C++ Move Semantics - The Complete Guide
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C++ Move Semantics - The Complete Guide

About the Book

Move semantics, introduced with C++11, has become a hallmark of modern C++ programming. However, it also complicates the language in many ways. After several years of support of move semantics experienced programmers struggle with all the details of move semantics. Even for trivial classes, style guides give conflicting or inappropriate advice on how to benefit from move semantics. Time to explain all aspects of C++ move semantics in detail.

This book teaches C++ move semantics. Starting from the basic principles, it motivates and explains all the corner cases of move semantics so that as a programmer, you can use move semantics correctly. The book is valuable for those who are just starting to learn about move semantics and is essential for those who are using it already.

You will learn:

  • The motivation for and terminology of move semantics
  • How and why you benefit implicitly from move semantics
  • How to benefit explicitly from move semantics
  • All the traps involved in move semantics and how to deal with them
  • All the consequences of move semantics for your programming style

As usual for books by Nicolai Josuttis, the focus lies on the application of the described features in practice. Compelling examples and useful background information help to understand and improve code, from trivial classes up to generic foundation libraries and frameworks.


"Sometimes I think I have a better grasp on entanglement & quantum teleportation than I do in some weird C++ move semantics. To paraphrase Feynman: If you think you understand C++ move semantics, you don't understand C++ move semantics. Read this book." Victor Ciura

"This is the book I’ve needed for a long time." Rob Bernstein

"I thought I understood move semantics but I didn't really! I learnt a lot in your book." Jonathan Boccara

Buy early, pay less, free updates

Note that this book is published step-by-step. It started with 110 pages first published in January 2020. Since then, the content grows with new chapters, examples, and caveats about the features of move semantics and I integrate all feedback I get for the pages already published.

Currently, the book is feature complete (all language features are described).

Only the use of move semantics in the C++ standard library and the final proof reading (yes, I am not a native English writer) is missing.

See www.cppmove.com for a detailed list of covered topics.

As written, once you bought it you will get all updates for free.

There is not errata yet, but I welcome all feedback to improve the current version.

Look at http://www.cppmove.com/feedback.html.

PDF versus Other Formats

I write the book in LaTeX and generate PDF from it (the way I wrote my other books). The other formats (epub, mobi, and online reading) come from the leanpub markdown interface, for which I generate the necessary input from LaTeX by script.

Thus, the PDF layout has a better quality than the other formats. For example, the syntax highlighting rules for the formats other than PDF have to get fixed as soon as possible and the index is missing yet. Leanpub and me are working on corresponding improvements.

I hope you enjoy and benefit.



About the Author

Nicolai M. Josuttis
Nicolai M. Josuttis

Nicolai Josuttis (http://www.josuttis.com) is well known in the programming community because he not only speaks and writes with authority, being the (co-)author of the world-wide best sellers

but is also an innovative presenter, having talked at various conferences and events.

He is an independent trainer and speaker being active in C++ standardization for more than 20 years.

