost.Iterators. It contains a number of templates and concepts to implement new iterators and adapters for existing iterators. I have written an article about this very topic; it's in the December 2008 ACCU magazine. It discusses an (IMO) elegant solution for exactly your problem: exposing member collections from an object, using Boost.Iterators.

If you want to use the stl only, the Josuttis book has a chapter on implementing your own STL iterators.

9/8/2011 6:56:25 AM

/EDIT: I see, an own iterator is actually necessary here (I misread the question first). Still, I'm letting the code below stand because it can be useful in similar circumstances.

Is an own iterator actually necessary here? Perhaps it's sufficient to forward all required definitions to the container holding the actual Points:

// Your class `Piece`
class Piece {
    Shape m_shape;


    typedef std::vector<Point>::iterator iterator;
    typedef std::vector<Point>::const_iterator const_iterator;

    iterator begin() { return m_shape.container.begin(); }

    const_iterator begin() const { return m_shape.container.begin(); }

    iterator end() { return m_shape.container.end(); }

    const_iterator end() const { return m_shape.const_container.end(); }

This is assuming you're using a vector internally but the type can easily be adapted.

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