Boost C++ Libraries

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Boost Dynamic Property Maps

Summary

The dynamic property map interfaces provides access to a collection of property maps through a dynamically-typed interface. An algorithm can use it to manipulate property maps without knowing their key or value types at compile-time. Type-safe codes can use dynamic property maps to interface more easily and completely with scripting languages and other text-based representations of key-value data.

Introduction

The Boost Property Map library specifies statically type-safe interfaces through which key-value pairs can be manipulated by generic algorithms. Typically, an algorithm that uses property maps is parameterized on the types of the property maps it uses, and it manipulates them using the interfaces specified by the Boost Property Map Library.

The following generic function illustrates property map basics.

template <typename AgeMap, typename GPAMap>
void
manipulate_freds_info(AgeMap ages, GPAMap gpas) {

  typedef typename boost::property_traits<AgeMap>::key_type name_type;
  typedef typename boost::property_traits<AgeMap>::value_type age_type;
  typedef typename boost::property_traits<GPAMap>::value_type gpa_type;

  name_type fred = "Fred";

  age_type old_age = get(ages, fred);
  gpa_type old_gpa = get(gpas, fred);

  std::cout << "Fred's old age: " << old_age << "\n"
            << "Fred's old gpa: " << old_gpa << "\n";

  age_type new_age = 18;
  gpa_type new_gpa = 3.9;
  put(ages, fred, new_age);
  put(gpas, fred, new_gpa);
}

The function is parameterized on two property map types, AgeMap and GPAMap, and takes a value parameter for each of those types. The function uses the property_traits interface to ascertain, at compile-time, the value and key types of the property maps. The code then retrieves Fred's old information, using the get function, and updates it using the put function. The get function is required by the Readable Property Map concept and both get and put are required by the Read/Write Property Map concept.

The above function not only requires the two type parameters to model property map concepts, but also makes some extra assumptions. AgeMap and GPAMap must have the same key type, and that type must be constructable from a string. Furthermore, AgeMap's value type must be constructable from an int. Although these requirements are not explicitly stated, they are statically checked during compilation and failure to meet them yields compile-time errors.

Although the static typing of property map interfaces usually provides desirable compile-time safety, some algorithms require a more dynamic interface to property maps. For example, the Boost Graph Library (BGL) provides functions that can initialize a graph by interpreting the contents of a textual graph description (i.e. a GraphML file). Such general-purpose graph description languages can specify an arbitrary number of edge and vertex properties, using strings to represent the key-value pairs. A graph reader function should capture these arbitrary properties, but since function templates can only be parameterized on a fixed number of property maps, the traditional techniques for handling property maps do not suffice to implement them.

Dynamic property maps specifically address the need for an interface to property maps whose checking is delayed to runtime. Several components combine to provide support for dynamic property maps. The dynamic_properties class collects a group of heterogenous objects that model concepts from the Boost Property Map library. Each property map is assigned a string-based key when it is added to the collection, and it can be addressed using that key. Internally, dynamic_properties adapts each contained property map with the dynamic property map interface, which provides get and put functions that can be called using values of any type that meets a few requirements. Internally, the dynamic property map converts key and value pairs to meet the requirements of the underlying property map or signals a runtime exception if it cannot.

"Fred's Info" Revisited

Here's what the example above looks like using the dynamic_properties interface:

void manipulate_freds_info(boost::dynamic_properties& properties)
{
  using boost::get;
  std::string fred = "Fred";

  int old_age = get<int>("age", properties, fred);
  std::string old_gpa = get("gpa", properties, fred);

  std::cout << "Fred's old age: " << old_age << "\n"
            << "Fred's old gpa: " << old_gpa << "\n";

  std::string new_age = "18";
  double new_gpa = 3.9;
  put("age",properties,fred,new_age);
  put("gpa",properties,fred,new_gpa);
}

The new function is not a template parameterized on the property map types but instead a concrete function that takes a dynamic_properties object. Furthermore, the code no longer makes reference to key or value types: keys and values are represented with strings. Nonetheless the function still uses non-string types where they are useful. For instance, Fred's old age is represented using an int. It's value is retreived by calling get with a type parameter, which determines its return type. Finally, the get and put functions are each supplied a string-based key that differs depending on the property of concern.

Here's an example of how the above function might be called.

int main()
{
  using boost::get;

  // build property maps using associative_property_map
  std::map<std::string, int> name2age;
  std::map<std::string, double> name2gpa;
  boost::associative_property_map< std::map<std::string, int> >
    age_map(name2age);
  boost::associative_property_map< std::map<std::string, double> >
    gpa_map(name2gpa);

  std::string fred("Fred");
  // add key-value information
  name2age.insert(make_pair(fred,17));
  name2gpa.insert(make_pair(fred,2.7));

  // build and populate dynamic interface
  boost::dynamic_properties properties;
  properties.property("age",age_map);
  properties.property("gpa",gpa_map);

  manipulate_freds_info(properties);

  std::cout << "Fred's age: " << get(age_map,fred) << "\n"
            << "Fred's gpa: " << get(gpa_map,fred) << "\n";
}

The code first creates two property maps using std::map and the associative_property_map adaptor. After initializing the property maps with key-value data, it constructs a dynamic_properties object and adds to it both property maps, keyed on the strings "age" and "gpa". Finally manipulate_freds_info is passed the dynamic_properties object and the results of its changes are displayed.