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Table of Contents

    • Preface
      • An Experiment
      • Versions of This Book
      • Acknowledgments
    • About This Book
      • What You Should Know Before Reading This Book
      • Overall Structure of the Book
      • How to Read This Book
      • The Way I Implement
        • Initializations
        • Error Terminology
        • Code Simplifications
      • The C++ Standards
      • Example Code and Additional Information
      • Feedback
  • I Basic Features of Move Semantics
    • 1. The Power of Move Semantics
      • 1.1 Motivation for Move Semantics
        • 1.1.1 Example with C++03 (Before Move Semantics)
        • 1.1.2 Example Since C++11 (Using Move Semantics)
      • 1.2 Implementing Move Semantics
        • 1.2.1 Using the Copy Constructor
        • 1.2.2 Using the Move Constructor
      • 1.3 Copying as a Fallback
      • 1.4 Move Semantics for const Objects
        • 1.4.1 const Return Values
      • 1.5 Summary
    • 2. Core Features of Move Semantics
      • 2.1 Rvalue References
        • 2.1.1 Rvalue References in Detail
        • 2.1.2 Rvalue References as Parameters
      • 2.2 std::move()
        • 2.2.1 Header File for std::move()
        • 2.2.2 Implementation of std::move()
      • 2.3 Moved-From Objects
        • 2.3.1 Valid but Unspecified State
        • 2.3.2 Reusing Moved-From Objects
        • 2.3.3 Move Assignments of Objects to Themselves
      • 2.4 Overloading by Different References
        • 2.4.1 const Rvalue References
      • 2.5 Passing by Value
      • 2.6 Summary
    • 3. Move Semantics in Classes
      • 3.1 Move Semantics in Ordinary Classes
        • 3.1.1 When is Move Semantics Automatically Enabled in Classes?
        • 3.1.2 When Generated Move Operations Are Broken
      • 3.2 Implementing Special Copy/Move Member Functions
        • 3.2.1 Copy Constructor
        • 3.2.2 Move Constructor
        • 3.2.3 Copy Assignment Operator
        • 3.2.4 Move Assignment Operator
        • 3.2.5 Using the Special Copy/Move Member Functions
      • 3.3 Rules for Special Member Functions
        • 3.3.1 Special Member Functions
        • 3.3.2 By Default, We Have Copying and Moving
        • 3.3.3 Declared Copying Disables Moving (Fallback Enabled)
        • 3.3.4 Declared Moving Disables Copying
        • 3.3.5 Deleting Moving Makes No Sense
        • 3.3.6 Disabling Move Semantics with Enabled Copy Semantics
        • 3.3.7 Moving for Members with Disabled Move Semantics
        • 3.3.8 Exact Rules for Generated Special Member Functions
      • 3.4 The Rule of Five or Three
      • 3.5 Summary
    • 4. How to Benefit From Move Semantics
      • 4.1 Avoid Objects with Names
        • 4.1.1 When You Cannot Avoid Using Names
      • 4.2 Avoid Unnecessary std::move()
      • 4.3 Initialize Members with Move Semantics
        • 4.3.1 Initialize Members the Classical Way
        • 4.3.2 Initialize Members via Moved Parameters Passed by Value
        • 4.3.3 Initialize Members via Rvalue References
        • 4.3.4 Compare the Different Approaches
        • 4.3.5 Summary for Member Initialization
        • 4.3.6 Should We Now Always Pass by Value and Move?
      • 4.4 Move Semantics in Class Hierarchies
        • 4.4.1 Implementing a Polymorphic Base Class
        • 4.4.2 Implementing a Polymorphic Derived Class
      • 4.5 Summary
    • 5. Overloading on Reference Qualifiers
      • 5.1 Return Type of Getters
        • 5.1.1 Return by Value
        • 5.1.2 Return by Reference
        • 5.1.3 Using Move Semantics to Solve the Dilemma
      • 5.2 Overloading on Qualifiers
      • 5.3 When to Use Reference Qualifiers
        • 5.3.1 Reference Qualifiers for Assignment Operators
        • 5.3.2 Reference Qualifiers for Other Member Functions
      • 5.4 Summary
    • 6. Moved-From States
      • 6.1 Required and Guaranteed States of Moved-From Objects
        • 6.1.1 Required States of Moved-From Objects
        • 6.1.2 Guaranteed States of Moved-From Objects
        • 6.1.3 Broken Invariants
      • 6.2 Destructible and Assignable
        • 6.2.1 Assignable and Destructible Moved-From Objects
        • 6.2.2 Non-Destructible Moved-From Objects
      • 6.3 Dealing with Broken Invariants
        • 6.3.1 Breaking Invariants Due to a Moved Value Member
        • 6.3.2 Breaking Invariants Due to Moved Consistent Value Members
        • 6.3.3 Breaking Invariants Due to Moved Pointer-Like Members
      • 6.4 Summary
    • 7. Move Semantics and noexcept
      • 7.1 Move Constructors with and without noexcept
        • 7.1.1 Move Constructors without noexcept
        • 7.1.2 Move Constructors with noexcept
        • 7.1.3 Is noexcept Worth It?
      • 7.2 Details of noexcept Declarations
        • 7.2.1 Rules for Declaring Functions with noexcept
        • 7.2.2 noexcept for Special Member Functions
      • 7.3 noexcept Declarations in Class Hierarchies
        • 7.3.1 Checking for noexcept Move Constructors in Abstract Base Classes
      • 7.4 When and Where to Use noexcept
      • 7.5 Summary
    • 8. Value Categories
      • 8.1 Value Categories
        • 8.1.1 History of Value Categories
        • 8.1.2 Value Categories Since C++11
        • 8.1.3 Value Categories Since C++17
      • 8.2 Special Rules for Value Categories
