Difference of keywords 'typename' and 'class' in templates?


For templates I have seen both declarations:

template < typename T >
template < class T >

What's the difference?

And what exactly do those keywords mean in the following example (taken from the German Wikipedia article about templates)?

template < template < typename, typename > class Container, typename Type >
class Example
     Container< Type, std::allocator < Type > > baz;
7/8/2017 7:48:27 AM

Accepted Answer

typename and class are interchangeable in the basic case of specifying a template:

template<class T>
class Foo


template<typename T>
class Foo

are equivalent.

Having said that, there are specific cases where there is a difference between typename and class.

The first one is in the case of dependent types. typename is used to declare when you are referencing a nested type that depends on another template parameter, such as the typedef in this example:

template<typename param_t>
class Foo
    typedef typename param_t::baz sub_t;

The second one you actually show in your question, though you might not realize it:

template < template < typename, typename > class Container, typename Type >

When specifying a template template, the class keyword MUST be used as above -- it is not interchangeable with typename in this case (note: since C++17 both keywords are allowed in this case).

You also must use class when explicitly instantiating a template:

template class Foo<int>;

I'm sure that there are other cases that I've missed, but the bottom line is: these two keywords are not equivalent, and these are some common cases where you need to use one or the other.

6/26/2017 1:28:24 PM

For naming template parameters, typename and class are equivalent. §14.1.2:

There is no semantic difference between class and typename in a template-parameter.

typename however is possible in another context when using templates - to hint at the compiler that you are referring to a dependent type. §14.6.2:

A name used in a template declaration or definition and that is dependent on a template-parameter is assumed not to name a type unless the applicable name lookup finds a type name or the name is qualified by the keyword typename.


typename some_template<T>::some_type

Without typename the compiler can't tell in general whether you are referring to a type or not.

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