C++ STL container and in-place construction

c++stl

Please consider the following:

class CMyClass
{
public:
  CMyClass()
  {
    printf( "Constructor\n" );
  }
  CMyClass( const CMyClass& )
  {
    printf( "Copy constructor\n" );
  }
};

int main()
{
  std::list<CMyClass> listMyClass;

  listMyClass.resize( 1 );

  return 0;
}

It produces the following output:

Constructor

Copy constructor

Now my question is: How do I avoid the copy constructor? Or to put it in another way: How can I create objects inside an STL container without the unnecessary copy operation. Is there some way to do an "in-place" construction using the default constructor?


Update – answers so far:

  1. It can't be done
  2. Use pointers or smart pointers
    instead.

Smart pointers are an overkill for my application. But I really wonder why this can't be done. It seems like such an obvious thing to want to do. Any other ideas? I will even accept a nasty hack if it works…


Solution

I think I just found a solution for my problem from all the comments and answers posed here. The solution is to construct an empty object and to keep it around for the sole purpose of using it later for making clean copies of. Then you can use one of the methods that take a reference (like push_back or insert). This still calls the copy constructor for every new object inserted, but at least it is not both the default constructor AND copy constructor:

int main()
{
  CMyClass Empty;

  std::list<CMyClass> listMyClass;

  for ( int c=0; c<10; ++c )
  {
    listMyClass.push_back( Empty );
  }

  return 0;
}

Best Solution

By design, all the C++ Standard Library containers store copies. Therefore the call to the copy constructor cannot be avoided if you wish to store values in the container - the only way out is to store pointers instead. If you want to mitigate the overhead of copying, investigate the use of reference counting.