        • 8.2.1 Value Category of Functions
        • 8.2.2 Value Category of Data Members
      • 8.3 Impact of Value Categories When Binding References
        • 8.3.1 Overload Resolution with Rvalue References
        • 8.3.2 Overloading by Reference and Value
      • 8.4 When Lvalues become Rvalues
      • 8.5 When Rvalues become Lvalues
      • 8.6 Checking Value Categories with decltype
        • 8.6.1 Using decltype to Check the Type of Names
        • 8.6.2 Using decltype to Check the Value Category
      • 8.7 Summary
  • II Move Semantics in Generic Code
    • 9. Perfect Forwarding
      • 9.1 Motivation for Perfect Forwarding
        • 9.1.1 What we Need to Perfectly Forward Arguments
      • 9.2 Implementing Perfect Forwarding
        • 9.2.1 Universal (or Forwarding) References
        • 9.2.2 std::forward<>()
        • 9.2.3 The Effect of Perfect Forwarding
      • 9.3 Rvalue References versus Universal References
        • 9.3.1 Rvalue References of Actual Types
        • 9.3.2 Rvalue References of Function Template Parameters
      • 9.4 Overload Resolution with Universal References
        • 9.4.1 Fixing Overload Resolution with Universal References
      • 9.5 Perfect Forwarding in Lambdas
      • 9.6 Summary
    • 10. Tricky Details of Perfect Forwarding
      • 10.1 Universal References as Non-Forwarding References
        • 10.1.1 Universal References and const
        • 10.1.2 Universal References in Detail
        • 10.1.3 Universal References of Specific Types
      • 10.2 Universal or Ordinary Rvalue Reference?
        • 10.2.1 Rvalue References of Members of Generic Types
        • 10.2.2 Rvalue References of Parameters in Class Templates
        • 10.2.3 Rvalue References of Parameters in Full Specializations
      • 10.3 How the Standard Specifies Perfect Forwarding
        • 10.3.1 Explicit Specification of Types for Universal References
        • 10.3.2 Conflicting Template Parameter Deduction with Universal References
        • 10.3.3 Pure RValue References of Generic Types
      • 10.4 Nasty Details of Perfect Forwarding
        • 10.4.1 “Universal” versus “Forwarding” Reference
        • 10.4.2 Why && for Both Ordinary Rvalues and Universal References?
      • 10.5 Summary
    • 11. Perfect Passing with auto&&
      • 11.1 Default Perfect Passing
        • 11.1.1 Default Perfect Passing in Detail
      • 11.2 Universal References with auto&&
        • 11.2.1 Type Deduction of auto&&
        • 11.2.2 Perfectly Forwarding an auto&& Reference
      • 11.3 auto&& as Non-Forwarding Reference
        • 11.3.1 Universal References and the Range-Based for Loop
      • 11.4 Perfect Forwarding in Lambdas
      • 11.5 Using auto&& in C++20 Function Declarations
      • 11.6 Summary
    • 12. Perfect Returning with decltype(auto)
      • 12.1 Perfect Returning
      • 12.2 decltype(auto)
        • 12.2.1 Return Type decltype(auto)
        • 12.2.2 Deferred Perfect Returning
        • 12.2.3 Perfect Forwarding and Returning with Lambdas
      • 12.3 Summary
  • III Move Semantics in the C++ Standard Library
    • 13. Move-Only Types
      • 13.1 Declaring and Using Move-Only Types
        • 13.1.1 Declaring Move-Only Types
        • 13.1.2 Using Move-Only Types
        • 13.1.3 Passing Move-Only Objects as Arguments
        • 13.1.4 Returning Move-Only Objects by Value
        • 13.1.5 Moved-From States of Move-Only Objects
      • 13.2 Summary
    • 14. Moving Algorithms and Iterators
      • 14.1 Moving Algorithms
      • 14.2 Removing Algorithms
      • 14.3 Move Iterators
        • 14.3.1 Move Iterators in Algorithms
        • 14.3.2 Move Iterators in Constructors and Member Functions
      • 14.4 Summary
    • 15. Move Semantics in Types of the C++ Standard Library
      • 15.1 Move Semantics for Strings
        • 15.1.1 String Assignments and Capacity
      • 15.2 Move Semantics for Containers
        • 15.2.1 Basic Move Support for Containers as a Whole
        • 15.2.2 Insert and Emplace Functions
        • 15.2.3 Move Semantics for std::array<>
      • 15.3 Move Semantics for Vocabulary Types
        • 15.3.1 Move Semantics for Pairs
        • 15.3.2 Move Semantics for std::optional<>
      • 15.4 Move Semantics for Smart Pointers
        • 15.4.1 Move Semantics for std::shared_ptr<>
        • 15.4.2 Move Semantics for std::unique_ptr<>
      • 15.5 Move Semantics for IOStreams
        • 15.5.1 Moving IOStream Objects
        • 15.5.2 Using Temporary IOStreams
      • 15.6 Move Semantics for Multithreading
        • 15.6.1 std::thread<> and std::jthread<>
        • 15.6.2 Futures, Promises, and Packaged Tasks
      • 15.7 Summary
    • Glossary
      • C
        • CPP file
      • F
        • forwarding reference
        • full specialization
      • G
        • glvalue
      • H
        • header file
      • I
        • include file
        • incomplete type
      • L
        • lvalue
      • N
        • named return value optimization (NRVO)
      • P
        • prvalue
      • R
        • return value optimization (RVO)
        • rvalue
      • S
        • small/short string optimization (SSO)
      • T
        • translation unit
      • U
        • universal reference
      • V
        • value category
        • variadic template
      • X
        • xvalue
  • Notes

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