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Extending Actors

Actors are one of the main parts of the library, and one of the many customization points. The default actor implementation provides several operator() overloads which deal with the evaluation of expressions.

For some use cases this might not be enough. For convenience it is thinkable to provide custom member functions which generate new expressions. An example is the if_else_ Statement which provides an additional else member for generating a lazy if-else expression. With this the actual Phoenix expression becomes more expressive.

Another scenario is to give actors the semantics of a certain well known interface or concept. This tutorial like section will provide information on how to implement a custom actor which is usable as if it were a STL Container.

Requirements

Let's repeat what we want to have:

Expression

Semantics

a.begin()

Returns an iterator pointing to the first element in the container.

a.end()

Returns an iterator pointing one past the last element in the container.

a.size()

Returns the size of the container, that is, its number of elements.

a.max_size()

Returns the largest size that this container can ever have.

a.empty()

Equivalent to a.size() == 0. (But possibly faster.)

a.swap(b)

Equivalent to swap(a,b)

Additionally, we want all the operator() overloads of the regular actor.

Defining the actor

The first version of our container_actor interface will show the general principle. This will be continually extended. For the sake of simplicity, every member function generator will return nothing at first.

template <typename Expr>
struct container_actor
	: actor<Expr>
{
	typedef actor<Expr> base_type;
	typedef container_actor<Expr> that_type;
	
	container_actor( base_type const& base )
		: base_type( base ) {}

	expression::null<mpl::void_>::type const begin() const { return nothing; }
	expression::null<mpl::void_>::type const end() const { return nothing; }
	expression::null<mpl::void_>::type const size() const { return nothing; }
	expression::null<mpl::void_>::type const max_size() const { return nothing; }
	expression::null<mpl::void_>::type const empty() const { return nothing; }

	// Note that swap is the only function needing another container.
	template <typename Container>
	expression::null<mpl::void_>::type const swap( actor<Container> const& ) const { return nothing; }
};
Using the actor

Although the member functions do nothing right now, we want to test if we can use our new actor.

First, lets create a generator which wraps the container_actor around any other expression:

template <typename Expr>
container_actor<Expr> const
container( actor<Expr> const& expr )
{
    return expr;
}

Now let's test this:

std::vector<int> v;
v.push_back(0);
v.push_back(1);
v.push_back(2);
v.push_back(3);

(container(arg1).size())(v);

Granted, this is not really elegant and not very practical (we could have just used phoenix::begin(v) from the Phoenix algorithm module, but we can do better.

Let's have an argument placeholder which is usable as if it was a STL container:

container_actor<expression::argument<1>::type> const con1;
// and so on ...

The above example can be rewritten as:

std::vector<int> v;
v.push_back(0);
v.push_back(1);
v.push_back(2);
v.push_back(3);

(con1.size())(v);

Wow, that was easy!

Adding life to the actor

This one will be even easier!

First, we define a lazy function which evaluates the expression we want to implement. Following is the implementation of the size function:

struct size_impl
{
	// result_of protocol:
	template <typename Sig>
	struct result;

	template <typename This, typename Container>
	struct result<This(Container)>
	{
		// Note, remove reference here, because Container can be anything
		typedef typename boost::remove_reference<Container>::type container_type;

		// The result will be size_type
		typedef typename container_type::size_type type;
	};

	template <typename Container>
	typename result<size_impl(Container const&)>::type
	operator()(Container const& container) const
	{
		return container.size();
	}
};

Good, this was the first part. The second part will be to implement the size member function of container_actor:

template <typename Expr>
struct container_actor
	: actor<Expr>
{
	typedef actor<Expr> base_type;
	typedef container_actor<Expr> that_type;
	
	container_actor( base_type const& base )
		: base_type( base ) {}

	typename expression::function<size_impl, that_type>::type const
	size() const
	{
		function<size_impl> const f = size_impl();
		return f(*this);
	}

	// the rest ...
};

It is left as an exercise to the user to implement the missing parts by reusing functions from the Phoenix Algorithm Module (the impatient take a look here: container_actor.cpp).


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