How to easily map c++ enums to strings


I have a bunch of enum types in some library header files that I'm using, and I want to have a way of converting enum values to user strings - and vice-versa.

RTTI won't do it for me, because the 'user strings' need to be a bit more readable than the enumerations.

A brute force solution would be a bunch of functions like this, but I feel that's a bit too C-like.

enum MyEnum {VAL1, VAL2,VAL3};

String getStringFromEnum(MyEnum e)
  switch e
  case VAL1: return "Value 1";
  case VAL2: return "Value 2";
  case VAL1: return "Value 3";
  default: throw Exception("Bad MyEnum");

I have a gut feeling that there's an elegant solution using templates, but I can't quite get my head round it yet.

UPDATE: Thanks for suggestions - I should have made clear that the enums are defined in a third-party library header, so I don't want to have to change the definition of them.

My gut feeling now is to avoid templates and do something like this:

char * MyGetValue(int v, char *tmp); // implementation is trivial

#define ENUM_MAP(type, strings) char * getStringValue(const type &T) \
 { \
 return MyGetValue((int)T, strings); \

; enum eee {AA,BB,CC}; - exists in library header file 
; enum fff {DD,GG,HH}; 


// To use...

    eee e;
    fff f;
    std::cout<< getStringValue(e);
    std::cout<< getStringValue(f);
10/16/2008 12:11:41 PM

If you want the enum names themselves as strings, see this post. Otherwise, a std::map<MyEnum, char const*> will work nicely. (No point in copying your string literals to std::strings in the map)

For extra syntactic sugar, here's how to write a map_init class. The goal is to allow

std::map<MyEnum, const char*> MyMap;
    (eValue1, "A")
    (eValue2, "B")
    (eValue3, "C")

The function template <typename T> map_init(T&) returns a map_init_helper<T>. map_init_helper<T> stores a T&, and defines the trivial map_init_helper& operator()(typename T::key_type const&, typename T::value_type const&). (Returning *this from operator() allows the chaining of operator(), like operator<< on std::ostreams)

template<typename T> struct map_init_helper
    T& data;
    map_init_helper(T& d) : data(d) {}
    map_init_helper& operator() (typename T::key_type const& key, typename T::mapped_type const& value)
        data[key] = value;
        return *this;

template<typename T> map_init_helper<T> map_init(T& item)
    return map_init_helper<T>(item);

Since the function and helper class are templated, you can use them for any map, or map-like structure. I.e. it can also add entries to std::unordered_map

If you don't like writing these helpers, boost::assign offers the same functionality out of the box.

5/23/2017 12:26:25 PM

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