How does this conversion to bool work?

I'm learning the Cinder framework. There is a class Texture in this framework, and it can be used like this:

Texture myImage; myImage.loadImage(/*...*/); if(myImage) { // draw the image. }

I got confused about this, because myImage is an object. Using it as a condition doesn't make sense to me. I expected something like myImage.exist();. So I stepped through the code, and it turns out that Texture class has a conversion operator defined:

public: //@{ //! Emulates shared_ptr-like behavior typedef std::shared_ptr<Obj> Texture::*unspecified_bool_type; // What is this??? operator unspecified_bool_type() const { return ( mObj.get() == 0 ) ? 0 : &Texture::mObj; } void reset() { mObj.reset(); } //@}

Obj is defined as:

protected: struct Obj { Obj() : mWidth( -1 ), mHeight( -1 ), mCleanWidth( -1 ), mCleanHeight( -1 ), mInternalFormat( -1 ), mTextureID( 0 ), mFlipped( false ), mDeallocatorFunc( 0 ) {} Obj( int aWidth, int aHeight ) : mInternalFormat( -1 ), mWidth( aWidth ), mHeight( aHeight ), mCleanWidth( aWidth ), mCleanHeight( aHeight ), mFlipped( false ), mTextureID( 0 ), mDeallocatorFunc( 0 ) {} ~Obj(); mutable GLint mWidth, mHeight, mCleanWidth, mCleanHeight; float mMaxU, mMaxV; mutable GLint mInternalFormat; GLenum mTarget; GLuint mTextureID; bool mDoNotDispose; bool mFlipped; void (*mDeallocatorFunc)(void *refcon); void *mDeallocatorRefcon; }; std::shared_ptr<Obj> mObj;

I know that operator int() const can implictly change the Object to int, but how is unspecified_bool_type working? The debugger stops at operator unspecified_bool_type() const { return ( mObj.get() == 0 ) ? 0 : &Texture::mObj; } when if(myImage) is executing.

And I may be a little confused about the grammar here, what does

typedef std::shared_ptr<Obj> Texture::*unspecified_bool_type;


And does

void (*mDeallocatorFunc)(void *refcon);

in Obj mean that mDeallocatorFunc is a member of Class Obj, a function pointer to a function with prototype: void xxx(void *)?


This is the safe bool idiom. It doesn't use simply operator bool() because implicit conversions can cause all kinds of trouble with that operator. So instead it uses a type that is implicitly convertible to bool (like a pointer to member) and that is the least dangerous possible.

Luckily this sort of hack is not required in C++11 because we can write explicit operator bool instead and not fall prey to implicit conversions.


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