As shown above, the dynamic_properties object provides, where needed, a dynamically-typed interface to property maps yet preserves the static typing of property map uses elsewhere in an application.

Reference

class dynamic_properties

The dynamic_properties class provides a dynamically-typed interface to a set of property maps. To use it, one must populate an object of this class with property maps using the property member function.

Member Functions

dynamic_properties()
dynamic_properties(
  const boost::function<
    boost::shared_ptr<dynamic_property_map> (
      const std::string&, const boost::any&, const boost::any&)
    >& fn)

A dynamic_properties object can be constructed with a function object that, when called, creates a new property map. The library provides the ignore_other_properties function object, which lets the dynamic_properties object ignore any properties that it hasn't been prepared to record. If an attempt is made to put a key-value pair to a nonexistent dynamic_properties key, then this function is called with the dynamic_properties key and the intended property key and value . If dynamic_properties is default-constructed, such a put attempt throws property_not_found.

template<typename PropertyMap>
dynamic_properties&
property(const std::string& name, PropertyMap property_map)

This member function adds a property map to the set of maps contained, using name as its key.

Requirements: PropertyMap must model Readable Property Map or Read/Write Property Map.

void insert(const std::string& name, boost::shared_ptr<dynamic_property_map> pm)

This member function directly adds a dynamic_property_map to the collection, using name as its key.

iterator begin()
const_iterator begin() const

This member function returns an iterator over the set of property maps held by the dynamic_properties object.

iterator end()
const_iterator end() const

This member function returns a terminal iterator over the set of dynamic property maps held by the dynamic_properties object. It is used to terminate traversals over the set of dynamic property maps

iterator lower_bound(const std::string& name)

This member function returns an iterator that points to the first property map whose dynamic_properties key is name. Bear in mind that multiple property maps may have the same dynamic_properties key, so long as their property map key types differ.

Invariant: The range [ lower_bound(name), end() ) contains every property map that has name for its dynamic_properties key.

Free functions

boost::shared_ptr<boost::dynamic_property_map>
ignore_other_properties(const std::string&,
                        const boost::any&,
                        const boost::any&)

When passed to the dynamic_properties constructor, this function allows the dynamic_properties object to disregard attempts to put values to unknown keys without signaling an error.

template<typename Key, typename Value>
bool put(const std::string& name, dynamic_properties& dp, const Key& key,
         const Value& value)

This function adds a key-value pair to the property map with the matching name and key type. If no matching property map is found, behavior depends on the availability of a property map generator. If a property map generator was supplied when the dynamic_properties object was constructed, then that function is used to create a new property map. If the generator fails to generate a property map (returns a null shared_ptr), then the put function returns false. If, on the other hand, the dynamic_properties object has no property map generator (meaning it was default-constructed), then property_not_found is thrown. If a candidate property map is found but it does not support put, dynamic_const_put_error is thrown.

template<typename Value, typename Key>
Value get(const std::string& name, const dynamic_properties& dp,
          const Key& key)

This function gets the value from the property-map whose namee is given and whose key type matches. If Value is std::string, then the property map's value type must either be std::string or model OutputStreamable. In the latter case, the get function converts the value to a string. If no matching property map is found, dynamic_get_failure is thrown.


class dynamic_property_map

This class describes the interface used by dynamic_properties to interact with a user's property maps polymorphically.

boost::any get(const any& key)

Given a representation of a key, return the value associated with that key.

Requirement: 1) The object passed as the key must be convertible to a value of the map's key type. Details of that conversion are unspecified. 2) For this expression to be valid, the key must be associated with some value, otherwise the result is undefined.

std::string get_string(const any& key)

Given a representation of a key, return the string representation of the value associated with that key.

Requirements: 1) The object passed as the key must be convertible to the property map's key type. Details of that conversion are unspecified. 2) For this expression to be valid, the key must be associated with some value, otherwise the result is undefined. 3) The value type of the property map must model Output Streamable.

void put(const any& key, const any& value)

Given a representation of a key and a representation of a value, the key and value are associated in the property map.

Requirements: 1) The object passed as the key must be convertible to the property map's key type. Details of that conversion are unspecified. 2) The object passed as the value must be convertible to the property map's value type. Details of that conversion are unspecified. 3) The property map need not support this member function, in which case an error will be signaled. This is the runtime analogue of the Readable Property Map concept.

const std::type_info& key() const

Returns a type_info object that represents the property map's key type.

const std::type_info& value() const

Returns a type_info object that represents the property map's value type.

Exceptions

struct dynamic_property_exception : public std::exception {
  virtual ~dynamic_property_exception() throw() {}
};

struct property_not_found : public std::exception {
  std::string property;
  property_not_found(const std::string& property);
  virtual ~property_not_found() throw();

  const char* what() const throw();
};

struct dynamic_get_failure : public std::exception {
  std::string property;
  dynamic_get_failure(const std::string& property);
  virtual ~dynamic_get_failure() throw();

  const char* what() const throw();
};

struct dynamic_const_put_error  : public std::exception {
  virtual ~dynamic_const_put_error() throw();

  const char* what() const throw();
};

Under certain circumstances, calls to dynamic_properties member functions will throw one of the above exceptions. The three concrete exceptions can all be caught using the general dynamic_property_exception moniker when greater precision is not needed. In addition, all of the above exceptions derive from the standard std::exception for even more generalized error handling. The specific circumstances that result in these exceptions are described above.